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The Challenges and Rewards of Life as an Animator

ben marvazi 2020

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“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

Vince Lombardi, American Football Coach 

A career in animation would be desirable for people passionate about drawing and illustration because it allows you to convey stories and emotions uniquely and engagingly.

But there are instances when your life as an animator can be frustrating and challenging because, just like any other profession, becoming a professional animator requires a significant amount of time, effort, dedication to the craft, and persistence, although obstacles may arise along the way. 

However, your life as an animator can be the most rewarding, too, as you can breathe life into your ideas for others to enjoy. In other words, being an animator will grant you the power to express yourself artistically while contributing to exciting animation projects

Before diving into a career in the animation industry, it is important to fully understand how challenging and rewarding your life as an animator will be because knowing this aspect will help you prepare for challenges that come along your way.

In this blog post, we will dig through the challenges and rewards of life as an animator that you can use to be prepared and constantly motivated.

The Challenges of Life as an Animator

It is a given fact that an animation project can end up mesmerizing and can even open a whole new world for the viewers. 

But have you ever wondered what the process of making animation looks like? Are there any hurdles that block an animator’s creative process? In general, are there any challenges that come with being an animator?

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned animator, several challenges and constraints may occur at work and in life, which we will tackle in this portion of the blog. 

Strict Deadlines

character running away with its mouth open as a clock with sharp teeth is running after them

GIF by Drawify via GIPHY

According to Howard Wimshurst, founder of Animator Guild, deadlines are reasonable because they push animators to explore new creative options to complete animation projects within the deadline.

But most of the time, animators work on projects with tight deadlines, putting them under much pressure and stress. 

Indeed, an American employment website said that studio animators work more than 40 hours a week to meet their deadlines and accomplish their animation projects based on the given timeline. That's because when deadlines are tight, animators may need to work overtime and during weekends to ensure they complete the animation project on time.

On the other hand, freelance animators have much more flexible working hours and take on fewer animation projects at a time, allowing them to beat tight deadlines than studio animators, who simultaneously get their hands on multiple animation projects.

Whether you're a studio animator or a freelance animator, tight deadlines are associated with your life as an animator, so it is essential to know how to prioritize animation tasks according to their level of importance. Setting a realistic timeline for each animation task will help you beat tight deadlines.

Tough and Demanding Work Environment

Sponge Bob Square pants cleaning with four arms and one leg in a stressful manner

GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants via GIPHY

An animator's job can be quite physically and mentally demanding. Animators typically work long hours in tough and demanding work that involves a lot of sitting, critical thought, and creativity. And since animators usually work alone on an animation project, they spend much of their time indoors in a shared office setting with little opportunity for social interaction.

In Japan, life as an animator is grim. Henry Thurlow, an American animator that works in a renowned animation studio in Japan, said in an interview that animators fall asleep at their desks and even become sick due to intensive workloads, which included himself, who got hospitalized thrice due to exhaustion.

According to Thurlow, Japanese animation studios require their animators to report to work when a deadline is approaching. In their case, it is a timeframe that calls for nearly a month and a half of constant work without a single day off.

Additionally, animators carry out detailed tasks daily, some of which are repetitive and require patience, focus, and a lot of time. Animating a single minute of an animation frame can take days or weeks to finalize, demanding animators to spend many hours with their computer screens. 

Megan Winters, a 2D animator at Big Jump Entertainment, also said that animation requires a keen eye for detail and patience due to the intense focus on intricate details. It demands proficient problem-solving skills and the ability to work through challenges until you achieve a satisfactory outcome. 

It's worth noting that this work environment is only suitable for some, but to thrive in the demanding work environment of the animation industry, you must take care of yourself by taking regular breaks, eating healthily, and practicing self-care. Also, give yourself credit for doing your best in every animation project that you take on. 

Limited Creative Freedom

life as an animator can be tough like boy looking sad and confused with scribbled circles above his head

GIF by

According to Indeed, life as an animator can present various challenges, including adhering to the creative direction set by the creative director. Often, animators work for an animation client that may have visions for the animation projects which may not align with the artistic preference of an animator. 

Most of the time, animators must prioritize what their animation clients want over their artistic visions, which limits the creative freedom of animators because their work must meet the expectations of their animation clients.

However, you still have the opportunity to showcase your skills and creativity in your animation projects by slipping your animation style and personality into your work. Additionally, you can have more artistic freedom in specific animation projects and some stages of the animation production process.

Keeping Up With Technology

A colorful blue technological motherboard reflecting light

GIF by Matthew Butler via GIPHY 

In a constantly and rapidly changing world, it may be challenging for animators to keep up with the latest technological advancements. The animation industry has been evolving since the first use of computer-generated animations in making Pixar’s Toy Story in 1995, which paved the way for more interesting animated movies like Shrek.

