March 25, 2009

Signalnoise Art Store Commercial

Ben Jeddrie has completed this Flash animated spot for Jim White's online art store. One of my other favorite works from Jeddrie was his Odd Couple short. See more of his work here, and see more of James' digital art here.


March 21, 2009


Marvel just bought the rights to the series, and they're posting an episode a week. Hopefully the episodes will inspire Sam Raimi to improve Spider-Man 4 by including Amazoness and her giant, sentient dung beetle sidekick.

The Art of Scott Campbell

The Art of Emma McNally

March 19, 2009

an UPisode

Seth's HULU commercial

Promo for Sit Down, Shut Up!

I forgot all about the upcoming animated series that will reunite Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz with Jason Bateman and Will Arnett until this promo reminded me we're getting that. In this video, Bateman and Arnett manage to take the rarely-funny fake feud concept and make it actually funny by including the word "breasty."

Explosions anyone?

March 15, 2009

Resources for Animators

Pitching an Animated Series


This is probably the single BIGGEST thing that everyone claims to “get” but very rarely gets expressed when pitching. The focal point of your entire pitch should be built around your main character. Who he or she is, how do they see the world, what do they want/need. There seems to be a tendency, ESPECIALLY in the no boundaries world of animation, to lay out the entire universe right off the bat. But the truth is, that it doesn’t matter how many galactic armies there are, or what the history of the royal family is, or how the zombies managed to become the dominant species on the planet if there isn’t a main character to latch on to first. Start your pitch with the character, introduce them, talk about the way they see the world, and let the world naturally be explained from there.


One of the questions I regularly field is “Do I need to have artwork?” The simple answer is this: if the artwork is world-class, then go for it, if not, PLEASE don’t. The bottom line is that a great story is a great story. You don’t NEED artwork to sell it. But if you happen to be a great character designer, or know a great artist then it’s definitely going to help you. Conversely, artwork that doesn’t look professional, or artwork that isn’t exactly what you want the show to look like, can actually hurt a great pitch. Here’s a way to test your artwork - looking at potential designs, can you see those, exactly as they are, on television? If so, they’re probably good enough. If not, I would consider losing them. What IS a good idea is to be able to articulate how you see the show. Is it traditional animation? CG? Flash? What shows out there have a look and style that fit what you are envisioning? If you, as the creator, can articulate the art of your show, that’s the thing that will really help you.


It’s usually a good sign when an executive asks how you see your role on the show. It means they like the idea enough to start entertaining the possibility of working with you and want to get a sense of what they’re in for. The worst thing you can say is that you want to “do a little of everything.” That job doesn’t exist. So know your strengths, and know how you fit into the production hierarchy. Are you an artist? Do you want to design the characters? Are you a writer? Do you want to story edit? Or are you just an idea factory? Maybe you’re a producer who wants to be teamed with a kick ass writer and a director? Do the homework, know the positions that fit your personal skill set and be ready to say exactly where you see yourself on the show.


I had a teacher in middle school who, whenever asked how long a paper should be, would respond, “As long as a dress. It just needs to cover all the important parts.” That pretty much sums it up. There is no standard rule for what you need to cover, and depending on how big your idea is, there may be lots of stuff to discuss. But I would work hard on honing your pitch and knowing exactly what needs to be told and when. Practice it. Pitch it to your friends. Get their thoughts. It can be painful or feel weird, but it works. You don’t want to be stumbling over stuff and then bust out with the dreaded “Oh! One thing I forgot to say earlier was…”

You are the storyteller and the executives are your captive audience. You want to make sure that your performance is a winner. As I said before, you want to start with the main character, but then it’s up to you. Does that lead into the other characters and then a description of the world? Or do you go into the world and meet the rest of your cast along the way? Is there a pilot or premise story that needs to be covered? Or is it a new and random adventure each week? Regardless, the thing you want to end with is…


Every TV executive wants a show that is going to run 100 episodes or more, so it’s up to you to explain what the characters are gonna do each week. I personally recommend having two fairly fleshed out stories. With this plan - we get to see all of the main characters in action and how they react to certain situations. In the end, the executive across the table will get a general sense of the world. But make sure you pick story ideas that really underscore everything you just said about your characters. If the main character wants to be famous, then that’s what he or she should be trying to do.

That said, I’d also come equipped with maybe six back-up stories - episodes that aren’t as fleshed out but illustrate all of the different ideas the show can explore. These shouldn’t be more than a few sentences and each should give just a taste of what can happen.


I have a friend who is a successful working actress. But there was a time when should couldn’t book a single job. Then she started watching all the shows she wanted to be on and studied how the characters were dressed. She started wearing similar outfits to auditions and BAM - she’s all over TV. Same goes for animation. If you are pitching the NEXT big animated show you had better know what the CURRENT big animated shows are. Know what is working and what isn’t, but more importantly know what you like and what you don’t and be ready to talk about it. You would be amazed at how an intelligent and informed discussion about the current state of animation can wow an audience into thinking you are the next big thing in the biz.


This may sound like the cheesy, rah-rah “you can do it” part, but it is actually one of the most essential parts of your pitch - if you walk into an office looking like you don’t absolutely know that you belong there, you’ve already started to lose the room. If you are giving off the vibe that you are wasting everyone’s time and that you aren’t sure if your idea is any good, every other person in the room is going to pick up on that. However, if you walk in knowing that you LOVE your idea, regardless of what anyone else thinks, people will be more than willing to listen. Here are the two big secrets to remember: A) Every executive WANTS every pitch to rock and we WANT to be amazed, and B) none of us have any special ability that makes us any more of an expert on story than you. So if someone doesn’t like your idea - so what. If you love it, then sell the hell out of it and find someone who agrees!


If you're currently a character animator in feature film, you are part of a very exclusive and elite group, don't think so? Read the article below.

It's a very small business indeed
By: Keith Lango, May 2005

I got to thinking about just how cool it is that I get to do what I do for a living. It got me to thinking just how small this niche really is. Check this out…
Based on various conversations and public data this is my very rough estimate of the number of professional character animators working in feature film animation/service studios in North America:
Disney Feature: 60
Dreamworks-Glendale: 40
Dreamworks-PDI: 40
Pixar: 80
Sony Imageworks/Animation: 60
ILM: 50
Digital Domain: 20
O-mation: 30
Blue Sky: 35
DNA: 30
CORE: 30
Rhythm & Hues: 20
Other feature film service shops (Tippett, Wildbrain, Orphanage, Hydraulix, Blur, Vinton, Warner Bros., ReelFX, Vanguard, etc.) approx 150.
Rough Est. Total: 650

Of course I'm not right on the money with these estimates, but as a ballpark number, I think this is a pretty good first whack. If I were to include other animation film studios outside North America like WETA, Animal Logic, Aardman and more my guess is the worldwide total of character animators working on high end film projects is less than 1,000 max.
Compare that to...
Number of professional football players on NFL team rosters: 1,696
Number of professional baseball players on MLB team rosters: 750
Number of professional basketball players on NBA rosters: 450
Number of air traffic controllers in the US: 675
On the other side of the coin, consider this:
2,000 Secret Service "special agents" in the US
7,250 jobs at sound recording studios in the US
15,600 locksmiths in the US
22,200 winery jobs in the US
28,600 taxi drivers in the US
35,000 jobs at nuclear power facilities in the US
69,900 graphic design service jobs in the US
1mil law firm jobs in the US
2.58mil grocery store jobs in the US
2.9mil fast food jobs in the US


The numbers don't lie. I'm sure there are millions in this land who would love to be film animators. Only a few hundred are. Our work will be judged in the crucible of the market and under the unflinching review of our peers. We need to be at the top of our game, collectively and individually. Just like being a professional athlete is a special privilege and honor it's an equally high honor to work at this level in this field. It takes commitment, serious effort and a driving desire (on top of your God given talent) to be the best you can be. The ones who make it are among a special group. We should take that honor seriously, consider what it takes to not only get to this level, but to stay at it, succeed at it and excel at it. We are the very, very, very few who can say that we make animated films for a living. Take pride in that and work hard to maintain that honor.

OK, that oughta get your engine revving!

Keith Lango has been a 3D animator on various features for 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. & Walt Disney Studios. He has lots of great CG character animation tutorials on his site, go see them.

News on various animation salaries and pay scales:
Animation Salaries
PayScale Canada
Animation Budget History

I've compiled some serious inspiration for all you Flash/ToonBoom television animators out there, enjoy!...

Rain -By Pascal Campion

Jorge & Gandalf -By Jacques Daigle

Break Dancer -By Matt Shepherd

Birdman -By Rachel Morrison

Chunks -By Rachel Morrison

Run & Jump (Ruffs) -By Bianca Siercke

Ron Burgandy -By Matt Shepherd

Turkey Legs -By Scott MacDonald

Fog -By Mirco Chen & Scott MacDonald

Transistor Sect -By Mike Geiger

More Sex Than Me -By Bernard Derriam

Animatic -By Mario Richard

Monster (Final) -By Rachel Morrison

Monster (Ruffs) -By Rachel Morrison

Door -By Pascal Campion

Super Senior -By Pascal Campion

Trapdoor -By Pascal Campion

Clap -By Pascal Campion

Cycle -By Pascal Campion

Lunch Break -By Pascal Campion

Dream On -By Pascal Campion

One or Two -By Pascal Campion

Pulling -By Pascal Campion

Pyramid -By Pascal Campion

Rematch -By Pascal Campion

Roboss -By Pascal Campion

Rock -By Pascal Campion

Street -By Pascal Campion

Stupendous Man -By Pascal Campion

Venting -By Pascal Campion

Wireless -By Pascal Campion

The Odd Couple -By Ben Jeddrie

Straight Ahead Animation -By Rune Brandt:

The Magic Gnomes -By Mike Moloney:

Arj and Poopy: Unlucky in Love -By Bernard Derriam:

Thor! -By Mike Moloney:

"Opinion vs. Fact" -By Matt Shepherd

Tenacious D -By: Matt Shepherd

Saturday Morning Watchmen -By: Harry Partridge

Upstate Four -By The Krause Brothers:

March 14, 2009

Job Hunting Advice for Animators, Designers, and Illustrators

The following suggestions have been gathered from a number of recruiters and career specialists, including Susan Lee and Rita Sue Siegel from the U. of Wisconsin's Portfolio Development Workshops for Illustrators & Digital Designers

Careers and Salaries
Digital Design and New Media
The EDD defines Desktop Publishing, Prepress, Graphic Design, Web Design, Animation and Computer-aided Illustration as Multimedia jobs. (some generally prefer the term 'Digital Design').
Digital design / Multimedia has been around for a number of years, but it is only within the past few years that it has been recognized as a rapidly emerging new industry. This emerging industry is creating many new career and job opportunities for people with knowledge and skills in these areas.
An important and interesting difference between careers in multimedia and many other career areas is the large proportion of freelance workers in the industry. Many people with careers in multimedia are not steadily employed by a single company or employer, but rather move from project to project working on a contractual basis. Each new project may bring together a different collaboration of professionals into what might be considered a "virtual company" with a life limited to the duration of the project. These professionals create a virtual workforce who are often paid by the hour and expect their current employment to terminate with the end of the project. Therefore, these freelance workers must have a number of entrepreneurial skills in addition to their technical skills. They must also be able to work effectively as a member of a team whose membership changes with each project.
Another difference between careers in multimedia and many other careers is the extent to which those wanting to enter this field gain initial experience through interning or volunteering. It is quite common for someone with basic computer or graphic skills to locate a company doing the type of work in which he or she is interested and approach the company directly with the offer to work without pay in exchange for on-the-job training. After a period of six months to one year the company may offer a paid position to incumbents who shows promise.
There are many career opportunities for creative and talented people in the multimedia industry. The industry is currently at a point in its evolution where entry and advancement are not tied as closely to academic achievement or credentials as to the quality of a person's contribution to the project. Enthusiasm combined with experience and talent often generate employment offers.

