24 January 2024



We’ve decided to add a little twist to our series “What’s up Next?”.

We are meeting the 2023-2024 generation of talents in two key moments: at the start of their trajectory – focussing on finding out more about the artists and what they expect from the program, and at the end of their course, discussing the things they picked up on the way.

Without further ado, dive into the first talk we had with animator, designer and illustrator Irma Beatriz Peniche Silva.

Irma is in many ways a perfect example of the unexpected journeys one can have when following a passion. Born in Havana, Cuba, she first studied and then worked as a graphic design instructor at the Superior Institute of Design (ISDi), teaching subjects such as “Brand” and “Editorial Design”. Alongside her academic work, she also made her hand as a freelancer graphic designer and illustrator for various national and international projects.

“During COVID lockdown” Irma remembers, “I got very inspired and I became to feel more interest in animation. Mostly because the ideas I had in mind didn’t want to fit in a single frame anymore. I finally decided to take my desires seriously and I looked for studies in animation. The Master in Animation I chose brought me to The Netherlands. After a full year program, I graduated with my first animated short film SoulMate. That year was my best and most difficult experience so far.

After I graduated, I was lucky enough to get accepted to Ambassadors Creative Production Studio, an agency I really admire. First as an intern, and now as a junior designer and animator, I continue on my path of learning from very talented people.”

Irma also hopes that in the upcoming period she will further develop as a storyteller. Her passion for creating is striking and it really shines trough in conversations with Irma. Take for instance, the time when we asked her about her favourite project. “If possible” she says, “I would like to talk about two projects instead. The first one: my graduation project from my Master studies. It was my first experience making an animated short film by myself. Most of the processes were also new to me. I was learning Blender and trying to find a way to make possible the ideas I had in my head, while using my limited skills set.

I worked harder than ever and I almost got a burn-out. Ironically, my film talked about finding balance between work and life. It was a message to myself, as well as one for all people out there suffering from overworking. It turned out to be an amazing experience that reinforced my desire to create stories. The best reward was to get lovely comments and messages from the people who saw the film at animation festivals!”

“The other project, that I would like to mention, was also created during my Master studies. I had the opportunity to direct a fictitious commercial for Ambassadors, created with an amazing team made out of five of my classmates. I not only experienced all stages of creating a project, but also how strong it can be when we all work together. I loved it! It was great fun and it confirmed my interest in scriptwriting, animation and direction. I believe that project also helped me land my first job after I graduated, which was at Ambassadors!”

Talking about what distinguishes her as an artist, Irma says “I believe my work is mostly optimistic and I try to bring new perspectives to the table, especially by using visual metaphors and humor. I’m not sure if I have a clear graphic style. I’d like to believe that my signature is in my concepts, regardless the way my work looks like.

I enjoy working from a starting point that someone else has given me. Which probably relates to my background as a designer. I love conceptualising. I want to keep exploring my vision and style and develop my skills as a communicator. The story and message are always the most important to me. My wish is to be part of projects that convey a valuable message and generate an impact on the audience. I want my work to brighten up the day, support a good cause and guide the audience toward new ways of seeing life.”

Irma is a big fan of impactful campaigns for a good cause that stimulate empathy for important issues using powerful storytelling and sensitive designs.  She mentions Turtle Journey (made by Aardman for Greenpeace), There’s a Monster in My Kitchen (made by Cartoon Saloon for Greenpeace) and Safe Ralph (produced by the Humane Society International (HSI)).

Discussing her first interactions with Next trajectory, Irma recalls: “A classmate and current Next Talent, Kanso, was invited to talk and present his work at Playgrounds The Art Department in 2022, on the Talent Stage. I was very excited for him and also intrigued by this amazing opportunity. [editor’s note: Talent Stage and Next Talents are two different things but on the Talent Stage Playgrounds has featured some of the Next Talents].

At the festival, I learned a bit about the program and also met other people from previous Next selections. I thought the program was an amazing opportunity to grow professionally and gain exposure, but I still didn’t know how I could join the trajectory. Luckily, I received an email in December 2022, notifying me that I was nominated for Next, and indicating the way I could apply for the program. I was amazed and prepared my application with the best of hopes.

I think the program is a wonderful opportunity to develop professionally by improving skills and trying different things. The fact that it is tailor-made makes it easier to focus on what you personally want to achieve.

Additionally, my colleagues in the program have different goals and therefore, a different trajectory. Which means that we can also join forces and learn from each other!”


We also asked Irma who would be her dream mentor. “I would have to say Pete Docter, the director of Monsters Inc., Up, Inside Out, and Soul and Chief Creative Officer at Pixar Animation Studios. He has been working at Pixar for many years and helped to create the stories that inspired me as a child.

Inside Out and Soul’s concepts are delightful. The way they talk about our inner struggles, desires and fears feels very relatable to me. My graduation project SoulMate, was undoubtedly influenced by those movies.

I also admire Pete Docter’s versatility. He has worked as an animator, director, writer, producer, and voice actor. Most of the times, he assumes more than one roll in the same project. It would be wonderful to hear about his experiences and long trajectory. Without a doubt, a dream come true!”

A thing Irma sure knows something about – chasing dreams and turning them into reality: “Coming to the Netherlands to study something new, naturally meant a big change in my life. I am still finding my place on this new ground. I’m confident that with the help of the program, I will get closer to my goals.” With such passion, determination, love for animation and art in general, we have all the confidence in Irma too!


More about this artist