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Is animation a good career for introverts?

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Is animation a good career for introverts?

Hi there,

I'm new these forums and would greatly appreciate some insight into the following problem.

I'm 29 (soon to be 30) and I'm just getting started on my second career after spending almost a decade or so in marketing. The problem wasn't that I didn't enjoy marketing but that I spent most of my time daydreaming of animated stories I could tell and that I was far too introverted for that line of work. So I put together a portfolio and got accepted into an animation school out west, but now the doubts are starting to creep in.

The problem isn't the school but the thought that I might be too shy/introverted to do this kind of work--at least for a living. When I did a summer course in animation, I remember how energetic, lively, and, quite frankly, immature some of my classmates were and how draining it sometimes felt. They were great people, but somehow I couldn't connect. I also know that networking is a huge part of finding work in this business, but I'm afraid my ineptness in this area will limit my opportunities.

In the end, I love drawing and storytelling too much not to give it a try. But I wonder if I'm in denial.

Are there any pros out there that have overcome shyness/introversion to succeed in this field?


Shyness isn't a constant and can be overcome. The solutions and paths to do so can be varied, and the perceptions of oneself and others can be a place to start. Look at the process as a journey worth exploring, or some other metaphor or descriptor that works for you.

If you feel that shyness is really holding you back, there are things that can be done--start by asking your doctor.

I was shy and somewhat introverted in my younger days, and I still have some of those tendencies. They did't hurt my career in animation all that much, but it depends on what I do. I ended up becoming a teacher at a animation school, and nothing really puts you up to overcoming introversion like standing in front of a classroom and teaching material.

WHO you are is less of a consideration that WHAT you can do, so focus on developing your abilities/talent and the confidence in same, and you may find that same confidence spills over into other areas of your life.
My tips to build connections is to understand that "shop talk" is a great gateway to relationships. A lot of your peers are doubtlessly passionate about what they do, so that is something you have in common. You can build your bridges with other people from there.

The other thing is to check your own self perceptions and your perceptions of others. If you don't like yourself very much, that communicates out to other people via body English and spoken tonality and word choice. There's a fine line between arrogance and confidence, so even if you know a great deal about something, you can mix some humility and humour and come across in a palatable way.
If its other people that grate on you, again......check how you are perceiving them. Honestly ask yourself if your biases or disdain is fair or justified. Consider that the people around you are there for the same reasons you are, and that they bring many, many varied and different approaches and opinions to the craft. If you need to, you can "grant them that" even if it seems at the moment to be immature.
Showing respect and even a little awe can help build connections with other talents. If you are exceptionally talented yourself, being open and receptive to the same thing from others is a guaranteed way to connect.
Everyone gravitates to a mentor, right?

Be open, honest, friendly, restrained is, treat EVERYONE respectfully.
BE happy.

But understand the minefield that this can be. A single snort of derision against a co-worker can peg you as a dick for a long, long time. So can being headstrong.

You can apply some psychology here and use role-models yourself. Find a person whose behaviour you admire ( they can be a real or fictional person) and model yourself after them. Borrow the traits you like, discard the ones that don't seem to work for you. No-one has to ever know you do this, and it can be a very subtle thing. Its just another tool in the tool box.
And speaking of tool boxes, there's a wealth of different means of overcoming shyness from a wide variety of people, such as Dr. Joyce Brothers, Abigail Van Buren ( Dear Abby), Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar and dozens of others. They all often repeat much of the same advice and methods, and there can be a lot of value in their ideas. It might be something worth trying.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

Hi Ken,

Thanks for the reply.

I can certainly understand how perception plays a role in all of this. I suppose part of me feels inadequate because I wish I had had the courage to pursue this path when I was younger and a bit more carefree. I'm assuming that most of my peers will probably be in their early 20s (or younger), so I'm kind of concerned about sticking out like a sore thumb and whether or not we can relate. Some of them are also fiercely talented, so it's a bit intimidating as well.

But I realize that my high expectations of the outcome also contributes to my unease. I really don't want to go back into marketing at this point, and I don't have any backup plans otherwise. And while I probably could get by pursuing something else for a living, I don't ever want to look back and wonder what might have been. It's just the responsibilities/burdens of being a grownup--bills, rent, and family--added on top of my shyness that makes the journey that much more difficult.

Sounds like you have the leverage you need to jump into this, but you also have the fears that block you.

Want my sincere advice?

Fuck the fear. Just fuck it and throw it away.

You cannot do anything about the other talents around you, so concentrate on your own talent. Focus like a laser on getting good. Look over the shoulders of those that are talented, find out what they do, apply that to your own work. Grow, explore, focus.......rinse, repeat.

I've been in the biz for 28 years, I taught and VFS and other film/art colleges for about 10. I've seen all kinds of people come through the animation programmes, some of them were well beyond their 20's and launched themselves into good careers. I'm talking about people that were lawyers, cops, military folks, jobs that were no easy to begin with and who told me that learning animation was by far the toughest thing they've done.

All your baggage, and let's not mince words............its baggage, doesn't need to come along with you.
You can consider yourself at a crossroads.
You can either do this, whole-heartedly and spite all the negativity, have the PERFECT set of excuses in hand to avoid doing this and to go off and do something else. The level of disquiet inside of you, versus the pain of not living up to your own goals/expectations will determine which path you take.

Now, surely you are feeling confused, frustrated........things are swirling.

I'll offer you the same set of questions that get posed to everyone else at the same crossroads:

Right much are you drawing, creating or generally just producing work at a professional or near-professional-level? How much do you do in a day? In a week? How much time do you devote to this.
Do you actually produce work or is this just.........thoughts in your head? Is this just an idea you like?
How much do you explore the craft? Do you read articles, tutorials, magazines? Have you already attempted animation, storyboards, paintings, designs, making your own films etc......any of those things? Or are they for later?

Is this a do-or-die obsession, or just an affectation that seems like it would be nice to do?

See, the answers you give yourself to these kinds of questions are a gauge of your suitability for this endeavour.
If things like work, family, pets, hobbies, other interests get in the way.......and they take priority in your life, then you'd be better off finding something else to do. The things you value most will conflict with this enterprise.
On the other hand, if you already do many of the things required; draw create, make films, design stuff......and do so obsessively and with great or total focus.......then you already have most of the tool-set need to tackle this. If you draw for a couple of hours a day, regardless of how your working day went....then you can muster the right amount of focus for this.

Does this sound daunting?

It's supposed to be. Because those other talented folks have a head start against you, if you need to develop your own talent to reach their level you needed to start last year. A piece of paper ( a degree) from a school is meaningless bullshit if the talent cannot create work at a level that a studio demands.
That is a constant that has never changed, nor will it EVER change. You've got to be able to demonstrate you can do the work as needed, and if you can't........then get cracking.......or walk away and do something else.
Use your smarts to break the tasks ahead down into manageable chunks, developing the analytical mind to spot what you need to do will be your greatest asset. It'll chip away at the fear because it'll give you purpose and increased focus.

I'll say this......the fear is tough. The fear hurts, but the pain of resentment/regret for having never tried haunts and hurts a LOT more.

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

I think there are many

I think there are many promising professions for introverts.
You just have to find the best option for you and do what you really like to do.