Job Skills Needed:
-- Ability to work as a member of a team.
-- Ability to clearly communicate ideas.
-- Ability to quickly and accurately understand the goals and objectives of the project.
-- Ability to be organized.
-- Ability to use the computer tools required completing the project.

Other Helpful Skills or Characteristics:
1. -- Willingness and ability to frequently seek employment on new projects.
2. -- Willingness and ability to join projects without much advanced notice.
3. -- Willingness and ability to continually update skills by learning new tools and techniques. -- Passion for the work.
4. -- A good sense of humor.
5. -- Patience.
6. -- Be an expert in one or a few areas, but have a general understanding of as many areas as possible.

How to Find a Job:
1. -- Create a portfolio of your work that demonstrates your versatility, creativity and technical abilities as well as your capacity to work within time and budget constraints.
2. -- Customize your portfolio to highlight work you have done that is similar to that of the new project.
3. -- Become an active member of professional organizations in order to keep current and to make contacts that may lead to employment opportunities.
4. -- Attend multimedia and professional conferences and meetings to generate job leads and to acquire current information about trends, tools and techniques.
5. -- Update and acquire new skills through enrollment in continuing education classes and through reading magazines in the field. Network with other students and faculty.
6. -- Those without experience or training should consider interning or volunteering on a project to gain experience and build marketable skills.
7. -- Those with experience and/or training can use contacts from previous projects or professional organizations.

Many multimedia specialists do not work as salaried employees for a single company over a long period of time. It is more typical to work freelance as an independent contractor, moving from one project to the next, and being paid hourly, daily, or per project.

What They Do:
Animators create two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) images that show characters or objects in motion or illustrate a process. These images convey or enhance the project's message. Originally animators created images using paper and pen. These images were then arranged to give the illusion of movement and depth. Today, two dimensional (2D) animators can still create images in the traditional way, but the images are then scanned into a computer, edited, and color, texture, or motions are added. There are also computer based 2D animation software packages to assist with the initial creation of the images. Three dimensional (3D) images are created using computer animation or modeling programs and produce much more realistic and complex images. The hardware and software needed to create 3D animation is still very expensive and requires a high level of skill. Therefore, this type of work tends to be done by large production companies. It is also more difficult and expensive to obtain training and experience in 3D animation, but compensation can be twice that of 2D animators.

Job Skills Needed:
-- Understanding of both traditional and newer methods of animation.
-- Ability to draw, including understanding of color theory, life drawing and composition.
-- Ability to use 2-D and 3-D computer animation tools.
-- Ability to acquire and edit digital images.
-- Ability to create original digital images.
-- Understanding of sketch ideas and storyboards.
Other Helpful Skills or Characteristics:
-- Willingness and ability to work continuously for long periods of time.
-- Willingness and ability to work effectively alone or without much supervision or collaboration.
-- Ability and patience for very detailed work.
-- A real love for the work.
Conceptual Skills
• Story Development and Communication
• Character Development
• Color Theory (Perception and effect)
• Project Management

Creative Skills
• Storyboarding
• Drawing, Composition
• Use of Color to Communicate
• Symbolism and Use of Icons
• Perspective
• Character Creation
• Anatomy and Movement
• Texture Mapping
• Music, Voice, Audio
Technical Skills
• Photoshop
• Illustrator
• Flash
• Maya
• 3D Studio Max
• Premiere
• Quicktime Pro
• Apple Motion
• FinalCut Pro

Should include samples of work on a CD-ROM, video tape, or interactive format (self extracting!)
Samples should demonstrate the above skills and include examples of:
(hard copy)
• storyboards,
• character studies -- motion, anatomy, expression,
• full-color frames
• preliminary sketches can be included if followed by the finished character or frame (digital)
• background and location designs
• characters in motion
• character expressions
• voice/music/audio
• complete environments, including lighting, perspective, atmosphere, texture mapping.
A formal salary survey is not available; however references to annual salaries range from $25,000 for beginners to $75,000 for those with experience. Hourly wages range from $15/hr to $75/hr for 2D animators. Experienced 3D animators using high-end hardware and software can earn from $100/hr to $200/hr. All salaries depend on the nature of the project and the skill of the specialists.

Print Design (Desktop Publishing)
What They Do:
Graphic Designers are responsible for creating original art work with a visual style, design and layout that is appropriate to the project's concept and goals. They may create screen layouts, menus, icons and symbols, logos, charts and diagrams. The visual design must be consistent with and support the overall goal of the project and be visually interesting to the product's users. It helps create the "mood" of the product and therefore the experience that the user has while using the product. Good Graphic Designers are first and foremost talented artists who are also technically competent using a variety of electronic tools and techniques.

Job Skills Needed:
-- Understanding of the fundamentals of visual communication and design, including color theory, composition and iconography (the use of symbols).
-- Knowledge of image acquisition and processing tools, including those used for image scanning and manipulation.
-- Knowledge of computer painting and drawing tools.
-- Understanding of storyboarding techniques.
-- Knowledge of typography, designing with type and managing fonts
-- Understanding of information design, including text formatting, styles, information hierarchy and navigation.
-- Understanding of the limitations and capabilities of digital media.
--Understanding traditional and digital printing processes, including digital output
-- Ability to create artwork that conforms to the style and content specifications provided by the project's art director or producer.

Other Helpful Skills or Characteristics:
1. -- Willingness to stay closely tuned to trends in the design field by reading a variety of design magazines (such as Communications Arts, How, and I.D.).
2. -- Ability to create various styles of visual images.
3. -- Ability to meet short deadlines.
4. -- Ability to understand various audiences and select the design style most appropriate for that audience.

Conceptual Skills
• Story Development and Communication
• Project Management
• Information Design
• Digital Imaging and Resolution
• Color Theory (Perception and effect)
• Printing Processes
• Digital Color Management (Palettes, Modes, etc.)
• Reflective Color (Inks)
Creative Skills
• Project layout and design on paper
• Typography, Designing with Type
• Composition, Use of Positive and Negative Space
• Use of Color to Communicate
• Symbolism/ Use of Icons
• Image Editing and Compositing
Technical Skills
• Scanning
• Photoshop
• Illustrator (or Freehand)
• QuarkXPress (or InDesign)
• Image, text and document formats and conversion
• Font Management (Suitcase or ATM Deluxe)

Portfolio should demonstrate the above skills and include some samples of the following:
• catalog, magazine or book layout and design;
• logo development and design;
• creative use of images and photographs;
• creative use of color;
• advertising;
• packaging (i.e. CD-ROM cover or point of purchase display);
• collateral material;
• posters and other publicity.

Finished, professional examples of layout and design can be printed to high quality, full-color (CMYK) digital output devices, but some projects must be actually printed in black and white, spot color, and CMYK.
Preliminary sketches can be included if followed by the finished design
‘Before-and-Afters’ can be included on facing pages, to demonstrate problem-solving skills
Alternate proposals can be included-- i.e. more than one version of a logo -- to demonstrate creative versatility
How to Find a Job:
Use contacts from previous projects or professional organizations to get an interview with the project's art director or producer since they are the ones most likely to make the hiring decision.
A formal salary survey is not available; however references to annual salaries range from $25,000 for beginners to $75,000 for those with experience. All salaries depend on the nature of the project and the skill of the specialists.

Job Skills Needed:
-- Understanding of the fundamentals of visual communication and design, including color theory, composition and iconography (the use of symbols).
-- Knowledge of image acquisition and processing tools, including those used for image scanning and manipulation.
-- Knowledge of computer painting and drawing tools
-- Knowledge of typography, designing with type and managing fonts
-- Understanding of information design, including text formatting, styles, information hierarchy and navigation.
-- Understanding of the limitations and capabilities of digital media.
--Understanding of the limitations and capabilities of Internet communication (data transfer, download speeds, and file compression)
-- Familiarity with limitations and capabilities of current available browsers / interface.
-- Knowledge of web-based digital animation tools.
-- Understanding of storyboarding or flow-chart techniques.
Understanding of limitations and handling of web-based color
-- Ability to create artwork that conforms to the style and content specifications provided by the project's art director or producer.
Conceptual Skills
• Story Development and Communication
• Project Management
• Information Design
• Color Theory (Perception and effect)
• Image Resolution and Conversion issues
Creative Skills
• Project layout and design on paper
• Typography, Designing with Type
• Composition, Use of Positive and Negative Space
• Use of Color to Communicate
• Symbolism/ Use of Icons
• Image Editing and Compositing
• Layout and Design with Tables, Frames, Images

Technical Skills
• Scanning and Image Acquisition
• Photoshop
• Illustrator
• Image formats
• HTML and other programming languages (Java)
• Digital Color Management (Hexadecimal and Index Palettes, Modes, etc.)
• Image Conversion software (Debabelizer, Fireworks)
• WYSIWYG Web editor (DreamWeaver, GoLive)
• Web Animation Software (Flash, GIF animation)
• File Compression
• File/data transmission software (FTP, etc.)
• Server Software / Languages (Unix etc)
• Forms and Scripts (CGI, etc)
• Audio (Shockwave)

Samples should demonstrate the above skills
Portfolio must include at least two complete, live different Web sites, with the following:
(digital, online)
• Splash page (professional, fast-loading, no errors)
• Navigation -- icons, buttons, etc. (consistent!)
• Rollovers
• Text (including styles, color, formats)
• Use of background images, color or patterns
• Image maps
• Site map
• Animation (objects, text, banners, etc)
• Easy-to-follow site structure and hierarchy of sub-pages (no broken links!)
(hard copy)
• Finished, professional examples of site layout and design can also be printed to high quality, full-color (CMYK) digital output devices, for inclusion with a CD-ROM or Résumé.
• A flow-chart or hierarchy tree can be included
• A CD-ROM of sample websites can be included

What They Do:
Art Directors must be both competent designers and managers. They are responsible for all the art content of the project including animation, graphics, video and sound. "All artwork in a project must be of consistent quality and appear to have a cohesive relationship with every other part. This can only be accomplished if an art director reviews the creation of artwork at every step and helps guide the media professionals on the project to adhere to certain design standards" (Read Vivid Studios. Careers in Multimedia. Emeryville, CA: Ziff-Davis Press, 1995, p. 164.) In addition to overseeing the day to day production of artwork created by others, Art Directors themselves often produce artwork for the project. The Art Director is also responsible for meeting budget and schedule deadlines.

Job Skills Needed:
1. -- Understanding of visual, sound and video design.
2. -- Understanding of the tools and techniques used to create and manipulate the various types of artwork used in the project.
3. -- Knowledge of typography, graphic design, color theory and information design.
4. -- Knowledge of computer hardware and other electronic equipment that will be used for development and delivery of the product, including their strengths and weaknesses.
5. -- Ability to work with and understand the problems, needs and concerns of a variety of media specialists and assure that their design issues are resolved.
6. -- Ability to work effectively with a variety of people including clients, artists, technicians and executives.
7. -- The ability to motivate creative people to adhere to the standards established for the project while still encouraging their creative freedom.
8. -- Ability to accomplish tasks within scheduled deadlines and budgets.
Other Helpful Skills or Characteristics:
1. -- Traditional design training.
2. -- Ability to educate others about design issues.
How to Find a Job:
Use contacts from previous projects or professional organizations to get an interview with the project's creative director or producers since they are the ones most likely to make the hiring decision.
Register with professional design organizations and media-specific placement agencies.
A formal salary survey is not available; however we have references to annual salaries range from $35,000 for beginners to $100,000 for those with experience. All salaries depend on the nature of the project and the skill of the specialists.

