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BFA in Drawing to a career in Animation

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BFA in Drawing to a career in Animation

Hey folks,

The main question I have is what would be the best course of action for someone with a BFA in Drawing to pursue a career in animation (specifically, I'm interested in storyboarding).

To elaborate further, here's some context:

So I have a BFA (2012) in drawing. I draw a lot. A lot. Every now and then I'd get 'heat' in art school because my studio walls were plagued with an ecclectic array of works and styles - smudgy oil paintings, highly rendered photorealistic watercolors, cartoons, colorful illustrations, washy black-and-white landscapes - most people pinned this as an 'identity / personal-style-crisis' but the truth was that I just simply and sincerely enjoyed the act of drawing anything and everything as well as working in a broad array of approaches. My thesis / main body of work focused (and still does) on large-scale watercolor drawings dealing with archetypes and narrative, but I am constantly experimenting and playing and creating beyond it. 

Post-graduation, I had no idea what to do with myself. I have a minor in photogrpahy to compliment the drawing major, but a lot of student loan debt (on top of general living expenses - rent, food, fuel, etc), so going into internships or freelancing or trying to sell work wasn't an option. Student loan debt collectors won't wait, so I followed my dad into construction to keep them at bay. It's been good gig so far - I live comofrtably and I have enough spare money and time to continue to make art and do things I enjoy. I continue to show my work in galleries, and every now and then I pick up freelance gigs photographing weddings and portraits or fulfilling comissions for various drawings and paintings.

But, although I'm in a good place, construction just doesn't fulfill me or my need to draw, to be around fellow creative types, to work on projects, those long endless days in the studio that I miss, the crunch of a deadline, the energy of it all, the critical enviornment and feedback - that's where I thrived.

A few months ago someone on a job mentioned storyboarding and working in animation production - something I hadn't considered in a long time. Our animation department, at the time I was in school, was severely lacking, and although I had initially entered art school as an animation major, I switched to drawing relatively quickly after seeing how limited and just...really lacking in quality / instructors / equipment / courses / work turnout the animation department was (my thought being 'well, if I decide later that I want to do animation, surely, having all this drawing behind me won't hurt any.) At any rate, the suggestion led me to researching, and I can't say I have ever felt as excited by the prospect of any career path as I have about any other before - and I've looked at a lot since graduating.

However, I'm intimidated - I have a lot of drawing ability behind me, but have no serious animation skills. I've never done any 3D rendering. Our drawing department focused more on concept and theory than formal / technical skill (beyond endless wonderful figure drawing and media-specific [mostly painting] courses). I have no formal training in film theory or cinematography. I have zero contacts in the industry. And I have no idea where to go beyond libarary books and simply making work. 

Is it even possible for me to head down this road?

I know the first step is to work - just make work, make lots of work, lots of great work - that part I get. But is that enough? 

Should I go back to school? I was ready to apply for MFA programs straight out of undergrad, but thought it would be best to sit still for a while and work on my own projects and really consider what I wanted to do - with so many mixed interests (photography, narrative / story, drawing, illustration, theatre) I didn't want to make the (very expensive) wrong choice. Now I'm wondering if it's an option to pursue an masters in animation, with no animation experience from undergrad and an already huge pile of student loan debt. I'm not even sure if, with just a portfolio of drawing and illustration, I would even be considered for admittance to a program.

If I don't go back to school, how on earth, from the-middle-of-nowhere-midwest would I go about getting my foot in a door? 

(If all else fails, I continue to draw, for ever. And that's great too.)

Thanks so much for any advice, and for taking the time to read this lengthy post. It's sincerely appreciated.

hey an

Hey An,

I run a website which looks at corporate animation world. I myself have worked on 2 animation features and now also work in the corporate world as a producer ( hence produsive). So from years of expereince working talent people in 2d, 3d and live action, i want to give the best advice I can.

Firstly, it sounds great all the work and interest you have in drawing. incredible! 

I would say that some of the BEST 2d and 3D designers and animators i work with HAVENT been to any school at all, they have just picked it up themselves and learn't themsleves. Now here there must a distinction. If you;re looking to get into 3d feature films, then i'd advice against it, as this route WOULD require a more formal approach ( schools etc) . But if you're intersted in a great world of work, which in most cases you can do remotely then the corporate world is better. ( plus the jobs dont go on for a long period of time, so it's varied).

My advice is to look to take your drawing skills forward, and work as a storyboard artist in the corporate market. here, a great example is this guy, look at his site in the storyboard section:

If you could create a site, and put up storybaord frame yourself ( he'll sketch them, put them in photoshop, then put the frames into a storybaord in indesign) you can create a catelogue and look to get work this way ( whilst in the background learning 3D modelling).

In the corporate world, most people use cinema 4d ( great for objects, product shots etc) . So this is a good place to start. There are many courses online, and some on ( you sign up and do as many courses as you wish)

let me know if you need any other advice, i hope this is helpful,



No you don't need to go to

No you don't need to go to school! Calm down bro! You must have a lot of money... Lol.

Half the Animators I have met never went to Art School and self taught themselves. I love your passion but you don't need a degree to get into the industry.

Besides it already sounds like your good enough but if you really want to get into some type of Animation I recommend Animation Mentor Online. Not only do they have a StoryBoard Workshop (so you can learn the fundementals) but they can connect you to the industry and its cheaper then any Degree Program. They even have a start up Workshop if you never touched the software before. They give you a diploma too. Anyways let me know if you liked the site.

But if this isn't enough IAnimate online can teach you more of the Software. Like modeling and rendering for a cheap price. 

I used to do animation, but

I used to do animation, but decided to change something in my life and find a new job. On the job search site I was asked to submit my resume and I realized that I could not write it. That's why I turned to the resume writing service, which understands it better than I do. With their help, I quickly found myself in a new job as a salesman, and I'm very happy about it!