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10 Famous Animation Quotes to Inspire Freelance Animators

“Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.”

Pablo Picasso

While it’s true that inspiration really can come from anywhere, it’s very rare that you’ll find your eureka moment sitting on the floor staring at a wall (it definitely works for some, but you can’t rely solely on that!) 

When you’re in a slump it can sometimes be great to see if you can grab some inspiration from others in your field, others who would have felt the same way you do. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about now.

In this blog post, we’re going to give you some inspiration in the form of famous animation quotes from famous animators, actors, and directors, and provide some insight into how you can use them, and others like them, to rescue your inspiration and drive and move forward.

Famous Animation Quotes To Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

animators can learn a lot from these animation quotes

Gif by Bounce via Giphy

With there having been so many great animators over the years, there’s a whole host of famous animation quotes and works that might just help you get that much-needed inspiration.

Take these as they come, as you would from your animation mentor.

So with that in mind, let’s give you some inspiring quotes and talk you through each one to see how to make them make sense for you.

1. Pete Docter
pixars soul provides a lot of animtion inspiration

Gif by Walt Disney Studios via Giphy

“I made tons of films. I did animation for my friends’ films. I animated scenes just for the fun of it. Most of my stuff was bad, but I had fun, and I tried everything I knew to get better.”

Pete Docter (b. 1968) is an animator, film director, and the acting Chief Creative Officer for Pixar Animation. He has been active as an animator since 1988 but started working for Pixar in 1990. His most well-known and credited works time include Monsters, Inc., Up, Inside Out, and Soul.

His work on the last three mentioned films earned him three Oscars for Best Animated Feature, which made him the first person in history to do so.

What To Take Away From This Famous Animation Quote

Truly, this is the number one concept we as creatives and freelance animators need to grasp, and out of all the famous animation quotes on this list, this is one of the most important. You’re not going to be perfect right off the bat, and because of that, you need to practice. Practice makes the heart grow fonder, or at least it should.

The very best animators are the ones who never stop practicing their art, and the ones who are self-aware. Self-aware, to the point where they understand that the things they practice won’t always be good.

You will improve, and you will get recognized, but you need to put in the time and energy necessary to see results.

2. Norman McLaren
norm mclaren created mind bending animations

Gif by Hoppip via Giphy

“Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn.”

Norman McLaren (1914 - 1987) was an animator, director, and producer most well known for working with the National Film Board of Canada.

His notable animated works include pieces such as Neighbours, Rhythmic, and his BAFTA Award-winning film, Pas de deux.

What To Take Away From This Famous Animation Quote

You need to understand how your characters move. The way to do this is through experimentation. Here’s another quote for you: “SCIENCE!” - Bill Nye.

You need to experiment with your craft. McLaren is very well known for his experimental animations that include image and sound, and he is remembered for revolutionizing techniques for combining music and animation.

We still don’t rightly know everything there is to know about the world of animation and its capabilities, and that’s awesome! It means that tomorrow someone might come up with a style or technique never-before-heard or seen and change the world of animation forever.

This notion should excite you to the point where you want to experiment with your own style and techniques to develop your own personal niche.

Do it.

3. Hayao Miyazaki
hayao miyazake is not only known for his famous animation quotes but also for movies like spirited away

Gif by Spirited Away via Giphy

“I am an animator. I feel like I’m the manager of an animation cinema factory. I am not an executive. I’m rather like a foreman, like the boss of a team of craftsmen. That is the spirit of how I work.”

Probably one of the most famous names in animation history, Hayao Miyazaki (b. 1941) is a Japanese animator, director, and producer, known more notably as one of the founders of Studio Ghibli. He is known by many as the godfather of animation in Japan.

He is one of the most influential and recognizable names in the animation industry, and some of his more notable works with Studio Ghibli include My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle.

What To Take Away From This Quote

This may be more geared towards animation studio owners, but as a studio owner, you should take heed of this famous animation quote. In essence, you can’t be a tyrant. Yes, you may be someone’s boss, but you’re still an animator after all. You understand the process, and you understand the space one needs to be in in order to make the process happen.

The animation process can and will take time, every time, and you need to be capable of being honest and fair to your colleagues.

As for freelancers, something you can take away from this notion is that you are your own boss. So treat yourself fairly and don’t let your clients run away with your sense of self.

4. Dave Hand
dave hand's animation quotes and work are some of disney's classics

Gif by Disney via Giphy

“When I was directing I used to say to the animators, ‘will you do something for me?’ Will you make it so extreme that you make me mad?'”

Dave Hand (1900 - 1986) was an animator who worked for Disney, solidifying himself as one of their top animators over the years. He was involved with a number of Disney shorts, and eventually landed the job of supervising director on both Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi.

