Discussion of 'getting in'

I’d like to start a dialogue about stepping into the business of 2D animation for myself and anyone else with these questions.

Either freelance or through a company, what are the best things you should be doing on your own for yourself that will honestly help you get into a field such as 2D animation?

For example, my situation is that because the lack of available programs in my area, I’m looking into online schools for a degree involving animation. The problems with this are:

There is a small pool of online schools offering animation degrees. These take many years at a part time pace and are huge bucks ($80k+) for a bachelors.

I understand the benefit of a ‘well rounded education’ that most of these schools offer in such expansive subjects as animation, but in truth, I know I would want to be working with a program such as Toon Boom making 2D animations. If I’m paying for 4+ years of classes that include things I’m not interested in like 3D animation, color theory, history of blah blah, math and other electives, I will feel I’ve wasted huge amounts of time and money knowing I could have asked people who know for sure that you only need “blank and blank”.

My knowledge of what amount of opportunities that honestly become available based on what you have (e.g. certificate vs. associates vs. bachelors) is unknown to me, therefore, I may find myself overshooting by paying for a bachelors for opportunities that could rise from a certificate.

With a degree, I’m basically looking for credentials to get my foot in the door, but with this much debt and time necessary for a degree, I don’t know if it’s even necessary.

I’m a strong believer of ‘kicking in the back door’ to get where you want to go and be there without massive debt of a student loan, and I know that lots of people have done this, but without a little guidance, one doesn’t know where to start or what they should seriously be focused on more than anything.

Who’s up to discuss?

I think it’s better one need to start self-development due to fact that online schools are very expensive and can take several years. Get online for free tutorials from different sources, combine them and you could honestly make something interesting out of them. I did that, and it’s working for me. I work as a creative artist with advertising agency and still freelance for many other film industries and publishing companies.

See, that’s what I’m talking about. The broad sense that I get from observing for a while, and this seems true for any field except doctors, surgeons, etc., is that schools are unnecessary most times and more important, they’re lazy money machines simply there for justifying getting into a career. If you’ve got honest self-interest and ability to learn the stuff on your own, you’re one step ahead of what school can offer.

The thing that bothers me is going into it and ultimately saying, “This is stuff I could have learned myself”. Especially the beginning. It’s almost like going backwards. I’ve learned Studio because I wanted to. I read the whole three or four hundred page manual because I wanted to understand every button and function available in the program. To suddenly go to school would seem like going backwards and waiting for the school to catch up with what I’ve learned, then go further, but that would take years and who knows if I could have learned all of it by then.

I can see the benefit of someone going to school at age 18 if they’re not really sure what they want to do. School becomes a sort of justification to move in a direction by way of a school holding your hand and dragging you through the process.

At this point the only reason why I considered going is to ultimately network into the field, but even that’s not assured. Basically, paying for a school to give me an opportunity instead of continuing to look for it myself.

I think I answered my initial question myself shortly after posting it, which is a good key to start focusing on is seeing through the projects I start. I’m guilty of that just a much as many others, I’m sure. Don’t be a perfectionist tweaking a single project forever. Keep the engine running and learn as you go from project to project, because as of right now, I feel like I understand how to use the program to a large degree, but to show for that, I only have a small handful of finished projects that don’t represent what I feel like I know or am capable of.

There are many reasons for using the formal route to learning. There are the benefits of networking and the basic “door” opening credentials associated with a degree or certificate. But then there is also the focusing and directing aspects. A person can learn anything they want to learn through self directed study if they apply themselves and they are persistent. But most people will not do this effectively or efficiently because they will not know the right path to follow or have the ability to focus an avoid distractions. There is a lot to be said for formal educational programs. In a creative field there are no guarantees that all the class work in the world will develop talent if there is none. But if talent exists then a structured development program will more times that not enhance that talent. You can learn to cook in your own kitchen but you can really learn to cook well at a good cooking school. Investing in yourself is never a waste of money if you have the opportunity. -JK

I can absolutely see that aspect, too. That’s why I’ve given consideration to going the traditional “school-route” as well. The problem with that I’ve found, is there are a lot of private schools that from my experience are more concerned about exploiting that “how do I go about this?” feeling eager people have to suck you into enrolling in their school. I even understand their situation. Ultimately schools are businesses and need to sell.

The problem though, is that I’ve spoken to admission advisors at schools and felt exactly like I was being sold a car. Then you look up student feedback and hear horror stories.

That’s why I think the key is to understand that there are schools that will exploit you and drop the smiles and help once you’re past the point of no return. If you go to school you’ve got to develop a discerning eye for what feels right.

But in the midst of these choices, that’s why I say I feel like there should be a more important aspect to focus on.

A good analogy of what I’m saying is; let’s say you want to build a chair. So you slap your hands together and say, “let’s get started”. Then you prepare by finding the tools you need such as a hammer. So you go researching every hammer on the market and spend forever reading reviews on the best hammers, viewing conflicting biases between brands. You get sucked into this perpetual circle of preparation and justification to start building a chair when you can just build a chair. It might not be a perfect chair the first time around, but you learn as you make more.

There are many fine schools out there and the picture of mistrust that you paint is not totally valid. It sounds more like a self justification for a personal conclusion.

There are a lot of very successful people working in the advertising and entertainment industries that were trained through art institutes and universities. You would be well served to seek out these people and get their opinions of the value they received from getting formal training.

Is formal training required? no, but the success rate of people who worked through a formal training program is significantly higher than that of those who are just self taught.

Any credible educational institution will be able to gladly provide you with names of their successful graduates whom you can contact, or you can find them all over the internet usually blogging and contact them via e-mail to get the real scoop.

Start with CalArts which is perhaps the best known for its famous grads but you can also contact Savannah College of Art and Design as well. Or start contacting people who work for Disney, Pixar, Dream Works, or Blue Skys and see how many of them just started making chairs with no formal training. -JK

Seems like I’m getting kind of a hostile response from you, dude. No matter how it may come off, I’m not anti-school and I’m not arguing that angle. In fact I like the tip you gave about contacting people directly working in the field. That’s sort of what I was trying to do when I started this thread. I’d rather start a dialogue with people working with products like Toon Boom than a rep for a school who will tell me their program is right for me regardless of whether or not it is, only because they need seats filled.

It wasn’t meant to be hostile so I’m sorry if you took it that way. And just for the record, it’s Mr. Dude. Best of luck ;D

It’s all good. We find our way in the end :slight_smile: