Breaking into the animation industry.
Good day everyone! I hope you are all doing well! I am currently a graphic artist/designer and I have 4 years of experience in the field. I have this strong desire to follow the dreams of my youth and make cartoons. I currently do animations for projects at work, mostly GIFs that are used for emails in Mailchimp and for some of our products. On a side note I successfully pitched an idea in 2016 to animate some of the vocabulary cards we sell. We incorporated QR codes into the printed product that can be scanned and then children can see the vocabulary card animated.
Every year Nickelodeon looks for talent through their Nick Artist Program. I have applied to this 2 years in a row and I will continue to apply for it until I am employed as an animator there. My question is: how do I go about applying for jobs in animation? I plan to continue to apply for the Nick Artist Program, but I am comfortable and confident enough to apply for jobs in the industry. I definitely understand that I won't be working at the top level out of the gate, but I want to get my foot in the door. I am looking for suggestions to do this. What is the best approach? Should I just apply to jobs posted or should I also try to send my portfolio to people?
I am attaching some of my work. As a background to all of this I have completed an issue of a comic book I wrote and illustrated called Legend of Three and I am currently getting paid to draw another authors script into a comic book. I have also worked on a few video games, one of which is a super simple pixel endless runner and the other was successfully green-lit on Steam but the project was canceled.
Let me know how I can better my work or how I can go about trying to break into animation.
A lot of the work I do is for events and galleries in Lubbock, TX. Many times Alamo Drafthose will have events where local artists can set up at a table in the lobby and sell their art. The art has to match the movie coming out like The Last Jedi. The next one is Black Panther.
This Gravity Falls piece I did for a First Friday Art Trail with the theme of "gods and monsters." I figured Bill Cipher was both so that's why I chose this piece.
This Daredevil piece was my very first showing on the First Friday Art Trail.
This is my character Jack from Legend of Three
This piece I did because the author of Meteor's N Milk was seeking local artists to feature in the first issue of his book. The Jack character in the front in my own creation and the other 2 are his main characters.
I did this piece for a Christmas gallery.
I did this piece to feature at the opening weekend of Star Wars The Last Jedi at Alamo Drafthouse.
Thanks in advance for any advice and comments. I am looking for critiques and advice.
Chip Valecek last edited by
@chris-nazario I can't give any advice on getting your foot in the door but i would assume that sending a portfolio would help at any place. I am sure they would want to see what you can do before hiring you.
Other then that, I really enjoy your work. I like all the clean lines, the one that does not fit I would say is the cows/ufos. The lines are not as smooth as the others. Also the color is not as saturated as the others.
@chip-valecek thanks a lot for responding! The image you mentioned doesn't look like that, I'm sure I can upload a cleaner one, but the real one was made in Adobe Illustrator so I'm assuming the one I uploaded was the one I saved for print. The lines look like they were bolded for some reason and the quality looks bad.
Lee White last edited by
"How to break into the Animation Industry" is a very loaded question. The first thing I would recommend is really break down where in the animation industry you want to break into. There are a lot of extremely specific area of animation and that is where your focus should be. A few include:
- clean up artist
- background painting
- character development
- visual development
Each of these has a very specific thing they are looking for and you should taylor your work to that if you want to break in. As it stands, you have some nice looking images, but they are ultimately unusable in a job search kind of way to get into a studio.
@lee-white thank you for your response. I have heard several times for different jobs you need different portfolios. The art I posted is some of what I've posted for jobs, but I have also sent character designs and comic book pages. From what I've seen from You Tube videos, because it's hard to find resources for applying for animations jobs, and from Jake and Will there are very specific things they are looking for and if you don't show them those specific things then they skip right over your portfolio. Currently my plan is to do an animation reel and provide the story boards and character sheets with it. I won't know if that works until I get feedback, but I appreciate you sharing the different aspects of the industry.
Lee White last edited by Lee White
There is a MASSIVE amount of resources for finding and applying to animation jobs. Just google "Animation jobs" and you will see what I mean. You can also search for "storyboard artist job" and get specific links to currently available jobs. Look and see what they are requiring and match your work to that.
Using storyboarding as an example, here's what I found in less than 1 minute (and there were tons of them, i just picked this one at random):
"Knowledge of software and hardware including Cintiq, Toon Boon Storyboard Pro, Photoshop or other applicable storyboarding software Ability to align with style and sensibility of show Strong in comedy, action, emotional storytelling, and character interaction Strong staging, composition and cinematography skills Ability to draw characters on model and in a 3 dimensional setting Ability to write clear and specific direction on storyboards Solid and consistent time-management skills Bachelor degree or equivalent work experience Candidates should provide digital story samples for review (website/blog/pdf portfolio)."
Find the job you want, see what the requirements are, then do that. Providing a reel is of no use if you want a storyboard position, or visual development, or character design. Providing a reel will be essential if you are looking to animate, or do in betweens, etc.
Put in the time and the research to understand what you are trying to do. Having a "it's too hard to find resources" type thought process will severely limit you and could actually send you in the wrong direction if you are just guessing at how to go about it.
@lee-white Thanks again for your responses! You sharing your knowledge and findings are much appreciated. After responding to your last post I went on You Tube and found a lot of videos on story boarding and also videos on portfolio submission and what they are looking for. I guess the last time I really looked into it I couldn't find anything that was really helping me. It is also hard when you don't know how many jobs are actually involved in the process, so thank you for pointing that out in your last response. I hope that this conversation also helps other people find some answers. I have watched some of the classes you taught and I appreciate what you know and how you share it.
Most of us just want to draw for a living and don't know the ins and outs of any part of the industry. With Google being so prevalent now, I don't know how anybody did it before. I'm not that young, I still remember writing papers using an encyclopedia and actually looking at books for resources in a library. I remember when I was a kid I just wanted to draw. I just wanted to make cartoons. I never actually did it until I started working professionally. I didn't finish a comic book until I was already a graphic designer. It's too late for me to go back to school to get a degree in animation because I already spent all the money I could getting a degree in graphic design. Now I have to focus on learning through other resources like SVS, You Tube, and Skillshare.
Basically I have the mind set that I'm not going to give up. I know it's easy to say that, but once I really put my time and energy into something I see results. When I was 19, I was a delivery driver at Domino's pizza. I worked my way up to store manager and then decided I didn't want to spend the rest of my life making pizza and running a restaurant. It wasn't until I decided I was going back to school that I was able to make a career change. After a year in school I got a job at a sign shop as a print tech. I then worked my way into the design department after 2 years, before I finished school. I know I can do it once I decide to. I really wish everybody that wanted to draw for a living would do that. I always have it in the back of my mind that I may not be the best artist, but I won't give up.
I am sorry for the rambling, I just wanted you to know some of my life experiences. Thanks again for responding to my post. I'm glad there are people like you that are willing to share what you know.