tealin: (think)
I have pretty much always drawn while listening to the radio. From my first Harry Potter drawings, done behind the counter of a rarely-visited gift shop with mandatory country music playing, through a few years of film and musical soundtracks and half the Vancouver Public Library's collection of audiobooks, to the discovery of Radio 4 and all that. I need a chew toy to distract the verbal half of my brain and let the bit doing the spatial/fine motor work get on with it.

Once before I've had to make do without much to listen to: In 2007, long after I'd got used to having a computer at my desk with all its streaming and/or distracting opportunities, I interned at James Baxter's studio, the upper floor of an old warehouse and last preserve of analogue animation desks in LA. The other interns had laptops, but I only had my tiny iPod Nano, and after a week or two I'd memorised pretty much everything on it. But an odd thing happened when I ran out of external stimulation, and my Left Brain's clamour for distraction was perforce denied long enough: it shut up and went away to do its own thing, and good lord did I ever get a lot done.

I've been in the same position the last couple of days. I'm in Bristol doing a few days on-site at the studio for which I've been freelancing, doing rotations, the sort of work on which I most "need" something to listen to, and during which I get most of my radio listening done. I do have my laptop with me, just in case, but have not turned it on yet, nevermind accessed the WiFi. And my brain is doing the same thing. It's a little bit miraculous: I thought I was another casualty of our hyper-distracted age, yet here I am, doing relatively tedious work in a silent room, perfectly content.

It's made me resolve to turn off as much as I can when I get back home. I can't imagine going fully without the radio, as it does help to keep me on task when the infinite distractions of working from home (snacks, chores, errands, etc) come knocking, but I need to budget other distractions much more strictly. They aren't doing me much good, anyway – certainly less than what I'd gain with improved concentration and productivity.

Funny how these lessons keep coming back around every few years until you learn them ...
tealin: (actually)
Someone on Tumblr asked me about how to get your foot in the door in the animation industry, getting your portfolio looked at, and whether these days jobs have to come to you more than you going in search of them. I thought I'd copy my response here, as Tumblr is so frustratingly ephemeral ...



What follows is entirely my two cents and based solely on personal experience, which is limited and somewhat unusual. But I give it anyway, just in case it’s helpful.

I have had the pleasure, in at least two of my jobs, to end up friends with the person who takes the portfolios, and the cold calls from prospective job applicants. Based on that, I don’t believe studios have ever been enthusiastic to look at portfolios out of the blue, or take cold callers seriously, at least not in the 17 years I’ve known them. When portfolios came in, they’d go straight in the Portfolio File, which was only delved into when there was a job opening that couldn’t be filled by a past employee or a recommendation. Cold callers, having nothing to show for themselves over the phone, got even less consideration (email is better; you can attach images). Between years of school, I turned up at studios in town in person to ask about interning, and got politely turned away; at one of them the receptionist all but laughed in my face. So yes, it’s like that, but it’s not a new thing. It probably isn’t helped these days by the increased volume of art school grads, but it’s not new.

So, what advice do I have? Again, this is highly subjective and based on limited personal experience, but:

1. Don’t be annoying. A respectful attitude gets noticed: you are taking up a busy person’s time and attention, and if you can signal that you’re aware of this and grateful for the moment they can spend on you (and only make it a moment) they are less likely to brush you off. They may, still, but you’re lowering it from a guarantee to a probability.

Points 2 to 5 below... )

I’ve had art online for 18 years and never once has someone offered me a (real) job purely through that: every job has come through personal contacts and past work. I know the story is different for other people, but that is how it’s been for me. I feel that nowadays there’s this expectation that if you just keep feeding your blog with the sort of art that gets likes, you’ll get ‘discovered’, but that’s not the way it is. Maybe some Hollywood starlets really did get ‘discovered’ waiting tables at Schwab’s, too, but that’s generally not how it goes. The first job is the hardest one to get, but it can be done, eventually, if you put in the shoe leather.

August 2017

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