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Just wondering...

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Just wondering...

Are there any other artists/animators here that feel un-fullfilled since graduation?

I see an abundance of budding artists here who are anxious to get into the scene, and other artists who are IN the scene, but how about the struggling ones? Are there any here?

As a graduate of an animation program 5 years ago, I feel quite un-enthusiastic about the whole industry, to say the least!:(

I just find this whole industry to be an eternal battle to move forward with: from art directors' supression towards the artist concerning contract negotiations, to their never-ending judgemental eye towards an artists' work (justifiably, however), to their quick decisions to move from one artist to another when the first one may have not been up to par, or not even given enough time to get up to par.

This whole freelance gig is just too darn unpredictable- I have no idea when I'll get called for another gig- no matter how much I get myself out there and promote, it seems that the jobs just trickle in. the alternative is to work in a studio, which I would most likely have no chance in achieving now anyways- besides, drawing all day on a project that is no fun would be pure hell for me- I cannot STAND drawing something I don't want to draw. Especially over and over again, lol.

And besides, what's "full time" in this industry anyways? A 6-month job? A one-year job that will pay you benefits, but lay you off at the end of 12 months? Maybe 24? And make you re-locate to another city or town? Lol...

I have a wife, who has a professional career in our city... we have a house, a car, and kids are on the horizon. You know, the normal suburbian lifestlye.

I am slowly realizing that a career in animation cannot support this lifestyle. I am starting to see that your lifestyle will greatly affect your ability to work within this industry... if you are grounded with a family and other "real-world" responsibilities, then clearly you are going to be very limited in working as an animator full-time. It's okay when you're in your early or mid 20s, with no partner, no home, no vehicle, no real bills or anything, but when you accomplish these aspects of your life, then you need to have a significant income and one that is within your means- like having a job nearby that will always bring in money to pay for what you have to pay for. And finding a steady, long-term animation job that fits this criteria is a long, long shot..

If your plan is to be single into your 30s and live in temporary places, then animation can clearly work for you.

But I just can't justify watching the years go by, working job-to-job in this industry and raking in a little cash, spending it on rent and food and bus tickets, all while it could be spent making money in another job and getting your life started financially... saving your money and actually allowing yourself some finacial freedom by the time you are in your 40s.. corporate jobs provide this, but alas, they don't provide the satisfaction that working in an artistic position can!! Oh, the big "trade-off"... every artist thinks about it, lol

As with all careers, there is money to be made in animation, big money, I suppose, if you have the connections, experience and talent. But let's face it- for the most, part- 90% or more- that is a pipe dream and sooner or later an artist will have to make a decision on how to go forward if they want to actually have things in life and be comfortable.

I've been in touch with a few students from school, and these guys are still working as "junior" animators on projects, or have relocated overseas, etc... they are all single and un-attached, so I'm sure it's working well for them, although they are still clearly in the hole as far as building a financial grounding is concerned... and being in ther 30s now, that is already a big problem for their futures..

Just wondering if any other artists work periodically in the field? Any other artists frustrated that the realization is finally upon you that this field is harder to survive in than first thought???

well, maybe that's why many animators choose to teach instead. maybe that's when they decided that they want to settle down and have a family.

"If life deals you a bad hand... cheat."

great idea actually.. in order to teach, they have to have plenty of experience, and in order to have plenty of experience, chances are they went through the same headaches I explained above..

kudos to the instructors, because most of them are clearly the ones who fought through the battles! Or, most of them are a bit older- and in their time, the industry was totally different and maybe much easier to get into than it is now

I tell my students this little tale--they think sometimes its because I'm in a bad mood, but its not that--its about giving them a dose of reality.

The tale goes like this:
Take a class of 20 animation students, 50% (10 out of 20)of them upon graduation will likely have sufficient talent and/or skill sets to gain employment in the industry. Of those, 50% of that number (5 out of 10) will still be in the industry one to 2 years later. Of THAT number, 50% again ( 2 or so out of 5) will still be in the biz 5 years later, and will have developed the added skill-sets and production/artistic experience to continue on indefinitely.
That's 10% of the total graduating number ( 2 out of 20==10%) and I've yet to see this 10% average out any differently.

The key to longevity in the animation field is perserverance.

I had a spell of about 3 years where almost nothing happened. Well, almost nothing....I made a choice to abandon the city I was living in where offers had cooled down a bit, but were still coming, to move to a place to help build the animation industry in a new city. Didn't work out and I practically lost my shirt--so I came back.
Took about 6 months, but the calls started coming and work started up and off I went--been busy ever since--and have turned down work as well.

I'm considered to be something of an "old hand"--been in the biz for 20 years now, and I'm one of the self-taught variety--so I don't have the benefit of the education you have recieved. I do have the skills though, and the gained experience.

