So this is one of the only pics I actually have of me at a desk (sadly not my desk hehe) in my second year of Traditional Animation at CAP University (it was still CAP College back then). I love this pic because I look all relaxed. I think this picture was taken after Gradshow which would explain being all relaxed haha!
Gradshow was a hellish experience (bot of them were actually). We were all such sleep-deprived zombies (hence the post title) by the end of it that none of us were functioning normally haha!
For this post I wanted to give people looking to get into animation school a few tips to avoid the typical pitfalls that most of us fall into. I'm sure things have changed a bit since I was in school, but there are something things that never change hehe...
So those are just a few of my little survival tips. If you are just getting into school, or are in school now, I wish you the best of luck. Most importantly remember that pain is temporary and that if you want it bad enough it will be worth it, I promise!
With that I would like to wrap up this A to Z Challenge, I will likely do one additional post after the actual end date given that everything you have read thus far has been written in advance to keep me from falling behind or missing days.
Thank you so much for reading my posts, I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!
There are some very crucial things you need to know when you go to start exploring your online presence. As I mentioned before I have spent a lot more time developing my online presence as Courtney the Vancouver Mermaid and so for this post I will mostly be using that as my example.
First things first, your handle, how do you want to be known online? Do a little bit of searching to see what's available because that will likely have an impact on the name you want to use. I go as Courtney the Vancouver Mermaid "Courtney Mermaid" for short. Once I had that decided, I went ahead and secured all of the various social media sites.
But Courtney! I don't know what social media sites I want to be on!? AHH!!! OK stop panicking. Start with the biggies: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest are all good places to start. Depending on what you are doing online (are you an artist, a mermaid, a writer etc) there will be some social media sites that will benefit you more than others so do some research.
GET YOUR DOMAIN NAMES OMG OMG OMG. Seriously. Hit up Netfirms and grab yourself your domain name before someone else does and you are miserable for the rest of your life. It doesn't cost much and it is totally worth while, after all, how are people supposed to find you without it?
Pro Tip: I will disown you if you go and stick a big fat dash or hyphen in the middle of your domain name. I kid you not. Don't do it. If I can't find you because I'm an idiot who can't remember you have a dash in your URL it is YOUR FAULT. Don't argue, you know I'm right.
OK. So what is your image gonna be? You now have the name that's going to represent you online, but not you need a nifty little logo that'll stick in peoples minds. Don't be complicated with it. It needs to grab people right away and be something you can use at various sizes for all those social media sites you signed up for. 150x150, 250x250, 350x350 are going to be your nemesis so you better have a nice image that can be cropped or will nicely fit in a square.
What do I use? Well my entire brand as an artist revolves more or less around this funny little purple fox you are seeing everywhere. She's cute right? I have her in a couple of different sizes to make her a little more user-friendly for me. For my Courtney Mermaid stuff I use my face since I am the mermaid. I do have a pretty snazzy logo that you can see on my main page: VancouverMermaid.com.
Colours are also going to play a huge part in your brand. It's OK for these to change, but I cannot emphasize the importance of your colours being pleasant to the eye. Please. I beg you. If you are colourblind or worried that your sense of colour sucks, get a friend to help you. Remember that less is more. This is my sort of "formula" for picking colours:
Base Colour + Text Colour + Link Colour + Accent Colour = Good Job.
Appeal is important. By "appeal" I am of course referring to a site that doesn't want to make you pull all your hair out. Visit other people's sites and ask yourself what it is you like about them. There is nothing wrong with looking at other sites for reference, just don't go ripping people off.
Drilling. This is more of a technical point, but it is so important. I beg of you... Please do not make people click through a thousand links to get to a page without a back button. Yes, drop-down menus are fantastic, but if I visit your page and find myself looking through an excessively long list that I have to scroll through, I will be very disappointed with you.
Overall, the things that are going to really define you and your brand are things like: what do you stand for, what you do, who you are and how can this be visually represented on your site. People go to school for years and years to figure this sort of thing out, so don't be disappointed with yourself if you have a hard time figuring it out.
