Thursday, September 29, 2016

Getting Into Cartoonland

The Huffington Post gives its version of the road map.

... According to the experts at Spiel, it is good to learn how to handle criticism and the weight of reality. In order to get paid, people expect that you will have some working experience, and even if your portfolio is amazing, they might expect you accept an internship first before you can get a permanent position in the company.

To put it bluntly, it will be easier for you to work for free for some time, than to go from one place to another in order to find someone who will immediately appreciate your skills. ....

We're not big proponents of working for free, but many people do it as they struggle to get into the business. Lot's of striving artists ask TAG, "So what's the best way to get a job in the animation business?"

The answer from the grizzled old union rep is a wee bit different than the one found on the Huffington Post, but neither route is wrong.

The animation biz is ever-changing. There are feature-length cartoon studios where story artists, scenic designers and CG animators and technicians are employed inside four walls. There are studios where the front ends of half-hour animated shows get made. Their staffs consist of of script writers, storyboard artists, designers, timing directors, color stylists and animation checkerr.

To get into any part of the biz, it's useful to own high-quality drawing and/or tech skills, a ferocious work ethic, a knack for working well with others and the patience of Job. The L.A. cartoon industry is bigger than it's ever been, but colleges and art schools are turning out graduates with animation degrees at a record clip and the competition is as fierce as it's ever been, so you need calling cards: a strong portfolio, a boffo student film, the ability to give good interviews, familiarity with Storyboard Pro and the willingness to take job tests that often go nowhere are just a few.

Even with strong credentials artists will likely get rejected. But the more arrows they have in their quivers, the more employable they will be. When a twenty-two-year-old artist who's just gotten to town asks for instructions about how to land her first job, the answer given by the business representative is the scenario above, plus this:

To get into animation long-term you need.

1) Marketable Skills

2) The ability to do sustained, high quality work.

3) Luck.

It comes down to having the kind of job chops a studio is looking for, and to be standing at the door ready to go to work when they need you. Then, when you finally get the dream job, to have a talent for playing well with others so that you can keep the dream job.

It's also good to know that nothing lasts forever. (Unless you're a staff member of The Simpsons).


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