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Liberal arts undergrad with professional interest

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Liberal arts undergrad with professional interest

Hey, first post here. Sorry if I didn't choose the right area to post.

I'm currently a sophomore at a New England liberal arts college. I went into college with no idea what I wanted to do, but have always found myself drawn to animation. I'm an ok artist, but with minimal experience in animation aside from amateur Flash CS3 animations a few years back.

If I am serious about somehow making my way into studying animation, how should I start? I know that's a broad question... I guess what I'm wondering is -- If I commit myself to studying animation at this school, is it possible for me to get a foot in the door of the field? Do I need to transfer? This school has no animation program at all, but they are open to suggestions. By that I mean, there is a pretty good art program, and I'll bet if I talked to the faculty, they will let me do an "independently designed" concentration in animation within the art program.

The endgame is that I'd want to get an internship in the next year or two... I'm taking art classes here and I take out animation books from the library weekly, and I'm trying to teach myself programs like Maya or Pixar's Renderman using or other tutorial sites.

Basically... any advice or words of encouragement would be appreciated. I guess I'm just looking for direction. Thanks.

You're at an art college with

You're at an art college with no animation programme, and you want to take animation..........but they'll let you do it on your own?

What's the point of paying for college if you can do the same thing "on your own"???

You want honest advice from a pro of 3oyrs in the biz??

Don't do it.

This is an affectation with you........there's no solid interest or committment shown here.
 You pose "if I do this..." and " what I'm wondering is....".
If you were serious about the craft, there'd be no question of any of it.  It'd be a compulsion akin to breathing.  Do or die.

A "pretty good art programme" that doesn't have any animation programmes is a LOUSY animation programme.  
How can you get feedback if none of the instructors knows what to look for?  How can you be guided in any particular direction if no-one there knows anything about the craft?

I much did you pay to attend this school, and learn they are "open to suggestions" to keep your butt in the seat with curriculum they don't even have????
Seriously, you have a lack of focus, and the school doesn't have the resources or instructor pool on hand to teach've got a bad recipe to waste alot of your time and money right there.

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

1) Thanks for your honesty.

1) Thanks for your honesty.

2) I'm not at an art college. I'm at a liberal arts college. I'm lucky enough to not be paying for college myself - my parents have gone through this same thing with my siblings, and have raised us to explore every interest before committing ourselves. 

3) I do have solid interest. I have trouble expressing my solid interest because I have nothing to back it up, but this is something I've been interested in since middle school. Seriously. It's not an "affectation." But I do have other passions, hence why I went to a college where I could pursue more than one thing. Now, I want to narrow my focus. It takes some people longer to realize what they want to do than others. I'll admit to being an indecisive person by nature.

4) I pose hypotheticals becuase I haven't done anything yet. 

5) I have lack of focus because I have no way of getting focus in my current position. That's why I asked for advice. Thanks for your words of discouragement.

Look.........if you want to

Look.........if you want to be an animator.......there's some clear tell-tale signs.

Do you draw?
Do you draw cartoons? Do you draw them incessantly?  And do you draw them with an aim to make them as professional as possible???
That's the start of this. If you are not doing that..........when??

Look, the yardstick here isn't impossible to measure with........if you are indecisive, unfocused, and have trouble expressing a solid interest.........then this idea of becoming an animator IS an affectation.

I mean, look............if you are not drawing cartoons, or comics ( or manga) or doing illustration or any kind........or making inroads into getting your stuff looking professional.........then really, all that anyone could offer you is discouragement.  

There's different avenues for animation.........character, effects, technical animation........even various aspects of production such as storyboarding or designs.

One of the typical pieces of advice is to just look at what you surround yourself with.  
There's the first gauge.
Do you watch a LOT of cartoons? Do you play games? What kinds?  Do you graviate towards movies?  Do you build model kits? What are YOUR interests???

See, I've seen a lot of students come along and look at animation as a career.  They've gotten caught up in the glamour of the thing, most often, but the attributes that makes for a solid foundation in such a craft..........well, they don't got it.  ONE in TEN is usually the numbers that do.......if that. These are the people that enrol, that actually pay the tutition. One in ten.

