Search form

When's it too late to get started?

7 posts / 0 new
Last post
When's it too late to get started?

This is going to start like so many other threads, usually by younger people, students mostly. I haven't worked in the industry yet. And I'm trying to figure out how to get in.

The problem, however, is that I'm not a student. I'm not 22. I am instead 30, and though I graduated with a degree in animation, my BFA is 8 years old, and I primarily studied 2D animation. When I began college in 97 it was a viable art form. When I left in 2001, it wasn't so much. My school had just introduced a Flash class which I couldn't get into, as it filled so quickly. I didn't study any 3D programs. My situation has ended up being the combo of bad decision making out of the gate, and also some bad luck and timing.

I didn't get any internships in or just outside of school. I made a bad decision early on in terms of where I moved right afterward, and didn't put myself where there was a community of animation professionals... or... jobs. Eventually to make a living I ended up in retail.

I moved to NYC and quickly discovered how incestuous the industry is there: everyone went to school together! I did freelance at a few places doing AE editing but nothing really beyond that.

I know a large part of actually succeeding is getting out of the headspace I put myself in, but it becomes very hard to insert yourself into a community and to network when the people around you have years of experience socially and professionally together. I get older and older (and believe me, i know logically 30 isn't "old") and see positions being filled by younger and younger people. I gotta say, my confidence has really taken a hit; I want only an entry level job at a studio, and have in the last year or so finally been in a situation where I am not making the kinds of life decisions that can delay pursuing a dream (relationships, other work, moving, etc), but I feel relatively bad about whether or not a studio head will look at me, look at my meager resume, and look at how long ago I graduated. For what it's worth, I know I am good.... But sometimes I don't think that's all there is to it. Am I psyching myself out? Because I just feel like a studio is more likely to hire a 23 year old upstart over me, because the perception is that kid must want it more, if I haven't GOTTEN it by now in my "advanced age".

I'm not asking if I should just give up and retire myself to a pasture. I'm trying to figure out whether or not it is going to be detrimental. From seeing and knowing how a studio works, watching my significant other immersed in one, I know how nepotism and snobbishness can play on decisions. And from a business point of view, you can probably expect to pay a 23 year old less and not have to worry about their loyalty waning, whereas a person on the cusp of their 30s may want more money or more time off or to start a family or whatever people assume about people my age and older.

Does anyone have any insight? This isn't totally a "woe is me" thing.. this is me trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps and figuring out where to go from here.

The way all those people got to know each other is by getting to know each other. Get involved - hang out where animators hang out, talk to them, ask them for feedback on your work. Make yourself known to those folks, and pretty soon you'll be part of the group.

Yes, it can be tough competing with younger folks in the job market. But that's true in any field, not just animation.

The past is the past. Let it go and move forward. You can't do anything about decisions you made before, but you can still make decisions now that move you forward.

Oh, and if your portfolio's killer, no one will care how long ago you graduated (or if you graduated, for that matter...)

Firstly, rediscover your love with animation.......explore your childhood and find why you started drawing stories...........nothing else should matter after in the mentality of..........

'I love animation and I dont care if I'm flipping burgers for the rest of my life as long as animation is there for me when I go home'

having that attitude amongst networking groups gets you jobs sooner than later

Secondly, as DSB pointed out, make sure your portfolio is killer and disciplined

Thirdly, again as DSB said, get networking.....I think New York has a NYNJA Meet up group, 'New York and New Jersey Animators' they invite everyone to join and it would be a great start for ya.

and lastly.....go out and buy David Levy's book 'How to survive and thrive in animation'........its an essential

Daniel Spencer

I had a similar experience also graduating in 97 in traditional 2d it took me a long 2 years to find a proper job. They taught me a 3d package and I've been doing computer animation since then.

You could google your former class mates and see what they are up to, it might be an advantage for you because some of your college mates are probably well established by now. In contrast when you first graduate everyone is at the bottom of the ladder so the network is arguably less valuable.

Every time I look for work I seem to hit the same anxietys. I'm a few years older than you and I also feel that I'm too old and that I lack contacts. It's natural to feel these things while you aren't being offered interviews. This doesn't mean you should be complaicent, try to improve your chances of being employed however you can, but dont beat yourself up about it.

good luck

blog/doodlesDeranged Scratchings

You're not too old if you have focus. Do you want to continue with 2D? Go into Flash? move on to 3D? This lack of focus will have you chasing your tail for years wondering what you coulda, should, woulda done.

So figure out what you want to do, take some classes at SVA's continuing ed dept., become a runner at a NY studio and have at it.

For opportunities to network in NY check out ASIFA East or IFC. Other fun places to explore and listen to lectures are Society or Illustrators and the Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art. Did you go to the Animation Block Party?

So, I think you've stated your weaknesses correctly now form a plan to strengthen them. Education, networking, experience. And work on your reel.

Good luck.

Thanks for the replies: it's easy for me to correctly identify my past failings, and now it's really just time to move on from there. It just gets daunting, and maybe even a little confusing, you know?

Gotta beef up the old self esteem! It helps to get encouragement or suggestions. None of you are saying to pack it in, so that's helpful. ;)