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!
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.
Today was a pretty epic day of pranks and hysterics as well as celebration (huge congrats to the Walking Dead team you guys are rock stars!!), plus we got awesome new water bottles which are really fancy!
I didn't get pranked too badly this year. A little disappointed actually.
Last year my cintiq, pen and mouse were al bejewelled which was pretty funny.
This year someone decided to swap my green Yoshi for one of my co-worker's pink Yoshis and then I found mine in a conga line with the five other Yoshis at their desk. So I decided to do some rearranging of my own hehe...
A lot of other people were pranked with toys getting shuffled around and post-it notes on their mice (Mario I'm looking at you). My art director had his desk decked out in MLP which was hysterical! I was extremely concerned about the lack of Fluttershy and Apple Jack though if we're gonna be serious pony pans here...
We also had cupcakes and they handed out these really epic waterbottles that keep things hot for 12 hours or cold for 24 and they say IUGO on them!! SO COOL!!!
I love my job.
Welcome to my first post for the A to Z Challenge!
This topic is going to be about a very common question that I have been asked over the years and I would love to share a little bit of insight into animation schools, what to look for as well as my personal experience.
Picking your animation school is quite the undertaking. It's like finding a good pair of shoes. You want something comfortable, functional, that will give you the support you need and set you up for the adventure you are heading out on. You don't want shoes that are going to set you up for pain, blisters and bumps on the road, the same way you don't want to pick a school that doesn't fall in line with your goals.
Here are some questions you should ask/things you should do when you are trying to select a school/program:
Where did I go to school?
So since I'm talking about animations schools, I should probably mention the school I went to which was Capilano University. I attended their Summer Animation Program, their 2 year Commercial Animation Program as well as their 1 year Digital Animation Program.
For me, the Summer program was a little bitter sweet. I had applied for the Commercial program and I was listed 7th on their wait list. I was pretty heart broken to not get in the first try, but I still wanted to pursue my dream so Summer Program it was. The worst part was watching someone else, also wait listed but two spots above me, in the Summer Program get in after a few people dropped out. Other than that, I loved my experience in the Summer Program and if I had to repeat it, I would! ♥
If you aren't sure how you feel about art/animation, a summer school program (or part time program) might be a good place to start. It'll give you a taste of what it's all about.
The Commercial Program was epic, that really is the only way to sum it up. I made friends that I now consider my best friends and it is also where I met my hubby! It was 2 years of the most intense, wild, fun, stressful days ever. We were drawing ALL THE TIME, every single day, always. Towards the end of the program I remember there being days where we would sleep at the school (pretty sure they don't allow this any more) and would make late night trips to Super Store to stock up on pop, chips and candy. It was an amazing adventure! I will cover more of this experience in upcoming posts.
The Digital Program was the one that broke me, kicked me in the ass, made me cry at my desk once or twice and then about mid way through turned me into the single most determined person ever. I knew this was what I wanted and nothing and certainly NO ONE was going to put me off track. It may have been a sometimes painful experience, but it was the one I needed the most. More on this in upcoming posts.
CAP was the right school for me and by the end of it, I had a portfolio, demo-reel and industry list to get myself started.
Wherever you decide to go, just make sure that you do your research and be prepared for hard work and long hours. Remember that the time you invest into yourself in school (be it: college, university, online or in school) is what is going to set you up for future success.
So that's it for my first post for the A to Z Challenge! I hope you liked it!
Stay tuned for more of my animation adventures!
I made a thing! I did the dragon armor and the dragon boss. If we are keeping track I also designed the little owl pet.
I love this game so much!
These are screen-caps off my phone from a battle earlier today.
So this year I will be participating for my third time in the A to Z Challenge over at A-to-Zchallenge.com. I'm going to be doing something different this year and I'm actually pretty excited about it!
This year, the topics I will cover for each post are going to be focussing on my adventures in the animation/gaming industry and what it took to get me where I am today. I'm going to talk about common questions I am asked, give tips, talk about my personal experiences and maybe even share some art! Below I'm going to give a brief overview to help keep myself on track as well as give you all an idea of what you can look forward to this April!
So those are going to be the topics I will cover for this year's A to Z Challenge and I can't wait to chat with you all and visit the other blogs participating in the challenge.
Also, don't forget that my Mum is also participating this year so you should definitely check her out at PearsonReport.ca!
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