Local animation and motion graphics company Prodigi Arts is preparing for aggressive expansion over the next two years.
Prodigi, which has been servicing prominent businesses in the city over the last five years, provides animation and 2D/3D graphics for advertising, presentations, explanations, education, entertainment, in-house training, prototype development and company mascots.
The company uses much of the same software used by animation giants Pixar and Dreamworks.
Chris O’Conner established his communications company in 2005. Originally he had considered other cities to start his new business, but he saw a niche in the Memphis market for animation.
“I’m very passionate about this city and its potential,” said O’Conner, Prodigi CEO and lifelong Memphian. “I see a lot of growth potential here. City officials are embracing innovation and new ideas.”
Friends and mentors had urged O’Conner to move to California, where it was perceived he would make more money and be more successful as an animator. But after visiting the Golden State and preparing to attend graduate school at UCLA, O’Conner decided his business would be more successful in Memphis where he would be one of the few people specializing in his field.
Chris O’Conner is principal, left, and Joshua Colfer is director of public relations for Prodigi Arts, a company that helps businesses communicate their ideas and brands with animation.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
“I decided that was not right for me, and I would have been one in a million there,” O’Conner said. “I felt the need to stay here where I could be an asset for the city.”
Prodigi has created animation projects for a local client roster that includes the Memphis Indie Film Festival, Hnedak Bobo Group, Luna Web Marketing, Fleet Equipment and the Greater Memphis Chamber.
Prodigi also provides video production services and has worked with an extensive client list that includes Leadership Memphis, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, AutoZone Inc. and International Paper Co.
“One of the important things that Prodigi is really trying to incorporate is giving young professionals and college graduates the opportunity to make a name for themselves as animators and develop professionally to grow their careers,” said Joshua Colfer, Prodigi public relations coordinator.
The company, which is located in the Emerge Memphis building Downtown, currently employs five people, including three animators. O’Conner plans to add more animators next year and hopes to recruit talent from local design and art colleges.
“We are looking for exceptionally gifted people coming out of the local colleges that really could get jobs at Pixar but we want for them to come here and help build the economy in Memphis,” said O’Conner, who graduated from the executive program of Leadership Memphis last year.
Now Prodigi gives back to the community by being a corporate leader sponsor for Leadership Memphis, as well as the Memphis Indie Film Festival.
He also hopes that supporting local talent and growing the animation industry in Memphis might eventually lead to the expansion of animation programs at local colleges.
O’Conner expects to increase staff to as many as 20 people in the next two years.
That growth would mean Prodigi will outgrow its current location, but O’Conner is adamant that Prodigi will remain in Downtown Memphis.
“I love Downtown,” said O’Conner, who is already scouting potential future locations.
Prodigi’s decision to be located Downtown is linked to the spirit of entrepreneurship in the South Main Historic Arts District.
“I think Downtown, and specifically the South Main district, tends to be a symbol of where Memphis is headed. Particularly in the South Main district, there is such a wave of art, design and innovation,” said Colfer, who pointed out that Prodigi employees thrive being located in a building with so many other entrepreneurs and innovators. “Everyone really wants to add to quality and development of new businesses in Memphis.”