My idea of rich is that you can buy every book you ever want without looking at the price and you’re never around assholes. That’s the two things to really fight for in life.
— John Waters (via detailsdetales)
People have written a lot of touchy-feely pieces on this subject but I thought I’d get right to the heart of the matter
friednonsense said: Being that you're an industry expert, I was hoping if there were any tips or advice you can give to an aspiring Animation Series creator. Any lessons you've learned from working in the industry from so many years. What advice would you give yourself if you were starting out trying to get you're animation picked up by a major network?
Yeah I have a big piece of advice! Stop “aspiring”!!!!! Your aspirations end now!!!!
YES YOU! DON’T WAIT! START NOW! (passionate rambling incoming…)
The freaking coolest thing about living in the year 20XX is that you don’t have to have anyone’s permission to be an Animated Series creator. Grab a trial copy of Flash, or make flipbooks, or your own GIFs, or make some stop motion with your phone. Just start making whatever you want! Don’t save your good ideas for some big-wig executives or networks. Just do them right now! Don’t be precious with your ideas, just put them out there.
Content that’s on TV or in movies is not “more official” than stuff you make in your home on your spare time to share with friends on the internet. It’s all the same!!!!! As long as you enjoy it, who cares!! And if other people happen to like it also, then BONUS!!
The experience you get from trying to make something good on your own is so much more important than any future dream of being a big shot. Upload what you do to the internet and get feedback, show it to as many people as you can and listen to critiques. Learn to do stuff all by yourself, and only for your own pleasure.
From what I’ve seen, the people who end up creating a good animated series are the same people who have been creating their own stories, cartoons, comics and music on their own just for fun long before they ever got the shot at the big-time. Read about how your favorite cartoons are made, and try to do the process on your own. You’ll learn what your strengths are and what you’re interested in exploring.
(If you don’t have the facilities to create animation on your own, make something smaller scale- like a script, a comic, or a storyboard!)
OK THEN HERE’S STEP TWO: once you’ve learned to love your work on your own and figured out what you like to draw and what you’re passionate about, you may get a chance to pitch an idea. And thanks to the work you’ve done, you’ll be READY! Instead of some half-finished ideas, you’ll be able to point to all the amazing stuff you’ve created on your own and say “look, I already know what I like, AND I already know how to do it!” —-that’s WAY more impressive than an undeveloped idea with nothing to show for it. PLUS, the bonus of doing good work on your own is that you’ll attract attention and opportunity! I know so many people working in this industry who were discovered from their own silly personal work that was just randomly found online.
GET TO IT! DON’T WAIT FOR ANYONE’S PERMISSION TO BE THE CREATOR YOU WANT TO BE! START NOW! YOU HAVE TO START NOW! DON’T YOU MAKE ME COME OVER THERE AND FORCE YOU TO DO IT! YOUR “ASPIRATION DAYS” ARE OVER!
sheythereyall said: Hi Tom!! I'm a digital animation student and I was wondering if you have any tips for getting a job at Disney. That's kind of one of my lifetime goals. I would absolutely love to hear back from you! --Shey
Hey Shey. Sorry for this late reply, I just saw I had messages. I get this question a lot. ”Do you have a TIP on how I get into Disney as an animator/character designer/concept artist- its my dream”.
I’m answering you, but posting this for all to see.
(NOTE: Shey, ignore any snarky-ness in my tone, you don’t deserve it and seem like a very nice person. This is a global answer since I’m posting it and not necessarily directed toward you. I just get this question A LOT and, hopefully unlike yourself, by people that just want to dream it; not work for it.)
First of all, when you ask someone that question, you really should have your portfolio in your hand and have JUST SHOWN that person it. Without that, I truly am just giving you the most general of answers. That said, you just want a “tip” on how to do it? The easy answer is to Google search it and most likely you’ll end up at Disney animation’s website where I assume (I’ve never looked) they probably have some instructions on how to submit your portfolio online and (hopefully) an idea of what they want you to have in it. That’s a tip.
But here’s the honest answer and its a bit more than a tip. The real question you should be asking is, “What do i need to do to make it as a professional artist at one of the biggest/oldest/ most respected/ competitive animation studios in the world?” I’ll be even more direct: by not even knowing what you are REALLY asking, it tells me you’re not ready. The person asking how to become what took me 25 years and looking for a “tip” for an answer has a long way to go to understand the competitive effort and strong work ethic needed to make it at a major animation studio, much less get that first entry level job as an artist. First, take an honest look at your work and compare it to PROs. Not your peers. Not your Deviant Art followers, your parents, siblings, or high school friends- but compare it to the people’s work who’s JOB you want to take away. Sounds tough, right? At many studios, that’s what it comes down to: Someone has to leave for a job to be open, so there’s some truth to it. But that mentality of looking at your ARTISTIC HEROES as your competition will give you a good sense to what you are up against. The best of the best. Yes, there are entry-level positions at most of the studios, but you don’t want that. You want to jump past that and be an animator, character designer, concept artist. Not a storyboard revisionist. Not an intern. Maybe you’ll take those positions to get your foot in the door? Good, because that’s all you’re gonna get offered to you. Even if you draw like the teen version of Glen Keane (if you don’t know who he is then you’re also showing how “not ready” you are) you still don’t have that precious commodity that producers put equal weight on: Experience. So, buckle down remember you’re young still (unlike me) and do the work needed and expect an entry level position for all that hard work. It’s fact. How long you stay in that entry level position is where you’re ability will pay off though. Some climb high and fast. Others, their whole career is a struggle. Hard work can make a difference, but I believe there is a mysterious “A” gene that is a bit bigger in some people’s DNA than most. And that “A” stands for “Ability”.
I can shorten it to a TIP though: DRAW EVERY DAY.
I know I sound like a crodgity-old man (and part of me is) but know that I am answering this question not for you, but for ALL the people that have asked it. BUT- even more importantly- know that I’m ALSO not answering this just for me but for all the other artist pros that have been asked it. Listen to these words: Wake up. Quite dreaming and start WORKING.
You’ll have my job in no time. :)