About A&J Studios
A&J Studios creates animation and illustration for licensed properties and original content. A&J was founded in 2001 by Aka Chikasawa and Jason Fruchter.
We are located in Seattle, WA with partner studios in New York City and Tokyo, Japan.
Lead Animator and Illustrator
Head of Original Property Development for Kid’s Media
Jason has over two decades of experience as an animator and illustrator for kid’s media. He creates character animation for broadcast, the internet, and mobile app platforms. He illustrates children’s books based on popular kid’s properties from leading entertainment studios such as Nickelodeon and Disney. Most recently, Jason has become a creator of original content for kid’s entertainment media with the launch of his latest venture: A&J Studios Original Property Development.
Jason began his formal training as an animator and illustrator at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he graduated in 1992 with a bachelor degree in fine arts. His professional career began in New York City where he worked in the video graphics and animation industry for 9 years. During this time he worked for several studios both full-time and freelance. He gained experience in animated series production for television while working at MTV Animation as a layout artist for the series The Head. He began using the computer to create character animation while working on an educational CD-ROM series featuring The Pink Panther. It was during this project that Jason was introduced to a new vector animation program called Future Splash Animator, which later became Flash. Jason played a leading role in the animation studio helping transition the animation department from the old bitmap animation system they were using to the new more efficient and productive vector animation process.
In 2001 Jason was hired by Visionary Media, LLC to be the lead animator and art director for Whirlgirl, one of the first animated series created exclusively for the internet. The show was hosted by Showtime and had a successful run in the brand new medium of web animation. In addition, Visionary Media optioned Jason’s original property and put him in charge of producing a pilot episode. This plus his job directing the Whilrgirl series provided Jason with extensive experience working through all aspects of the production process of creating an animated series. In preproduction, he supervised recording sessions with voice actors and worked with the heads of the sound effects and music departments. He coordinated between the scriptwriter and storyboard artist to create the framework of the episode. Layout artists, digital ink and paint, and Flash animators were all under the direct supervision and direction of Jason as the episodes were cranked out week after week for a year.
By the early 2,000’s Jason shifted his focus from animation to children’s book illustration. His first book job was for Nickelodeon’s Jimmy Neuton: Boy Genius. The book was a big hit and lead to more book illustration projects featuring other Nick Jr. properties including Dora The Explorer, The Backyardigans, Go Diego Go!, Blues Clues, The Fairly Odd Parents, and much more!
In 2001 Jason and his partner Aka Chikasawa founded A&J Studios, a design studio specializing in animation and illustration services for licensed properties and original content. Jason carries out his freelance animation and illustration work under the A&J Studios name.
In addition to his book illustration projects, Jason keeps involved in the world of animation. In 2003 he worked on the pilot episode of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim series The Venture Bros. In 2006 Jason was put in charge of animation production for a pilot episode of Speed Racer, a new take on the classic TV show. These projects plus various animation jobs for web content providers, ad agencies, TV networks, and app developers keep him involved in the animation industry on a regular basis.
As a contracted illustrator, Jason works on books featuring many popular licensed properties from top entertainment studios such as Nickelodeon, Disney, The Jim Henson Company, MGA Entertainment, The Fred Rogers Company, and Sanrio. Jason works directly for the book publishers who hold the license for these properties. These include Simon & Schuster, Random House, Reader’s Digest Children’s Publishing, Scholastic, Fisher-Price, Crayola, and more. Jason currently works out of his studio based in Seattle, WA.
In addition to his contract work, Jason is currently actively developing original content for the kid’s media industry. Along with Aka, Jason will be launching his first two original properties on April 4th, 2016. A&J Studios Original Property Development will then be creating a new property every year with the goal of creating original content for TV, books, streaming video, and games. If you are a development executive looking for exciting new kids and family content, Jason would love to hear from you to set up a pitch meeting. Please use the email link above to contact him. Thank you!
Assistant Animator and Illustrator
VP of Original Property Development for Kid’s Media
Aka was trained in traditional fine arts and brings this experience to all A&J Studios projects. She has an eye for detail and provides critical feedback that enhances the final output of animation and illustration projects. In addition, Aka’s creative ideas and clever concepts are an essential part in the development of original A&J Studios properties.
Aka was a born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. She was a painting major at the Tokyo Metropolitan School for Music and Fine Arts. Soon after Aka came the US to study architecture and computer graphics at The Cooper Union in New York City. She continued her studies at The Pratt Institute where she earned her bachelor’s degree in architecture. Her post graduate studies included graphic design and illustration courses at the School of Visual Arts in New York and the Yoyogi Animation School in Tokyo.
Aka briefly worked for her family’s architecture firm in Tokyo before permanently moving to New York City in 1996. In New York, she worked for several architect firms freelance and full time. For a year Aka was the full-time assistant to architect Peter Poon in Manhattan’s China Town district. She represented the architect firm at important meetings. She worked on site consulting with clients. Aka played a key in the studio as a draft person creating construction documents using Auto Cad software. She also built and rendered CGI models and environments using Form Z and 3D Studio Max software.
In 1999 Aka made a major career switch and left the world of architecture to become an animation artist. She worked with animator and Illustrator Joel Rogers as a Flash animation assistant for online animated series. These included a show about an outer space school called Sky High and an action hero series called WhirlGirl. For Sky High, Aka designed all the characters for the series. For Whirlgirl, she scanned the rough drawings created by the pencil artist and used Adobe Flash to create smoothly rendered ink and paint character art.
In 2001 Aka was hired by Visionary Media, LLC as full-time assistant art director for the WhirlGirl series. She worked alongside the art director and created all the Flash character assets that went into the animation production. In addition to her role as ink and paint artist, Aka contributed to the creation of original properties the studio was developing as ideas for future animated productions.
After leaving Visionary Media in 2002, Aka joined forces with her partner Jason Fruchter and formed A&J Studios, a design studio specializing in animation and illustration services for licensed properties and original content. The first project Aka worked on for A&J Studios was an animated story called Hopper Saves The Trees. Aka used her Flash ink and paint skills to create all the character art for the animation. Her next big project was as production supervisor and assistant character designer for animated English teaching lessons for the Lado International Institute in Tokyo, Japan. Aka later went on to work as a freelance Flash production assistant for two New York City-based animation studios; World Leader’s Entertainment and Animagic.
Today Aka works with Jason in their Seattle studio as assistant animator and illustrator. She is also the co-creator of A&J Studios original properties which are currently being developed. For more information on this, please refer to the end of Jason’s bio below. Thank you!