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Where and how to begin your career...

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Where and how to begin your career...

Hello all.

My name's Alessio Saturno and i'm a beginner in animation. What may seem a blatant question is in reality a request of "career guidance". I'm italian and time ago i've attended an italian animation school but it have made me realize that the animation industry in Italy is very, very limited and animators who don't have a job in Rainbow s.r.l. (whose quality isn't even that good) are likey to get completely underpaid, like a japanese animator that doesn't work for Ghibli or few other studios. You know, a good part of italian animation is still in traditional 2D

The problem with this experience is that, now, i have no real direction in the animation industry. And the comic book industry is very limited too, in Italy: if you don't work for few other studios, you'll be exploited by kind of leeches that are small publishers who will pay twenty euros for each comic book page (if all goes well) and will publish only five hundred copies of your book (again, if all goes well).

Now, i've moved to Germany where there are some relatives and i'm looking for a "normal" job in order to not be unemployed (the italian situation regrading employment rate is desperate, although not as desperate as the greek one) and i have yet to see if that was a good idea. Better than being unemployed, right? Otherwise how am i supposed to buy animation tools like Acme Hole Puncher or a good Wacom graphic tablet? Unfortunately, as i have imagined before, Germany doesn't even have a big animation industry like France and, currently, if i wasn't afraid of moving alone, if i knew the language and if there wasn't strong unemployment i would have gone there. I also don't feel ready to start a career as an animator because i don't feel what they have been teached to me at school is enough (especially about storyboards).

Now that i'm in the almost-safe zone (Germany), even if i have yet to find a job and language school (screw you Christmas) i want to inquire about getting started in the animation field. I'm interested in France and, of course, America.

First of all, i don't want to hear about animation schools, nor ONLINE courses: about online courses, i despise them, you don't get the same experience from a real life class, no matter how good Animation Mentor is. About schools in general, yeah, i really would, but how can you afford CalArts or something similar if you don't already come from a wealthy family? My parents in Italy can barely buy an apartament for less than CalArts's tuition, twenty years of loan. And they're not even poor for the italian standards!!! How are they supposed to send me to CalArts LoL??? And the middle class situation in Italy is pretty much like this. Even 50k is a treasure for most italian people. I would really wish attending CalArts, but it's an Utopia for me. I wish there were public animation schools where you don't pay a fortune but, you know, these things don't exist in Italy and in France neither, i believe.

If it were for higly professional schools, it wouldn't be a big problem but i come from a country where nobody gives you a proper career guidance. Therefore, i don't know what i am supposed to go.

First, how can someone begin making professional animation? You are not expected to enter big studios anytime soon, sure. See, as i have said, i have France very near my current residence but even America attracts me. Forget Japan, it's a too different place for me and i can't waste time learning a completely different language (one thing is learning german language, another thing is japanese's one.) Not that i have something against japanese people. Maybe one day, when i will be more professional, but now now.

but there must be some places where to start fresh without risking to sign for a job where you will have to work sixty hours for three hundreds euros a month. (again an italian reality). Therefore, i know i won't be able to make traditional animation or i'll have to go in India or other countries where poverty is rampant. It's a dream of nobody. Traditional animation will be only an exercise. I'm interested in Toon Boom and 3D animation at this point. So, are there places where to get started in the animation industry? For example, in France, is there a specific direction for animators who didn't attend Gobelin (which is also too pricey for me)? What are the first step for someone who has a little knowledge about animation?

And, especially, for everything else i've written in this message: what's your feedback and what do you think about it?

Hi there, 

Hi there, 


I can definitely relate to not finding enough animation work in most of Europe. I am from Estonia, and while I did find work in 2D animation here, it is still far from what I expected. I mean it is really rare to do cartoon animation here. 

About starting somewhere, I would stay start doing for the web if you cant find a job anywhere. Create a channel and just keep posting all the things you animate. I mean nowadays most people start by learning by themselves using books such as Preston Blair's animation. Thats the best way you can get started I think. You will slowly learn everything you need by doing lots of different bits of animation, no matter what the quality you show it in.