Anyway, I hope that was a little bit helpful! I definitely had fun writing this one!
I can't believe the A to Z Challenge is almost over!
This has been so much fun to participate in!
Timing is so important in this industry. Next to your skill level, what kind of person you are, timing is a huge part of how you are going to get your foot in the door.
I am proof of this fact.
Let me tell you how I was lucky enough to get my foot back into the industry after being laid off from my first job. It's a pretty wild tale that I didn't even know about until a very special someone let me in on it.
So this goes way back to when I was still in Traditional Animation at CAP University (it was still CAP College back then). I was volunteering for one of the Open Houses, which I absolutely loved to do, when I met someone. She was super friendly and asked me to look at her work, which was absolutely amazing, and the two of us got to chatting about the school and industry in general.
Years pass by and we end up working for the same studio, but in different buildings on different projects. We would chat occasionally on their msging system and I continued to follow her art online.
So I'm let go from my job and find out that she's the one who takes over and finishes the last piece of art that I started before getting the boot. She clearly felt really bad about the whole thing and the two of us chatted back and forth. It was not her fault at all, it was a decision made higher-ups that this was going to be the next move.
So, super defeated though I was, I picked myself up and dusted myself off and for the next 7 months I hauled ass and tried desperately to get my next gig. I was almost at the end of my rope when one day, while hanging out outside in the sun (Eric was working on his car), I received a Facebook message asking me if I would be interested in doing a test for a mobile game studio. The message was from a really nice girl (who I also knew from CAP) who was trying to replace herself as she was moving on to her next job opportunity.
I did the test, went in for the interview, had one more test (they accidentally gave me the wrong test but they liked my work so they wanted me to do the correct test) and then got the job!
It wasn't until much later that I found out that the girl I worked with at my first job had originally been offered the opportunity, but she passed it up and then so kindly recommended that they ask me if I was interested.
If it hadn't been for her, I never would have been given the amazing opportunity to prove myself once more. It really was an event that changed my life for the better because I love my new job and I feel very lucky everyday to work with amazing people on amazing projects.
BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Is there really such a thing!?
*cough cough* Yes, indeed there actually is, but you need to look at what that means to you and why it's important.
This is actually a pretty huge frustration for a lot of us. People will work night and day for hours and hours AND HOURS on end and not bloody well let anyone above them know. Then the assumption is made by the higher-ups that tasks that are actually take a huge amount of someone's time (and life) aren't and then deadlines get blown way out of proportion for what is actually reasonable.
This industry is anyways a bit of a gong-show when it comes to deadlines and expectations. Everything is always in a rush and you need to be juggling five or ten things all at once to keep your head from flying off your shoulders. The thing is, if you are honest about how long things are taking, chaos can avoided.
Let me clarify this though. If you are a slow artist, that's on you. If you are the only one struggling with keeping up, that's totally on you and you need to take it upon yourself to pick up speed.
I like to be really organized with my work. I keep an agenda (just like I did in high school) I mark down all my due dates, make a note of how much time I have versus how much time something is going to need and I also make note (because I know how long things take me as I keep a record of this too) of where I can shuffle some time around.
When you are first starting out in the industry you are just going to have to make peace with the fact that you aren't going to have much of a life until you are good enough and fast enough to get things on track and keep them there.
Overtime is a fact of life in this industry. You will have to do it, trust me it is going to happen. It might not even be for your own work. You might be fast and efficient, but you might get called to help someone else on the team who is falling behind or maybe someone was sick and a bunch of you have to pool your resources and work for a few extra hours at the end of your day.
I suggest you experiment with different schedules. Making sure you are getting some form of physical activity is really important as well. We sit all day, every day for many MANY hours and it can take it's toll on our physical and mental health. Even if you just get up and go for a walk around the block it will help, trust me.
