Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and Thrive

by David B. Levy

Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and Thrive (Amazon)
2006 edition

In a nutshell

This book does what the title says – offers advice on creating and maintaining a career in animation.  Each chapter is divided into smaller sections with clear headings.  This divides the information into easily readable chunks, as well as making it quick to find any specific information you’re looking for as you flip through.  Includes interviews with a number of other artists.

Rating

Entertainment  
 Inspiration  
 Instruction  
 Technical  n/a

Key quotes

“When opportunity comes your way, you need to be ready – otherwise it’s someone else’s opportunity.”

“The worst thing for any artist is to rest on their laurels – Teddy Newton”

“Set goals and work each day towards creating the career of your choice.”

My Thoughts

Although this edition is a few years old now (2006), and centred on the American animation industry, I still felt that it was very relevant to me, an animator based in the UK in 2012.

A lot of the advice in this book could be deemed common sense, but I personally still find it helpful to be reminded of this stuff.  I also like reading all the personal anecdotes and stories that reinforce this advice – little moral tales that show the rewards to be gained when you get it right, and the damage that can be done when you overstep the mark.  The author is an entertaining writer, and doesn’t shy away from telling the stories of when he himself got things wrong.

His interviews with a range of people in the industry – writers, directors, producers, editors, animators – independent and otherwise – provide a nice variety of perspectives, and advice from people who really know what they’re talking about with respect to their area of expertise.

The thing I like most about this book, is that it really tries to cover a bit of everything.  The ups and downs.  Periods of unemployment and how you can not only cope, but use them to your advantage.  The importance of networking and staying in touch with people.  The value of working on personal creative projects in your own time, not only for your own sanity, but as a possible means of furthering your career.

I also like the fact that it covers a variety of different paths within the animation industry.  Although for now, I hope to make a career out of being an animator, I found it interesting to learn about other career paths, as they are all interlinked and there’s the possibility of being able to move from some to others.  It also covers the different options you have as an artist – working in a studio, as a freelancer, even some thoughts on starting your own studio from people that have done it.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book.  It gives a good overview of the industry as a whole, as well as specific advice for specific career paths.  It’s well written, easy to read, and entertaining.  Not only do I feel like there is plenty of good advice, but it’s the kind that inspires me to take action, and makes me want to put it into practice straight away.  I’ve a feeling I’ll be referring back to this book for many years to come.

Highly recommended.

Contents

1 So You Want to Be in Pictures?

2 Stretching and Squashing into a Job

3 Designing a Career Part I: The Animation Artists

4 Designing a Career Part II: Writers, Directors, and Producers

5 How to Get the Most out of Long Periods of Employment

6 Choosing Your Battles on the Job

7 Making On-the-Job Criticism Your Friend

8 I’ve got No Strings: The Life of an Independent Animation Artist

9 Surviving Unemployment

10 Networking: People Who Need People

11 All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Starting Your Own Business

12 The Horror!  Pitching and Selling a Pilot or Series

13 Happy Trails: Parting Thoughts and Advice

Appendix: Animation Industry Resource List

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