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How to best go about pursuing a career in animation given my current situation? And if so, how to best go about it?

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How to best go about pursuing a career in animation given my current situation? And if so, how to best go about it?


Where to start? I'm currently 20 years old working towards a degree in Biology, but after some recent soul searching I'm beginning to question my motives. I've always had an interest in drawing throughout my life and its ability to tell a story. I'm even trying my hand at creative writing in hopes of writing a series of science fiction novels with my own illustrations, and now I believe I want to pursue this line of work to make those stories a reality. But the major question lurking in the back of my mind is, “how should I go about this?”

My current plan now is to major in Biology and minor in art (and hopefully stick a few creative writing classes in there too) then to apply to Animation programs throughout the US. As far as that goes, my plan is to shoot for CalArts and see where I land. Also, I live in Wisconsin and there isn't much for animation up here, but I'm lucky in that I have family in California where many of the popular animation schools reside, so hopefully I can work something out there in the future.

From my understanding, some animation programs are willing to accept students into their MFA animation programs if they already have background college experience and demonstrate adequate artistic ability. Is this a better option than pursuing another BA in animation? Fun side note, I was actually very surprised to learn that the creator of Spongebob took a route similar to this, in that he was accepted into an MFA animation program after receiving a degree in biology.

Now some of you may be wondering, “Why don't you just drop the Biology program if you're so certain about pursuing animation afterwards?” My answer to that is Biology isn't so much a safety net as it is something that I enjoy learning about and has in many ways become an inspiration for many of my stories (emphasis on the SCIENCE in science fiction). I believe much of the knowledge that I've accrued has enriched many of the worlds I'm creating. Not to mention the emphasis on knowledge of animal and human anatomy is stressed in many bio classes, so that's a plus!

Right now, money isn't too much of a problem since I've been lucky with scholarships and I'm a good student. Assuming ideal conditions I should be done with my degree age 23, so by the end of animation school maybe age 27ish?

So all in all, I guess my question about all of you fine folks is, does this seem like an ideal career path given my situation? Is there anything serious I may not be considering or haven’t thought about yet?

Sorry about the quality of some of the images, but I really wanted to include them for anyone wondering about my ability. Hopefully these images will help. I attempted to resize the images to make them more cumbersome, but that didn't work.

Thank you for all your time!

Edited by: Bojoza on 12/05/2015 - 3:48pm
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,

I had the strangest urge to

I had the strangest urge to check this forum post today of all days, and to my delite someone respoded! Thanks, Willie!

I've read through a few so far, and I plan on reading the rest. I think the one with Jim Van der Keyl resonated the most with me, I think I can do it, I'm just not taking the traditional path. I think I'll figure out some way to make it all work. 

Thanks again, Willie!

I hope that now you are

I hope that now you are satisfied with your career and the choice you have made!
Good luck to you!

Hey, I'm wondering how this

Hey, I'm wondering how this decision might have turned out. I'm in a similar situation, although i think im gonna just pursue it as a hobby in my free time.

Really curious,



You have a difficult

You have a difficult situation. Many people often do not know what they want to do when they graduate from school and choose a university or study that is recommended to them, or it is just fashionable or prestigious. But that's not what they really like to do. I read a similar story at, where the author tells a similar story and what it all led to. I recommend you read this text, suddenly you will find something valuable for yourself and most importantly do not forget: do what you like and only then you will be able to succeed.