Artistic & Animation Aspirations

What happens when you blend the historical focus of the Heritage Association of Frisco with the artistic aspiration of a rising young Frisco artist? The result is a beautifully illustrated coloring book that teaches people of every age about the rich history of Frisco … and a Girl Scout Gold Award for a talented young Frisco native. 

How did this all come to fruition? The answer to that question is where the young artist, Frisco’s Liberty High School senior Zoie Lancaster, enters the picture. Zoie has dreamed of being an artist as long as she can remember. Her latest project is an illustrated coloring book for the Heritage Association of Frisco called Frisco Through the Ages. The coloring book is a historical look at Frisco’s landmarks from the Frisco Rail Line to the new Star complex. 

From planning to completion, it took Zoie a year to complete the project. The coloring book is her project for the Girl Scout Gold Award: a Gold Award is the highest distinction you can earn as a Girl Scout. Received by fewer than six percent of Girl Scouts annually, it requires a minimum of eighty hours of project work that demonstrates extraordinary leadership. The award requires the project to also be self-sustainable for a significant amount of time after it’s completed. The coloring book is complimentary for visitors and available at the Frisco Heritage Museum.

“I chose this coloring book as my project after initially deciding to work with the Frisco Heritage Museum and Association for my award. After a brainstorming meeting at the museum, I came across the coloring book that was previously published in 2001. It was being handed out to the children who came to the museum. Working with the Association, we decided that updating the book to include more recent and in-depth versions of Frisco’s past and present was a perfect project for my award!” says Zoie. 

Donna Schmittler, president of the Heritage Association of Frisco, says Zoie approached the Association’s past president, Bob Allen, about her project. She says Zoie worked with the Board to make sure all the historic illustrations were accurate. “It was a pleasure to work with Zoie,” says Ms. Schmittler. “It was exciting for Heritage to work with someone so enthusiastic and talented. We unveiled the coloring book at our February Third Sunday, where we celebrated the 118th birthday of Frisco. Zoie came to the celebration and brought some friends with her to interact with the children present. She autographed their coloring books and took photos with those who asked.” Zoie remembers the day well and says the kids loved the book and she had parents come up to her and tell her how surprised they were that someone her age had done this project. 

Born and raised in Frisco, Zoie hopes to attend Texas A&M University after graduating from high school. Her father works for Frisco ISD and her mom works for Nokia. With extended family in Plano, Frisco and Allen, she enjoys family get-togethers and time spent with the congregation of Custer Road United Methodist Church. “I’m very involved in our church. I love the mission trips we take each summer. I’ve been to St. Louis and Denver,” she says. “We travel around the country with the youth choir, called the Revelation Choir, and we perform in various cities at homeless shelters, churches, youth detention centers and senior centers.”

She says she draws a lot of her artistic inspiration from nature and other talented artists she knows and enjoys, both in illustration and animation. “Most of my close friends are artists or writers, so I always draw ideas from bouncing concepts back and forth among us. I am extremely interested in becoming a Disney animator someday; it’s been my dream for as long as I can remember!” says Zoie. Disney is well-known for having the entertainment industry’s top animators and animation technology. Zoie says she loves classic Disney animated films and also newer releases like Wreck-it Ralph and Tangled. Her family frequently vacations to Disney World in Florida. “Before I wanted to be an animator, I wanted to be an Imagineer at Disney World,” she says, explaining that Imagineers design the rides. “They are both artists and engineers. I love the care and detail they put into the parks.”

During her senior year at Liberty High School she will be taking advantage of her school’s AP Drawing class, her first formal class in traditional art. She says she’s excited to properly learn how to use a greater variety of 2-D mediums. To date, she’s been trained in the art of 3D and digital animation, which is vastly different from traditional animation and illustration. “We use industry-standard programs, such as Maya, to model and animate things in a three-dimensional plane on a computer, instead of drawing out every frame on paper,” she says. “However, drawing is still a crucial part of animation. We have to learn the fundamentals of composition and movement on paper before we can transfer those skills to digital animation. Although I do most of my personal art outside of the context of animation class, I still use the fundamentals we learn to make art that’s more dynamic and captivating than static poses.”

After college, Zoie says her career will potentially take her away from Frisco. Still, she may be lucky enough to find work in the Dallas-area, though challenging, as there aren’t an abundance of gaming, entertainment or animation companies in Dallas. California and Seattle are two areas she envisions relocating to pursue her dream career. “I love to travel and I have a long list of places I’d like to visit,” she says. “I’d love to go to Washington, D.C. and visit museums like the National Gallery of Art. I’d also love to see Japan. It has a beautiful art scene and everything there seems really interesting.”

Sarah Wiseman taught Zoie history for three consecutive years at Liberty High School. “Zoie’s artistic talents were apparent almost immediately. She has a knack for beautiful illustrations that she frequently uses to complete assignments. I have kept several of her works, including a gorgeous reinterpretation of John Gast’s “American Progress,”” she says. “Zoie told me about her project for the Frisco Heritage Association early on in the process. It was a delight to get updates on her research and work as she created the coloring book for them.” Wiseman says she sees great success for Zoie in her future endeavors. “As a student, Zoie has a knack for finding nuance in a situation and drawing that out in her work. As an artist, Zoie can seamlessly combine beautiful architectural illustrations with more whimsical figure drawings. She is an impressive young woman and I look forward to saying, “I knew her when … ””

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Lisa Dawson is a full-time working mom of three, a freelance writer and a Frisco resident.