I've been dreading this topic. Ugh. The little green monster of jealousy that every artist lives with whether they admit it to themselves or not.
I want to make this a bit more of a motivational post for those of you that might be struggling with your identity as an artist and how to overcome jealousy.
Every artist is unique and every artist is at a different stage in their artistic development. The way I like to look at it is that talent, the raw set of skills you are born with, is where you start but it's the skills you develop over time that better define you.
While it is really important to actively look at other artist's work and try to break down why things work and determine what makes "good" art, it is equally important to keep in mind that your biggest competition is you.
I can definitely thank my mother for this one. When I was young, I would show her pieces of my art and instead of telling me what she thought right away, she would ask me how I felt about it. Was it really my best work? Was I proud of it?
If you try to compare yourself to every amazing artist out there who has tens of thousands of hours over you, you are going to cry yourself to sleep every night. Now that being said, it is important to have goals so please don't mistake my words. You should always strive to be better and to improve, however for your own sanity it is important to compare your own current work to your past work.
So to sum up, it is important to feel inspired by the many great artists out there, it is important to have goals, but it is equally important to see your own personal growth and progress to avoid getting down on yourself.
See you in my next post!
There is going to come a time for you in this industry where you are going to have an opportunity to step on someone else to get ahead.
Sounds like a good idea right? Well you want to get ahead right? So this must be the best and only way to do it right? Nope, it's definitely not and let me tell you why.
This is both a large and small industry. Large in the sense that it's booming and small in the sense that everyone knows, or knows someone who knows, everyone. If you go burning bridges and pissing people off, you are going to quickly become known as a bad egg.
I never really believed my instructors when I was in school, but it's true. A large part of this industry is who you know and how you know them. The only reason I was lucky enough to get the job I have now was through exactly this circumstance. Someone I worked with who thought well of me, recommended me for a position she had to turn down because she was already employed. When I found out what had happened I messaged her right away to let her know how much I appreciated her putting my name forward.
Treat people well. This goes back to one of my earlier posts, but it is so darn true. Be the kind of person you would want to work with. Don't be a drama magnet or a troublemaker. People talk. Though it hasn't happened to me, that I am aware of, I do know of (through friends) situations where someone had applied for a job and was not contacted because someone already at the studio knew them and did not recommend them.
So take a second to evaluate yourself. It can be hard when there are people who will do whatever they can to push you down, but you need to stay true to yourself. You need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be happy with the person looking back at you.
Shorter post today, but just something important I like to remind people of. This is applicable so much more than just the animation/gaming industry.
See you next post!
One of the biggest annoyances you are bound to come across working as an artist for a living is the vast number of people who think you do "nothing" all day long.
I'm not sure how this came about... People seem to be under the impression that being an artist is easy and that we shouldn't be allowed to complain that we are tired after a long day's work. After all, what did we really do all day anyway? It's not like our job is labour intensive or challenging. Really, we all love to draw therefor it must just be the easiest thing in the world right? Do you see where I am going with this? I will warn you, this will be a bit of a rant post since this is something I have encountered a few times when dealing with people and I think it's high time to set the record straight.
Let's break this down into more manageable chunks. I would like to start off by saying that being an artist professionally is not easy. Whoever said it was, was lying. So now I suppose you would like some proof right? OK, let me walk you through this...
Work starts at 9am and you get there half an hour early to get set up. Depending on which industry you are in (animation/gaming) and where your team is at in it's production schedule, you could be looking at (on average) anywhere from a comfortable 8 to 12 hours per day. You may or may not be paid overtime depending on the policies of the studio you work for and/or the contract you signed. If you are lucky they may provide you with food or reimburse you for your dinner.
Now if you are like me, and you manage a team, you not only need to accomplish your own work, but you need to provide feedback for your team and fulfill other leadership tasks throughout the day.
Depending on how fast you are able to work you may or may not have time to take breaks and in fact you might find your butt glued to your chair (I sure hope you got a good one) for the entirety of your day or until your bladder is ready to burst.
So that's just the technical stuff. Let's talk about what actually goes into making art, good art. There's a magical easy button right? Like on those Staples commercials. Artists just press this button and POOF a perfect finished design appears and no blood, sweat or tears were shed.
It's probably my favourite thing to deal with people who assume that it's just the simplest thing in the world when in reality, it's more along the lines of this:
What the project needs + What you think the project needs + What your supervisor thinks the project needs + How much time you need - How much time you actually have + Stress + Anxiety + A pinch of luck and magic - Sleep lost = Final Product.
Now what do you do if the creative juices aren't flowing that day? Magic easy button right? Wrong. You push through with determination and very loud music because it is your job to be creative. You try it. Try being creative on cue before telling me (or any other artist for that matter) that it's easy.
So what do we artists do when we encounter someone who rolls their eyes when we tell them we've had a long hard day and need to kick back and relax? No seriously, if you have the solution, I would like to know.