Inducted into the Disney Legends program, Hand was responsible for a huge number of animated works over the years, both for Disney as well as with Gaumont British Animation and the Alexander Film Company.

What To Take Away From This Quote

This famous animation quote works both from the perspective of an animation director and studio owner, as well as a freelance animator because it’s more of a universal ideology.

Essentially, you should work to push your animation boundaries to their extremes, in order to test the limits of your creativity. If you don’t know where your boundary lines are as a creative, you won’t know just how far you can go with your skills.

To add to that, as a studio owner, you should be pushing your animation team to realize their potential. And yours, obviously.

5. Glenn Vilppu
glenn vilppu was known to defy the limits of animation

Gif by Disney via Giphy

“There are no rules, just tools.”

Glenn Vilppu (b. 1936), who is responsible for the Vilppu Academy, is well known for having worked on animated feature films and television shows alongside Disney, Marvel, and Warner Bros.

He is also known for being an excellent teacher of animation. In fact, the Vilppu Academy is an online resource he developed for students to learn and improve remotely. His standard of teaching is used around the world by animation teachers in all circles.

What To Take Away From This Famous Animation Quote

This is a famous animation quote that’s quite simple to understand but very profound nonetheless. In short, nothing is off-limits. You need to learn to use everything and anything around you to make your animation dreams come true.

There are so many tools that you need and should be used to work your craft to the best of your abilities, and you can’t discredit them even for a second.

To combine this with what was mentioned earlier in the post, learn to let your imagination run wild because, without it, your animations aren’t going to inspire.

We are creatives, and so really the so-called “industry standards” are only there as guidelines for us to follow. This refers to the various animation software that exists, the various hardware you can use, and much much more. As Vilppu says, there are no rules. 

6. Chuck Jones
chuck jones invoked life in animations rather than imitating them

Gif by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment via Giphy

“Animation Means To Invoke Life, Not To Imitate It.”

“An animator is an actor with a pencil.”

Giving us two fantastic quotes is Mr. Charles Jones (1912-2002), also known as the Father of Contemporary Animation, who is best known as an animator for Warner Bros. and the work he did on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series.

He is also responsible for the adaptations of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Horton Hears a Who!

He then went on to start his own studio, the Chuck Jones Enterprises, where he, alongside many others, went on to work on the 1979 full feature-length Looney Tunes film, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie.

He is a very prestigious animator and director, having won three Academy Awards in his time, as well as an Honorary Academy Award in 1996 for his work in the industry.

What To Take Away From These Famous Animation Quotes

Your job as an animator is to breathe life into inanimate objects. You’re creating something real, out of something imaginary, very often from someone else’s imagination. So you need to be able to breathe life into characters, settings, backgrounds, and stories in unique ways.

As for the second quote, treat your characters as extensions of yourself. You need to make them come to life, and to do that, you need to practice. Study some great works and practice, but take this bit of advice that actors take as well: the best actors don’t act at all, they just pretend.

7. John Lithgow
john lithgow believed in the eureka moment of animation

Gif by PeacockTV via Giphy

“In animation, there’s this exhilarating moment of discovery when you see the film, and you say, Oh THAT’S what I was doing.”

John Lithgow (b. 1945) is not an animator, so take this with a pinch of salt. He is, however, an extremely talented actor boasting many awards over the course of his career. His work in the world of animation is slim, having only voiced one character - the Lord Farquaad in the film Shrek

His views towards animation, on the other hand, are incredibly inspiring and you can definitely take something away from the abovementioned quote.

What To Take Away From This Quote

In truth, you never really know what your final work is going to look or sound like until it’s out in the world for people to see.

With this in mind, you really can’t strive too far for perfection, because then nothing will ever get done.

Something interesting to keep in mind, and in the case of working with voice-over artists, you need to treat those you work alongside - those who help to breathe life into the piece - as an extension of your characters. 

8. Jennifer Yuh Nelson
jennifer yuh nelson's famous animation quote believes that the story for animations can never be rushed

Gif by Dreamworks Animation via Giphy

“A lot of the time in animation is spent getting the story right – that’s something you can’t rush.”

Jennifer Nelson (b. 1972) is a storyboard artist, character designer, and director and is recognized as being the first woman and the first Asian American to exclusively direct a major American animated film.

She is responsible for and the owner of an Annie Award for the storyboarding of the opening for the animated film Kung Fu Panda. She’s also responsible for having worked on Kung Fu Panda 2

She is currently working on and directing the incredible hit animated Netflix series Love, Death, & Robots.