What They Do:
Writers create or structure the project's concept into a detailed description of what happens on the screen. Writers describe what the user will see and hear while using the product. Since multimedia projects use video and still images, sound, movement and written or spoken words to convey meaning, the writer must make all of these components work together. The writer may be a copywriter who writes the text that appears on the screen or a scriptwriter who creates the dialog to be spoken by actors, animated characters, or voice-overs. The writer may create original work for the project. The writer may also take existing work and modify it for use in a multimedia project.
Job Skills Needed:
1. -- Ability to write clearly so that other members of the project team understand what kind of art, sound, animation, etc. is required at each point in the project and so that the product's users understand how the product works
2. -- Thorough knowledge of the project's subject matter.
3. -- Ability to pay close attention to details.
4. -- Ability to write clearly for a variety of readers.
5. -- Ability to use word-processing software.
6. -- Understanding of "high concept" or premises (a brief and easily understood description of the project's concept or premise), treatments (descriptions of the project's concept or goal), flow charts or game maps (descriptions of the action or how the user can move around in the project), outlines and scripts.
Other Helpful Skills or Characteristics:
-- Enjoy doing detailed work.
-- Ability to work alone much of the time.
-- Ability to be flexible and adjust to changes in project scheduling.

How to Find a Job:
New writers may be hired to write for a project and receive very little pay for their work, but building a list of credits can lead to job offers and higher pay on future projects.
A formal salary survey is not available; however we have references to annual salaries range from $35,000 for beginners to $75,000 for those with experience. Hourly wages range from $50/hr to $100/hr. All salaries depend on the nature of the project and the skill of the specialists.

Fine Art Jobs
The best art jobs I've ever had are teaching and illustrating, both of which take different approaches and different skills. What skills do you have?
Do you want to work for a gallery or art organization? Jobs that are specifically art-related might require knowledge of art history, art restoration, or exhibit design. But most jobs in the art world (aside from actually selling your art work) use skills you've gained in other jobs - writing, selling, scheduling, working with people, managing people, managing a database, etc. That is also true of the graphic arts and publishing worlds, where your artistic eye for color and composition can be a great asset in combination with other, more industry-oriented skills. Do you know any software? What about imaging software? Do you have graphic arts experience? Do you know how to get something printed? Do you have any language skills, or marketing experience? Think about it.
It can be very worthwhile to volunteer at an art organization. Sometimes these positions include training in art-related work, like selling, hanging, curating, restoring, and administrative skills. And volunteer experience will be an important addition to your Résumé.
You might try to get into a work/study program in one of the art schools or art departments around town. Of course there are the Art Institute, California College of Arts and Crafts and Academy of Art College, but there others that might welcome help. Like the San Francisco State art department, or City College. In addition to its main campus, City College runs the Fort Mason Art Campus. An educational internship should include free classes or a substantial discount.

Employment Status
If you can find full-time work that you like to do, you are blessed. The advantage of full-time employment is greater job security and health and retirement benefits. But note that often a graphic arts career as a full-time employee involves a lot of ‘sideways’ moves, rather than ‘upward’ moves, because you will often find better work (or wages) in a similar position in another company. Room for advancement is sometimes limited in a graphic design company or department because the design groups tend to be small, with only one or two levels of management.
Often part-time work is a good way to acquire different kinds of experience in related fields. And you will have the time to continue taking classes, or do an internship in your ‘dream’ company. But you may not be eligible for benefits, and there is little opportunity for advancement.
Freelance / Consulting / Contract Work:
If you want to work entirely as a consultant or free-lance graphic designer, you need to do more than just start handing out your business cards. You must start your own business.
It’s not that complicated. First, you choose a business name, also known as ‘doing business as,’ or a ‘fictitious business name,’ Then you must search the records at City Hall to make sure that nobody else is using that name. (There is a small fee.) Then you must publish the fact that you have started a business, which means you take out a little classified ad in one of the legal newspapers. (Another small fee.) You must get a resale certificate (or ‘seller’s permit’) from the State Board of Equalization. Now you are officially permitted (required) to collect sales tax for the state of California. The State Board of Equalization will help you out with all of the above procedures.
One advantage of working as a freelancer is that every expense towards your business becomes tax-deductible, from transportation to postage to supplies to computers. You can charge what the market will bear, and usually that’s triple or quadruple what you’d make as a payroll employee, partly because you have a higher overhead. Graphic designers’ rates usually range from $35 - $100 dollars per hour, and may go much higher, depending on expertise and reputation. The disadvantages are that you don’t have any job security, your income fluctuates wildly, your paperwork increases, you pay more social security, and you pay for your own benefits.

Recruiting Online:
You can find many agencies online, under Employment, Temporary, Headhunters and Recruiting, as well as Job Listings with specific types of opportunities, like Art Jobs, Tech Jobs, Web Jobs.
Ask your friends, your teachers, your co-workers, and go to meetings of organizations in your field. Eventually you will hear of opportunities. The trick is to tell everyone you know what you’re looking for, while keeping your ears open for other opportunities.
Join Organizations:
In San Francisco, you can take courses, get advice and read job listings at Media Alliance, Graphic Artists Guild, and Artists in Print. These organizations require that you become a member, and offer seminars, workshops and networking events. There are also advertising clubs, typography clubs, and graphic design clubs with local chapters like AIGA, GraphxGrrls, IICS, etc. Seek them out.

Job Hunting Advice and Advisors:
Also visit our Art Careers and Creativity Listing About Work
A career counseling center (part of a much larger network: The Women's Network). Designed for women, but 96 percent of all career advice is gender-independent. Click on "Career" on the home page for Tools, Features, and Resources. Free membership.
American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA)
For the graphic arts professional in design, illustration and photography. The oldest and most important organization in the field. Professional workshops, publications, and contacts/networking.
Art Advice
Contemporary Artists' Services
2022B Broadway Santa Monica, CA90404
560 Broadway New York, NY 10012,
Our website is designed to teach visual artists' the skills they need to manage their own careers. Information, advice and marketing tips updated monthly.
Artists in Print Bay Area
ArtNetwork California
Aassists artists to market and sell their artwork, connecting them to artworld professionals. Newsletter: ArtSource Quarterly. Books available, including: Encyclopedia of Living Artists. PO Box 1360, Nevada City, CA 95959.
(530) 470-0862 E-mail:
The Career Action Center Bay Area
Job-hunting tips for members. Some career counseling articles for non-members.
10420 Bubb Road, Cupertino, CA
CareerMosaic Campus Directory national, international
Comprehensive list of American University and college career centers on the Web, links to Canadian centers, Worldwide centers – plus, other lists of resources.
Graphic Artists Guild
Membership organization/union. Privides pricing information and contracts. Career advice. Sponsors artist-rights legislation and monitors economic concerns of artists.
Graphic Design Career Chat
JobSmart California
Developed by job expert Mary Ellen Mort, a great career counseling site. Focus on California, many articles that apply to all job hunters: links to online career guides, section on Résumés, descriptions of the hidden job market, Q&A.
Media Alliance Bay Area
814 Mission Street, Suite 205, San Francisco, 94103
(415) 546-6491 (415) 546-6334
RPI Career Resource national
This site, maintained by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has a good list of career counseling sites.

What Color Is Your Parachute/Job Hunting Online

Independent Contractors (Nolo Press)
Resources designed to help answer the legal questions of people who work as independent contractors and those who hire them.
IRS Guidelines: Employee or Independent Contractor?
The IRS has established 20 guidelines to help employers determine whether a worker should be treated as an employee.
Small Business Administration
Official site with information on government services, regulations and resources.
Small Business Information (from Netscape)
Working Today
Membership-based advocacy organization for members of the new independent workforce offers health insurance, legal assistance and other discounts.

Books and Publications
The San Francisco Public Library’s business department has a vast selection of resources, including business directories like the Advertising Red Book, which lists the art directors and department heads of all the advertising agencies in town. You could purchase The Artist and Graphic Designer’s Market, at Stacey’s Books or Doubleday, for a national listing of companies that hire graphic designers, illustrators, etc. Read the industry magazines like Publish!, or Micropublishing News, Wired, Digital Artist, or Imaging, etc., to gather the names and locations of companies you might like to work for. These publications often list jobs in the back pages.
The Classifieds:
The Chronicle-Examiner, Bay Guardian, San Jose Mercury News, East Bay Express, etc. The job you want may be listed under a few different headings: Administrative Assistant, Artist, Computer Artist, Computer Graphics, Desktop Publishing, Docent, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Museum, Prepress, Printing, Production Assistant, Restoration, Sales, etc. Read the classifieds carefully, and respond immediately. Don’t wait - by the time they hit the street, hundreds of people have already seen them. You should have a Résumé and cover letter ready to go before you even look at the classifieds. Some companies specifically ask you not to call. If you disregard their request, you will not make friends.
The Artists Survival Manual, Toby Klayman, Scribner
The Business of Illustration, Steven Heller & Teresa Fernandes, Watson-Guptill
The Designer’s Common Sense Business Book, Barbara Ganim, North Light Books
Making a Living in the Fine Arts, Curtis W. Casewit, Macmillan
Business & Legal Forms for Graphic Designers, Tad Crawford & Eva Doman Bruck, Allworth Press
How to Make Your Design Business Profitable, Joyce M Stewart, Artist Market Business Series, North Light Books
The Artists’ and Graphic Designers’ Market, Writers’ Digest Books
Printing Estimating, Philip K. Ruggles, Delman
The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook - Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, dist. by North Light Books
Selling Your Graphic Design & Illustration, Tad Crawford and Arie Kopelman, St. Martin's Press
Art Now Gallery Guide: Art Now Inc. 97 Gray Rock Rd. Box 5541 Clifton, NJ 08809 The International Edition ($35) has listings for all regions of the United States and all of the world. Regional guides are available for: East Coast, Southern, Midwestern, and West Coast.
Yellow Pages:
Use the Yellow Pages. Read the display ads carefully. Call them up (this is called cold calling). If you are polite and brief, you can get a lot of information about a company. The best thing to do is research the company at the library first (see above), then call the company and ask the receptionist for the name of the person in charge of hiring, in the department you’d like to work in. Do not ask to speak to them. They will usually be annoyed that you are using up their time for your job search. Instead, write a letter, mentioning a little bit about your interest in the company, and why you’d like to work for them. Include your Résumé and samples if available.

Informational Interviews
If you are interested in a particular company or a particular industry, you should do some research at a personal level. One of the best sources for gathering information about what's happening in an occupation or an industry is to talk to people working in the field.
This kind of interview is not about getting a job. Use this low-stress forum to ask frank questions about the industry, the kind of skills required the companies that are growing, etc. The person you are interviewing is doing you a favor, so treat them with respect. Come prepared with questions, listen to their advice, and don’t argue. As a bonus, this person may be able to guide you to a company looking for your skills, or recommend you to someone else on the basis of your informational interview. Don't ask them for a job. Remember that your main goal is greater knowledge about the path ahead of you.
Why conduct informational interviews?
• Explore careers and clarify your career goal
• Discover employment opportunities that are not advertised
• Expand your professional network
• Build confidence for your job interviews
• Access the most up-to-date career information
• Identify your professional strengths and weaknesses

Who do you contact?
You can contact a relative, a friend of a friend, someone whose reputation you respect, the head of a department in your field, or someone working in the position you’d like to work in. If you don't know anybody, write a letter requesting an informational interview with the head of a department you’d like to work in, or with someone working in a similar position to one you’d like. Include your Résumé.
People are usually receptive. Many want to help new recruits, and they get great ego gratification.
Though the purpose may be different, follow the same advice as for job interviews. Dress appropriately, find out as much as you can about the company or individual, know what you're going to ask, be open to questions, and send a thank-you letter.