Hopefully you are one of the lucky ones, like myself, who are very fortunate to work on a project you love for a company that feels like family, that's when all of the hard work and long hours are totally worth it. As for dealing with those lovely, sometimes very ignorant, people, there really isn't a whole lot you can do. You know how hard you work and that's what matters because at the end of the day you are the one living your dreams.
I hope this gives you a little bit of an insight into this topic and I look forward to seeing you in my next post!
So how did I get into this crazy industry? Well grab yourself a coffee (or a tea if you're a tea-loving person like me) and I will tell you all about it.
I graduated Digital Animation in April of 2010. My boyfriend and I had just broken up and I was I was living on my own. I was working for PetSmart as a part-time dog-bather and occasionally as a cashier.
I knew I wanted my first industry job to be for Nerd Corps (now DHX Media) because I had seen some of the projects they had done and though it might be a good fit. I had applied to a few other studios and done a few tests, none of which came to anything. Then I made the decision that it was going to be Nerd Corps or nothing. I would get in if it killed me.
I applied for three separate design positions and I emailed weekly as well as called. Their Admin got so used to me calling that I'm sure I must have been driving her nuts... But I was determined. I kept calling and emailing and praying that by some miracle things would fall into place.
Nothing. Not even a nibble. Months passed and I was running out of money. PetSmart just wasn't paying me enough to survive so I found another job with another pet store called Tisol. I was actually really excited to get the job despite the fact that the commute was a killer and the hours were a little scary.
The people were really nice and the job, though really hard on my back, was enjoyable. I was starting to feel like maybe this was what the gods wanted for me and that maybe I just wasn't meant to get into the animation industry.
Then it happened...
I was sitting in the awful little mall area behind Tisol to eat my lunch and I checked my phone to see if I had gotten any calls. There it was. A missed call and voicemail from Nerd Corps. My heart was racing so fast and my eyes were starting to tear up. This was either good news, or them calling to tell me they were sick of hearing from me...
I listened to the voicemail and just about died right there on the spot. They wanted me in for an interview. AN INTERVIEW!!!!! I was the most excited I think I've ever been for anything in my life at that point. If I knew then what I know now about how this was going to change my life forever I think I might have fainted.
I had the interview and was later offered a job as a Design PA on Rated 'A' for Awesome.
I was terrified because I had never thought about what comes after getting the job. I had only ever focused on getting the job, but now I would be expected to do the job and do it well. I spent the next few weeks freaking out constantly. I was even more scared of the fact that the contract was for 3 months and if I didn't nail it, I would be out of a job. I was feeling so comfortable at Tisol that I'm going to be honest, I almost didn't take the job at Nerd Corps... It was my hubby who convinced me to give myself a chance and to have a little faith.
So I did it. I accepted their offer and started creating props for Rated 'A' for Awesome. It was hard at first, but I quickly fell into a good routine. I went on to become a Junior Designer and worked on League of Super Evil, Endangered Species and Slugterra.
I was at Nerd Corps for just over 2 years and in those 2 years I met/worked with some amazing people, made new friends and learned so much. The most amazing part is that if it wasn't for my job at Nerd Corps, I never would have started working for IUGO which has been truly the most rewarding experience I've had in this industry.
Remember that it might seem impossible, but if you work hard enough and don't give up on yourself, you can do anything!
I hope you enjoyed that little tale and I look forward to seeing you in my next post!
So remember when you though drawing for a living was going to be all fun and games? I bet you thought it was going to be the easiest thing right? Right? RIGHT? I bet you feel pretty silly now... Let me tell you a little bit about the good, the bad and the ugly of doing what you love for a living.
Even though I count myself among the luckiest people alive to do what I love for a living, there are days when... well... It gets a little hairy...
Have you ever tried drawing for 8 to 12 hours a day every day for a week? How about a year? How about it's your job and you have no choice even when you feel off, or sick or totally uninspired? Well welcome to this industry! There are going to be days were you don't want to draw, but you have no choice because it's what pays the bills. You don't even feel like working on your own stuff because by the end of the day all you want to do is chill without a cintiq pen glued to your hand.
So what is one to do? Well here's what I do, no guarantee this will be the same for you, but it works for me:
I used to work for a bank. It was the best and worst job I've ever had. I learned some of my most valuable life lessons from that job, but the work itself was hellish. Customers were rude, paperwork was ridiculous and God help you if you weren't "balanced" at the end of the day. I did this job to pay for my animation schooling. I worked every weekend and any time I could get extra hours when I wasn't at school over the summers. So not only was I killing myself in school, but I was killing myself over a job that I really did not enjoy.
So this is what I do if ever I start to take for granted how lucky I am. I remember the hell I went through to get myself through school, I remember all the hours and how hard I worked. I remember how miserable my life would be now if I hadn't and I remind myself that this is the only career I have ever wanted since I was a kid.
I then recall how long it took me to get into the industry (I'm saving this epic story for a future post) and all the other jobs I had to take between graduation and my first industry job.
I worked in retail, as a dog bather, again in retail and at one point I was working two jobs because neither paid well enough for me to survive on alone. In all of that time I had passbooks thrown at me, experience bank robberies, had customers yell at me, was bullied by coworkers, had dogs bite me and throw up on me, felt what it was like to almost run out of money and then finally FINALLY get the call... THE CALL. My art career was finally ready to start...
