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Why a Growth Mindset Is Crucial for Animators

ben marvazi 2020

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In anything that you do, approaching with the proper mindset is key. For animators, it’s important to have a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.

This way of thinking allows you to look at challenges as opportunities for growth while having a fixed mindset makes you less inclined to believe that new skills can be developed through perseverance and effort.

A growth mindset is important because the arts change with technology, current events, and emerging trends in the industry.

What’s required of animators today may not have been the same 20 years ago and won’t stay the same 20 years from now. Having a growth mindset is also crucial if you want to move up in your animation career.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at what a growth mindset can do for you.

Fixed Mindsets vs. Growth Mindsets for Animators

there's always room to grow sign

Image by Kyle Glenn via Unsplash

An animator with a fixed mindset might dismiss his lack of skill in certain fields by saying it’s simply “not for him”.

You’ve probably caught yourself excusing your lack of skill in math by saying you’re not “a math person”. But nobody is born with talent. Some people might be faster learners than others, but that doesn’t make slower learners less capable of learning new things.

For instance, if you only know how to do 2D animation, there’s no reason you can’t learn 3D animation with hard work. Remember that hard work is what helped you to learn 2D animation in the first place.

Animators with fixed mindsets tend to worry about appearing smart or skilled to other people and are more susceptible to giving up when they flounder at a new task. But no one can expect to excel at something on their first try.

On the other hand, animators with growth mindsets acknowledge and accept that they won’t be good at something they’re new to. But because they’re more determined to learn, they won’t be bothered that their first attempts at something new might be less than satisfactory.

Using the previous example, an animator with a fixed mindset might be reluctant to try a new animation style, such as 3D animation, because they know they’ll fumble at first. But all that would really matter for an animator with a growth mindset is that they’re taking the first steps towards gaining a new skill.

An animator with a fixed mindset also tends to be more dismissive of criticisms, while those with growth mindsets are more open to them. Criticisms can help us to learn and grow. Even those criticisms that seem to be nothing more than harsh can sometimes give us some insight into why our work has met such a reception.

Apart from being vital to one’s growth, criticisms are also part of life. As an animator, you’ll receive plenty of critiques on your work from clients and co-workers. While you also need to assert your limits on revisions or reanimations, collaboration is all about flexibility and compromise.

Benefits of Having a Growth Mindset for Animators

a group of men working together

Image by Priscilla du Preez via Unsplash

It can be difficult to come up with new ideas on a regular basis or meet the demands of one’s clients and employers. Having a growth mindset opens up opportunities for both personal and professional growth.

For instance, learning a new animation style or how to use a new animation software could strengthen your resume and help you grow your portfolio. 

You can’t get better at animation if you don’t believe that it’s possible. As the saying goes, believe that you can, and you’re halfway there. Acknowledge and accept your weaknesses and imperfections so that you can achieve and grow.

The more that you practice a growth mindset, the more resilient you’ll become. When you’ve overcome many challenges with a growth mindset, you’ll be more confident and ready to take on any challenge that comes your way.

How Animators Can Develop a Growth Mindset

image of brain

Image by Fakurian Design via Unsplash

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change by forming new neural connections over time. It is often used to explain how our brains develop when we hone our skills. This tells us that the brain isn’t a fixed organ and that it’s very much capable of growth.

The voice in your head that says you can’t do something is just your old habit of having a fixed mindset. Just as you are capable of learning new skills, with practice and dedication, you can unlearn habits that don’t serve you.

But working to change your mindset to one of growth isn’t easy. It can be difficult to unlearn the habits of your fixed mindset. Even if you tell yourself to have a growth mindset, you can still slip up sometimes and have moments of thinking you can’t excel at or achieve something.

It’s important to catch yourself when this happens. A good way to unlearn your fixed mindset is to reconstruct your “I can’t” statements. Instead of saying, “I can’t animate 3D characters”, try saying, “I don’t have the skillset for this task at the moment.”

Then add how you can improve, for example, “I may not be as good as other animators at 3D animation at this moment, but if I continue to work hard, I can one day be on par with them.”

The former statement has finality and resentment to it - it doesn’t express a willingness to change. The latter statement acknowledges that while you may not be at your full skill level at present, there is still the possibility of future improvement.

This is also a better statement to give your animation clients, employers, and collaborators when you’re faced with a task requiring a foreign skill set.

Not only are you leaving room for future improvement, but you’re also acknowledging your current lack of skill. This way, you can acquire assistance and support from your peers.


Science proves that the brain is capable of changing over time and is not a static organ. We can learn skills that we never thought we were capable of through hard work and dedication.

Having a fixed mindset puts a cap on your abilities and limits what you can achieve as a freelance animator or studio owner. A growth mindset can broaden your horizons as an animator and help you stay motivated even in the face of immense difficulty.

For more helpful tips for animators, watch our free masterclass and download a copy of our free marketing handbook.

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