The rise in popularity in using technology for animation has brought about a subsequent explosion in creative output. For decades, animation was the preserve of a few who had the right resources and location to do it. That’s all changed though, and while today anyone can create, produce, and distribute animated content, many offer only excuses as to why they’re efforts do not produce results.
The other night in class, I was quite surprised to see our professor pull up a video on motivation. Not necessarily because that is a rare thing, but moreso because it had the word animate in the title. On closer inspection it’s not really animated but that we can let that slide because it is such a good video.
There’s an entire series but the one I’ll focus on is the one we watched in class. It’s on motivation and how people (read: managers) often confuse or overlook the real reason we show up on a Monday morning. Surprisingly enough, money isn’t as big a factor in all of this as you might think, even for those of us in office environments.
Consider the 10 minutes of this video as an investment. It’s been viewed nearly 7 million times so you know it has some good points.
Don’t ask me! Hahaha. No seriously, not today anyway, I’m coming up short!
While this morning might be a tough one for me to write a post, that’s just because I don’t have the time to spend hunting around for the necessary spark that will ignite the fire under my butt and get me to write something. The good news is, if you do have the time, inspiration can come from just about anywhere.
Thanks to the internet, there are literally millions of places you can go for inspiring ideas or topics without leaving your desk (or lap). I follow (literally) hundreds of blogs and they are always a source of thought. Be it straight out ideas or discussions on a topic that can lead me in another direction.
If you’re not too much into that, how about a book? If that doesn’t work, why not head to the mall, or down to the local park or whatever. I find that people watching can be a fascinating hobby. With so many people in the world, it can be fun to try and think up exciting stories for the stranger who walks past you (just don’t think aloud as they pass, they might start to form their own opinions).
Creativity is a skill that sometimes has to be honed. for me, I sometimes need to see what else is out there before I can get myself going, other times I already have something ready to go. You may have a totally different way of getting up and running and that’s fine, as long as you don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re doing good and you actually aren’t.
The point is, when people say they can’t find inspiration, that is often a way of saying that they haven’t really tried, or if they have, been looking in the wrong place. You can avoid this mistake by finding what it is that inspires you on a consistent basis and utilising it to the max.
Sometimes life can be tough, there’s no doubt about it. Right now I know more than a few people who’ve been laid-off from work and are finding it harder than they thought to get back on track. A few other people I know think they are having trouble getting started in the first place.
If this sounds like you, the important thing to remember is not to give up. We all have hopes and dreams both realistic and non-realistic, I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want to own their own tropical island complete with a mountain layer nestled inside a volcano?
The point is that you can’t let apparent setbacks get in the way of what you want to achieve. Take for example the animation industry, unemployment seems to be a pretty big factor in a lot of animators lives at the moment. Animation being what it is, this is part and parcel of the job. However, it is not a hindrance to success.
That is what is so great about animation, it’s a career where you can be your own boss. I’m an engineer, do you think I can do some design work on the side when I get home, or make my own, independent road? Not a chance. I suppose this has its advantages, but it discourages passion for the job. I would love to be able to work on something all day every day if given half the chance and if you’re an animator, then you’ve already been given it!
In the past, there were plenty of barriers to creating independent work, namely money, but today, the cost of doing almost anything has dropped to the point that nearly everyone should be able to take advantage of them. The Internet has made numerous tools available that can help advertise yourself and your skills. It can also provide countless sources of inspiration.
The biggest favour you can do when motivating yourself is to manage your time effectively. If you’re into writing, set aside even half an hour a day to do some writing. That’s all I budget for this blog. Between school, work, dinner, the dog and some personal entertainment, that’s just about all I can spare on a weekday. The good thing is, it’s all I need!
The want to do something is another big motivator in that if you have no interest in doing something, you’ll likely never do it. For example, some people were dying to see Avatar, and plenty did. It’s been in the cinema and is now out on DVD and I’ve still not got around to watching it. I could do it right now if I wanted to, but I’m not motivated enough to do it. The same goes for personal projects. For a long time this blog sort of languished with infrequent and random topics until one day, I decided that it was something I could focus my energies on. Suddenly, I was motivated to write every day, and so far, so good. 🙂
The key point of motivation is how you measure your success. If you became a millionaire, that could be considered fairly successful, but what if you were an animator who shunned the opportunity of working on some modern classics? Is that a failure? Bill Plympton doesn’t seem to think so and he has carved out his own, unique market for himself that puts shoes on his feet and roof over his head.
My point is that only you can determine whether your efforts are successful or not. For me, writing a short script or drawing three panels of a storyboard would be a mighty big success, seeing as I’m pretty poor at doing either. My advice is to measure your performance not in the form of big milestones, such as, say, finishing an entire short film, but rather to break it down into smaller pieces, like say the script, or going even further and figuring out what colour clothes the character’s wear. Make a list, and every day, cross off what you’ve achieved. You’d be surprised how quickly things disappear.
The best motivation you can receive is from others. Plenty of people will gladly give you a thumbs up and a few will even give you helpful pointers or critique. Of course you can’t receive any of this if people can’t see what it is you’re doing, so share it with them!
Still in doubt? Then head over to GorkGakk.com, where cartoonist Mark Mariano made an entire comic out of comments left on the site. He drew the comic, but all the story ideas came from readers. Your work could be something similar, if on a slightly different note.
The most important lesson is: never let negative comments or situations get in the way. Stay positive, think of the end goal and what it is you want to achieve. If you keep that in mind, and work towards it, you’ll be successful, just like Stephen M. Levinson.