Your Goals
There are six main goals of informational interviews:
• 1.Establish rapport with the interviewers. Get to know them.
• 2.Let them know whom you are. Be genuine and interested.
• 3.Get advice on your job-search, particularly on improving both your approach and your presentation.
• 4.Find out about your job market. Ask about latest developments, publications to read, or professional groups you should investigate.
• 5.Get referrals. If you haven't received names by an interview's end, it's appropriate to ask for other people with whom you might talk.
• 6.Be remembered favorably. Before leaving, tell an interviewer that you would appreciate being kept in mind in case s/he hears of anything

Steps To Follow
• 1.Identify the occupation or industry you wish to learn about
assess your own interests, abilities, values, and skills, and evaluate labor conditions and trends to identify the best fields to research.
• 2.Prepare for the Interview
Read all you can about the field prior to the interview. Decide what information you would like to obtain about the occupation/industry. Prepare a list of questions that you would like to have answered.
• 3. Identify People to Interview
Start with lists of people you already know - friends, relatives, fellow students, present or former co-workers, supervisors, neighbors, etc. Professional organizations, the yellow pages, organizational directories, and public speakers are also good resources. You may also call an organization and ask for the name of the person by job title.
• 4. Arrange the Interview
Contact the person to set up an interview: by telephone, by a letter followed by a telephone call, or by having someone who knows the person make the appointment for you.
• 5.Conduct the Interview
Dress appropriately, arrives on time, be polite and professional. Refer to your list of prepared questions; stay on track, but allow for spontaneous discussion. Before leaving, ask your contact to suggest names of others who might be helpful to you and ask permission to use your contact's name when contacting these new contacts.
• 6. Follow Up
Immediately following the interview, record the information gathered. Be sure to send a thank-you note to your contact within one week of the interview.
NOTE: Always analyze the information you've gathered. Adjust your job search, Résumé, and career objective if necessary.
Prepare a list of your own questions for your informational interview. Following are some sample questions:
1. On a typical day in this position, what do you do?
2. What training or education is required for this type of work?
3. What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?
4. What part of this job do you find most satisfying? Most challenging?
5. How did you get your job?
6. What opportunities for advancement are there in this field?
7. What entry-level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
8. What are the salary ranges for various levels in this field?
9. How do you see jobs in this field changing in the future?
10. Is there a demand for people in this occupation?
11. What special advice would you give a person entering this field?
12. What types of training do companies offer persons entering this field?
13. Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this field?
14. From your perspective, what are the problems you see working in this field?
15. If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why? What would you change?
16. What do you think of my training and experience in terms of entering this field?
17. With the information you have about my education, skills, and experience, what other fields or jobs would you suggest I research further before I make a final decision?
18. What do you think of my Résumé? Do you see any problem areas? How would you suggest I change it?
19. Who do you know that I should talk to next? When I call him/her, may I use your name?

A Résumé should include your name, address, phone number, email address (if you have one), and all your previous experience that is relevant to the current job hunt. Your experience should be broken down into the following parts:
(1) work history: including employer, period of employment, job performed, additional duties and special accomplishments or awards in that job;
(2) other skills: including knowledge of software or special equipment, languages, or other special knowledge that might help make you look more attractive to prospective employers;
(3) other experience, including special projects, free-lance work, volunteer positions or internships; and
(4) education, including number of years, college attended, degrees, continuing or vocational education. To round out a picture of your personality, you can also include
(5) Awards and Achievements
(6) (only if it helps your image) hobbies or personal interests such as mountain climbing, fine art, travel, etc., but consider first whether any of these may come under the heading of special skills or experience.

An email Résumé must be easy to read. You should use all the basic punctuation tools, including caps, underlines, asterisks and extra spaces, to make your information appear organized. An email Résumé, in particular, must also list 'key words.' These are words that can be searched for in a database. The reason many companies ask for an email Résumé is so they can enter it in a database easily. Then they will search the database for whatever skill they need at the moment, like 'Production,' or 'Illustrator.' (I think this is part of a rather de-humanizing trend in which we all will become replaceable parts that do a certain job.)
When sending a Résumé in the hope of getting an interview, it is often a good idea to send non-returnable samples of your work. This will give an even clearer idea of your skill level, and make your Résumé stand out from the crowd. But don’t send medium-grade samples or discards. Send only something that looks really good. If you want the samples returned to you, you must enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Don’t expect the recipient to put out the time or money to return your samples.
One way to ensure that your samples and your Résumé both look really good, is to combine them in your own promotional piece. You can create a brochure for yourself that will act as a Résumé while also showing your skills. This way you can include illustration, small photos of completed projects and demonstrate your graphic design skills. If you do this, put your heart into it. Treat yourself as well as you would any other client. The effort will make an obvious difference in quality.

The Professional Portfolio
Your portfolio is the best representation of what you as a designer, illustrator or fine artist are capable of doing. It is your essential tool of communication with clients, prospective employers, galleries or graduate schools and needs to be in a finished state by the time you graduate. The following outline details portfolio needs and the similarities and differences for different types of artists.
The portfolio contains only the best, professionally displayed examples of your work as an artist, assembled into a hand-carried or mailable form.

Depending on your personality, skills, and employment goal, your portfolio can vary widely, from a sleek black, professional zippered binder, to a hand-made book bound in aluminum. You can use a box, instead of a portfolio, to hold a couple of binders or loose samples. The case should be, not too large, easy to carry, durable, able to protect work well from: travel, bumps and weather. It MUST be easy to open and operate.
Your portfolio should be easy to handle. Sometimes you will be asked to leave it for a day or two for review. You want the prospective client or employer to feel comfortable when handling and opening the portfolio, turning the pages, or removing samples. If it is awkward to handle, they may not look at your portfolio.
Inside, the case should be: simple, easy to see, easy to rearrange and durable. Use high-quality pages and page protectors. Will you need to change work in the page protectors or can you laminate work? Acetate scratches easily, vinyl or mylar is more durable. Decide on ring binder (3 or more) or loose pages that fit into a tight case.
Number of pages:
Use only as many pages as necessary to show your best work. The worst mistake is to leave empty pages in the back. Quality is much more important than quantity. A ring binder or portfolio that contains removable pages is much more flexible that one with fixed plastic sleeves. That way you will only have to include as many pages as you need to show your best work.
Layout of pages & backgrounds:
Don’t use distracting colors or patterns behind your portfolio pieces. Many portfolios come supplied with black or gray inserts. You can usually change these, or slip other paper into the sleeve, but don’t draw attention away from your work.
· The graphic design portfolio contains printed work.
· Illustrators will need printed and or original work and slide set(s).
· The media designer's portfolio may simply be some combination of videotape, CDROM or floppy discs. Find a professional case that carries these materials well. Many designers and illustrators will find themselves taking advantage of these types of presentation media as well. A color laptop computer makes an excellent display device. Be sure it has a CDROM and high graphics performance.
· A fine artist's portfolio will contain original work if two dimensional and not too large (prepared consistently). 35mm slide sets are a must for all types of work. 35mm slides, display transparencies or color prints will be needed for large or three-dimensional work. 35mm slides should be in pages. You should bring a viewer or projector (in which case you would already have your slides in a tray as well as a slide page). Color prints or display transparencies are placed in vinyl or mylar pages and prepared consistently. Include significant articles or reviews, in protective pages, at the end of the portfolio.
NOTE: Take EVERY opportunity to examine the portfolios of working artists.
Work included:
· Show what you can do better than anyone else at your level. (Design, Illustration).
· Show your originality. Don't present yourself as being in the style of someone else.
· Technical competency. Do not include work compromised in anyway for any reason!
· Be able to talk confidently about your work. Be ready to explain why you chose to do everything you did.
· Remember that this work is the past. You will be hired for the future (design, illustration). Be confident, professional, at ease. Sell what you can do.
· For the fine artist the portfolio will probably represent a recently completed body of work intended for exhibition. Be confident, organized, verbal, know your field-now and historically. Present yourself well (don't be phony).
· Make sure your presentation of the work isn't so interesting or "busy" that it preempts the work itself. The idea is to complement your it off to its best advantage.

Tailoring the Portfolio & Market Positioning
· What companies are you best qualified to go to? What will these people need to see? Don't bring a portfolio of bunnies to a place that needs views of engine parts or futuristic game characters.
· Check the client lists of agencies.
· Fine artists must know the galleries! Read Art Now Gallery Guide, ArtWeek, local newspapers and gallery association brochures. Read art publications regularly. Visit the galleries, see who they represent, see what shows they have had and talk to other artists. Don't show up with art-brut sculpture at a printmaking gallery. Find out about the method of portfolio review. Many galleries reserve a particular day and time for this; for example: the first Saturday of the month from 2 to 3 PM. Can you get a reference from someone you know who knows someone at the gallery? Find out about all the types of gallery spaces available: public, private, commercial, cooperative. Don't underplay or overplay your hand.
· The client or gallery directors don't owe you anything (except courtesy).

By chronology:
If you lay out your portfolio pieces according to chronology, it is probably a good idea to put the most recent work first, since it is probably more skilled, and will create a good first impression. Unless all your work is of one type, however, it will probably make more sense to organize by category.
By category:
you can divide your portfolio into sections that show (1) different techniques or media, i.e. photo-montage (Photoshop), vector drawings (Illustrator), special-effects type design; OR (2) different types of work, i.e. illustration, graphic design, web page design, printing projects; OR (3) type of piece created, i.e. brochures, logos, point-of -purchase displays, CD and tape covers.
By complexity:
You could group together all the four-color work, spot-color work, black and white, and package design.
Loose samples, pockets:
If you intend to include loose samples, choose a portfolio with pockets, or build them into your portfolio.
Business cards and non-returnable samples or info:
Another good use for pockets and plastic sleeves is to hold loose samples and business cards. You want the person reviewing the portfolio to be able to keep something as a reminder of who you are.
Order and Presentation of Work
• Use the same size pages and same weight and color of background.
• Make the presentation clean and simple. Use a neutral background.
• Place your "best" work first and last.
• Group work according to subject and content.
• Place targeted work first, "famous" work second if present. For illustrators: fine arts work only with careful consideration and client research.
• Show a maximum of 10 to 15 pieces of work in design or illustration-only your best! If your best is only 2 or 3 pieces, that's it!
• Focus on a style or media (if you're everywhere you're nowhere).
Fine artists:
• The most recently completed body of work that shows a mature, conceptual investigation. The work must be: one media, one style; powerful, committed, personal, and conceptually consistent. The number of pieces included will, of course, vary, but the one slide page limit guide line (20 pieces) may be useful in many cases
• If a client or gallery director wants to see more or other work, you may have with you or near by additional examples. Do not, however, show second rate or filler work-ever! All work shown must be first quality.
• Edit your work ruthlessly.
Graphic Designers:
Research interviews to see what will be appropriate to put in the portfolio. Some prospective clients or employers will be impressed with the full strength of your background. For example, photography or illustration is usually a major addition to your potential value as an employee. Interviews for a specialized client may be best targeted to just the type of work the client needs.