Another important thing you will need is of course the light-box table, BUT I never actually had one at home, as I bought a Cintique tablet, which speeds the animation production by like 3 times. Since you dont need to scan and its easy to clean etc. They are pricey but if you want to save lots of time this is the way to go.


And finally, a software. I would say get TvPaint, even if you dont buy the Cintique tablet, get TvPaint anyway, its perfect for scanning the line-work and for so many 2D animation things. Again, it can be costly, but its worht every cent.


So yea, this is my opinion. I went to get a BA degree in 2d Animation, but in the end I realized that everything I was taught there could have been learned by simply opening an animation book and spending some time with it. 


BTW I have my little channel, so check out some of my work I do on my own




You've every excuse in the world to NOT do this.
Too expensive, nothing in your country, don't want to take many more reasons does one need??

You want some straight advice from a guy who's been in the animation biz for more than 30 years???

I'm self-taught.....from a time back ( in around the mid-1980s) when there were next-to-none of the schools, instruction, tools, resources that exist now--and yet I've made it 30 years in this career.

So........fuck schooling.   Oh, sure......get it if you can, because it can be handy.........but it is not the only route to a career in animation.
Forget the loocal industry if there is none.  Forget moving to another country if you cannot afford it.

What's left??
Well, think hard about this.....what do you really need here?  A good school?  To live in America?  A big animation studio down the street??

C' come across as smarter than that..........think real hard.

All you need is talent.

How skilled are you RIGHT NOW?  Are you as good as the best at, say, Disney or Warner Bros??

No?  Why not??  Can't draw as good?  What is stopping you?   A school??  Don't kid yourself.  Everything you need is sitting right in front of you, coming out of that glowing screen.
Grab a pencil , a sheet of paper, and start drawing.  Yes, you can get software, and expensive tools..........but they are not going to make your hands work any better.

Draw, draw like your life depends on it.   THINK.  Use your brain. Use YOUR EYES.  Look at what the top talents do, how they approach a drawing.  Learn to see what that is.  If you can't see it, work at it until you can or give it up.  Get good at it, or go away.  If your circumstances are not the best, or the easiest......then change the things you can..........the ONE thing you can......that stuff that comes out of your hands.

Look, here's a solid truth for you:  it doesn't matter where you come from, how wealthy your family is, or what the local industry is like.  If you have the genuine talent, you CAN find work in the animation biz.  There's no short-cuts, you will have to sweat it.

Is there a direction to take??   Sure, pick one.  You decide.  Pick a direction and make the mistakes, or learn the lessons to success. All thse tools around you are nothing, if YOU to not have the determination to go the distance yourself.

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



I totally agree with your condition. In some areas there are lots of job opportunities in animation. The experience is really matter in these type of jobs. Try to use advanced technologies, creativeness in your work. And try to learn the advance things yourself. You can explore the various animation books by great authors.

The Animator Letters Project

I believe you would find the answers you are looking for by reading the letters on The Animator Letters Project website. Professional animators have shared their stories about how they broke into the industry, how they overcame roadblocks, and their encouragement and advice for others looking to pursue their dream of becoming an animator. So much wisdom and inspiration is found in the letters. Please let me know what you think. :-)

Willie Downs, Creator and Editor, The Animator Letters Project,

Guys, it was so funny to read

Guys, it was so funny to read your comments, here smb fucks all education system, another one is so satisfied with his job. I learned as well animation, but from Youtube, tutorials. When I decided to sell it, no chance. Nobody accepted my style, my view. A friend of mine told me to do IT courses, he agreed that I won't make a lot of money on this stuff. Even though it was a passion, I decided to take Cisco courses man. I don't regret it! I work for them now. I have a question, to tell them the truth that I cheated at their exam. Lol, I had the answers from ,but they do understand, it's hard.