So, one of my buddies’ girlfriends is studying graphic design and part of one of her projects involves interviewing a graphic designer. I explained I’m more of an animation-person than a graphic designer but she seemed ok with that. She liked the last advice part.
Here’s some stuff:
Do you enjoy your career?
Yes! I do enjoy it, especially when it is a bit of a creative challenge and when it’s creatively fulfilling.
If you could choose again, which career would you choose?
Probably the same, though I’d probably have studied a bit more animation – I always knew I was interested in animation but never really thought that was a viable option when I was studying, so I studied some Fine Art, quit that and then studied business.
How do you feel about your Industry?
The Animation industry in South Africa is definitely growing – there are now colleges that teach animation, and South Africa is getting more International service work and I think ‘animation’ is slowly becoming a viable option as a full-time career.
Do you feel that your qualification equipped you to enter the working world?
Well, I’ve got 1.5 years of a Fine Arts degree and I finished a BComm (Business of Communications) degree at Bond University – a 3 year degree squashed into 2 years. I did really well in the business degree and I suppose it equipped me to deal with deadlines and thinking in a particular logical way which has I think been beneficial. However, other stuff like invoicing, tax … it didn’t really cover, and I basically haven’t really shown my degree to anybody. So, in some ways, yes, in other ways, I went into a bit of a different field than what I studied and learned on the job, did a 9-week crash course, read up about animation, read about it on the Internet and got in through the back-door.
Can you tell me what you do in an average work week?
Sometimes I’ll be doing storyboards which can take up a lot of time, or writing animation, or coming up with concepts, or animating, or taking a break from animation – I can’t really think of an average work week but if I had to try make one up – sending emails, discussing stuff with clients / buddies, getting back to other people that have enquired about work (I work on one / two projects at a time and end up passing on a lot of work), reading up about what’s happening in the gaming world / animation world, work on either a client’s project (could be a music video / illustration for a journal / one of any freelance job like I recently designed a background for a varsity student card / I’m doing work with a really nice networkÂ at the moment so currently I’m looking at character personalities and figuring out who the main characters are and how they interact) or personal work (a personal animated short / drawing on canvasses to sell (recently sold a canvas in a buddy’s gallery in Muizenberg) / working on my / my brother’s / my mother’s website / doodling), because I’m my own boss I can take quite a few breaks so I sometimes draw in town and go to the beach to surf / chill. And, depending on deadlines, I can have a fairly relaxed week doing very little work or spend a lot of time animating sometimes into the early hours of the morning. I recently did a 48 hour film project from Plett with some Cape Town people over Skype where I was doing storyboards – I started at 9pm and worked through to 6:30am. Yesterday I arrived in Cape Town and have set up a workspace in a Cape Town studio (I normally work from my home studio in Plettenberg Bay) and so the work hours are more regular and there are other people around. Sometimes work spills over into weekends.
Do you feel that there are areas in your â€˜jobâ€™ which you did not expect to be doing when you were studying?
I suppose I never really got into writing, and writing is kind of an important aspect of animation so I’ve been learning a lot more about that – story structure, character-based humor, etc… But I suppose I had some idea of what was involved. I didn’t really know what I’d be doing while I was studying but I was doing freelance illustration on the side to earn income and have been doing so since high school, so for the longest time I had imagined something to do with drawing.
What was the most surprising thing for you when you entered the industry?
How accessible it was. The first thing I co-pitched got turned into a kids TV series on e-TV. I was kind of amazed at how much ‘initiative’ and ‘goetspa’ can count for.
What part of your â€˜jobâ€™ do you enjoy the most?
The freedom it allows – I can work (and have worked) whilst travelling, I can be my own boss, how much I want to earn depends on how much I want to work, I can plug in with others when I want to, and generally the animation world is comprised of nice people. It’s creatively fulfilling at times and it’s a way to express myself. Also, silliness and humour have a place in animation which I like.
And the least?
The hours can be ridiculous if I let time-management slip, it can detract from personal relationships because sometimes I can get very attached to a project and spend a lot of time and energy focusing on that. Unlike a salary, income can be a bit fluctuating. It can also be a bit of a ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants’ career, but that’s also why I quite like it.
Do you have any further advise for me as a graphics student?
I’d definitely hire someone without a degree that shows a lot more artistic understanding / sensibility, honesty and originality over someone that has a degree but whose work is generic. In fact, from the people I’ve hired I don’t think I’ve ever asked to see their degree and nobody’s ever asked to see mine. The idea is not to just get the degree but to learn the fundamentals of what is being taught. If you’re successful at that you can tear up the degree at the end of it.