If your short-term goal is just getting a job now, to make money while you learn other skills, then organize your portfolio to show your current strengths and concentrate on getting work where you can use those strengths. If you eventually want to do animation work, but your current experience is in publication production or design, then show the best samples of publications you’ve worked on and seek that kind of work for now, while you study animation. You can try to choose a company that produces publications but also has an animation department, and during the hiring process you could let them know that you have some skills in animation, and want to increase your experience.
However, if you have the training or experience, and want to switch careers or branch out, then don’t show work you don’t want to do. Don’t show ad design work if you want to illustrate. Don’t show photography if you want to do web design. You can add samples of other work you do in the back of your portfolio, in a separate section, or in a separate portfolio, clearly labeled ‘Illustration’ or ‘Graphic Design,’ etc, just to show how well-rounded you are. Those skills may also be useful, but are not your primary goal. If you let people know you're a great proofreader, but really want to do graphic design, they just might offer you proofreading. Then where will you be?
The Importance of Your Portfolio - For designers and illustrators:
In an interview the portfolio counts about 40% the person about 60%. But, you must have a great portfolio no matter what.
For the Fine Artist
If your portfolio is weak in any way so are your chances. Your opportunities to show or sell work will be based directly on the quality of your portfolio. Invest the money it takes to put together a professional portfolio. After several years and tens of thousands of dollars spent on school this will be a relatively minor expense. Create your portfolio while still in school. Save up, look for a grant, and consider a loan.

Building Your Design Portfolio
Getting real-world projects:
You could ask a friend, your current employer, or your favorite non-profit organization if they have a real project you could work on. You can offer to do it for free, which will guarantee some interest, with the condition that you get to keep some samples for your portfolio. This way you’ll get an actual, printed piece.
Creating practice projects:
You could make up some projects by creating ads for imaginary products. Those things that cross your mind late at night, when you’re inventing a better mousetrap, could become the seeds for an advertising campaign. You could do makeovers of existing ads for your portfolio, and if they’re good enough, show them to the company in question. Maybe they’ll be interested in your work! Take any student projects or homework you’ve done here at CEA or elsewhere and finish and polish them the way you would for a real client.
Any of the projects you create can be output to a high-resolution color laser printer. Take your document, along with any fonts and imported images, to a service bureau for color output. If you’ve created something by hand, get good-quality color photos or color copies for your portfolio. You should trim them down or mat them with paper -- never show edges that are discolored or uneven.
Graphic designers and anyone who is expected to have prepress experience must show printed work in their portfolio. Try getting real world projects (see above), or create your own. You can get 500 postcards printed for about $100. You can split a 4-color print job with friends or fellow students -- design and print your brochures or samples on one large sheet and have them cut down after printing.

The Job Interview
You’ve been asked to come in for an interview, with your portfolio. To get to this point, you have probably made all the right moves:
1. Examined your likes and dislikes in previous work and learning situations - what kind of projects have inspired you?
2. You’ve determined your career goals -- what jobs, in what industries, do you want to do?
3. You’ve made an exhaustive list of your strengths, abilities and past experience that support those career goals
4. Defined your preferred employment status - full-time, part-time, contract.
5. Researched the companies you’d like to work for
6. Written a thorough, readable Résumé, which clearly defines your abilities and experience.
7. Written a brief, sincere, informative cover letter that explains why you want to work for this particular company, and how you will benefit them.
8. Sent your Résumé, letter and samples (if available) to your target companies
Now your materials have intrigued or impressed the Art Director or department head who is most closely involved in the hiring process. He or she has called you in the hope that you will be the person they’re looking for. Interviewing many candidates is a long and tiring process. The interviewer is motivated to find someone quickly. You will have thirty minutes to an hour to make a convincing impression. They will have an immediate response to you, based on how you present yourself, even before they see your work, so follow the guidelines below regarding appearance and communication. But your portfolio will be your main selling point. You don’t want to disappoint them.

Phone Calls
When on the phone with a prospective employer let the other person do most of the talking. A phone interview should establish your communication skills, not be an opportunity to tell the interviewer your entire career history.
When taking a call from a prospective company or a recruiter, while at work, do so when you are ready and comfortable. If a call comes at a bad time, say so and reschedule.

Be prepared, but be yourself
The employment interview is one of the most important events in a person's experience, because the thirty minutes to one hour spent with the interviewer may determine the entire future course of one's life.
Interviewers are continually amazed at the number of candidates who come to job interviews without any apparent preparation and only the vaguest idea of what they are going to say. Other candidates create an impression of indifference by acting too casual. At the other extreme, a few candidates work themselves into such a state of mind that they seem to be in the last stages of nervous fright.
These marks of inexperience can be avoided by knowing what is expected of you and by making a few simple preparations before the interview.

Preparing For The Interview
Preparation is the first step for a successful interview. Thus, it is important to:
1. Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer's full name and correct pronunciation, and the interviewer's title.
2. Do some research on the company interviewing you. It is helpful to know the age of the company, what products or services they supply, where there plants, offices or stores are located, what there growth has been, and what there future growth potential is. There are a number of publications that provide information about prospective employers. Most of them can be found in any college or public library. A brokerage office or your bank may also be able to supply you with pertinent information.
3. Prepare the questions you will ask during the interview. Remember that an interview is a "two-way street." The employer will try to determine through questioning if you have the qualifications necessary to do the job. You must determine through questioning whether the company will give you the opportunity for the growth and development you seek.

Some probing questions you might ask. . . .
(a) A detailed description of the position?
(b) Reason the position is available?
(c) Anticipated indoctrination and training program?
(d) Advanced training programs available for those who demonstrate outstanding ability?
(e) Earnings of successful people in their third to fifth year?
(f) Company growth plans?
(g) The next step in the hiring process?

Things To Do And Not To Do
You are being interviewed because the employer wants to hire people ... not because he wants to trip you up or embarrass you. Through the interaction which will take place during the interview the employer will be searching out your strong and weak points, evaluating you on your qualifications, skills and intellectual qualities, and will probably probe to determine your greatest value.
Creative people can enjoy a more diverse dress style than some other professions. However, be sure to research the interview on this point. If everyone else wears suits, you can expect they will look for the same in prospective employees. Nowadays though, creative agencies tend away from formal dress. In any event it is usually better to overdress a bit than to be underdressed.
A tip: drive by if you have not met people at the job site or seen the operation. See how people going in and out of the building dress and what the atmosphere is like. Visiting the site will also ensure that you know how to get there.

More Do's and Don'ts
1. DO plan to arrive on time or a few minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable.
2. If the employer presents you with an application to complete, DO fill it out neatly and completely. DON'T relax and rely on your application or Résumé to do your selling for you. Most employers will want you to speak for yourself.
3. DO greet the employer by his surname if you are sure of the pronunciation. If you are not, ask him to repeat his name. Give the appearance of energy as you walk. Smile! Shake his hand firmly. Be genuinely glad to meet the employer and the prospects are excellent you'll find him an interesting person.
4. DO wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair. Look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener as well as a good talker. Smile.
5. DON'T chew gum.
6. DO look a prospective employer in the eye while you talk to him.
7. DO follow the employer's leads, but try to get the employer to describe the position and the duties to you early in the interview so that you can relate your background, skills and accomplishments to the position.
8. DON'T interrupt or finish questions for the interviewer.
9. DON'T answer questions with a simple "yes" or "no". Explain briefly but in complete sentences. Tell those things about yourself which relate to the situation.
10. DO make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a factual, logical, sincere manner. Stress achievements. For example: projects completed, processes developed, savings achieved, systems installed, etc.
11. DON'T lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and as "to the point" as possible.
12. DON'T ever make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers or companies.
13. DON'T "over answer" questions. The interviewer may steer the conversation into politics or economics. Since this is a ticklish situation it is best to answer these questions honestly but briefly. DON’T be defensive, or say any more than is necessary.
14. DON'T inquire about SALARY, VACATIONS, BONUSES, RETIREMENT, etc. on the initial interview UNLESS you are positive the employer is interested in hiring you. If the interviewer asks what salary you want, indicate what you've earned but that you're more interested in opportunity than in a specific salary amount at the present.
15. DO always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing, even if you have reservations. Seem interested. Never close the door on an opportunity. It is better to be in a position where you can choose from a number of positions--rather than only one.

Be Prepared To Answer Questions Like . . .
1. Why did you choose this particular vocation?
2. Why did you think you might like to work for our company?
3. What do you know about our company?
4. What qualifications do you have that make you feel that you will be successful in your field?
5. What do you think determines a person's progress in a good company?
6. Can you get recommendations from previous employers?
7. Can you take instructions without feeling upset?
8. What is your major weakness?
9. What have you done which shows initiative and willingness to work?
10. Are you willing to relocate?
11. How do you spend your spare time? What are your hobbies?
12. What type of books do you read? How many books per year?
13. Have you saved any money?
14. Do you have any debts?
15. What job in our company do you want to work toward?
16. What jobs have you enjoyed the most? The least? Why?
17. What are your own special abilities?
18. What types of people seem to rub you the wrong way?
19. Define cooperation.
20. Do you like regular hours?
21. What contributions to profits have you made in your present or former position to justify your salary level there?

Negative Factors Evaluated By An Employer
During the course of the interview, the employer will be evaluating your negative factors as well as your positive factors. Listed below are negative factors frequently evaluated during the course of the interview and those which most often lead to the rejection of the candidate
1. Poor personal appearance.
2. Overbearing, overaggressive, conceited, "know-it -all".
3. Inability to express thoughts clearly: poor poise, diction, or grammar.
4. Lack of planning for career: no purpose or goals.
5. Lack of interest and enthusiasm: passive and indifferent.
6. Lack of confidence and poise: nervousness.
7. Overemphasis on money: interested only in the best dollar offer.
8. Evasive--makes excuses for unfavorable factors in record.
9. Lack of tack, maturity, and courtesy.
10. Condemnation of past employers.
11. Failure to look employer in the eye.
12. Limp, reluctant handshake.
13. Lack of appreciation of the value of experience.
14. Failure to ask questions about the job.
15. Persistent attitude of "What can you do for me?"
16. Lack of preparation for the interview--failure to get information about the company resulting in inability to ask intelligent questions.

What to say and not to say
There are many fatal mistakes that a candidate can make during an interview. Many HR Managers, Department Managers, Vice Presidents and Presidents have talked about to the pit-falls of candidates that look good on paper, but in person they lack the skills needed to secure a job opportunity. Here are just a few tips on interviewing that may help you.
1. Arrogance and righteousness and the inability to listen will certainly eliminate your chances of receiving an offer.
2. Be concise in your conversation and in answering questions. Many candidates talk themselves out of a job by talking too long and get into trouble by being contradicting. Limit each response to 60 seconds or less.
3. Others are rejected in the interview because they lack enthusiasm and energy. DO NOT put your listener to sleep!
4. Show interest, but DO NOT oversell yourself. If you oversell yourself it may come back at you on the job.
5. Your job is not only to sell yourself to the interviewer but also to find out if the job is a good fit for you. You do not want to accept something that is going to be counterproductive or not good for your career.
6. Prepare for the interview. Be well groomed and neat. But most important know something about the company, its culture and its competitors. Ask about the needs of the company.
7. Have good questions about the job. Ask about the future of the company. Ask the interviewer what kind of person that they are looking for. Then be quiet and LISTEN!
8. DO a self-assessment. Be prepared. Be positive and do not put down your previous or present employer.
9. Be aware of the interest level of the interviewer and be sure to ask for their card.
10. Be on time, do not smoke, drink, or chew gum. Thank the interviewer for their time. Close by asking what will be the next step.
11. A follow-up call to your recruiter and a thank you letter to the interviewer is a must.

