I’ll never be as good an animator as so-and-so…


By: Shawn Kelly
Aug
23
2017

Screen Shot 2017 08 14 at 1.31.16 PM I’ll never be as good an animator as so and so...

Sooner or later—usually sooner—someone is going to come along and blow you out of the water. But that’s a GOOD thing! If you’re in that situation, I sure hope you use it as an opportunity to refocus and learn what you can from your new peer in order to push your animation game to a whole new level.


I have news for you guys. There’s always going to be someone better than you. Always.

That’s never going to change. I bet I could line up my all-time dream-team of favorite animation heroes and ask if they are the best animator they know, and I could almost guarantee that they’d all blanch and point the finger to dozens of other animators they feel are better than they are. The art is simply too complex, too deep, too much in a state of constant evolution, and too global to ever “be the best.” It just isn’t going to happen.

Spider I’ll never be as good an animator as so and so...

Can you become the best at your studio or school, though? Sure, I guess, but not for long. Sooner or later (usually sooner), someone is going to come along and blow you out of the water. But that’s a GOOD thing! If you’re in that situation, I sure hope you’d use it as an opportunity to refocus and learn what you can from your new peer in order to push your game to a whole new level.

The point is, we’re all at different levels, and that’s normal.

I understand the concern a lot more at the student level, however. It’s scary enough to be an art student in any kind of art because again, someone is always better than you are, only now you’re in an environment where you’re already wondering if you’ll ever be able to make a living at this, or worrying that you are wasting a lot of time and money on something you may never truly be outstanding in.

That’s totally normal to feel that way, and I bet that most animation and art students have felt that way at some point.

What you need to realize, is that all the artists you are in school with are at different points in their learning path. Some people are slower to pick up on certain ideas and techniques. Some people have more experience than others, and come into a class with a much more developed background in the art. A very lucky and very few people are just amazing prodigies right out of the gate.

The point is, we’re all at different levels, and that’s normal.

I used to be pretty decent at drawing. Now I’m awful and completely out of practice after a decade of drawing nothing but stickmen planning poses. I’ve been thinking about going and taking a figure drawing class sometime to ease back into it, because I do miss it. When I do, I will know without a shadow of a doubt that my drawings are going to be among the worst in the class. There will be people who are incredible, there will be people even worse than me (if it’s a huge class, maybe!), and the vast majority of us will be somewhere in between.

CatClassroom I’ll never be as good an animator as so and so...

But I’ll be in there to LEARN. I’m not in there to compete with them. I’m not going to let myself feel too embarrassed about having to hang my lumpy uneven shrunken-headed poor anatomy slightly-alien-looking figure drawing on the wall next to the masterpiece drawn in two minutes by the girl sitting next to me. I’m there to learn, and any time you’re learning ANY art, one of the most important things to get over is the fear of looking silly. The fear that people are pointing at your work and giggling.

The fear that you just don’t measure up, and won’t ever be as good as so-and-so.

I believe that drawing, like animation, is a learned skill. With the proper motivation and dedication, ANYONE can learn to draw. That doesn’t mean just anyone can be Picasso or Glen Keane, because those are artists applying a piece of their soul to their technical skills to raise their art to a level far beyond what the rest of us will ever accomplish. But anyone CAN learn to draw really well and can learn all the techniques and so forth, just as anyone CAN learn animation.

Any time you’re learning ANY art, one of the most important things to get over is the fear of looking silly.

I have no doubt, that if I truly applied myself, I could someday be as good as the teacher in that figure drawing class. It just might take me a lot more years to get there than that girl who was sitting next to me whipping out masterpiece after masterpiece.

But that’s OK! It’s normal. It’s expected. And regardless of what you think, no one is giggling behind your back at your work…

They’re all too busy worrying about everyone else’s reactions to THEIR work! icon smile I’ll never be as good an animator as so and so...

So, will you ever be as good as the best animator in your class? Maybe. Maybe not. Everyone is born with different skills, different dreams, etc. Animation is a competitive field. You’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise. School can feel very competitive if you let it, and it only gets worse when you graduate. Jobs are very cyclical, sometimes everyone is hiring, sometimes hardly anyone is. I understand the fear. I understand the concern.

The hard truth is that not everyone who reads this will have what it takes to sustain a career in such a competitive field. But I really believe that “what it takes” has a whole lot less to do with natural God-given talent, and a whole lot more to do with tenacity, patience, dedication, and retaining a constant hunger to learn.

sloth I’ll never be as good an animator as so and so...

If that describes you, then someday YOU’RE going to be the one everyone complains about being so untouchable, no matter where you are at in your path right now.

For more of Shawn’s wisdom, be sure to check out his post: Is Your Demo Reel Ready for a Major Studio?


ShawnKellymentorpromo I’ll never be as good an animator as so and so...

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