What are studios looking for? How can I get into a good animation school? What should I be studying?
I get a lot of these types of questions now and again, and I never know how to answer them. I can’t be sure of what studios are looking for, I don’t control admissions policies to schools, and I have little idea what makes for a current and relevant curriculum. There are a lot of variables in your bid for a career in animation, and it’s kind of impossible to control most of them. You must be crazy to want this job!
I find it helpful to focus on the things I can control. Among those things are your study habits and how you spend your personal time. It’s good to work hard and have goals—without them we would get nowhere. Study hard and make decisive strides towards achieving your art goals. But in the heat of that pursuit, don’t forget to go out and live your life!
If you spend any amount of time looking at artists online, you’ve probably figured out by now that there are about a million dudes and dudettes in internetville who draw better than you (I relive this realization daily). Once your have done your best to rise to their level, the only tool you have to compete with these crazy talents is your background, your personal character—is you!
Consider developing your whole self with the same raw focus and intensity that you develop a particular skill set. Get focused. Go out, have adventures. Run, jump, skin your knee, fall in love, root loudly for the away team at a baseball game, barely escape a crash of stampeding rhinos, live to see another day. Experience things big and small. Go for a walk. The world is full of wonders.
I know this advice is not particularly animation-specific, but maybe that’s for the best. At any rate, it is something I feel strongly about. Animation is great, and there are few things that I enjoy doing more than drawing and storytelling. But in order to have stories to tell, first you have to live them.
Be good, and see you soon!
PS, if you were looking for advice on draftsmanship you should probably be reading this.
you kill me
thus with a night of cramming I die
I could have read a book instead
To take the most obvious first: I found myself thinking as I wrote, “These poor adults are never going to understand this; I must explain it to them twice more and then remind them again later in different terms.” Now this is something I never have to think when I write for younger readers. Children are used to making an effort to understand. They are asked for this effort every hour of every school day, and though they may not make the effort willingly, they at least expect it. In addition, nearly everyone between the ages of nine and fifteen is amazingly good at solving puzzles and following complicated plots - this being the happy results of many hours spent at computer games and watching television. I can rely on this. I can make my plots for them as complex as I please, and yet I know I never have to explain them more than once (or twice at the very most). And here I was, writing for people of fifteen and over, assuming that the people who read, say, Fire and Hemlock last year have now given up using their brains.
This is back-to-front to what one usually assumes, if one only looks on the surface, but I found it went much deeper than that. At first I thought it was my own assumption, based on personal experiences. Once when I was doing a signing, a mother came in with her nine-year-old son and berated me for making The Homeward Bounders so difficult. So I turned to the boy to ask him what he didn’t understand. “Oh, don’t listen to her,” he said. “I understood everything. It was just her that didn’t.” It was clear to both of us that his poor mother had given up using her brain when she read. Likewise, a schoolmaster who was supposed to be interviewing me for a magazine explained to me that he had tried to read Charmed Life and couldn’t understand a word, which meant, he said, that it was much too difficult for children. So he didn’t interview me. He was making the surface assumption that children need things easy. But since I have never come across a child that didn’t understand Charmed Life, it occurred to me that he was making the assumption about himself. But it was a hidden one, and when I came to write for adults, I realized that it was something all adults assumed. I grew tender of their brains and kept explaining.
This makes an absurd situation. Here we have books for children, which a host of adults dismiss as puerile, overeasy, and are no such thing; and there we have books for adults, who might be supposed to need something more advanced and difficult, which we have to write as if the readers were simpleminded.
so it was recently my language arts teacher’s birthday, and one of his students brought him a cardboard cutout of legolas that now just sits in various places in our classroom, like today
my teacher wrote this himself
also when i told him about how many notes it has he nearly choked on his coffee so thanks for nearly killing my english teacher
My favorite children’s books, in honor of Children’s Book Week!