As an animator, joining communities where you get to meet and connect with fellow animators or creative professionals in the animation industry is a crucial step in sustaining a successful career in animation.
There are tons of animation associations, organizations, unions, and networks you can join to expand your animation career, knowledge, and skillset.
These communities often offer several benefits, whether they're in the form of podcasts, conferences, workshops, consultations, mentorships, and/or seminars to improve and keep you up to date in the field of animation.
Why Should You Join Animation Communities
Online Animation Communities Can Help You Kickstart Your Animation Career
Joining an animation community is valuable for a lot of reasons. Still, perhaps the most important is that it can give you the inspiration, education, and connections to jumpstart your animation career.
If you're just starting out, joining an animation community will teach you the ins and outs of the animation industry. It will act as your mentor, introducing you to people and instilling valuable tips and tricks that will boost your animation career.
Additionally, it will equip you with the safety and protection needed, especially by young or beginner animators.
Online animation communities are especially helpful because of the wide connections they can give you. Think of all the animators around the world you can meet because of your animation community.
Enhance Your Animation Networking When You Join An Animation Community
As a freelance animator, meeting new people and developing professional relationships are essential, and joining an animation community helps you do precisely that.
Joining an animation community enhances your networking because of its numerous events, conferences, and programs throughout the year that allows you to connect with your peers and meet new ones.
From there, you can participate and have the opportunity to learn about animation, business, and even related activities, whether it be from colleagues or experienced professionals who have already made it.
You can also converse and brainstorm with others who are also looking to share and learn new information.
Doing so means you will be able to share animation tips and ideas, ask for professional and creative advice, or volunteer to collaborate and partner up with a fellow animator on a project.
Another way joining an animation community enhances your networking is through its public forums, chat groups, and discussion boards where you can share ideas and insights.
Fostering relationships with professionals and fellow animators will give you a sense of security and trust. With this, you are able to support and help each other achieve your animation goals and hone your creative skills.
It can also help your developing animation business attract opportunities and form beneficial partnerships with other animators. These business opportunities can lead you to a wider market and result in higher sales.
Animation Communities Offer Membership Privileges for your Animation Career
Joining an animation community almost automatically gives you access to its many benefits and privileges. In a nutshell, it will offer advanced animation education, training programs, webinars, podcasts, membership directories, health care benefits, and certification classes.
Having direct access to these privileges will guarantee you maintain your business edge and keep your animation skills sharp.
Animation communities often hold or partner with industry events and conferences where professionals or guest speakers get to speak and share valuable insight. You may also qualify for conference discounts or special access to upcoming animation events and projects.
Additionally, animation communities are sure to maintain membership directories where they can communicate and keep tabs on fellow animators and their business, whether they're new members or long-time professionals.
This will present you with a new market that will increase visibility and open your animation studio to potential clients.
It will also expose you to different industries where you can find and develop your niche.
Another membership privilege you can find in your animation communities is its certification classes. Potential clients love it when you have something to show for your animation skills. It adds credibility and will ease any probable worry that might come up in your clients’ minds.
Furthermore, animation communities may even have public boards and online forums where members can have discussions on animation, or even share animation job listings. You can always learn from their experiences and apply them to the advantage of your animation career.
Joining Animation Communities Gives A Competitive Advantage for your Animations
All these privileges and special access will give your animation career an edge and a competitive advantage when joining an animation community.
This means that you’ll be able to attract and contact potential clients and generate leads because you’re carrying the brand of an animation community. It will basically secure your spot in the animation industry as a legitimate animation freelancer or studio owner.
This status will elevate you compared to animators without a community as it shows that you’re already operating within a group. Doing so will help make your decisions informed, protect your animations, and sustain your career as an animator.
Expand your Animation Knowledge Once You Join Animation Communities
Also, major animation journals, magazines, and newsletter access are often provided and seen on their websites' homepages to update you on various new developments in animation.
Learning about this will help you stay informed on the animation landscape and make guided decisions when it comes to steering your animation career.
