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Animation/Animation as a carer.

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Question
Hello, my name is Bishop Lewis. I'm a sophomore in high school. I've been trying to perfect my drawing skills for about 2 years now. I am not the greatest so far and I take no drawing classes. But, I seem to be improving gradually. I have been dabbling in animation for quite some time now. It's something that I really enjoy doing and I find myself drawing for hours on end. However, I am clueless on how to begin this carer. I have done a lot of reasearch, and so far the jobs in animation that's have really sparked an interest in me are Story Board Artist, Character Animation, and Charater Design. Though I'm sure I will find more in due time. I've also been researching collages. The only one that's really sparked an interest in me is the Rinling Collage of Art and Design located in Florida. However, I'm not sure what to study when I get there. So these are when the questions begin to flow.
1. How well should my art skills be?
2. Should I enroll in a summer art program to improve them?
3. What's a good degree to have for the field I want to go into?
4. Besides animation, is there anything else I need to study?
5. What are good companies to work for?
6. Are there any other colleges I should keep my eyes on?
Other than that, I'm just looking for advice. Everything and anything is appreciated.

Answer
Hello Bishop,

I actually can't answer all of these questions, because I'm not the typical art student.  Yes, I do this professionally. I work for an NBA team doing animation, VFX, and motion graphics. I freelance at Turner Studios, and do all sorts of creative design...   ...but I didn't go to school for it.  I could probably draw to save my life, but I would be on life support at best.  Most of the time I hen scratch my ideas down to have a roadmap of my design concepts.

I am not the guy that you want to talk to regarding art skills. If you want to be a storyboard artist or a character designer, these skills are definitely a plus, and most likely mandatory. My education path was actually Mechanical Engineering.  I learned how things move and operate physically.  In order to animate something realistically, you have to understand the physics principals behind the motion. Only then can you "bend and break the rules" in an artistic way.  That goes for physical properties of fluids, gases, soft bodies, etc...if you understand the physics behind them, you will better understand the nature of animation.  After all, real world is what you are trying to imitate to a degree.

As far as colleges, Any art schools like The Art Institute, Full Sail Univ., Savannah College of Art and Design, etc. are going to give you the foundational tools to succeed.  But you have to know this, they will teach you basics, and how to use the tools of the trade.  They WILL NOT teach you creativity.  You will have to find and develop that on your own.  You will have to develop the passion that is required to set you apart from others in your sphere of influence.

See, I've worked with many people that have come from diverse backgrounds and education tracks that ended up in this creative design world.  I have been put up against guys with formal education and have proven to be more successful because I had more passion to learn, experiment, take design risks, etc...Passion is your key, not a desire to be wealthy, have a good job, etc.  If you are passionate about what you do, it will show in everything that you do both in and outside of your formal education.

Cheers,
Andre  

Animation

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Andre Hickman

Expertise

3d Studio Max beginner to expert levels...After Effects complex compositing techniques...Photoshop expert level...Illustrator intermediate level. I can also answer questions for general animation, motion graphics design, and video editing/composition.

Experience

Logo and simple character animation, motion graphics, video composition in After Effects, as well as Photoshop, and Illustrator techniques, and the use of all of the above in a workflow, to achieve a final design element or production.

Organizations
Freelancer--Turner Studios, Atlanta, GA Owner--Andre Hickman Creative, LLC

Education/Credentials
Turner Studios Govenor's Protege/Mentor Program Georgia Institute of Technology--B.S. Mechanical Engineering Morehouse College--B.S. General Science

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