Now that's a pretty epic little tale right? When you feel lost or down on yourself, you need to take a pause and remember where you came from and how hard you worked to get to where you are now. Don't go comparing yourself to other people, just look at you now compared to you then.
This industry isn't for everyone. Drawing all day isn't easy (as many of our friends and family might think) but it is also extremely rewarding once you find that magical job that changes everything.
See you in my next post!
In this industry you are not always going to get to work on the projects you want to. I myself have been very fortunate for the most part to work on projects that I have really enjoyed and am currently working on a project that I love like it was my own.
However! I want to emphasize the importance of bringing the best energy and attitude you can to anything and everything that you work on. Not only will you feel better about your work, you will help those around you stay motivated and the project will ultimately benefit.
I would like to share a quote, probably the most important quote anyone in our industry can keep in mind:
"If you couldn't rise to the highest level of enthusiasm, passion and professionalism, and grasp this task as if it was the most important thing that you have ever taken on in your life, you weren't worthy of the task."
- Richard Taylor
I love this quote. I've shared it with my team as part of my motivational speech every now and again. Any time I've had to go through something really challenging or trying at any of the jobs I've had, I've looked back on this quote to keep me going. I remember that no matter what I'm working on, I need to give it my all.
I feel like if more people in our line of work took time to reflect on how lucky we all actually are to have made it through years of tough schooling, and years of rejection in a desperate attempt to get our feet in the door, we might all appreciate the jobs we have all the more.
I would like to clarify one thing when I say, "appreciate the jobs we have" I don't mean the jobs where you are taken advantage of or cheated or wronged in some way. I'm sure you knew that, but I just though I'd add that in hehe.
That's all I really have to say on this one, see you guys in the next post!
There was a point while I was still in school for Digital Animation when I was told by an instructor that I would never make it as a designer in the industry. He told me I simply wasn't good enough.
It happened while he was reviewing an assignment I did where I had to design a character and not only had I picked one that was from a story that I had been working on since high school and care a great deal about, but at the time I thought I had made some good improvements with what I had submitted and was heartbroken when he gave me his feedback.
I still remember the whole thing like it was yesterday. I remember how I felt when he said what he did. It was the lowest point in my school career. As if it wasn't bad enough that I already knew I was not the strongest artist in the program (any of the programs I've attended in fact) but now I was being told I wasn't even good enough to make it in the only career I've ever wanted since I was a kid.
So what happened? I mean obviously I made it into the industry and am now a lead artist for an amazing mobile gaming company. So what did I do? Well let me tell you...
I decided not to listen to him. I decided that nothing was going to stop me. I was going to be a designer if it was the last thing I ever did. Though I did complete all of my 3D projects and did pull off decent grades, I put all of my real energy and love into my characters designs. I drew and drew and drew. Nothing else mattered. I would prove him wrong and show everyone who had ever doubted me that I meant business.
I knew it was risky and I did ruffle some feathers. I was the only one in that year that had no models to show off on my wall for gradshow. So they actually stuck me with the grads from the Commercial Program which was fine by me! I was also the only one with no 3D work to display in the grad book. I had only 2D work. I know this annoyed a few people but to be honest, I really didn't care. I had a goal and a plan and I'm glad I didn't quit on myself.
I was also very lucky to have had the support of my family and friends as I went through all the ups and downs.
All I can say to those of you who have been put down or told you aren't good enough is that it will take a lot of hard work, but if it is something you want bad enough and you are willing to put in the time, anything is possible.
I would also like to say, though I doubt he will ever stumble across this, that although it hurt and I was angry and sad, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I came out the other side, stronger and more determined than ever. It was the kick in the butt that I needed to get myself in gear. If I could go back in time I wouldn't change a thing.
Now this is a fun topic that I am very happy to cover as it's something that you might hear about while you are in school, but might not totally believe. Well I am hear to tell you that this is a thing and something you really do need to keep in my lest it bite you in the ass.
So what am I talking about? Well, in short, I am talking about the fact that the people you go to school with are likely going to end up working with you at some point in this very tightly knit industry. They may work for you, you may work for them, you might work side by side or someone you've ticked off might decide to screw you over when you apply for a job at a studio they are already working for.
This is actually a bigger issue than most people realize. Your reputation for being able play nicely with others is almost as important as your ability to produce good work.
People won't want to work with you if you are difficult, have a bad attitude, think too highly of yourself, gossip or anything of the like. If you know you are someone prone to any of those things, you need to tone it down. Play your cards close to the chest and remember that saying, "Not everyone who smiles is a friend."
I know I'm making this out to seem a bit hostile, but it is the nature of the beast that is this industry. Often times, who you know and how they feel about you will play a part in your ability to get hired and to keep your job so it is an important thing to keep in mind while interacting with your peers.
Anyway, this is a short one, but I hope you take something away from it and keep in mind that it is important to be yourself, but it is also important not to be a jerk.
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