There really isn't a magic formula that works for everyone, but you do need to know what your limits are and how to best get the job done while still being able to function like a somewhat normal human being.
Good luck and if you are successful, I would love to hear about it!
I think I may have already said this multiple times for other posts, but this is really and truly the most important thing I have to say.
VALUE YOUR WORK.
So what do I mean by this? Well I am actually attempting to cover a couple of different bases with this single heading so let me dive in!
I might sound a bit harsh, but let's examine the facts shall we?
You would never ask a surgeon to work for free would you? How about your dentist? Now I know you are over there with that how-dare-you-compare-artists-to-surgeons look on your face, but I want you to take a look around the area you are right now and tell me exactly how many items around you were created without the use of art. Without the use of designers, architects, sculptors, graphic artists, technical artists etc. I dare you. Go.
So why do artists in the animation/gaming industry always seem to get the short end of the stick? Well I can tell you it's because a lot of people don't take us seriously. We are a goofy bunch of people who aren't all necessarily mathematically-inclined or interested in the business aspect of things. This is why, as important as it is to be a great artist first, you need to also brush up on the technical side of things or you will find people taking advantage of you.
Anyway, that was a bit of a long one hehe, but I think you get the idea! See you next post!
Have you ever had to work with someone you didn't like? Or better yet, someone who didn't like you? I have. If you know me personally, you will know that I am quite the character. I am very outgoing, I love to laugh and I love teamwork. I am expressive and I love to have fun. I also like to get the job done right, the first time.
So let's hop in our Delorean and take a quick trip back to roughly 2008 when I still worked for THE BANK. I'm not going to mention which bank I worked at, but if you really want to know I'm sure you can figure it out.
I was a Customer Service Rep (CSR) for 4 years and for the last portion of my time at this bank, I was stationed next to the most rude, unfriendly woman I have ever had the displeasure of working with. I don't like to think poorly of people as a rule. I like to think (and find) the good in everyone but this woman had it out for me and at every opportunity she would put me down, say something rude, laugh at me and if I needed help with something she would make it next to impossible for me. I had never dealt with anyone like this in my life. So when I say that this job, though I really didn't like it, was one of the biggest and most important learning experiences of my life let me give you the full story.
I was a fairly popular CSR with the customers. I often had a line of people who would wait just for me. I prided myself in being happy and friendly with everyone. It's what I would have wanted if I was a customer going to make a deposit/withdrawal.
One day I was taken aside by the Manager and Assistant Manager and I was told that I was "too Caucasian" (yes this is an actual quote) and way too happy and bouncy and bubbly. The Assistant Manager did an impression of me and I felt utterly humiliated. I sat there and said nothing. I wanted to cry. I wanted to quit and then I wanted to cry. I went back to my station and there was a bit of a line so I had to help the next client, but I could feel the tears getting hot in my eyes so after the client I put up the little sign and walked to my Manager's office. I went in and proceeded to give him a piece of my mind. I told him their comments about me being "too Caucasian" were completely unacceptable and about how I was being treated by this other employee and something about how dare their reprimand me when she excludes me and bullies me on a regular basis.
Needless to say I was apologized to emphatically and promised that it would be dealt with and that they understood that culturally there are differences and all that good stuff.
That was the day I learned what it meant to stand up for myself. This was going to be the last time I ever allowed someone to treat me in such a way. Never again.
So what do you do if you have to deal with someone who you don't get along with? Well I can tell you want you don't do. You don't mock them, exclude them, laugh about them, mimic them, humiliate them and you certainly don't discriminate. Human Resources is there for a reason and if you are having a serious issue you need to stand up for yourself and deal with it before it escalates. Try to look at things objectively and realize that people are going to have good days and bad days and that not everyone is going to get along 100% of the time and that's fine.
I used this experience as an example because if there was ever a "core memory" than defined me as a human being, this was definitely one of them. It was the day I learned my value and that my happiness mattered to me.