Animation communities may also be a source for scholarship information, professional conferences, and awards for excellent animators and creatives in the field.
However, there are a lot of animation communities out there, especially online. So you must know the best and most suitable community for you to join where you can expand your animation knowledge, enhance your skills, and gain a competitive advantage for your animations.
In this blog post, we will share the animation communities that will help you kickstart your animation career. They will also enhance your network, grant you membership privilege, offer a competitive advantage, and expand your knowledge of animation and business.
Here, we will share the top 7 animation communities you can join as an animator.
Top 7 Animation Communities You Can Join as an Animator
The Society for Animation Studies (SAS)
Image via SAS
The Society for Animation Studies is a global organization dedicated to the study of animation history, theory, and practice.
Founded in 1987 by Dr. Harvey Deneroff, joining this international animation community will enrich your knowledge of animation studies, introducing you to various traditional and modern theories and ideas.
They host annual conferences and release newsletters updating their members on new developments in animation studies.
Additionally, if you're into scholarly books and journals The Society for Animation Studies also grants awards, like the Norman McLaren/Evelyn Lambert Award for best book and article and the Maureen Furniss award for Best Student Paper on Animated Media for students.
Membership numbers are steadily rising, so if you'd like to learn more about joining this animation community, you can contact SAS President Dr. Chris Pallant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Animation Network (TAN)
Image via TAN
Joining The Animation Network will introduce you to professionals in the animation industry as they discuss the ins and outs, tips and tricks, and the nuances of network (TV) animation.
The goal of this animation community is to educate, excite, and inspire people about TV animation and share valuable experiences and insights that will help them carve their path as an animator.
This network is a creative learning experience for those around the world who feel like there is something lacking in their art education by incorporating real-life experiences in their education methods.
According to the website, "The whole idea is to help anyone in any part of the world come to know more about animation than the 3-5 jobs they always hear about and become even more excited to find their part to play in an industry that contributed to shaping their lives."
The International Animated Film Association (ASIFA)
Image via ASIFA
Founded in 1960 in Annecy, France, the International Animated Film Association is a global animation community of individual animation artists.
Taking part in this animation community will not only keep you updated on developments in the field of professional animation but will also connect you with animators and mentors across cultures and countries.
The International Animated Film Association is the first established and farthest-reaching international organization dedicated to connecting animators around the world, with its animation festivals, events, lectures, project collaboration, correspondences, and mentoring.
They also have regional ASIFA groups or chapters. These groups individually work all around the world and come together to work on updates and improvements at an international level.
Additionally, they established an International Animation Day (IAD) in 2002. This is an event honoring the birth of animation, putting the art of animation in the limelight in a worldwide celebration of its history, talents, and techniques.
The annual celebration also emphasizes the importance and beauty of animation and its imprint on culture.
Overall, its goal is to globally promote opportunities and disseminate information in the field of animation through their publications and public communications; sustain and preserve the rights of animators and the art of animation by educating and assisting fellow animators, and promote progress toward peace and mutual understanding.
The latter goal is accomplished by the animation community through the unified interest in animation using workshops, gatherings, and worldwide animation projects.
Image via The Rookies
The Rookies is an annual mentorship and awards platform for young creatives in the field of animation, including visual effects, motion graphics, architecture visualization.
It teaches you the vital steps in launching your animation career and becoming a professional with a secured spot in animation.
Once you join this animation community, you will be immersed in their 5-step process and smoothly go from being a rookie to an animation pro.
With different goals in each step, you can develop strong foundational goals as an animator, develop your core skills, and prove your skills in a professional setting.
Aside from that, there are many more benefits in joining the Rookies animation community. First, they have live sessions and online courses designed by industry professionals to help you progress to the next level.
Second, you can design your own learning track. This bridges the gap between learning alone and getting a formal art or animation education, as some animators prefer working by themselves, while others prefer enrolling in a school.
Third, the availability of animation tutorials and online resources. The Rookies offers a diverse range of animation resources for you to hone your craft.
