Being an animator is generally a pretty sweet gig: you get to enjoy doing creative work for a living and even have complete control over your schedule if you’re a freelance animator.
However, if you want to attract more clients and make more money, you need to take on some challenges to level up your work as an animator.
You will need a lot of experience and connections to get better. Even animators with 15-20 years under their belts are still continually looking for new experiences and ways to improve their animation. Fortunately, there are many available resources out there to help you get started.
In this post, we give you seven tips on how to get noticed by clients as an animator.
1) Take Animation Classes
An easy way to increase your knowledge and skills in animation is by taking animation classes. You can go to schools like Cal Arts in California, Ringling in Florida, SCAD in Georgia, and Sheridan in Ontario for traditional animation classes.
There are many great animation schools, but the programs can be pretty costly. If you don’t have the budget for this, it’s best to stick with taking classes online.
Learning about animation doesn’t always have to be expensive. There are many free and paid animation classes that you can find online, like Business of Animation’s Animation Accelerator and School of Motion’s courses.
Some classes can help you improve your techniques, while others offer tutorials about using specific animation software. You can also learn about animation for free by watching animation tips and tricks of YouTube animators.
Make it a habit to study characters’ acting styles in movies and short films, or even take an acting class yourself. You don’t have to be the best actor or artist to get noticed as an animator, but it is essential to understand the basics.
By taking animation classes, you might be able to find answers to your problems and challenges as an animator.
2) Read Animation Books
Besides learning online, you will also benefit from reading the best and most-loved books about animation. There are many great books out there that will give you all the information you need to succeed.
Some books will give you a review of animation basics such as spacing, timing, weight, height, walk cycles, and more. Other books will discuss the history of animation and its best methods. Both are important to understand if you want to level-up in the animation world.
3) Develop Your Animation Style
A challenging but crucial step to getting noticed as an animator is developing your own style of animation. No matter how many animation classes you take or books you read, it’s your particular animation skills that will get you to your dream job.
You can have an excellent showreel to show animation studios and hiring managers, but if your animation isn’t unique enough, there is a low chance that you will get truly noticed.
Fudge Animation says that a way to develop your own animation style is to try all the possible ways of working. You can watch videos and look at other great animators’ works, but do not copy their style.
Experiment with anime and realistic animation styles until you find a style that you find aesthetically pleasing and enjoy creating.
If you don’t think a specific style is for you, you can always change your animation style until you find one that you are confident about and makes your work stand out from other animators’ works.
4) Research About the Animation Industry
Before making a showreel and sending it to several businesses and agencies, first do some research.
According to Extra Credits, an educational YouTube channel that uploads content about the popular forms of mass entertainment, you should hit on the following points.
- Do you want to work on computer animation, stop motion, games, film, etc.?
- Learn how these different kinds of animation mediums work.
- Once you’ve decided which area of animation you want to pursue, gather information about it and aim to have the necessary skill sets.
You should also consider what kind of animators agencies want, agencies that are hiring, the big names of people in the animation industry, and what software animators need to know how to use.
Skwigly suggests that you make a spreadsheet of businesses and animation studios so that you can track where you have sent your showreels and applications to.
Doing these things might not directly get you noticed by hiring managers, but it’s an important step in learning more about the animation industry.
5) Work On Your Showreel
If you haven’t made a showreel or need to update it, what are you waiting for?. You’ll need your showreel on point and on hand at all times. Here are some steps you can follow when making your showreel.
- Include only your best and relevant work. Start and end strong by including the personal project you’re most proud of as well as your most popular work. Keep your showreel around 1-3 minutes. Have shots of your animated characters that highlight your handle on the basics of animation, such as weight, height, anticipation, timing, etc.
- Add a video clip of one of your characters showing emotion. Make showreels for specific job titles and animation clients. There will be times when you have to make different reels depending on the kind of job you hope to get. For example, if you want to get hired as a storyboard artist, make a showreel or portfolio focused on storyboarding. If you want to work as a 2D animator, create a separate showreel focused on 2D animation work.
- Show your personality. Animation studios receive and watch hundreds and even thousands of showreels. Creative Bloq says that the ones that catch their attention are showreels of animators who take a different approach in doing basic animation exercises.
6) Network the Right Way
If you want to get noticed as an animator, especially if you freelance, you should attend animation events and conferences to find other animators and create business opportunities.
Seek out people who have jobs you’d like to have someday and ask how they landed those jobs. They might be able to give you tips and recommend some job openings. Also, be active on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
Social media platforms are like digital resumes and portfolios where hiring managers can see what you’re all about. Make sure that you regularly update your profile and upload your best works.
Aside from just using LinkedIn for companies to find you, join social media groups to learn something new and share your animation tips and expertise. These are great places to find other animators and animation clients who can also open doors for you in the animation industry.
Next, reconnect with your colleagues and old classmates. They may be working in the animation industry or are working for a company that needs animators. By rekindling these relationships, you’ll likely be the first person they’ll think of if they are asked for a recommendation for a job opening.
7) Post Your Work Online
According to animator Jake Parker, you will need to have a website that describes who you are and showcases your work to get noticed as an animator. Your website’s name should be anchored to your real name. That will make it easier to remember you, whether online or offline.
Laura Price, a visual development artist, says that you need to make a social media account where you can post your animation and other animators can follow you in addition to your professional portfolio.
Suppose you regularly post photos and videos of your art at the best times of the day and week. In that case, especially if you made animated videos for well-known clients, you will gain followers, and eventually, the right people will see it and hire you for a job.
You could also pin a tweet on the top of your profile about your blog post or lead magnet. This can make your followers see you as someone credible in the animation industry, giving you more email sign-ups and followers.
Aside from having a website and a social media account, also engage with your followers online. Social Media Explorer says that if you keep gaining new followers but get low engagement (such as likes, comments, and shares), there is a disconnect somewhere.
Getting a lot of followers is good, but engagement is a better metric of success. Engagement shows that what you’re posting is effective and makes an impact on your followers. To boost engagement, reply to your followers’ tweets and look for conversations where you can add knowledge and connect with your followers.
Prioritize growing as an animator by taking animation classes, reading animation books, and researching the industry.
Besides just absorbing information, you also need to put in the creative and hard work by creating a great showreel that shows your unique animation style. Then, send it to animation studios, network, and post your work online.
If you follow these tips, you will get noticed for your animation work in no time!