Archive for the ‘studies’ Category

Thursday, October 12th, 2023

STUDENTS: Will Finn’s Letter From Ward Kimball


Ward Kimball Advice

Here is perhaps the best tip you’ll get all year… Ward Kimball’s advice for young animators. Thanks to Will Finn for sharing this!

I found the last paragraph to be particularly interesting and relevant. Kimball knows that his point is apt to fly right over an enthusiastic 15 year old’s head, so he tells him to save the letter and read it later in his life. Kimball’s words are directly applicable to the things animation is going through today…

He says, “Of course Hanna Barbera are pretty crude compared to Disney’s. But this is a problem of economics. H&B are filling a need and it is a business just like selling washing machines. We all can’t be part of an organization such as Disney’s with almost untold capital to underwrite full animation. Lots of cartoon co.’s would like to indulge in full animation, but the economic realities of the jungle prevent it. It’s OK to have an idol and a goal but a realistic assessment of what’s going in on the world of animation is very important.”

Kimball knew what he was talking about. He had just witnessed the downsizing of theatrical animation, and saw the competing studio-run operations shut down one by one. The handwriting was on the wall at Disney. He ironically uses the phrase “untold capital”, but he knew that in 1972, Disney was changing too. They wouldn’t be producing as much animation as in the past. On his blog post, Will says that Kimball retired shortly after this letter was written.

But Kimball doesn’t come off as being the least bit angry or disappointed in this letter. He doesn’t bemoan the loss of what once was, he’s exuberant about where a passionate 15 year old could take animation in the future. He told Will to study the fundamentals of art and encouraged him to look beyond what Disney had done and consider the new ideas coming from Bakshi and Crumb. He advised developing a thirst for learning and figuring out how things work. And he summed it all up with the line, “A realistic assessment of what’s going on in the world of animation is very important.”

Beginning with “The Little Mermaid”, big studios dominated. Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, Sony, Cartoon Network, Netflix and Disney created their own cartoon factories and employed thousands of people. Now, one by one, just like in 1972, they are cutting back staff. Yesterday, Netflix announced further cutbacks and said that they would be focusing on content created by third party creators in the future. Many of my Facebook friends were bemoaning the layoffs and predicting doom and gloom. But as Kimball points out, it’s important to figure out “how it works” in the here and now.

The phrase “Third party creators” should be a reason to rejoice for all artists. The whole point of being an artist is to CREATE, not to comfortably do the same thing day after day for the rest of your life. Creation requires risks. Corporate studios are averse to taking risks. Put two and two together and read the press release for what it’s really saying to artists. Layoffs may be hard to manage today, but if you follow Kimball’s advice, they may be the best thing that every happened to you.

A job isn’t like your parents. It isn’t there to take care of you. As Kimball says, it’s “a problem of economics”. If you have “a realistic assessment of what’s going on in the world of animation”, you’ll discern the path to the future. Instead of focusing on pink slips and they way things were in the “golden” past, we should focus on the creative aspects… specifically we should engage in curiosity about all things… THINK! THINK! THINK! and consider different approaches that may not fit the formula of our “idols and goals”.

In short, you need to be an artist, not a cog in a corporate wheel. You might be able to be comfortable in a job for a while, but it isn’t going to last forever. The world changes and evolves and you have to change and evolve with it. Instead of being devoted to a job title, specific technology or studio, be devoted to your art form. Focus on creative curiosity and look for the opportunities that come with change and you will be able to accomplish great things even in the downturns. In fact, the downturns may turn into great opportunities for you as an artist.

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.


Discount Ends Nov. 6th!
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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.

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