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Meet Sarah Beth Morgan: An Animation Artist Drawn to Purpose

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The Copyright Office celebrates Women’s History Month and this year’s theme, “Women who advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion.” As part of this year’s celebration, Copyright Office staff sat down with Sarah Beth Morgan, an animation director, illustrator, and muralist who has practiced art across the country. Morgan attended Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and spent her early career at a production company in Los Angeles and a content agency in Portland, Oregon. Morgan is currently a freelance artist and has worked closely with motion studios and major retail clients on commercial animation and illustrations. She is a teaching artist who has also produced several virtual art courses.

Morgan knew she was interested in art at a very young age, but it wasn’t until she began applying to colleges while in high school that she learned she could choose art as a career path. She says she felt right at home when touring art schools the summer of her junior year. “It was so cool to be around other creative people 24/7.”

Morgan works in the animation field of “motion graphics,” where she brings graphic shapes, typography, and characters to life. She defines her creative style as “playful, quirky, and maybe even a little bit unexpected.” Her most recent animation, Between Lines, is a short film about “the scarring experience of schoolgirl bullying—and the recovery that follows.” The film has received several accolades, including the Audience Award for Animation at the Brooklyn Film Festival as well as Official Selection at Pictoplasma Berlin and the SCAD Savannah Film Festival.

Morgan shares with us her creative process:

Typically, I start by working to conceptualize and storyboard an animation, depending on the client’s brief or script. Then, I illustrate a set of “styleframes” that depict different points of time in the intended animation (or a whole team of designers does this together!) . . . [then] I take on more of a directing role for the animation phase . . . I’ll help my project producer hire a team of talented animators that can work to make these illustrated styleframes move. From this point on, I’m typically giving feedback, providing draw-overs, and making sure all of the client notes are hit before delivery. There’s a lot more intricacy to it, but that’s the gist!”

Animation is an example of a motion picture, which is a type of work that can be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Motion Pictures are works that contain a series of related images that are intended to be shown with a projector, digital display, or other device. When the images are shown in successive order, they create an impression of movement that is perceptible to the eye. The Copyright Office offers resources on registering a motion picture and provides ways to help grow a creative business in Copyright Registration at a Glance.

Women creators are an essential part of the copyright system, and participating in it allows women artists to benefit economically from their creative works. In 2022, the Copyright Office released a report, Women in the Copyright System: An Analysis of Women Authors in Copyright Registrations from 1978 to 2020. It found that women creators are significantly underrepresented in registrations, especially compared to their participation in copyright-intensive industries, despite an overall positive trend over time.

Morgan highlights this community through her work, noting that assembling her own diverse creative teams “[L]ed to a lot of different connections between the thirty-plus women who worked on the project.” She added, “I personally feel like it helped create a more robust female/nonbinary community in the male-dominant animation industry.”

Sarah Beth Morgan is one of many women who enhance our nation’s creative landscape. The Copyright Office aims to broaden public awareness of what copyright encompasses and how to participate in it. A cornerstone of the Office’s current strategic plan is the advancement of Copyright for All, and the Office is committed to making the copyright system as clear and accessible to as many members of the public as possible, particularly individuals, small businesses, and historically underserved populations.

Comments (5)

  1. It always excites me to hear any theme surrounding “Women who advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion. I love the illustrations that were added. Great interview and blog well written. Keep up the great work!

  2. This was a great blog! I didn’t realize women were so under-represented in registrations! Thanks for sharing Sarah’s story!

  3. What an interesting profile of an animation artist — nicely done!

  4. Great article. Love the article and the animations. Nicely done!

  5. Nice blog. Thank you for sharing.

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