The rest........well, they want to "give it a try", or they think it "might be fun" or they wonder......."how hard can it be?". And they don't make it.
There's a considerable degree of obsession required to make in the biz--in any of its aspects. Focus is only one part of the equation, because ultimately where you end up is in not only competing with your classmates for are competing with the grads from every other art college/film school/animation programme out there.
Think about it...........a school like Vancouver Film school has an entry and graduating class every two months or so.  That is one class is starting then for it's one year/two year or whatever journey through the prgramme, and the class 6 entries ahead is then winding up and graduating from that same journey.  Usually class intakes have averaged around 12-20 students, sometimes more, seldom less..
So that's 72 to 120 grads coming out of ONE school in ONE city each year. Maybe 7-20 of them have it in them to make a career......but there's what..........4-5 schools in that one city alone.  So there's 30+ to 100 new serious talents coming out in that one place every year, adding to the already existing talent pool that seeks and gets work, not only there, but all across North America.
Now figure in the school in the various centres all across North America? That's a couple thousand people, adding to the existing and growing talent pool all vying for the same jobs out there.

Is that discouraging enough?
Makes you feel disheartened and want to give up?

Then give up. 
Congratulations, you've just been unable to cross over the first and SMALLEST speed bump on the journey.

Look, the above isn't a's a test of committment.  
No doubt about it, once you graduate you WILL get dumped into that same potential talent pool vying for the same work..........and if you aren't of the level of talent the studios or game companies or ad firms will NOT get work.
You won't have a career and no amount of pissing, whining or wondering will change it.

This is where the power of focus and obsession come into play, and if you cannot muster that........if you don't have that already, then you are set up to fail at this.
It's EXTREMELY difficult to go from zero/near-zero, a standing start and develop the talent and intution needed for a career in animation. Any kind of animation.

I've taught in animation programmes for almost 10 years, I've seen about a thousand students come through my classrooms.........I'm not bullshitting you.
Those that tend to make a career of it had a head-start......they were building up steam for this for years prior, since early childhood, most often. They were largely doing this stuff , even awkwardly, for a long time before they enrolled.

I don't know you, or your background, all I have to go on is what you write here and how you phrase things. Your reply above confirmed a lot of my guesses.
I don't know what resolve you can muster, how intense you can focus or obsess when it comes down to it.  It doesn't sound like you really can, but again, I don't know you.  Maybe my harsh tone is what it takes to galvanize you. Or maybe I'm another big meany that crushes someone's dream.

I've been blunt with you because.......well, patronizing you unnecessarily is as bad as deliberately misleading you. If someone asks if they have a shot at this, and I don't think they measure up......I'll tell them.  
Not to crush them, but to spare them.  Wouldn't you want that from a stranger??

The industry only needs talented people, not poseurs.......not people that "just want to give it a try".  
You'll probably get lots of people around you that will pat you on the head, encourage you to follow your dreams, wish upon a star.'ll never be without those voices.

Will any of them, especially any of them at your school, stop you and help you check yourself to see if you are genuinely suited for a career in this field???  I've just handed you one of those you take it, what you do, or where you go from this point on is entirely up to you.

Good luck.

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

Success in animation is very

Success in animation is very differnet than success in any other feild. To be successful in other feild you just need to know what you are doing and like it. To be successful in animation you need to be a master at what you are doing and live for it. It must consume you, the deisre to be great, the desire to create great works of art. There are times I stay awake at night in my bed forcing my self to try and sleep, to not get up and keep creating. Sometimes a whole week would go by and the only sleep I got was when I passed out in one of my gen. ed lectures. I would stay up at night drawing, animating, learning maya, writing stories.  

Every time I go to a place with other people I study how they walk, act and react, and just move around and analyze it, storing that information for later use. Evertime I play videogames I die a millin times because I just stop and study how the characters are moving, what the animator did right and wrong to that figure. I can no longer watch a movie without breaking it down and anylzing it to a full extent. I have wathced various pixar/diseny movies countless times just to see what they did and how they did it. I swear to god I have the movie Frozen memorized by this point. 


And guess what? Im not even in a real animation school yet, im transfering to one next year! Imagaine how much harder that would be!

If you dont LOVE animation, if you dont live for it and breath it, you wont be successful in this feild. You really have to love it to put up with the stuff it brings with it. And that goes for Traditional animation and video game animation/design. Good luck with whatever you decide to do my friend, and remeber, if you do decide to do animation, engulf yourself in it. There is no reason to just stick a toe into it, dive into the pool. You should be willing to sleep on the streets before you give up on your dream if you want it bad enough.