Animator and children’s author Tanya Weinberger insists her long and varied career is merely the result of experimentation and serendipity.
But, with a résumé that includes stints at Disney and Hanna-Barbera and employers such as Saul Bass, whose graphic design and film work greatly influences AMC’s “Mad Men,” luck isn’t the first word that comes to mind.
Today, she lives in Gulf Gate, where she writes and animates children’s books, makes jewelry and tends to her ever-growing collections of art, egg cups and fossils, but throughout her career, she has had her hand in several larger projects. She traces her artistic spark back to her Los Angeles roots.
“I was born and raised in Hollywood,” Weinberger said. “Anyone who was born and raised there ends up going into show business in one way or another.”
She attended the Choinard Art Institute in Los Angeles but left before graduating to begin her career in the industry. She moved to New York, where she took inspiration from Andy Warhol and the Big Apple’s exploding art scene. One of her friends was an art instructor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and suggested she use her art education, however incomplete, to be a guest in the animation department. She accepted his offer, and her first film, an animated short called “Gulliver Comes to Lilliput,” won first place in Playboy magazine’s 1985 film competition. When her second film won first place in another competition, whose winners included Pixar’s John Lasseter, she began to realize her potential.
“I just always seemed to be in the right place at the right time,” Weinberger said. “I was lucky, because I got into computers before anyone even knew what they were, and being in Rochester helped me stand out. The art scene in New York or Los Angeles would have been much more competitive.”
She went on to produce almost 30 short films and one feature film. Her work has appeared on
Nickelodeon and HBO as well as in countless film festivals and museum shows, including a film showing at the Museum of Modern Art.
She moved to Sarasota in 2000 after deciding she no longer could keep up with the technological curve.
“Everyone wanted young kids right out of college, and I just decided to be done with animation,” she said. “I decided to shift my creativity elsewhere.”
She now turns many of her leftover story ideas into children’s books, which she hopes will inspire young children to be creative while providing them with a positive message.
“I’m really passionate about environmentalism,” she said. “That comes through in a lot of my work. I also want to reach young girls and remind them that they can be anything they want.”
Weinberger has worked in so many different fields that it’s hard to find something she hasn’t done, but if one thing is constant in her life, it’s her passion for art. In addition to jewelry-making and children’s books, she’s currently working on a comedy screenplay.
“I’m interested in all the arts,” she said. “No matter what I’m working on, I’m trying to arrange elements in an interesting way. I’m a very visual person, and I’m driven by my curiosity.”