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.