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You know it breaks my heart when I hear a from an animator who wants to get out of the business. It’s especially upsetting when my peers, barely starting their careers, are looking for a way out. We went through at least 4 years of school to join an industry that doesn’t excite them any more. Animation (at least in Canada) has a five year attrition rate, meaning after five years most people who entered the industry have left. It breaks my heart because I love animation. I plan to work in animation for the rest of my life. This is made me realize something I hadn’t admitted to myself throughout college.
I don’t just want to work in animation, I want to be an artist.
I want to be a full throated, red blooded artist. My medium is animation, and I want to say something. I want to express something. That changed how I thought about my career and even led me to this newsletter. I’m focused on making a career of making things that matter.
We have to be honest the industry doesn’t treat it’s animators like artists. Animators, producers, designers, riggers, lighters, production managers, are all cogs in a machine. The system is set up to produce animation. It’s not set up to make creatively fulfilling work.
We can change the system. Art follows different economics than straight up content. Art is about impact. If you make something that a group of people love. You’re in a good position to make a living. Great art lasts a long time. It works outside today’s narrow attention span. The starving artist is a myth. Some artists may starve but others are successful.
There’s a road laid for animation graduates. You find your first gig, then you move up a little. Then you find your next gig. If you’re lucky you move to LA and you work on your favourite show or, feature film. This doesn’t have to be your path. How many artists at these Disney, Cartoon Network, Dreamworks leave to start their own thing? Take to heart that finding work that’s engaging is up to us. We have to work for it.
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