Temp agencies:
Usually temp agencies want experienced people, and they will test you to make sure you know as much as you say you do. They don’t always pay that well, but it’s a great way to get experience and meet people in your field. MacTemps, Manpower, MacPeople, Strategic Staffing, Smith Hampton & Devlin, all claim to place desktop publishers and graphic designers, along with word processors.

Most internships offer experience and some training in exchange for work. A few will also offer a small hourly wage. An internship can last from one to six months. You must make sure that you will be trained in exchange for your labor. Try to get some specifics in writing before you start your internship, particularly about hours, length of internship, and skills in which you will be trained. Sometimes interns are taken advantage of, and end up being glorified gofers, but a good internship can lead to great connections and jobs.

Tips for Springing into Job Hunting Action
By Pamela Thompson

March signals the advent of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, which means spring cleaning and renewal. Whether you are working, unemployed or about to enter or re-enter the job market, here are some tips to make sure you are in shape for springing into action.

Clean out your portfolio. Remove any work that is out of date. Don't keep that piece you did 5 years ago even if it won you accolades at college. Your skills are more developed now and the old piece probably is one of your weaker pieces. Don't leave anything you are unsure about in your portfolio. Not happy with most of your work? It may be time for an update. Get some new life drawing and quick sketches in your portfolio. Try to capture the personalities of the people or animals you see.

Spruce up your resume. Revamp it so it reflects the job you want. If it's unclear what you want to do from your resume, put an objective or goal on top. If it's unclear what you've accomplished put a summary on the top. Make sure your name, phone number, and email address are prominent. Make it easy to read. Remove any gray scale background or artwork so it can be scanned. Keep it clean and simple.

Update your demo reel. Put your best stuff up front right after the slate with your name and phone number and email address. Remove any old or repetitive pieces. Make sure you label your reel and the box you send it in with your contact information.

Renew your friendships. Take a friend out to lunch or for dinner after work. Make an effort to keep contact with those friends you may not have seen in ages. Share information about the business with them.

Plant the seeds for new relationships. Attend meetings, seminars, and conferences and make the first move to introduce yourself to someone new. Others in the audience have the same interests as you do. It isn't always vital to meet the people on stage. The people sitting next to you are fascinating as well. Update your address book with your new friends as well as your old ones.

Exercise your brain. Get creative. Take a class in something that may not be related to work. It may lead you down paths you haven't yet dreamed of and give you the fresh outlook you need.

Put Time Between Jobs to Good Use

I suggest to anyone who just finished a job to take a brief vacation to get away from your normal stomping grounds. Give yourself two weeks. The place you go doesn't have to be exotic or expensive. You haven't had a vacation for a while and you have earned this. Once you find work again you won't be able to take a vacation for awhile so do this now. The other reason to do this--finding work is hard work and you need to be refreshed to start looking for a job.

Another reason for getting away--it will give you a different perspective. During your vacation, your assignment is to daydream. Make a list of what you liked about your last job and what you didn't like. What do you want on your next job? What kind of company do you want to work for? Take stock of your attributes. What do you like doing at work? What do you like doing outside of work? Make a list of all the skills you've learned and the things you've accomplished. This list will be useful in composing your resume. If you have trouble making your list and thinking positively about yourself, get some friends to help you.

When you get back home, take action. When I was out of work after "Bebe's Kids", I sent out at least 2 resumes a day, every day of the week. It took a while to find work, but taking massive action worked and kept me from dwelling on being out of work. I was too busy to mope around!

If you have always dreamed about developing your own show, building a web site, or writing a children's book "when you have the time"--guess what--you've got the time!

You don't want to do anything other than get another job? OK.

Your skills aren't current? Take classes to acquire those skills. There is a lot of demand currently for traditionally trained animators who also know Flash. Think you are too old to learn anything new? You are only going to get older every day--you may as well do something with those 24 hours.

Whether it's learning a new software, finishing a degree, working on life drawing or learning about design, the classes you take can also help you expand your network. Perhaps someone in the class knows about a job. Even if you don't hear of any jobs, you will be improving your skills.

You don't have to pay a lot for courses. Many adult education programs at local community colleges are offered for small fees. If you are lucky and live in the Los Angeles area, you can take courses from the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Union. You don't have to be a member of the union to take the courses and some people travel great distances (one person flew all the way from Montana once a week) to take these.

Polish your sales tools. This is the time to update your resume, your cover letter, your portfolio and your demo reel. Make sure you put your best work up front on your reel and you'll have to alter your demo reel breakdown list accordingly. Remember to include your name and phone number on everything.

Practice life drawing. Visit the zoo, the mall, the playground, sports events. Now that you have the time use it wisely. Get your portfolio up to date.

Network with your friends and former co-workers. Let them know you are looking for work but don't complain if you don't find it right away.

Read the trades including Animation World Network and visit company web sites. If you don't own a computer you may gain access to the web through local libraries and colleges. Libraries also often subscribe to many trade publications. Most jobs aren't advertised but news articles offer clues for work. Look at announcements about new company launches, people changing jobs, or special projects.

Finding a New Job
Here are some tips for landing a new job!

It's bound to happen to you sooner or later. What should you do when you lose your job?

First, don't take it personally. Many of us tie our self-esteem too closely to our work. Don't feel desperate, alone or depressed. It's not the end of the world. In fact, losing your job might be one of the best things that happens to you--it gives you a fresh start.

Before you leave the job, ask for letters of reference, if the circumstances of your termination are positive. Ask for referrals from your supervisor, colleagues or the human resources people. Stay in touch with your peers. They may hear of something in the future that you would be right for. Continue to do a great job until you are out the door. People will remember your professionalism. If you are an artist, get work you have done onto your reel or into your portfolio.

After you leave the job, take a brief vacation to get away from your normal stomping grounds. This will give you a different perspective. Take some time to think about what you liked about the last job and also what you didn't like. Focus on what you want including the kind of company you'd like to work for. Take an assessment of yourself. Make a list of all the skills you learned and the things you accomplished on the job you are now leaving. This list will also be useful in composing your resume. If you have trouble making your list, get some friends to help you with this.

Tips for landing a new job:

1. Don't sound desperate. You are a professional and have experience.

2. Do your homework. Research companies you are interested in and learn all you can about them-- their product, corporate culture (tshirts and jeans, or suit and tie), and the background of the people you would be working with. Ask for a press packet and a financial report and study them. Check out the web site and call the job hotline if they have one.

3. Be a joiner. Volunteer for activities where you will be seen in action in the areas you want to work.

4. Be a learner. If you lack skills required by the companies you have targeted, sign up for classes to learn those skills. Or volunteer for activities where you can learn them. There are plenty of schools which offer low-cost training. Check out the local community colleges or the Abraham Friedman Occupational Center for inexpensive animation courses. Community colleges also offer low-cost courses in programming, marketing, advertising and graphics. Some offer courses in life drawing and animation.

5. Be positive and promote yourself. Make sure your resume and demo reel are ready and you have a clear idea of what you are looking for before you start contacting people for work.

Targeting the Right Employers
Targeting the companies you are interested in, learning about their operations and future plans, is an important step in landing the job you really want

Whether you are a veteran of the industry or a student just starting out on your career, you will have to do some homework to find your next job. Homework involves knowing what you want and where you can get it.

The first thing you need to do is know yourself. What do you like to do? What kind of work are you good at? Are you a generalist--a jack of all trades--or a specialist? If you are a generalist, you may be interested in working for a smaller company that can utilize all those skills. If you are a specialist, seek work at a larger company where the work is segmented among many different departments.

Know what part of the animation industry interests you. Do you love games? Do you live and breathe special effects for motion pictures? Have you always wanted to work on the Internet? Do you get excited about the latest commercial?

If there is a segment of the industry that thrills you, go to the library or log on and research companies that deal with that segment. Many companies have web sites that detail the kind of work they are doing. Some have advice for applicants about how to apply. Many have job boards on their web sites. If the company is public, stockholder reports offer company information. There are also many web sites that follow specific segments of the industry such as, or

Find out what productions your target company is involved with. Become familiar with its work before you send in any of your own. Are the company's products something you can be proud of? That you want to be part of creating? Are there people you can learn from? Can you grow there?

Gather information about companies when you attend industry meetings, trade shows or when you read trade publications like Animation World Network and Animation Magazine. Ask the company for a press package. Review its publicity materials. Find out what its long-range goals are. What is its mission statement? What is its target market? Are sales climbing? Is the company growing or struggling to survive? Is it new and cutting edge? What is its reputation?

If you know the company's products you can customize your marketing materials (cover letter, resume, portfolio and demo reel). Know what they want to see and how they want to see it (DVD, CD-Rom, web site, etc) . Many companies post portfolio requirements on their web site or will send information to applicants on request.

Decide what work environment you want. What is important to you? Do you want a life outside of work? The best way to determine if this company is for you is to talk to employees. Ask them: What are the working conditions like? What kind of hours do they expect from their employees? Many entertainment companies have long working hours during crunch times, but is this the normal mode of operation? What is management like? What are most of the employees like? Are they entrepreneurial? What is the company founder like? What is important to him or her?

Why do all this homework? It will pay off in the interview because you will impress them by your knowledge and enthusiasm for their company - you know how you can contribute. Everyone wants to find someone who will fit in and this research will help you convince the interviewer(s) that you fit in. But you will also have confidence and excitement about working at the company since you have done your homework and know the positive attributes of the place. Do your best work, keep a winning, professional attitude and hopefully you will have a long career at the company you have selected.

A portfolio is a sales tool - if your resume and portfolio don't work, neither do you!
By Pamela Thompson

Portfolio tips:
1. Label every piece of artwork and the portfolio case with your name, phone number and email address.

2. Limit your portfolio to 25 pages total (a sketchbook or video reel counts as one page).

3. Never send original artwork. Photocopies are fine.

4. Don't include loose artwork.


1. Several pages of current life drawing from live subjects.

2. Sketchbooks (or mounted pages from sketchbooks) with gesture-style drawings of people and animals in motion.

3. Head drawings--both quick sketch and long poses.

4. Some samples reflecting color and design sense.

5. Some figurative drawings reflecting knowledge of lighting.

6. A few samples that display cartooning skills. Do not include copies or interpretations of classic cartoon characters. Show samples of your own cartoon creations.

7. No more than two or three samples of comic-strip, comic book or fantasy illustration.

8. Some work based on imagination.

9. If you are interested in character animation it is not necessary to include graphic, advertising, industrial, jewelry or textile design. Character design would be more relevant.

Other tips:

1. You may want to label your sketches and poses with the length of time of the pose.

2. Remember that character animation is all about acting. If you can convey an attitude in your sketches and life drawing it will stand out.

3. You don't need a huge case to showcase your work. A simple presentation book with sleeves for 8 1/2 x 11 pages is fine.

4. Make several copies of your portfolio so you can have it in circulation at more than one company at a time.

5. Include several copies of your resume in your portfolio.

6. Remember, include only your best and recent work. One time an artist nearly didn't get a job at a video game company I worked for. He had included a piece he had won awards for--back in 7th grade. The man was in his 40s. The piece belonged on the wall of his house--not in his portfolio.

7. Your portfolio is a sales tool--it should be designed to get you the job you want. Be sure that it showcases you in the best possible way. Emphasize the areas that you want to get work in. For example, if you are interested in storyboarding, include samples of storyboards.

Remember - if your resume and portfolio don't work, neither do you!