They key thing is the portfolio--the body of work and the skill-set you present, and represent, to an employer.

There's a multitude of reasons why someone doesn't get hired. It could be because the pencil you draw with isn't blue, or it could be because your eyes are blue..........or anything in between.

Bear in mind that unless you have computer skills, 2d animation training is falling by the wayside. If you have skills that lie in the pre-production side of things, then more opportunities will arise.

I come from a background and mindset of cartooning--not animation. I seldom call myself an animator, or even an artist, I'm a cartoonist.
That leaves a LOT of potential doors open.

With my students, this is a distinction I've observed over and over:
There's a LOT of niche talent out there, and more coming along.
IMO, you need to be something of a rennaisance artist in that you should have strong skills in about 3-4 areas/genres/media.....and far too many people already in the biz don't.

The comforting thing is that those that can do different things, don't need to do them to a mastery level (though it helps), and they are often the ones that stay working.

Here's an eye-opener for you:
If you find the project is something you don't want to draw--then the biz isn't for you. I can say that with all the chilling blunt honesty I can muster.

90% of the work I have done over the past 20 years has been shite that I wasn't personally interested in. It was work, that I had skills suited for--and it paid a wage. That's where my longevity comes from.
Only 10 % of those jobs were what I considered fun and interesting--and I'm lucky to have that.
If you don't want to do those jobs that don't interest you, then no wonder the work is so slim.
Fact of life right there.

You need to network with people, make friends, leave impressions, rock boats. The artwork is part of the battle--but a big part because that is your cachet in the biz.

All one can say is............good luck.

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

What a frightening topic. I keep watching industry goings-on very closely, taking the most minute happening as a sign to say "aha!! 3D is losing steam, and traditional shall rise again!" because I just want to believe it so bad. But really, the animation scene will never be the same as it was. It will keep on evolving, just like it always has, and animators will just have to evolve along with it.

I'm a lucky one. I, and quite a few others from my graduating class, found work in Atlanta a few months after being freed from school. I'm really enjoying my freelance work right now, but I still feel the panic of "what should I do next?? I won't be working on this project forever." I know that Atlanta is no animation mecca, work will dry up fast. I'm trying to plot out my next move, but the options seem stark for a strictly traditional animator like myself. (I absolutely refuse to do 3D, I hate animating on the computer with a burning, seething passion.) What I'd ideally like to do is make little independent films, but geeeez! How the hell can you support yourself doing that??

Hm. I started out this reply with the intent of saying some comforting words and bringing a ray of hope into the discussion, but now I have succeeded in giving myself some serious heebie jeebies.

All I can say is that even though I'm a greenhorn, I do know that you must do what you love, and if you don't love what you do, don't do it. As for me, I've decided that if animation doesn't work out for me, I can always fall back onto a steadier career, like acting, or singing, or lion-taming!

[SIZE=2]Have a Cup O' Jo! - [/SIZE]

i come to this as a debutant producer and quite frankly all i have is confidence. i think its a good time for animaton and there is plenty happening. dont feel scared or afraid, i think there are plenty of opportunities out there for people, especially those that are willing to go out and travel and slave for some time so they can make a name for themselves.

Something else I should add....

My entire animation career, 20 years, has been spent in one location, Vancouver BC., but with a short failed teaching gig in Saskatoon. I've gotten work in only in the Vancouver locale for all that time--with quite a bit being service work outsourced from other places, mostly the US. Travelling need not happen, it really depends on the region you live in though.

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

Failure - not an option

Never give up.

The Brothers McLeod

Great post Ken. I really enjoyed reading it.

While I don't have nearly the experience that Ken has, I've only been working in animation for six years, not constantly, I've found that it takes a combination of talent, luck, timing and personality. Not nessicarly in that order. I've know people who've sent there portfolio in a day after some one less talented, and they didn't get hired, but cause they filled the positions by the next day.

No one said working in animation was easy. I hope your school didn't tell you that. If they did, I'd ask for my money back.

Gone are the days that you get hired at a studio and you stay there for the length of your career. Like my teacher told me in school, animators are like migrant field workers, moving from on production to another. After working in the industry for 5 to ten years, you've pretty much worked with everyone in the industry at one job or another. I'm not quite there yet, but I've gotten to work on small projects with three of my animation idols.

The only way you'll work on projects that really interest you is if you make your own projects. Other wise you stick it out.

Good luck.

the Ape

...we must all face a choice, between what is right... and what is easy."

I'm hearing something different from Rawbbie other than a reluctance to work hard. I think he knows one has to work hard to pursue.

