Whitaker is a visual artist and animator who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She moved to Los Angeles to attend Disney’s staple school, CalArts. After graduation, she was offered a Production Assistant job at CBS. After that she became a production secretary and storyboard revisionist for Family Guy at Fox. Then she moved to Cartoon Network as a storyboard revisions and prop designer. “During this time I tested for several different positions until I was hired to do storyboard revisions. I decided to go into design after the board revision job ended and have since worked in prop and character design.” In 2010, Whitaker was hired as a character and prop designer at Disney TV. Shows include Fish Hooks, Chowder, Wander Over Yonder, and Gravity Falls. She states: “My favorite memory is being hired at Disney, and knowing I would be working alongside some amazing artists.”
Whitaker is currently a prop designer for Duck Tales and a painter for Tangled: The Series. “I’ll take a look at the script, storyboard, or animatic for the episode I am working on to get an idea of the story and characters. I usually have a list of props or characters that need to be designed so I keep that nearby," she explains.
After she reads her tasks from the studio, she begins roughing out sketches, and then she begins cleaning it up. Once the line work and coloring is finished, Whitaker submits her artwork to the studio for review. During her 8-hour work days, she walks her dog on her lunch break.
Working in the animation industry is very fast-paced and full of strict deadlines. I asked Whitaker if she had ever gotten "artist's block". She explained, “Yes, absolutely. I will take a mini vacation if possible, maybe just heading to the beach to driving up the coast for the weekend. Reading a good book or even some light and fun exercise is a great way for me to clear my head. I find it hard to be creative when I’m stressed, so relieving any stress really helps!” Whitaker says that she often likes visiting The Huntington Library when she needs to relax.
I asked Whitaker where her favorite place to draw in LA is. She said that it is the LA Zoo:“It’s a great place for sketching people and animals from life, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to study animal anatomy in person.”
Art is a huge part of LA culture and it is the entertainment capitol. Nicole is happy living in the artistic city of LA:“I love the proximity to the beach, yet it's only a few hours away from Palm Springs or Big Bear.”
Whitaker suggests visiting LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) if you’re in the LA area. Another museum she recommends is Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra. “They always have a great selection of books, toys, and artwork,” she says.