“I want to be an animator!” is the only thing I have said when people ask me what I want to do professionally since then.
After college, I know now a handful of careers that I could pursue but didn’t know which specifically I should go after. Computer Animation was hard. I also didn’t have time when I took the intro class to sit there and model my character, then animate it, then wait and wait for it to render… so I dropped that idea. I went the Traditional, hand drawn, 2d route. That’s long and tedious, too. Volume, secondary action, arcs? That’s a lot of planning. And my drawings skills aren’t as good in the big ocean as they were in the small puddle I use to live in Southern Illinois. Not to mention, less opportunities in the industry. So I settled for Visual Development and Storyboarding. Really? Settled? First of all, I have nothing to offer in terms of painting skills or prolific styles. My drawings skills still are less than industry standard. So, okay, let me go after Production. I can do that. I’ve produced and organized not only film sets in college and my own independent feature, but also stage productions. I would be AMAZING at Production, the entry level leap being Production Assistant. I’ve got this in the bag.
A handful of interviews later, I still haven’t landed a Production Assistant job. I’m perfectly qualified for it and passionate about the subject matter. What else can I do? And then, it hit me. At all of these interviews, when asked “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I would answer “Working in Animation and writing /illustrating children’s books on the weekends and writing the next feature film I’m going to produce and direct and probably have some babies somewhere in there because my mom is going to freak out if I don’t.”
To the response, “Yeah, but do you see yourself in Production?”
Every time I’ve been asked this, I said, “Yes.” I truly believed it. I would be AMAZING at Production, but I don’t want to do it forever.
Quite honestly, I don’t want to do anything forever.
And to finally become the clearest about the path I want to take, I want to direct. I feel in my natural power when I’m bringing out the best in others. In terms of Animation, going the storyboard artist route is pretty common to getting there. So that’s what I’m going to work towards now.
I’m not sure where my head was at before now. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. I have finally decided on my goal and am finally being open and honest about it publicly.
So many new graduates will do anything to get their foot in the door, and although that’s something we have to do while starting out, it’s also a little harder, I think. If you know specifically what you want to do, all your efforts can go into that one thing until it happens. I feel like I can work a job to just pay the bills if I see a specific end goal that I’m working towards. “Working in Animation” just isn’t enough to keep me motivated anymore, though it obviously has done me well the last 20 years. I’ve been rejected a lot since I graduated in 2010, but I’ve also accomplished a lot, too. For every 30 things I get rejected for, I’ve been accepted for 1. When I applied to the Nickelodeon Internship, I was denied the first two times after an initial interview, and finally got accepted the third. When I submitted an essay for the Stratejoy Essay Contest, I was lovingly rejected but was selected to blog for Season 6 the next time I tried for an opportunity!
I could list a mass of everything that I’ve been rejected for, including my most recent grad school, but the list is huge. I’m sure your list is, too. We just have to keep going, trying, and evolving. From success, we don’t learn too much. From failure, we grow.
So what does this new declaration of becoming a storyboard artist mean for me? It means that…
A. I have to finish my Storyboard Test
B. Do another Storyboard Sample
C. Update online portfolio/flatbook
D. Seek out my friends who currently storyboard for feedback
E. Revise according to feedback to strengthen my work
F. Put myself out there and apply for Storyboard Revisionist positions
Storyboarding connects my love for story and art, so why would I not do it?
The crazy thing is I’ve come to this conclusion many times before… only I didn’t believe it so I never moved forward.
It’s weird to think I’m so loyal to my younger self but, for the fact, that my jaw drops when I see now animated films and their progress (hello Rapunzel’s hair!), and still get emotional when Dumbo gets separated from his mom, probably means that behind my fear of never making it, I still truly want to be in it. Fear has stopped me from going after this thing that I really want. And although, I will still apply for Production Assistant opportunities, because they truly are a great foot in the door, the bigger goal is Storyboards.
Next time I’m asked where I see myself in 5 years, I know what I will say… but a lot more additions will probably thrown in on my weekends because that’s just me.