Pulling Yourself Together:
The Professional Portfolio

by Larry Lauria

I frequently receive inquiries from students and young animation professionals regarding the types of skills they need in order to work in the animation industry. Like most industries, the animation world changes to keep pace with innovations in technology and shifts in the market place. I occasionally call friends in Los Angeles for an update on trends. I put in a call recently to Frank Gladstone, head of Artist Development at DreamWorks SKG Animation, to talk about a few of the "golden questions" these folks are asking. Frank has been working as a professional animator, producer, director, writer and teacher for more than twenty-five years. From 1973 to 1989, he managed his own award-winning studio, Persistence of Vision, Inc., producing commercials and educational films, and has since worked for the feature animation divisions at Disney, Warner Bros. and DreamWorks. Besides his studio credentials, Frank has spoken on animation at schools and institutions around the country, in the Caribbean and Europe and has taught various animation and cinematography courses for the University of Miami, VIFX, Cinesite, UNICEF, Gnomon School of Visual Effects and UCLA. Frank has designed courses and helped train literally hundreds of people who work in the animation industry. So, he definitely has a feel for what the industry is looking for, and as always, Frank was honest and to-the-point.
Larry Lauria: What should portfolios contain?
Frank Gladstone: Portfolios should contain life work, beautiful drawing and excellent design. Every studio has the ability to bring up people and nurture them. But unlike the heydays of the early ‘90s, when studios ran internships, a candidate now has to have a specific genius in a given area to get serious consideration.
The portfolio should give some indication of strength in the particular area in which the applicant desires to work -- animation, character design, layout, background, 3-D work, etc. It is also very important to include a resume and cover letter with any portfolio submission. A videotape reel is a plus if the work looks professional.
Portfolio no-nos: Copies of cartoon characters, especially established characters, drawings from photographs.
LL: Which basic skills should a student possess?
FG: Very good life drawing -- displaying the structure of figures (forms) in space -- and knowledge of line quality. Focus on basic skills, be able to draw well, to render a three-dimensional figure on a two dimensional surface. Demonstrate the ability to stage and compose subject matter within a framed area.
A sketchbook is a must -- filled with studies that display the thought process. Quick drawings which show the ability to describe forms using the most basic gestures.
Always strive to be an observational able to represent different design be a chameleon of sorts.
Keep in mind that, even in digital animation (excluding purely technical areas), it is always a bonus if the fundamental, traditional artistic skills are there. Artistic flexibility is an important element. Students need to stretch themselves.
LL: Where is the industry going?
FG: We're seeing more and more 3-D and stop-motion animation, as well as what we think of as "traditional" work. And there are more hybrid projects; using a combination of disciplines. Web-based venues and TV work are also expanding.
The future will see more hybrid feature productions. And studios are trying to gear more toward straightforward production paths rather than the "crash and burn" methods of the past. Studios want to maximize their artists’ potentials; have the ability to flow from one project to another. This will keep production costs down and enable the studio to use more focused crews.
The future will also see the advent of animated characters which look and act more realistically and work well (read, without being identified as computer generated) within the environment created for the film project. Even in the live-action arena, we'll be seeing more computer animated characters -- "synthesbians" is a word somebody made up to describe these "virtual" actors.
The digital process will allow a live-action filmmaker to make (or remake) a picture on the scale of Ben Hur, for instance, with a large "virtual" cast for the coliseum and battle scenes. Not unlike the crowd scenes generated today for animated feature films.
LL: What is the number one challenge you have in training?
FG: Keeping up with technology, either "off the shelf" or as it comes into proprietary use. Today's animators have to adapt and be always ready for new information, yet they have to maintain their traditional skills. Computer skills can be taught...and traditional skills have to be brought along, comfortably, into the mix. For the purely technical folks, without the benefit of fundamental artistic approaches -- making good decisions about their animation (as opposed to their software) is much more difficult.
LL: Finally, Frank, how much does attitude count?
FG: Attitude and communication skills are very important...even more so in today's industry. We used to say that some applicants came in " fairy dusted," somewhat starry-eyed about the animation industry. Today the atmosphere is different, perhaps a little more realistic. Rose-colored glasses are not in fashion now, which can mean that folks need to keep their energy up...even in "down" time.
Communication skills are extremely important. Dealing well with other people, working well with other artists...even though your views may differ. Today's artists need to develop good communication skills or they will not advance. Listening, following directions, being able to explain themselves clearly...these are all vital assets for individuals entering today's industry. They need to be able to hear the information, understand it, decipher it and act on it.
Candidates need to be well rounded, too. This might sound a little like heresy, but students shouldn't spend all their time in college drawing and developing a portfolio...that is not enough. A student should take time to develop as a person as well. Take classes in literature, language, communications, history (art and otherwise). Learn something about film and its visual language, light and shadow, perspective, contrast and affinity, use of plot and character. The more an individual brings with them to a studio, the more their chances of success.
I appreciated Frank's generosity with his time. His update was informative and concise. As always, a constant aspect of today's industry is change. Change in technologies, production methods and specific skills. Another constant element is highly developed drawing and artistic skills (whether at the board or on the computer). The "virtual" landscape will continue to change. The concept of one canvas with hundreds of artists working on it, each contributing to the whole, will never change. It is a part of the charm of the art form.

The Television Animation Portfolio:
by Larry Huber

In the 25 plus years I've been a working as a professional in the business, I must have reviewed hundreds of portfolios. What I'm looking for varies according to the job I'm filling. If I'm hiring a storyboard artist, I don't need to see a lot of color work. If I need a background painter, character sketches won't get you the job. A little careful editing of your portfolio to fit the job you're being interviewed for, might save us both a lot of bother.

The television animation industry employs hundreds of artists, many of them filling specific classifications. You don't have to be good at drawing everything if you're just real good at drawing the something that fits the classification. So what are the typical jobs?

This is a shot by shot illustration of the animated film. It is used to communicate as much information as possible to all the artists, overseas and domestic, that are working on the film. It includes background sketches, incidental character and prop designs, animation poses and all the necessary camera description. This is where the story is told and the basic film designed. It is a "Bible" for the animated film.

Portfolio Requirements:
A typical portfolio for this job would require examples of good drawing, some background and character design and many composition set-ups. Storyboards are generally done from scripts or detailed outlines so samples of completed or test examples of storyboards are necessary.

Background Layout Design:
Each scene of a storyboard becomes a layout, which is a detailed breakdown of the shot. Key character posing is drawn in proportion along with the necessary "props." The background elements are designed and labeled, often including mood rendering and light sources. All camera information is included, from the basic, "What field is this scene at?" to the complicated, "What's the degree of rotation on this pan?" Layout is no longer done domestically in television animation. Instead, it has been broken down into several classifications, including Background Design. No location, actual or fantasy, is exempt from animation, and the BG designer had better be able to draw it. Landscapes, seascapes, exteriors, interiors, mood pieces, day and night, outer space to the bowels of Hell is the realm of this artist.

Portfolio Requirements:
Background drawings exclusively will got you the job if the examples are good and varied in style and location. Get your perspective, details and locale right.

Character and Prop Design:
From the principal players to the innocuous member of a crowd, the character designer must draw the right type in the proper costume. Characters are not limited to humans. Animals, fantasy monsters, elves or space aliens make up the roster of the animated cartoon. A "prop" is, generally, any non-living item that finds itself kicked, carried, thrown or moved during a scene. If it doesn't move, it's painted on the background and becomes the responsibility of that artist. Sometimes a prop can become a character (i.e. The candlestick and clock in Disney's Beauty and the Beast) and therefore, more detail must be paid to its' design.

Portfolio Requirements:
Realistic and cartoon character examples should augment a solid life and animal drawing portfolio. Nudes are fine but costumed figures should be included. I'd rather see character drawings of your own design than copies of classic Disney or Warner characters. Prop drawings of cars, boats, aircraft and tanks are necessary along with mundane items like table settings, furniture and radios to secure a spot as a prop artist.

Background Painting:
Know the difference between the gray-blue of a stormy sky and the blue-green tones of the ocean's depths? Can you paint with water colors or acrylics, control a wash and use an airbrush? Can you reproduce the texture of stone or the translucence of glass without resorting to a computer program? If you answered, "Yes!" to these questions, this might be the job for you.

Portfolio Requirements:
Color, color and more color. Most background paintings are done "on the clock" so fast-drying mediums are the norm. Acrylics are the paint of necessity. If you are able to "paint" by computer that's "nice" but it must be an additional skill, not the basis of your work. Slides of your best work are okay but I prefer to look at good color copies or original material.

Color Key:
Originally done by the Background department, it is now a separate job. This involves choosing the colors of the characters and props, sometimes changing the palette between day and night. The colors of the backgrounds must be considered carefully when choosing the character palette. This is a hard job to get "right outta school." I usually hire professionals with examples of production work. A solid graphic arts portfolio with lots of examples of the good use of color in layout, background painting and character designs might get you a starting spot as a back-up artist. ]

Tips of the Trade:
When bringing in a portfolio, make a selection of your best work. Don't bring in everything in the hope that my worst taste may lie somewhere in your drawings.

I like to see "napkin" portfolios. A sketchbook tells me more about your ability than the senior project you spent six months perfecting. I like to see what you draw when you're having fun. Bring the doodles you do when you're riding the Metro-Rail or waiting to be served at a restaurant. The best professional artists are those you can't stop drawing. They draw well, they draw fast and they draw all the time.

However, I need to see that you have a range. Life drawings are useful but so are animal sketches. If you have more than one style, show it off. I'm not interested in seeing various techniques so important in publication art. Save the scratch-board stuff for the weekends.

I don't run an art school so you'd better know the basics of proportion, anatomy, perspective, vanishing points and the "golden mean." I hire artists and train them into specific, marketable goals in animation, but I don't teach life drawing.

Animation is booming. Talented, hard-working artists are in demand. A solid portfolio is the first step to getting a professional gig in the industry. Good luck. I hope to be seeing your portfolio soon.

More Character Animation Demo Tips:

Cover Letter and Resume Tips
By Pamela Thompson

Don't let your resume become another piece of junk mail - the cover letter is a sales tool

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a hardworking, fast learner and want to get an entry level job in the computer animation or visual effects industry. I have taken classes in computer graphics and am ready to start at any position. I'm sure I can be an asset to your company.

I look forward to working with you soon."

This cover letter is like junk mail. It says nothing about you and will not help you get the job. Many people think they need to include cover letters with their resumes. Cover letters like this one get tossed aside. The only good thing about this cover letter is that it is brief and has no spelling errors.

Cover letter tips:

1. Cover letters should be addressed to a specific person in the company.

It should be original (not a form letter) and demonstrate some knowledge of the company. It should indicate that you have researched the company to some degree. Since few applicants do any research, this will make you stand apart from the crowd.

2. Cover letters should be concise.

Don't be vague or general--express interest in a particular position, not "a job in the computer industry." You must know what job you are applying for and what specific skills or experience you can bring to that job.

The cover letter should impress the recipient with your focus and reasons for wanting the job. It should be well organized and have correct spelling and grammar. Ask a friend to proofread it for you. Make sure the phone number is correct.

The cover letter is a sales tool--you are selling your knowledge, skill and experience to the company. Explain, in one paragraph, what you can do for the company. Make it clear that you understand the needs and goals of the company and that you can hit the ground running when you are hired.

3. Cover letters can be used to highlight:
• a personal connection or some common ground with the recipient
• a referral by someone in the company or the industry
• special skills or expertise--the advantage the company will gain if they hire you
4. Cover letters should be:
• specific and clear
• brief
• easy to read
5. Cover letters are:
• sales tools, part of your marketing package
• usually not read or kept with the resume, especially if they are too long
6. Use cover letters to:
• clarify what you are offering the company, if it isn't clear from your resume
• explain a career change or to clarify special circumstances

List your experience in reverse chronological order--most recent job first (at the top) and work backwards from there. I recently got a resume from someone whose work experience started with his experience as a delivery person for a florist. On the second page, he finally mentioned his most recent job--an animator at a major studio. When you first see this resume, you think it is someone fresh out of school, with an interest in getting an entertainment job, not a veteran in the industry.