If you are finding yourself in a tough spot right now, I want to empower you to look at the situation and ask yourself what you could or should do to improve it. Bullying is a serious issue and should under NO CIRCUMSTANCES EVER be tolerated.
That was an intense post I know, but I have a few more light and fun ones coming up so I look forward to seeing you in the next one!
YES! This is it! The post I have been waiting to share with you all since I first wrote up all of my topics! I am so excited to share with you this really epic tale of a man (my man to be specific) who has been knocked down more times than he can count, but has never stopped believing that someday it will all come together.
I will be sharing all of his info/links at the bottom of this post so you can check him out and follow along on his adventures in the wild and very crazy animation industry!
His tale is a long one, but I would like to start by telling you how bloody talented my man is. Eric can pretty much do it all. I'm going to try to not sound super jealous when I write this up but I'm not kidding when I say he can do it all. This guy can do cars, characters, environments (like you would not believe) he can do graphic design/UI and the guy can also animate. Did I mention he is MY guy hehe! Proud little lady over here!
I have known Eric a long time now and I know if there is one thing he loves above all others, it's Transformers. His love for cars is epic. He knows all the latest and greatest news about them, how they work and he even succeeded in teaching me to drive standard. If you've ever met me you will understand why that is a big deal and should almost be resume-worthy hehe...
Back to the subject... I would like to preface what I am about to say with the following just in case there are any CAP peeps checking this out. The advice given to Eric in school was valid but at the time was taken in a different context and just how I reacted when I was told I wasn't good enough to be a designer, Eric felt much the same way.
When we were in school, Eric would draw Transformers all the time. He even animated one traditionally (on paper - which was insane) as it transformed while rotating up into a final pose. Trust me, minds were blown.
There came a point in our school careers where we were getting our final work together for our demo reels and portfolios. We had weekly critiques with one of our instructors to go over things and it was during one of these sessions that our instructor commented that Eric couldn't put the transformers he had made into his portfolio as they would not help him get work. His competition was too fierce and it was a waste of his time. He should be working on original content. Again, these are all extremely valid comments. We have both grown over the years as artists and can see how at the time this could have been taken the wrong way but now we have a better understanding of what was meant.
Well Eric being Eric (I love you Hun and I mean this in the best way) didn't listen. He continued to draw transformers and did include many of them in his final portfolio.
Fast forward to Eric after his first year in the industry. Though the Transformers he did hadn't landed him his first gig (in fact it was his wicked environments that did the job) he continued to draw them. Every other week there was a new one for me to marvel at.
When he was sadly laid off, Eric hit the ground running. Now go ahead and ask me what got him his next job. Go on. I know you want to.
HIS TRANSFORMERS FOR PETE'S SAKE!
That's right! After all those years of drawing them fancy cars and robots he lands a gig working on (pause for effect) Transformers Rescue Bots!!
So the moral of this story is this:
Draw what you love and the work will find you. Take the feedback, learn from it, but follow your heart and don't you dare let anyone tell you differently.
Eric, if you are reading this (you better be) I hope you know how damn proud I am of you for sticking to your guns and never letting anything get in your way.
Social Media can be your best and worst friend when it comes to getting your work out there.
Now you are probably going to look at me and think something like: Well you don't have all that many followers/likes so why should I listen to what you have to say?
The reason I don't have many followers for any of my tweakfox related social media is that I have spent the majority of my time over the last several years building my online presence and Courtney the Vancouver Mermaid. And now that you've googled me to see who the heck I am as a mermaid you will note that though I am not necessarily "famous" I am really easy to find as a mermaid. I am trying to make a point of being more active online as the artist version of myself to see if I can't apply the same principles I have learned over the years and bring a little more interest to what I do as an artist.
That being said, what are some important things to note about social media?
So those are just a few of the thoughts I have when it comes to social media. I hope you enjoyed it and I look forward to seeing you in the next post!
Hi! My name is Courtney and I am currently working as a character designer in the animation industry!
Artwork and Content is © Courtney Pearson 2016