Cardiff Character: Dani Abram

One of the people responsible for the upcoming Cardiff Animation Festival talks about her life and career

Dani appeared animated as she talked about her life and career

Dani is animated as she talked about her life and career

Sitting in the noisy cafe of the Chapter Arts Centre, near the studio she works in two days a week, Dani Abram is animated as she laughs her way through conversation with enthusiasm and warmth.

A 32 year-old animator with over a decade’s experience in the industry, Dani seems to be going from strength to strength. Originally from Lancashire, she moved to Cardiff only two years ago, but is already playing her role in an animation scene that she claims is “flourishing.”

Showing the world

After becoming involved with Cardiff Animation Nights almost immediately following her arrival in the capital, Dani is now playing a key part in the organisation of the inaugural Cardiff Animation Festival. The festival, which was founded by her friend Lauren Orme, will take place in April 2018, and Dani is visibly excited when the subject comes up.

“It’s something which I never, ever, ever would have envisaged that I’d get involved with,” she remarks, claiming that while she loves attending events and festivals, she has never been a natural when it comes to organising them. “But it’s probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been involved with.”

“It’s probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been involved with.”

The festival is a logical step forward for Dani, who alongside Lauren has helped put on the animation strand of the Cardiff Independent Film festival for the past two years. And although aware that they will face new challenges with their very own festival, Dani seems confident it will be a success.

“We go to a lot of film festivals ourselves, and I volunteer personally for Manchester animation festival so we’ve got really good base knowledge of how to do it,” she says, before laughing, “it’s just showing the world that we can!”

Away from her animation work, Dani enjoys sketching

Away from her animation work, Dani enjoys sketching

Career and ambitions

Dani says she always knew she wanted to be an animator – or a “cartoonist” as she called it when she was younger – and she has been working in the industry since graduating from Swansea University with an animation degree in 2007.

Her first job, which she considers something of a lucky break, was in Manchester, working on Grand Theft Auto. And although grateful for the opportunity, Dani remembers being incredibly daunted by the job, even calling it one of her worst memories of the industry.

“It’s super-cool to tell dudes at the bar that I worked on Grand Theft Auto,” she says, “but the thing I don’t tell them is that I cried every day in the toilets at 11am, because it was so stressful and I had to pick things up so quickly.”

After her time at Grand Theft Auto, Dani moved into children’s television, where she has worked extensively. She smiles as she notes the contrast of going from having a “showreel full of prostitutes” to working on a kids programme about a teddy bear, but it is something, she says, that highlights the variation of the animation industry.

And having worked at both ends of the spectrum will no doubt help Dani achieve what remains her ultimate goal – to have her very own studio here in Cardiff.