Resumes are marketing tools. Their purpose is to help you get an interview. You should not put your entire life history on it. Emphasize your accomplishments. Try to keep it to one page but if it is multiple pages, make sure your name and phone number is on every page.

When applying for a job, don't email your web address and expect anyone to go there to look up your resume. They usually won't. If you are emailing someone your web site address, be courteous and at least email them a copy of your resume. Don't expect someone else to do work to help you get work.

If you want to be sure someone gets your emailed resume, send it as a message rather than as a an attachment that must be downloaded. Not everyone has the same software as you, and many people don't download attachments. Sure you might lose formatting, but the chances are they received it. The best way to submit a resume is by fax or mail. Do not include graphics on your resume. They don't fax or copy well and can obscure important information.

Don't include personal information on your resume or in your cover letter, including a photo, marital status, sexual orientation, age, health, religion, ethnic background, race, or disabilities. In the United States, employers are forbidden by law to ask questions about them in advance of offering a job and they have nothing to do with your qualifications for the job.

Be sure your name and current phone number (with correct area code) is on your resume. Include your email address too, if you have one. It's pointless to send a resume to someone if they can't reach you. I've received many emailed resumes with no phone number.

Make sure your resume and cover letter do the job to get you work.
Here are several tips on what to avoid and what to include in your resume

As a recruiter, career coach, and business consultant I have seen literally thousands of resumes. I get three or four a day on a slow day. Here is what bugs me the most:

Issue #1: No phone number, wrong phone number, wrong area code, hard to find phone number, hard to read phone number

Issue #2: Name missing. Yes it's happened! But if I have a phone number I can call it and leave a message for the person so this gets the #2 position.

Issue #3: Resumes with a type face that is impossible to read--too small or too ornate. Huge blocks of type that are a challenge to read.

Issue #4: Hiding your skills. Don't make anyone read through a big paragraph to find your specialized skills such as knowledge of Maya or Softimage. Highlight your skills under a separate heading.

Issue #5: Resumes with multiple pages. If your resume is more than one page, put your name and phone number on each one.

Issue #6: Resumes that fail to tell me who you are--what you know (skills), what you've done (accomplishments), and what you want to do (objective or goal). If you are changing careers, focus your resume on the job you want rather than the job you have.

Issue #7: Paper that doesn't copy well. Test your resume. Copy it and make a copy of the copy. Surprised? Orange and dark blue paper turns black. Marbleized paper makes your resume look like someone poured coffee over it.

Issue #8: Graphics or artwork on a gray scale behind the type. After doing the copy test you'll find those beautiful graphics in the background are now some of the ugliest stuff you've seen on paper and what's more, you can no longer read your phone number or name which looked so crisp in front of the graphic on the original. If you want someone to get a sample of your graphics include it on a separate page with your name and phone number.

Issue #9: Typos and spelling mistakes. Proofread and ask a friend to proofread.

Here are several tips to make a better resume:

1. List your skills and be specific.

2. Many companies scan resumes into computer databases. Select a font where the lower case l and number 1 are different enough that the computer won't confuse the characters.

3. If you have email, put your email address on your resume.

4. If your resume shows a variety of jobs, make sure you have an objective at the top that indicates what job you're seeking.

5. Review your resume every 6 months to update your skills and accomplishments.

It's Show Time
As an artist, it is essential that you have an outstanding portfolio and demo reel

If you are an artist, it is essential that you have an outstanding portfolio and demo reel.

What should you show?

The first step is to determine what your strengths and interests are. There are many different jobs for artists--from animators to modelers to graphic designers to web site developers to interface designers. You need to figure out what you like to do and what you are really good at. Assess your skills. Make sure the demo reel and portfolio are relevant to the job you want. If you want a job as a character animator, don't show only compositing work on your reel. Make sure your demo reel reflects the very best you can do and keep it short. Make them want to see more.

The purpose of the resume, portfolio and demo reel is to get you an interview with someone who can hire you. They are marketing materials--prepare them with care. Have others take a look at them and give you feedback before you send them out.

For artists, a demo reel and portfolio are more important than a resume.

Your demo reel should:

1. Be no longer than 3 minutes. It can be shorter.

2. Show variety. Do NOT be repetitive. It is not necessary to show the same work several times.

3. Contain only your best work.

4. Be dynamic.

5. Be irresistible.

6. Be labeled with your name and phone number and email address if you have one. Include slates on your reel with this information also in case the label falls off.

7. Be a DVD/VCD and website.

8. Be representative of your recent work and show your skills and talent

9. Be of high caliber and quality

Put the very best segment first.

Include slates on the tape or a written outline that describes each scene and what you did for that segment.

Remember your audience sees lots of demo reels and portfolios. Keep it moving.

If you must have your work returned, include a self-addressed stamped container for return. Never send your only copy to anyone.

If you have worked on an interactive project and want to submit your portfolio in a digital medium such as CD Rom, call the company before you send it to be sure they have the appropriate equipment to view it. Include a breakdown of how each piece was done and the constraints of production.

A portfolio of life drawing, illustration, photography (if you are interested in lighting), sculpture (if you are interested in modeling), character design or color design is a big plus. Many aspiring computer artists today have no foundation in fine art and the lack of training in aesthetics limits their capabilities. It's easier to train someone to learn a software package than to learn to draw. If you have a fine art background, include some of the work with your reel. Portfolios should have no more than 25 pages of work--and remember to include only your best work. As an alternative, you can film your art work and put it at the tail end of your tape with a slate that indicates "Fine Art" or something like that.

Whether you submit a demo reel, DVD, portfolio or all three, remember to always include a resume with it. And always include your phone # and an email address (if you have one) on your resume.


So there you have it, most of these are old AWN articles.
As I've been teaching 2D animation at the Arts College I've been helping in the 'portfolio development' class. The most frequently asked question is a big one:
"How much should I get paid?"

This is a long answer, depending on many different factors.
My main experience is Flash animation, so my answer focuses on that.
ALL the students that I've taught over the years eventually ask this. As they should, how else would they know? They have no clue how the industry works, and it's difficult to imagine themselves from that perspective. They know nothing about tax credits, employment insurance, weekly footage rates, writing off your equipment when doing freelance from home, all these are valid concerns.

Last week, an NBCC animation student contacted me for an e-mail interview.
One of the many questions was "How stressful can the animation industry be on an artist?"

I answered with the following notes...

Animation by nature can be stressful, for two reasons:
1) Your boss, this could be a single client (if you're an independent/freelance artist), or your direct supervisor or producer can be a source of stress like any other job. Either way, they can be a frustration on your mind because they ALWAYS demand the world from you, with impossible deadlines, they want your scene done for yesterday, they demand the models to be completed by yesterday, they want the episode polished off by end of week, they are never satisfied with the quality of your work. You need to stay clear-minded and focused on your work and don't beat yourself up over the small stuff. Shows always go late, take responsibility for the shots or characters that you've been assigned and try not to worry about the big picture. One day at a time, one frame at a time, learn to manage your time, schedule your daily tasks and stick to them.

Plan out how you're going to tackle your scene, research and find the reference you need and attack, don't worry about the fact the show won't get done by deadline, get your scenes done and approved first then feel good about picking up extra scenes if you can. Usually, you will impress your bosses more with your consistency and reliability more so than your quality. Push hard to improve yourself, find new and better effeciencies in your personal work model, find out where your weaknesses are, focus on strenghtening those elements.

Producers/clients who don't understand the animation process (which is most of them) can add stress to your life, since they usually don't comprehend why things take so long to do, or wonder why changes cannot be implemented instantaneously, this cause frustration.

2) Money. There's NO money in this industry unless you're blessed with a combination of talent and speed which is very rare. By this I mean that going from job to job, studio to studio and contract to contract every 6-9 months can be VERY stressful, but that's the nature of the industry, and you must accept this fact and work around it and with it in order to benefit the most from it (both financially and experience-wise). We're currently in an animation recession of sorts, so sometimes, no matter how much experience you have you can end up in a drought. Start looking / asking around for work about a month before your current contract ends. it's rare to be paid salary in this industry so it's all based upon speed and efficiency. Whether it's $20/second or $14/second or $1 per frame or $650/wk (salary), the best way to judge if you are being treated and paid fairly is to figure out how much money you average per day. Start out by getting paid about $100/day. If you're full time, this is a MINIMUM! Figure out how much you are (or will be getting) paid based upon how many seconds or scenes you are doing and how long it takes you to do them and how much you'll be paid for them, then you can figure out how much per day you're making. Read your contract thoroughly!

Ideally, you are a trained professional and artist and you want to be paid adequately for the quality of work you produce. Act professional, be professional, treat people and projects with professionalism, and expect the same from your employer/supervisor. You need to build up to $120-150/day within your first year or two of solid experience. This is important to know because there are MANY producer and studio managers out there that WILL take advantage of your skills and pay you less than other experienced animators in the studio. If you do your retakes and revisions, your quality is adequate, and your speed is sufficient than you need to be making the same sort of money as your peers are doing, if not, then you know you're not being treated fairly. If the studio next door is paying their guys 40% more dollars per week than what you're making, start asking questions, what's the budget on the show? Why am I working 70 hours per week for half the money than my friend across the street?

This is very common, and many recent graduates get by with just $300/week, but when you're working 60+ hours per week and breaking your back for the company you're employed with... you end up burning out quickly, and then you have nothing to show for it, you get exhausted and then you are broke and the contract ends and everything falls apart, and all this just hard work and sleepless nights to make your boss rich, don't fall into that trap!

Getting frustrated and disgruntled with the biz is common, I know of many animators that have had strings of bad luck with the studios they've worked at, it ends up being stressful with student loan payments, travel expenses, saving for taxes, it can all weigh down on an artist and discourage you from sticking to your guns.

In a way there IS money to be made but only after a few years of dedication and service to the industry. I was lucky, I was able to find lots of work after graduation. Some animators don't have the willingness to travel from province to province, a motivation to always learn new things, to continue drawing after work, to go home and research tutorials on different software, so then you get stuck in a rut, and life gets hard. ALWAYS continue learning new styles and techniques, go online and find references for different acting and animation styles and techniques, become more familiar with the industry you're in. Then and only then do you have a chance to impress your supervisors and directors, move up the ladder, and eventually pursue more specialized departments in your field - like character design, storyboards or whatever it is you want to get into. Keep focused on your goals, be helpful to the others in your department, ask your supervisor how you can help others, grow as an artist/animator, ask what needs to be done to place your self in the position you'd like to be in.

And always make sure your employer takes off the taxes from your paycheck, I know of dozens of animators who have been screwed over by having an employer convince them that it's good to NOT have their taxes taken off their weekly cheques. Unless it's a short/freelance project, I'd advise against it. It seems like extra money at first, BUT come April of the next year you'll owe hundreds if not thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes to the government and it can really break you down. Always fight for having your taxes taken off (CPP, EI, Income tax), then you get money BACK in April instead of paying out money to the government. Studios that refuse to take off your taxes from your cheques force you to be extra careful with your money, put aside 30% of your income every month! Then you'll be ready for the tax man when he comes to collect.

Make sure to see my opinions on how animators can increase their chances of employment by creating an impressive online presence, with the tools shown here.

Thank you.