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7 Reasons Why Animators Should Have Personal Projects

ben marvazi 2020

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For most animators, their careers began as a hobby. As it turns into a profession and a source of income, though, it can sometimes feel draining and, and animators forget why they started animating in the first place.

You may have felt this way too in the past, or maybe you’re currently experiencing it. If you’re feeling burnt out on what you once loved to do, you need to make time to work on a personal project related to animation. If not, you’ll no longer see animation as something enjoyable but instead as work that helps you put food to the table.

Keep reading to learn about the seven reasons why animators should have a personal project.

1) Have More Control

Animator working on her animation project

Image by Helena Lopes via Unsplash

Personal projects allow you to work on something that you are truly interested in and passionate about. No matter what kind of client you work for, while working on their project, you will never get thet freedom and satisfaction that your personal project will allow you to feel.

Like other animators have done in the past, you can find client work frustrating but still turn that negative energy into a positive. You can do animation work for your clients during the day then work on your personal projects in the evening.

Since you don’t work for anyone but yourself on personal projects, you get to choose what kind of projects you want to do and when you want to do them. 

Unlike when working for a client, having personal projects gives you full control over the storytelling, animation style, music, sound effects, and everything else. You can use your project to apply animation principles that you know and love, and to further develop your animation skills. 

2) Learn More Tasks

A woman working on her laptop

Image by Dai KE via Unsplash

Personal projects allow you to take on more tasks. You’re strategizing, storyboarding, animating, organizing, designing, post-producing, and more. You’ll learn more by seeing a project through from start to finish than you ever will by  just animating for part of someone else’s project.

The skills and experiences you develop  by working on personal projects will give you the skills you need to someday lead an animation team and even create your own animation studio.

3) Experiment and Grow

A person's hand on a drawing tablet

Image by CHARLI via Unsplash

Working for a living in animation means you can’t do certain things and aren’t allowed to fail because if a client gets angry at you or you fail, you’re likely to lose that client. However, Fstoppers says that experimentation and failure are necessary if you want to know what you’re capable of and grow as an artist.

Thankfully, personal projects allow you to do just that without any cost to your career. According to Dice Insights, Terra Henderson, a motion designer based in Texas, independent projects allow her to explore things she’s interested in but hasn’t been able to get that much experience professionally.

If you’ve been animating animal characters for a long time and are good at it, you will most likely get hired to do work that involves animating animal characters.

However, there might come a time when you want to make a change in the kinds of objects you animate. Instead of animating animal characters, you might want to try animating animated human characters.

Since animating human characters is an area you have yet to explore, you probably won’t get hired to do any work related to that. This is where having a personal project comes in. 

Personal projects will most likely not allow you to earn money, but they allow you to experiment with different kinds of animation styles. They can also help improve your animation skills if you make projects that are challenging enough to get you out of your comfort zone.

4) Stay Motivated

Motivational quote on desk

Image by Prateek Katyal via Unsplash

Avoiding your drawing tablet on slow weeks or months can discourage you from animating. Fortunately, you can have personal projects that will help you stay motivated and continue developing your animation skills.

Many people say they don’t have time to do their hobbies. Usually, it’s because their priorities are out of order or they have poor time management. During lulls in your workdays, you can use your free time to pursue your passion and get joy from doing it. 

It will give you a rewarding feeling when you know that you’ve created art rather than an animated video product for other people. But take note that spending too much time on your passion project is not good. You have to learn how to balance your playtime with meeting your deadlines.

5) Monetize Your Personal Projects

Animator looking at his YouTube channel

Image by CardMapr via Unsplash

Toniko Pantoja, story artist, director, animator, and founder of Brushtale Works Studios, says that if you’re smart with how to monetize your personal projects, you can make income through it with tutorials, crowdfunding, or merchandise.

You can post your personal animated projects on YouTube or sell your own short. Take note that earning money from your passion project may take months or even years. Just as Lifehack says, you can’t come up with an idea and then expect it to give you results in just a few days.

6) Collaborate With Other Creative Professionals

Professionals collaborating on a project

Image by Annie Spratt via Unsplash

You should start working on personal projects to collaborate with other people from your friends, an animator you admire, or other creative professionals outside the animation industry.

According to Toniko Pantoja, you may need music, sound effects, or animation designs you’re not able to create on your own. To attract people to your animation project, you can find musicians to collaborate with you on your project. On the other hand, you can find musicians who need visuals to accompany their music videos or performances.

You can also collaborate with other animators on making a short animated film, an animated music video, a comic, a game, or another piece of art. This way, both you and the artist you’re collaborating with will get exposure to the industries you’re working in, which could eventually lead to getting new clients. 

Also, in this collaboration process, you’ll give insights and share your knowledge about animation, and they can do the same.

7) Improve Your Portfolio or Showreel

Video editing software on a computer screen

Image by Jakob Owens via Unsplash

Having a personal project is a great way to add more projects to your portfolio and have a voice as an animator. This is  especially important if you are applying and interviewing for jobs. It’s both a personal investment and a way to find work opportunities.

Maybe your project has something to do with 3D animation that’s different from the usual 2D animation you do for your clients. Imagine the kind of animation that they need.

Sometimes, you’ll get hired not because of your skills and work experience, but because they saw potential in your personal project. says that it’s not the kind of work that you do that makes you desirable as an artist. It’s your personal work that makes other clients want to hire you. People believe that your best work is created when you work on your independent projects because you create what you love and enjoy.

By showcasing your animation in your showreel or portfolio, you might eventually find yourself in talks with  one of your dream clients.

For example, Deisa, a freelance designer and illustrator from the Philippines, created an animated fan-made video for a Korean singer she admires. The singer saw her video on Twitter and sent her an invitation to collaborate on an upcoming song.

Summing It Up

It is seldom that people get to align their passions and interests with the work they are hired to do. Fortunately, personal projects allow you to kill two birds with one stone: developing your animation skills for your future clients and projects while doing something that you enjoy at your own pace without any restrictions.

If you’d like to learn more about how to get animation clients and get familiar with the business side of animation, we suggest that you join our free masterclass and download a copy of our free marketing handbook.

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