Since then, computer-generated animations have become the industry’s standard. New technologies and software have emerged these days, and the most prominent challenge animators face in keeping up with these is the learning curve that comes with it. Aside from that, the possible cost they may need to invest is also a hurdle because not all animators have the budget to invest in the latest software and technologies.  

Like the animation industry, your life as an animator must evolve. Becoming proficient in these latest technologies can take time and effort, but investing in training and additional education may be necessary to stay competitive in the animation industry.

Highly Competitive Industry

Sponge Bob with a mustache and a blue cap saying "Boy, the competition's getting tough."


The animation industry is continually growing, and at the same time, the demand for animators continues to grow. Technology is becoming more advanced, and the need for audio and visual content is increasing. But despite the countless job openings for animators, it can take time to land one since many talented and creative individuals also eye for a spot.

Landing a career opportunity as an animator and making a stable career out of animation is possible, although the industry is competitive and saturated. To keep your spirits high, Henry Thurlow, an American animator, took four years before landing a job as an animator at Nakamura Productions. Two of the Japanese animated series Thurlow is famous for are The Last: Naruto the Movie (2014) and Tokyo Ghoul: Root A (2015).

You must showcase your unique animation skills and creative vision to stand out. Most importantly, spend your life as an animator being persistent and committed to honing your animation skills for a successful career in this competitive industry. 

The Rewards of Life as an Animator

Indeed, life as an animator can be challenging, but the animation industry rewards hard work, like any other professional career. Below are some of the top rewards of life as an animator: 

Creatively Express Yourself

in life as an animator it is important to stay creative like this blue animal character who is painting on a canvas

GIF by Geo Law via GIPHY

As a creative and artistic person, incorporating art into your daily life must be a dream. 

Life as an animator offers an exciting way to bring your creative visions to life through animation projects. Although you will not be able to express all your artistic ideas in all of your animation projects, you can still inject personal touches into some of your works. 

Suppose your animation skills match the creative visions of your animation clients. In that case, you are more likely to qualify for specific animation jobs, meaning your professional work aligns with how you creatively express yourself. This can be fulfilling when you see your ideas come to life on the big screen.

Earn Money as an Animator

Bugs Bunny counting his money into piles and licking his finger when grabbing another money note

GIF by Looney Tunes via GIPHY

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, the median pay for animators is $78,790 a year. Like any other profession, this amount can change depending on your expertise as an animator, employer, and geographic location. Those animators working for big animation studios can make more money than entry-level animators, and earning six figures is possible for senior-level animators and art directors.

But it would be best if you never chose life as an animator based on the salary you can get; instead, be an animator because it is your passion to express your creative visions to the world. 

Job Satisfaction

Sponge Bob and Patrick shouting Hooray and lifting their arms up simultaneously

GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants via GIPHY

Aside from expressing yourself creatively and earning money, being an animator can be fulfilling and exciting, too, as you work in a field you are passionate about. 

Life as an animator means finding opportunities that mirror your professional goals while expressing your animation skills in a fulfilling way. And seeing your finished and approved animation projects after months of hard work enjoyed by people worldwide can be the very source of job satisfaction.

Collaborative Work 

5 super heroes holding their hands up with different colors of light and saying "Let our powers combine!"

GIF from Droplet Adaptogen Drinks via GIPHY

Sharing your animation projects can be easier when you work with a creative team, and being an animator means usually working in collaborative environments. Collaborating with animators like you will welcome an exchange of artistic perspectives about each one’s work, which promotes growth and productivity between you and other animators.


white line on a red background folding around until it is in an infinity shape

GIF by Nik Dudukovic via GIPHY

As mentioned in the middle portion of this blog post, the animation industry constantly evolves with new technologies that emerge over time. This means that you can be an animator as long as you want to and have a fulfilling animation career that will mold you into the best animator in the industry.

Life as an animator also offers continuous growth and learning as the animation industry provides a wide range of animation projects that you can work on, which requires varied animation skills that you can hone over time.

The Challenges and Rewards of Life as an Animator

Life as an animator can be challenging, but it is a significantly rewarding career path for people with a burning passion for animation. 

Aspiring animators need to know about the challenges and rewards of life as an animator before pursuing a career in the animation industry. It will help them be motivated and prepared for the possible hurdles that may hinder their way toward success.

Remember that being persistent, dedicated, and committed to excellence is the key to overcoming the challenges of life as an animator and reaching fulfillment in your animation career.

Suppose you have already digested the challenges and rewards of life as an animator and are ready to venture into the business side of animation. In that case, you can join 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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