What To Take Away From This Quote

As you can well tell from her catalog, Jennifer is a fantastic storyboard artist and has mastered the art behind storytelling. Following this famous animation quote, we hope you keep in mind throughout your career that a good story is one of the most important elements of a successful animation.

Without a compelling and captivating story, your animation will fall flat and fail to grasp the interest of your audience.

9. Ollie Johnston
ollie johnston animates feelings not movement

Gif by Disney via Giphy

“You’re not supposed to animate drawings. You’re supposed to animate feelings.”

One of Disney’s Nine Old Men, and a Disney Legend himself, Ollie Johnston (1912 - 2008) was one of the chief animators at Disney and, working alongside another of the Nine Frank Thomas, released what is considered today to be the animation bible:The Illusion of Life Disney Animation.

His catalog is boastful indeed, having worked on Disney classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi, Peter Pan, and more. His final full work, The Rescuers included an honorary caricature in the form of the character, Rufus.

If there’s anything to take away from his lifelong work, it’s that you should never stop working and never stop dreaming. But let’s now talk about the quote itself:

What To Take Away From This Famous Animation Quote

Animators at Disney Studios have for years hammered away at the importance of invoking feelings through art. To be able to capture the essence of life, and the way it moves and feels is a skill one must learn through patience and practice.

Your job as an animator is to invoke and evoke and take your audience on a journey they are not so likely to forget.

10. Disney And Pixar’s General View Towards Animated Movies

We've mentioned Disney and Pixar and talked a fair bit about various animators who have worked for the studios, so let’s now talk a little bit about how Disney and Pixar animators feel overall about the world of animation, and the art of animating.

As far as famous animation quotes go, this is technically one of the most important ones, from the practicality and application in the world of animation. 

This idea will forever ring true and can provide a lot of inspiration for freelance and studio animators alike.

Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer, John Lasseter, says; 

We don’t actually finish our films, we release them.”

What To Take Away From This:

Your goal as an animator is to release unto the public a form of art, and the beauty of art is in its imperfections.

While you should always strive for something close to excellence, you should veer away from perfection, because if perfection is all you want, you’re never going to get anything done.

Audiences may not know it, but they also often don’t want to see perfection in an art form. The beauty of art is in the eyes of the beholder, and each individual journey that one takes is unique.

What To Do With Your Inspiration

what can you get from these famous animation quotes

Gif by Radio Silence via Giphy

You might be thinking: gee I’m chock full of inspiration, what do I do with it?

Excellent question. And here’s your answer: use it.

Consider everything you experience a pinch of salt, and dwell on the journey you took to get there, as well as where it’s going to take you. You might not even react to something you read today or something you watched yesterday, until years in the future, and that’s an amazing part of the artistic experience in and of itself.

And when you finally find something out of your newfound inspiration, work with it. Try new things, experiment, and if it doesn’t work, great! Try, try, and try again.

Some Other Places To Find Inspiration

Actors, animators, and directors are not the only source of inspiration and what they say may not always inspire. Thankfully, the world is packed to the brim full of people and things from whom you can learn.

The magic of the online world has brought us so many avenues to find work, derive inspiration, find the best sources and articles, and flat-out enjoy some mindless entertainment. 

Some examples of these places include, but are not limited to:

Social Media And Forums

Social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are full of inspiration to the point almost of being saturated with it.

There are also millions of forums and subreddits with people throwing out and sharing ideas they either have or found somewhere else.

Youtube And Other Video-Sharing Sites

Youtube has always been a hub of content and inspiration, fueling the world with video content for the coming up on two decades. Youtube is also an example of how website ideas can be an inspiration unto themselves; you need only look at the vast number of other types of video-sharing sites out there.

Business of Animation Blogs

BoA and other like-minded blog pages have been around since the internet allowed for such things and have always been a fantastic place to see people’s and businesses' thoughts and ideas.

Various Animation Circles

And of course, never discredit the animation circles and animation communities in which you find yourself. There are plenty of people just like you who can help, and who are also looking for just the right amount of inspiration.

How These Famous Animation Quotes Can Save Your Animation Career

There are a whole host of different avenues through with you can find inspiration. Whether it be a tree outside, an old man sitting at a coffee shop offering advice, or your resident animation Discord server, there will always be something or someone willing and able to provide you with the inspiration you need to get your work done.

And who knows, you might even find yourself giving out some quotable pieces of wisdom yourself. You might even land up on a list of 10 Famous Animation Quotes to Inspire Freelance Animators.

For more info about the animation industry and being a freelance animator, as well as your one-stop-shop for inspiration, be sure to follow our blogs, check out our free masterclass, download a copy of our free marketing handbook, and check out our blog on “How to Start an Animation Studio”!

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