Fourth, earn badges and certificates as you progress. In this animation community, everything is ‘gamified’. You can earn badges for sharing your animations, entering contests, and assisting other members.
Fifth, you can enter different challenges and contests. You can put your skills to the test with regular challenges, designed to track your development and push your limits.
Sixth, they offer events and meetups. You can attend and participate in their real-world events and meetups that will help you network and meet animators with similar journeys or interests.
Visual Effects Society (VES)
Image via VES
The Visual Effects Society is the sole international society that represents the entertainment industry's complete range of visual effects practitioners.
With more than 4,000 members in over 40 countries, this animation community has greatly contributed to many areas of entertainment, especially animation and new media.
Its mission is to advance the arts, sciences, and applications of visual effects and improve the welfare of its members by offering professional enrichment opportunities and fostering a positive community aimed toward growth and recognition.
They also offer various events and series that will help improve your skills. One example is the VES Virtual Production Series. In collaboration with the VES Technology Committee, this series brings together diverse members of the film, TV, animation, and games community.
They share lessons and insights on the different benefits of virtual production, along with its creative challenges and how you can best solve them.
VES also has different events and screenings around the world such as an annual awards gala, educational affairs, and pub nights created by the animation communities' volunteers.
This will expose you to new experiences and introduce you to peers and mentors who can help you improve your animation skills.
Women in Animation (WIA)
Image via WIA
Women in Animation is the only animation community dedicated to advancing, supporting, and protecting women in the field of animation. It was founded in 1995 with the mission to create a world where women equally share in the creation, production, and rewards of animation.
To make it happen, Women in Animation provides a wide range of resources and connections, especially now that the popularity of animation is growing and reaching audiences of diverse ethnicity and cultures.
As a female animator, joining this animation community would ensure that you're creatively and financially protected and equally represented in such a fast and competitive field.
Their ultimate goal is 50/50 by 2025. This means giving women 50% of the creative roles in animation, whether it be as an animator, producer, director, writer, or art designer.
This animation community also has different programs and events that you can take part in. One example is the Women in the Animation mentorship program.
Joining the mentorship program equips female animators with useful business and animation skills that will sustain their careers and encourage them to continue animating amidst the overwhelming number of men in the industry.
If you're interested to learn more, you can sign up for their mailing list and keep updated on the community.
The Animation Guild (TAG)
Image via TAG
The Animation Guild, IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) Local 839 is a professional labor organization or union that represents animators and other visual effects artists.
This animation guild thoroughly negotiates for its members, provides pension and health benefits, and acts as an advocate for members over disputes between employees and employers.
More specifically, when they negotiate for their members, it includes high-quality employer-paid health care plans, pension plans, wage minimums, free or reduced-cost skills training, and many more benefits.
Additionally, when you join The Animation Guild and work under its jurisdiction, you have the protection of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that spells out working conditions, wage minimums, and much more.
They even have an optional 401(k) plan to help their members save more for their retirement years.
The ultimate goal is to secure animators with their respective benefits and the strength of a collective voice, especially in the face of trouble and injustice.
Furthermore, they have various training resources and offer their members training sessions in COVID-19 prevention, harassment, and animation skills.
Lastly, the guild is governed by its members and a sixteen-member executive board who meet every two months to discuss affairs and developments.
What are the Top 7 Animation Communities, and Why Should you Join Them?
As an animator, it's paramount you do everything you can to build your animation career and continuously improve your skillset. One of the best ways to do that is to join animation communities.
Among the hundreds of animation communities you can join, the top 7 ones are The Society for Animation Studies (SAS), The Animation Network (TAN), The International Animated Film Association (ASIFA), The Rookies, Visual Effects Society (VES), Women in Animation (WIA), and The Animation Guild (TAG).
Joining any of these animation communities will kickstart your animation career, enhance your animation networking, give you a competitive advantage with your animations, grant you access to membership privileges, and expand your animation knowledge.
However, it's still important that you choose the animation community or communities that reflect who you are as an animator and what you want to accomplish. Be sure to carefully look into the different animation communities above before making your choice.