Archive for the ‘advice’ Category

Thursday, February 22nd, 2024

A Career In Animation: Fans vs. Pros

A Career In Animation Fans vs Pro

Last night in our Discord discussion, one of our members asked me a question that is one I think about a lot. The person who asked is a young artist looking to break into animation as a career. He said that the material Animation Resources shares excites him a lot and it inspires him in his own work, but when he tries to share it with fellow students, the look at it with a puzzled expression and say, “What does this have to do with what I do?” He wanted to know why they didn’t see in the material what he saw in it.

I hesitated before answering, because I have a theory on that but it isn’t a very popular opinion… The hard truth is that not everyone who studies animation is an artist. The majority of students studying animation are fans.

PROS PLAY THE GAME. FANS ONLY WATCH.

An artist looks at the world around him, absorbing life and the personalities he sees. Artists soak up creativity of all kinds… not just animation, but live action films, comics, fine art, dance, music, sculpture, acting, writing, even architecture. All of these inspiring things combine to create the artist’s frame of reference. No one knows exactly how it all works, but this is the pool of ideas that he calls upon to inspire him to create something totally new and totally his.

But a lot of animation students, perhaps the vast majority of them, are different than that. They grew up watching anime or golden age cartoons or Disney features and dreamed of making films like that themselves. They watched the DVD supplements and read the animation “history” books published by the studios and decided to become an animator… but not an animator in the sense of creating things… an animator who makes things exactly like the things they grew up loving. They practice drawing the familiar shapes used in anime or Disney style or Warner Bros cartoons, and learn to do a more than passable job of imitating poses from the films they watched as a kid. But if they’re asked to come up with a new design or draw something in a different style, they can’t do it. Their whole focus has been on the one thing they loved as a kid. They haven’t become an animator, they’ve become a professional fan of those particular films.

What happens to people like that? Well, if a show is in production that happens to match the style they’ve modeled themselves upon, they’re in luck. They might get a job assisting an artist, tying down the lead artist’s rough drawings using the stylistic formulas they’ve trained themselves to imitate. But the problem is, styles change.

Since I started in animation in the 1980s, I’ve seen a bunch of styles come and go. For a while round cute characters were the vogue, then flat stylized, UPA influenced characters and characters with angular shoulders and elbows replaced them. “Wacky” cartoons dominated with funny animal duos for a while, until they were replaced by animated sitcoms… noodle arms, anime influenced, CalArts style… lines with thicks and thins, dead line, volumetric characters, flat ones… Every few years a new style came along and replaced the old one. People who had trained themselves to draw in only one style got swept aside and new artists replaced them.

There’s nothing wrong with being a fan of animation. That’s where all of us start. But if you want to make it a career, you need to go beyond that. You have to have your eyes on the horizon, focusing on the NEXT big style, not training yourself to draw in the LAST big style.

A Career In Animation Fans vs Pro

I’ve never seen a study that tracked what happens to people who earn animation degrees, but my informal polling indicates that the majority of these students never end up working in animation. Even at the best schools, the percentage is probably less than half, and at some schools they’re lucky if a single person in an entire graduating class lands a job in animation. Considering that a four year degree in animation costs more than $100,000, that can be devastating for a young student who suddenly realizes their focus has been on all the wrong things the whole four years of schooling.

Even worse, I’ve had some students tell me that they are getting an animation degree to become an “animation historian”. That horrifies me because there are only a handful of people I know who do that professionally, and the ones I know live hand to mouth surviving on side jobs to pay the bills. Just watching all the supplements on DVDs and memorizing the info in books on animation isn’t enough to support a career,. Pile $100k of student debt on top of that and it’s a recipe for disaster.

A few years ago, I heard a director at a big cartoon studio say that just about anyone who could hold a pencil could get a job in animation. The studios were pumping out dozens and dozens of animated TV series with as many as 65 half hour episodes of each. Recently, that bubble burst and many series were cancelled and artists were laid off. Today, competition for the few remaining jobs is fierce. Only the best of the best survive.

A Career In Animation Fans vs Pro

SO WHO ARE “THE BEST OF THE BEST”?

They’re the people who think like artists, not like fans. They aren’t invested in drawing in one particular style, their skills are based on a firm grasp of the fundamentals of art that allows them to work in many styles. They’re the people who are experienced and can meet deadlines and deliver a product that doesn’t require the supervisor to extensively revise their work. They’re the people who invested in themselves with an organized program of self study… life drawing, absorbing art of all kinds, analyzing and breaking down styles to build versatility, a focus on moving forward up the ladder and aspiring to become a greater artist… exactly the kind of person who totally understands what Animation Resources is doing.

If you are a young artist who expects to build a lasting career in animation and you look at the stuff Animation Resources shares and you don’t understand how it applies to you, you need to figure it out quick. You’re a deer in the headlights. Animation won’t change to fit you, you need to change to fit it. The material we are sharing has been selected by successful animators who know their stuff and have survived the changes over the years. We don’t have a lot of members in our organization, but the ones we have are “the best of the best”. If you want to be among their ranks, you need to sit down and figure out what they know that you don’t.

Think like an artist, don’t think like a fan. A good start at doing that is signing up for a membership in Animation Resources.

Members Appreciation

For the past decade, Animation Resources has been serving artists working in the fields of animation, cartooning and illustration. Our volunteers and members have pulled together to raise the bar for our art form, and it’s time to celebrate… It’s Members Appreciation time again!

