Inspired by this talk by Ken Robinson (thx Mo), I looked back to a forum post I made a few years back, where I made my public declaration to follow my passion. I’ve copied/pasted my original forum post at the end of this article, unedited (though corrected distracting spelling mistakes). I apologize to my father, for being harsh… but that’s how I felt, at the time. Although I think that my desire to win my father’s approval gave me quite a bit of fuel.
Around the time I created the following post, I drew this sketch, at my desk, while working at K-Mart headquarters. I was just doodling, passing time, not really realizing what I was doing till I was finished. In the image, I saw myself, adding all these technical robotic components to my body, trying to fit into the machine… including a more uncomfortable version of the classic Wedlock collar. I sketched a door in my chest, to access my heart, with “Close when done.” written on the inside panel. Trying to conform, but couldn’t, and the other machines didn’t even want me around.
Two years later, the sketch acted as the foundation for my first large 3D animation project. This indie project became my first 3D demo reel (2004), which landed me my first job at an animation studio in Vancouver.
8 years working in IT in Michigan, plus another 8 years working in film, TV and video games in Vancouver… and now what? That’s another story entirely, that’s in the middle of unfolding.
Ok… so here’s the post that I made 10 years ago. As it turns out, it was 10 years ago, this month (April 3rd, 2002 – to be exact)!!
New Job…. New Career…. New Life *first post*
I’ve seen quite a few threads like the one I’m about to create, but I never had the motivation to create my own, and share my thoughts and feeling about something that means so much to me. This will be a pretty long one, as it requires a little background, so bare with me.
Basically, I’ve been interested in art since I can remember. Received “A”s in art class, and won tons of art competitions. My mother had always been behind me, and supported my decisions, while my father always considered it childish and a waste of time.
My interest in creating animation started when I received a copy of the original Autodesk Animator in 1991, when I was 15. My parents were divorced, and I spent most of my nights at my fathers house, which was away from all my high-school friends. This freed up TONS of time do dive into my work. I spent hours and hours in that program, sometimes till 4-5am (not cool on a school night), making dozens of 4-5 minute cartoons.
Regarding my traditional art skills, I soon I realized that I was no longer the best. Back in Arizona, I didn’t have much competition, but now, in a Michigan high-school and anew set of peers, I was getting my butt kicked. I didn’t deal with it well (to say the least), and my work became frustrating instead of enjoyable. Eventually I gave up entirely. I convinced myself that I no longer enjoyed “the process”.
In the years that followed, I maybe picked up a pencil once every few months, to do some necessary work, or to finish a project in my art class. My art teachers always took me aside to ask me why I didn’t try harder and blah blah blah. I even stopped working on my animations (which are all now LOST due to a crashed hard drive.) You get the point, my creativity was dying.
Well, in 1995 my interest in 3D animation came back. Every movie that came out, I found myself researching the exact techniques used to accomplish their effects. I considered studying 3D animation seriously, but was again discouraged by my father, and even some of my friends. “Dude, you have to go to art school for that stuff.” Or “You can’t afford CCS (Center for Creative Studies)!” Sooo…. again my interest in 3D animation was put to the side.
I couldn’t afford schooling for myself, so I entered the Information Technology field to get a job. At 19 years old I got my first job working at Detroit Edison (local power company) doing work with Excel reports. It an OK position, but it DID get my foot in the door, and I needed some experience (Hardees, and Franks SuperCrafts don’t really count). Within 2 years, I was working at a different division of the company, on database programming. Due to the length of time it took to compile code, or run queries, I spent most of my free time at work in 3D animation/effects newsgroups. I read advice and tips from normal users/hobbyists, and even a few posts from the people that worked at the top animation firms (ILM, DD, Pixar, etc.) I spent 2 more years working on databases, then eventually moved to work for Visteon (desktop support), then General Motors(server admin), then Ford Motor Company (Enterprise Admin/Developer).
Needless to say, I make pretty good money at what I’m doing, and it only took me a little over 5 years to accomplish. I’ve paid off my truck; I’ve even bought my own house. However, this entire time, I always managed to keep an eye open for any possibility to enter the 3D Animation field.
About 8-9 months ago, I entered a depression.
Basically, I feel as though I’ve done about all I can do in the field that I’m in. I feel empty, shallow. Sometimes I feel like a sellout because I ignored my dreams and desires, in order to pursue a career that pays well. Well, even thought we’ve all heard it before, take it from me, money TRULY isn’t everything.
Well, now I’m 25 years old, and I realize that I will NEVER be happy, unless I attempt to chase my dreams. Some would consider me lucky to have realized this at an early age, but it doesn’t make it any easier. After all, I should have been doing this stuff when I was 17. *sigh* Can’t help but feel that I’ve wasted nearly a decade.
Soo… what do I do now? Well, I’m diving back into my studies of 3D animation, and carry a notebook around with me everywhere I go, and plan on spending most of the money I make on an art college (if time permits). My hours at work are usually pretty long, and allow me only a few short hours per night to play around.
The question of whether I’m too late… still hovers over my head. The question of whether I can even AFFORD to make a career change…. lingers in my mind. Because of my house, and the lifestyle I’ve become accustomed to, it’s going to make it difficult to live off a beginner’s salary. The last few months, all my friends feel as though I don’t like them anymore, because I don’t spend anymore time going out and hanging out with them. But then I realize, this is not just a career change that I’m talking about, it’s a lifestyle change, not even considering the fact that I’ll probably have to move back out west if I even want to pursue this career.
It’s hard to validate my decision, but once in awhile, I come across artists who are 45… or even 55, and they just now realized that they need to make a change in their career. Yes, in those respects I still do feel lucky.
What was the point of this LONG bio? Well, I guess it was for numerous reasons.
#1) To tell anyone out there, that if you have ANY questions about what you are doing with your life, you better reevaluate your life. Money is NOT everything, and if you truly want to work in the art field, and you feel you’re wasting your life away, these “feelings” will not go away with time. I’ve been waiting for 7 years for these feelings to go away, but the desires only get stronger as time passes.
#2) It’s NOT easy. It requires long hours of work and study (as most here can already tell you). I found it pretty easy to find what you are interested in. If, no matter how much you work with it, you still find it “work”, then you might not enjoy it as much as you think you do. I remember considering most of my animations as a GREAT substitute for a Nintendo. To be GOOD… *sigh* it’s going to take a LOT of patience.
#3) Although you are not the original group that I started talking to in the forums, 5 years ago, I still want to thank you all for your help. I want to thank you for the help you have provided beginners and dreamers. The motivation that some of you have instilled in some artists. The encouraging, but sometimes hard-to-swallow, criticism that you have provided to your peers.
Ok, I’m finished now. Hopefully one day I will be as skilled as some of you, so that I may help others move towards their dreams. Wish me luck, and if you think I’m crazy… don’t be afraid to tell me.
P.S. Sorry about the length, but I’ve wanted to say this for a LONG time.