I’ve been working on a bunch of stuff that I’m dying to share (but won’t be able to for quite a while), so instead here’s a quick scribble of some guy. Maybe he’s a tourist? I should’ve put some people and flying cars in the terrible scrawl of a background but I’m lazy and it’s late.
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.
Thank you for the kind words about Chowder! I’m glad it meant something to you.
I understand the frustration of your situation. Wanting to continue following your dream but being given a roadblock is painful. But know this, not everyone’s path is the same.
Here’s the thing to remember: Going to art school doesn’t make you an artist.
Sure there are many good reasons to go to an art school. It can help refine you. You have access to great teachers, peers to learn from, and good connections afterwards.
But as someone a little (lotta) older who’s been out of school for a while, I know there are many other ways of achieving your dreams.
Let’s look at the positives of going to a regular school. You can broaden your interests in many different categories, each which can affect your art in astoundingly positive ways. Studying literature, history, mythology, science, and philosophy broadens your views on the world. And isn’t all art really just the artist’s view of their world? Expanding it with new curriculum only benefits you. I love Kate Beaton’s art because she’s such a history nerd. She humanizes historical figures and zeroes in on what’s funny about them. It feels both academic and emotional at the same time. That’s a really hard combo to achieve, but her deep knowledge and passion feeds her art in surprising and wonderful ways.
Sometimes I worry that artists spend too much time looking at other artists and not enough time looking at all the other amazing things around them. It becomes a bloated ouroboros (snake eating himself; I had to look up the spelling, so yeah I’m not as smart as I pretend to be).
Being at a regular college doesn’t mean your art dreams must die. Most colleges have some sort of art program. Take a few life drawing classes. Take some other art classes. Wherever you end up, set aside a little time each day to work on your art. And now with the “magic of the internet” (he says waving his hand and staring off into the distance), you can easily keep in touch with your art school friends. Ask them to share their project challenges with you. Look to them for feedback on your art. Use them to force you to keep it up. There’s a good chance you could find a group of like-minded art students to work with at your school as well. And maybe in couple of years, you’ll feel like it’s time to transfer to art school to take things to a new level and maybe your parents will agree. Who knows what the future holds?
I didn’t go to art school. I went to a state school and took one art class in four years. I drew a comic every day because that’s what I really wanted to do. But school let me grow and introduced me to new concepts and ideas. It let me meet other cartoonists. It fed a lot of the stuff that I did later on.
There’s no traditional path anymore. You don’t need to go to art school to keep evolving and growing as an artist. Art school is one means to get there. School isn’t even necessary. There are so many ways to get information and guidance now. Your own passion and drive are the most important thing to keep you on that path.
I wish you the best of luck out there and I hope this helps, even a little.
p.s. if anyone has extra advice to offer, please reblog this and share your experience.
Q:What are you inspired by?
Whenever I see people who are passionate about creating things, it almost works like a pilot light for me to get excited about doing my own stuff. They can be passionate about anything, not just drawing. I watched a cool documentary on Netflix last night called A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt, and it got me really excited. Not just because I love watching people cook, but because of how driven he is to do something inspiring with his craft.
Q:Okay, one quick question. How do you feel about My Little Pony Friendship is Magic and the fandom and such? Being in the cartoon industry must mean that you are aware, plus you have worked with Tara Strong. Please reply
I haven’t seen the show but I’ve heard many good things. Lots of really talented people I know worked on it. Those designs are super appealing! They’re a nice update of the old look. As far as fandom, I have no problem with it. Shows that don’t have any fans don’t survive. If folks want to get super excited about something that a lot of people worked really hard to make, then power to them. As long as the attention to the fandom doesn’t overpower the qualities and message of the show.
Q:Are you related to Rodney Greenblatt?
Nope, his last name has only one “t” at the end. But I do loves me some Parappa! Any game where you crap your pants if you fail is a winner in my book!
Q:Hey CH, I have a couple of quick questions...1:Are there any cartoons on right now that you get inspired by? 2: As far as online youtube animators go, are there any you would really want to work with? 3:Is it possible to pitch a cartoon on sketches and concept alone? I cannot animate to save my life thanks to a crippling battle with my attention span, but my character-models are interesting and fully realized/fleshed out. 4:Was Chowder made in Flash? I have a bet with a friend...
Uh, oh gosh, let’s see…
1) Adventure Time is a renaissance cartoon. Best thing out there. It really is creating it’s own genre and follows no one else’s beat. I still really like South Park, too.
2) There are so many great people out there and I am woefully unaware of most of them. A few that I’ve seen cool stuff from would be Nelson Boles, Eamon O’Neill, Scott Benson, Charles Huettner, Rubber House Studio, Mukpuddy, Tom Hunter, umm… I know there are more but that’s all I can think of this moment.
3) Anything is possible. I can’t animate either, because I’ll be damned if I can ever get my pencil to go precisely where I want it. But here’s the thing… a pitch is usually JUST a concept and sketches. The studios are more interested in buying shows from people who can create characters, worlds, and compelling stories and then have the ability to execute that idea in animated form. Having strong animation skills is a plus, but it’s not a requirement. But you should definitely know all the fundamental inner-workings of animation. Understand the medium in order to use it effectively. Walt Disney wasn’t a strong animator, but he was a good businessman and storyteller who understood both the power of animation and what his audience would respond to.
4) Chowder was NOT made in Flash. It was all hand-drawn in a very traditional 2D format with pencils and paper. Like most shows since the early 2000’s, it was colored and composited in the computer. (It does make me a little sad that people can’t tell the difference, though.) I hope you won the bet!
A side scribble as I work on a storyboard.
Q:ey! how is your nick pilot doing?
It’s coming along very well, thank you! The animation turned out great, the music is turning out great, and we mix the sound next week. I’m super proud of it. Even if it doesn’t become a series, I can walk away feeling like I made the cartoon I had in my head.
Right now I’m working on a logo and title card for the pilot. Maybe I’ll post some stuff soon.
Here are two characters I haven’t drawn in quite a while. Why now you ask? Cartoon Network finally added a ton of their original shows to Netflix. Lots of great current and classic cartoons including Chowder! There are only 20 episodes up there so far (a mix from different seasons), but that’s better than none.
Plus you can watch the first two seasons of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. While they’re all worth watching, I’m gonna plug the ones I did:
Tricycle of Terror, Skarred for Life, Here Thar Be Dwarves
Check out these and all the other great CN shows. I think you have to search for them since they don’t seem to appear in “Recently Added” yet.