As a guy with a family and married for over 20 years, it is tough to balance a family with freelance animation. I can say with what modest experience I have had, that freelancing (in my neck of the woods) cannot support a family. Anmation may supplement your collective income but you will usually not be the bread winner. One of you at least needs to be the bread winner if you want to pursue animation but even then, how does it effect your home dynamic if you care about such things? Early in my career i opted for the security of related creative jobs with companies. Today I am currently doing some modest freelancing on the side and work for my spouse.

So in my it probably is Rawbbie's, it's not a matter of not having the cajones or sticktoitness or sour grapes. It's about times of having to choose to opt-out and do something else...or ask myself, willl this job, if I put people first like as those I love, impact them taking a gig but having to pay $100 + a month for travel and/or day care and impact my spouse's more successful self- employment. In my case, freelance animation literally has cost more than it paid.

So in my it probably is Rawbbie's, it's not a matter of not having the cajones or sticktoitness or sour grapes. It's about times of having to choose to opt-out and do something else...or ask myself, willl this job, if I put people first like as those I love, impact them taking a gig but having to pay $100 + a month for travel and/or day care and impact my spouse's more successful self- employment. In my case, freelance animation literally has cost more than it paid.

That's how I read it as well. We all know it takes hard work (I've been doing 6 day weeks at 10+hours a day for the past 5 months).

It's a churn and burn business structure. The current industry is certainly very biased against a family life, if you don't believe me, look at your co-worker, 9 times out of 10 (or even more) they're a single guy (sometimes a girl) in their mid 20's to 30's. And the work conditions aren't condusive to a family life: extremely long hours (Dolly Pardon's "9 to 5" actually sounds like a sweet deal!), constanly searching for new work, rarely any benefit packages including retirement plans, frequent relocation, etc.. I've worked for 4 different companies and moved (MAJOR moves, including one overseas) 3 times in the past 2 years, and will be moving yet again this week. I've had pretty steady work, but living like nomads is pretty tiring.

Luckily my son is only 1 1/2 years old, but come school time, I'm going to want to settle down and that's something that isn't very easy (or secure) in this business unfortunately. It is possible but I'm not sure I want to be working the insane hours and find I've missed out on my family growing up. Animation is fun, but not that much.

When that time comes, I'm hoping to be teaching and doing my own thing on the side. My own projects are what I want to be doing the most anyway. Indy animation, please.

So basically, yeah, I know what your talking about.

Producing solidily ok animation since 2001.

Now with more doodling!

Good to hear from everyone, thanks for the replies.

Absolutely- it isn't a case of lack of hard work- just getting a Diploma in my course was the hardest thing I have ever done. I have also illustrated several children's books for a large publishing/animation company on a freelance basis, and that also was hard- a pure reflection of what school was like. Up all night, endless revisions- total burnout, infact. I looked at the whole situation outside the box a few times and asked myself why I was doing that work, for pay that did not reflect the amount of time put in. Money isn't the most important thing, as we all know- but you need it to pay for your house, your car, your food, your kids, right??!!? I did it because at the time it felt right, and I was doing was I was "supposed" to be doing... then the gig ended quickly, and that was that- no job again.

It's true- look around you at work- the majority of employees are young and without homes, wives/husbands, etc- could this be because the industry does not at all support a family/adult lifestyle? Can employees constantly uproot their families so they can work on an animation project for 6 months? What about their spouse's career? Their kids' friends? Their schools? Neighbours? Families? It's all good in your 20s, but everyone on the planet will come into their 30s and 40s and move forward with their life. If you can remain single and don't mind paying rent for a large portion of your career, then it can work out well.

The truth is, I tend to look as far forward as I can, to make sure that I'll be okay in 10 years. Continuing to work in this field, I'll always be waiting for "it to happen"- you know, have work coming in constantly, not have to relocate, being well-known and not to mention, making lots of $$$ !!! The problem is, the "it to happen" part may not even exist, it could be a grind from here till retirement at 65. And what will I have sacrificed during that time.

On the bright side, I've been working on my own line of celebrity caricatures and other stuff, like murals for kids' rooms and have been out in the public this summer promoting my stuff with great responses, and some reasonable sales as well.

I am actually enjoying putting together tons of my own work and selling it, while bringing in some money with alternative sources of income (day jobs, etc.) Less stress, more fun!!

Anyways thanks again for the responses, it's nice to see the "realistic" opinions of some talented artists here, not just the hooplah you read in the newspapers and see on TV about how animators are rich, how they are of celebrity status and how the work is plentiful at any given time-- the truth couldn't be further away from that.

(And yes, I should demand my money back from my school, lol- they didn't mention once about the hardships that would be out there- they just mentioned the "95% job success rate upon graduation". Uh- they failed to mention the part about being unemployed at any given time, as well!!) Just the stuff the students want to hear so they will pay the school their 25 grand for the Diploma