During the month of February, Animation Resources expresses our appreciation for to members with a very special Reference Pack, and we invite you to become a member too. For the next 30 days, we will be sharing reasons why you should join us. Our benefits of membership far exceed the cost of our annual dues.

Dollar Days

This year, we are trying something new to encourage new memberships. You can join for a one week trial membership for only A DOLLAR! Yes, you get access to everything our annual members get for seven days for only a buck. (Click here for the details on our Dollar Days.) What are you waiting for?

You can find out what our members get at the Member Appreciation Page. It’s easy to join. Just click on this link and you can sign up right now online…


JOIN TODAY!
https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/

Members Appreciation Month

PayPalAnimationAnimation Resources depends on your contributions to support its projects. Even if you can’t afford to join our group right now, please click the button below to donate whatever you can afford using PayPal.


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Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

Advice: Business of Art

SONY DSC

I see a lot of people starting out in animation focusing on the business aspects… creating lots of “product”, pitching show ideas to studios, worrying about people who might ask them to work for free on a personal project, posting ads to groups like this to try to get viewers… I’ve seen people who do all these sorts of things for almost a decade, and still aren’t any further along to success as an animated filmmaker than the day they started.

You don’t become successful in animation by having the “right package”. You become successful because you have the “right stuff”. You can sit down and really animate, do layout, design backgrounds… you have skills in constructive drawing, compositional principles, perspective, anatomy and life drawing, color theory, painting techniques…

Specialization aimed at a specific job title is the absolute WORST thing you can do in school. I went to design school to study graphic design. They taught me type speccing, paste up, how to use a linotype machine… A couple of years later the Macintosh came out and everything I learned was obsolete. The only classes that I still use today are the basic ones… Design 101, Color 101, Drawing 101. Going to a trade school to learn art or filmmaking is a good way to be replaced by outsourcing.

If you want to be an artist, LEARN TO BE AN ARTIST FIRST. With a solid foundation in the fundamentals, you can learn any trade quickly on your own time or on the job. You don’t have to pay a school thousands of dollars to make you an unemployable specialist in a field that is now being done in India or China.

Instead of putting sweat equity into a business opportunity, it’s a lot better to put that effort into investing into yourself and your skills. But that takes hard work, humility, experimentation, and a solid plan for self education. Make personal films, but CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Don’t just fill time quotas. That’s the hard way to become successful for sure, but it’s a sure road for advancement. “Playing the game” and “doing business” can go in circles forever and get you nowhere.

Student Membership Drive

Fall is time to save when you join Animation Resources as a student member. For the next couple of weeks our Student Membership will be discounted to only $60/year! Best of all, you will continue to get that savings every year you renew as a student for up to three years. Yes, this applies to full time educators too. Why should you join? Each day we’ll be highlighting more reasons why you should be a member of Animation Resources. Bookmark us and check back every day.

$60Reference PacksSTUDENT MEMBERSHIP

Discount Ends Nov. 6th!
$70/year $60/year (recurring)

FREE SAMPLES!

Not Convinced Yet? Check out this SAMPLE REFERENCE PACK! It will give you a taste of what Animation Resources members get to download every other month!

There’s no better way to feed your creativity than to be a member of Animation Resources. Every other month, we share a Reference Pack that is chock full of downloadable e-books and still framable videos designed to expand your horizons and blow your mind. It’s easy to join. Just click on this link and you can sign up right now online.

JOIN NOW Before This Offer Ends!
https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/

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Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

How To Become An Animator In An Infinite Number of Really Hard Lessons

cartoonist

I was asked in PM today a question I always get asked… “How do I become an animator?” Here is my answer…

There are a lot of people in the world that want to be cartoonists and animators. More people than there are jobs for all of them. The ones that succeed are the ones that really study hard to master the fundamentals of art, not just learn a specific style. Styles change but the ability to draw volumetrically and design with taste and use color well will never go out of style.

Also, the people who continue to work in cartooning year after year are the ones who never stop studying and trying to improve their skills. Learning is a lifelong process. It isn’t something that just happens at school. You need to identify the skills you are lacking and put together a plan for yourself on how to achieve them. The animation business has changed tremendously in the 30 years I’ve been working in it, and I’ve seen plenty of my coworkers left in the dust because they weren’t willing or able to make the changes necessary to keep up with the times.

A lot of people desperately want to hear that there is a shortcut to become an artist… Go to such and such a school and you are guaranteed a job in the animation industry. If you just learn to draw the formula for anime… or Disney princesses… or wacky… or angular flat, you can find a job on shows with that style. They find out the hard way when they move to Los Angeles that none of that is true. You have to be a versatile artist with marketable skills, formulas and diplomas alone won’t cut it.

Student Membership Drive

Fall is time to save when you join Animation Resources as a student member. For the next couple of weeks our Student Membership will be discounted to only $60/year! Best of all, you will continue to get that savings every year you renew as a student for up to three years. Yes, this applies to full time educators too. Why should you join? Each day we’ll be highlighting more reasons why you should be a member of Animation Resources. Bookmark us and check back every day.

$60Reference PacksSTUDENT MEMBERSHIP

Discount Ends Nov. 6th!
$70/year $60/year (recurring)

FREE SAMPLES!

Not Convinced Yet? Check out this SAMPLE REFERENCE PACK! It will give you a taste of what Animation Resources members get to download every other month!

There’s no better way to feed your creativity than to be a member of Animation Resources. Every other month, we share a Reference Pack that is chock full of downloadable e-books and still framable videos designed to expand your horizons and blow your mind. It’s easy to join. Just click on this link and you can sign up right now online.

JOIN NOW Before This Offer Ends!
https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/

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