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Creative Career Coach: Go for It and Other Advice from Dad

Sometimes, fathers can be a source of sage career advice – some noted animators share a bit of the wisdom passed down from their dads.

This above all: to thine ownself be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

–William Shakespeare

Follow your heart and your passion whatever you do. If you are true to yourself and act in accordance with your values and don’t cheat, lie or otherwise be false, then your reputation will grow, and you will be respected in the community.

My father, Paul Kleibrink, gave me similar advice when I was in college and wanted to switch my major from pre-med to theater arts/film. I was worried I would disappoint him with the change. My dad pointed out that it was my life and I should follow what I wanted for myself and not to let anyone else tell me what to do with it. He reminded me that you have to be true to yourself first and foremost.

I asked a few people in the animation industry about the advice they received from their dads and would love to hear from you if you want to share any wisdom.

From Bob Kurtz, Director and Owner at Kurtz and Friends:

My dad, Mike Kurtz, was a fun guy, easy to like with a natural gift of the gab. He was funny, he laughed easily. My dad loved to quote the poet Popeye, "I Yams What I Yams." The best thing my dad did for me... was to believe in me. He believed in my dreams. My dad was my number one fan... and I miss him.

Bob Kurtz, founder of Kurtz & Friends Animation, is a director, producer, artist, and designer who primarily works in films and TV commercials. He worked on the animation for Mr. DNA in Jurassic Park.

From Boo Lopez, Marketing & Strategy EA, Disney Branded TV & Nat Geo:

I am one of the luckiest people alive! I have the honor of calling Bob Kurtz my dad and my best friend. As an adult, I now value dad’s words as some of the wisest I have heard. He is an incredible person and is the fairest, most compassionate and funniest person I have ever met. 

His timeless advice includes such gems as “sometimes in life, finding out what you don’t like to do is just as important as finding out what you do like to do”. These are words I have passed along to many people trying to find their passion. Dad is big on passion.

So many morsels of life advice have been passed down to me from a time many moons ago when dad's dear friend and animation great T. Hee shared them with him. Two of my favorites paraphrased here are “flowers are for the living” and “simplify, simplify, simplify.” These are words I live by weekly, if not daily. 

In my younger years I thought dad's words were merely interference to my head banging tunes on the radio. Little did I know that “living up to one’s potential” would be words living rent free in my head all these decades later.

Dad’s advice does not feel like advice at all, it’s like a soft hug or a parent holding onto the back of the bike as you take your first ride without training wheels.  Always there from a place of love and support, never judgment.

From Ruth Clampett, Owner, Creative Director and Author at Clampett Studio Collections:

One of the best things that my dad, animation director Bob Clampett, encouraged my brother, sister and myself was to follow our dreams... and if you decided to make a change... to go for it!  I took his encouragement, and after I was 2 years into a graphic art degree, I realized that most of the projects were uninspiring for me. After taking some night classes, I fell in love with photography and was accepted at Art Center College of Design, which is where I did earn my degree.

Sadly, our Dad passed away right before my Art Center graduation. Our Mom, Sody, adored our Dad, and had the idea that in his honor she wanted to do limited editions from Dad's favorite cartoons he had directed. She acquired the rights through Warner Bros. and asked me to help.

After about a year of juggling photo jobs and then working with great animators and background painters for art editions, I realized that I loved working in the animation world most of all. It was the best choice I could have made and when Warner Bros. decided to open stores, they hired me to be an art director for the galleries, and I was eventually Vice President of Design for all the store products. When they eventually closed due to the studio being sold, WB honored me to continue on as a WB licensee covering DC Comics, Harry Potter, Looney Tunes, and Hanna Barbera. My 36 years in this business has been a great joy. Thanks Dad!!!

Robert Emerson Clampett Sr. was an American animator, director, producer and puppeteer. He was best known for his work on the Looney Tunes animated series from Warner Bros. as well as the television shows Time for Beany and Beany and Cecil.

From Andy Luckey, Executive Producer - Greater Family, LLC, writing about Bud Luckey:

Dad's rules for running an animation studio. I shared these at The Animation Guild's "Afternoon of Remembrance" in 2019:

  1. Always do the best work you can given the budget and schedule of your project. 
  2. Hire the best talent you can. Pay them fairly and on time.
  3. Listen to your team's concerns and thoughts. You're the Director today -- they may be the Director tomorrow.
  4. NEVER take unfair advantage of someone in a business deal. It takes decades to build a good reputation but only one bad act to ruin it.
  5. Never make a live-action "Snow White."

The final one, of course, is a joke.

William Everett “Bud” Luckey was an American artist, cartoonist, illustrator, musician, singer and voice actor. He worked at the animation studio Pixar as a character designer and voice actor. Luckey directed and wrote the Pixar short film Boundin', for which he also composed music and performed as the solo singer and narrator. It won the Annie Award and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.


Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is an internationally-acclaimed recruiter, career coach and animation veteran (production manager on The Simpsons, ink and paint supervisor on Paramount's animated feature Bebe's Kids.) A popular speaker at colleges, film festivals and entertainment industry conferences around the world, Pamela has presented courses at SIGGRAPH in San Diego, Boston, and Los Angeles; was the commencement speaker at Art Institute of Tampa, and taught the Career Realities course at Gnomon School of Visual Effects. Pamela was named one of the Top Ten Recruiters by Animation Magazine and has worked with clients around the world such as Disney Feature Animation, Technicolor in Beijing, Framestore in London, and Lucas Animation in Singapore. She has written for over 125 publications including Computer Graphics, Animation Magazine, U.S. Art, Media History Digest, Art Business News, Idaho Arts Quarterly, and Animation World Network.  As a creative career coach, she helps creative people succeed.

She loved her dad (Paul Kleibrink) and misses him and thanks him for encouraging her to find her own path and to be true to herself. To contact Pamela for personal career coaching, recruiting or speaking engagements email her at You can also connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.