Steve Jennings

Founder and Director, Steve Jennings has been pushing growth in local talent in the Midwest since he first brought Grasshorse Animation Studio to Iowa in 2007. His unique combination of savvy advertising direction and technically-challenging animation and visual effects work is the result of layering early career experiences with his natural visionary outlook on where animation can go if given the same upbeat energy with every step of the process. Acknowledged for his direction of The Sacrifice as 2010 Best Animated Short at Dragon Con, and his contributed animation to Powerpuff Girls, Star Wars: Clone Wars, and Johnny Test, Steve has also received 50+ awards for his direction of regional and national commercials. His inventive spirit has ignited new development in technology, mixing aesthetics and combining disciplines of animation, animatronics, and puppetry. 

Steve directed his first spots for Plan B Skateboards and Max Factor while at Tony Kaye Films, as his intended career goal after majoring in Film and Video at CalArts was to pursue Live Action work. Steve then worked in visual effects on Hollywood tent-pole blockbusters at both Digital Domain and Sony Pictures Imageworks. He was trained as a compositor, managed technicians and gained intimate knowledge of studio operations, technical infrastructure and pipeline development. Steve began adding animation to his professional skillset in 1997 when he first created website animations for Market Experts.

Opening Grasshorse in 2002 as a boutique offering animation and visual effects services in Atwater Village, CA, Steve later relocated to Iowa and continued to expand Grasshorse's talent. His unique take on hybrid animation techniques for Craig McCracken’s Powerpuff Girls television series by aligning visual effects with 2D animation aesthetics lead him to further develop his style while working on Genndy Tartakovsky’s Star Wars: Clone Wars.

Now, Steve creates opportunities for Midwest artists to produce work locally by actively working to connect with emerging artists in his roles as Grasshorse’s Director and a teacher at Southeastern Community College. In 2019, Steve was a Visiting Artist for the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History, where he taught Introduction to Animation for the 2019-2020 academic year. Grasshorse Animation Studio wrote the curriculum for SCC’s Animation for Television, Film & New Media program which Steve takes an additional role in by being a member of the advisory board. With the mindset of “as an artist, you can only be as creative as you can afford to be”, Steve is motivated to make creative careers a realistic and affordable option in the Midwest.

Steve was recognized as Graduating Film School Representative to California Institute of the Arts Board of Trustees which included Director Emeritus of the Walt Disney Company Roy E. Disney. Additionally, he was the recipient of The Princess Grace Foundation Film Award from the Royal Family of Monaco.