An interview with an Animator: tips and tricks to succeed
People often think of Disney, Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network when someone mentions animation but if you’ve seen a Marvel or DC film recently, or any blockbuster that requires CGI, you’re seeing the work of a huge team of animators and VFX artists.
Animation has always been fascinating to me – I love animated films and TV shows. It’s such an incredible medium for storytelling across all ages and genres. I even had a family member who used to do layout design animation for Hanna-Barbera but I’d never really considered it as a career option until a friend enrolled in the UTS Bachelor of Design in Animation. I now know a handful of animation alumni who are working in various fields both in and outside of the industry.
I sat down with Atticus Gough, an animation alumni from UTS, to ask a few questions about his journey from Bachelor of Design in Animation to being a Technical Animator at an award winning studio in Sydney.
Alyssa: To get us started, what would you look like if you were animated?
Atticus: Definitely, this:
Alyssa: [Laughs] That’s perfect. So, tell me about yourself.
Atticus: I’m a Technical Animator at Plastic Wax where we make a mix of media and styles. I studied at UTS for six years altogether – I got through halfway of the Bachelor of Education (Primary) before moving over to animation where I did my honours.
Alyssa: That’s quite a change! Why animation?
Atticus: I’ve always found the freedom of animation its greatest feature. Not having the same restrictions as other creative media means animators are spoilt for choice on how to approach different challenges.
I remember watching the UTS graduate showcase back in 2016 and being in awe of the expressive stories being told and knowing I wanted to study somewhere I could learn the skills to make my own.
Alyssa: Definitely! Animation is such a versatile art form. Can you tell us any projects you’ve worked on?
Atticus: Nothing I can talk about at my current role, but I’ve had the pleasure to work with Ample Studios on some beautiful projects over the past few years. I interned with them in 2018 to work on the Vivid display at Customs House on the Snugglepot and Cuddlepie centennial piece, as well as their award winning short film Lifeblood.
Alyssa: That’s awesome! I remember seeing that display at Vivid. So, how did you land your current role?
Atticus: I was lucky enough to have been recruited straight after graduating from my course. I honestly think having my business cards out on display at the student showcase might’ve been the difference. But I think having had some wonderful interning opportunities and a bit of work experience in the industry in between semesters may have bolstered my visibility as well.
Alyssa: Very lucky! But I’m sure there was also a lot of hard work involved. Was there anything you did throughout your degree that helped get you where you are today?
Atticus: I had a habit of snatching up any opportunity I could, I think it pays to offer help to anyone who needs it. Demonstrating classes is an amazing use of your time if you can do it – you get paid to brush up on all your skills!
I think I also made more mistakes in my studies than the average student, but being able to take each mistake as a learning experience and getting really lost in the technical side of where each mistake came from ended up teaching me way more than the times I got it right the first time.
As defeated as I felt sometimes, each time I broke something I came out with a much deeper understanding of what to do.
Alyssa: For sure. Putting yourself out there and learning from mistakes or ‘detours’ is so important for any career journey.
Last question, do you have any other career advice for students currently studying or interested in animation?
Atticus: For anyone thinking it could be fun to dip into animation, go for it! It feels so rewarding seeing your creations come to life.
For current students, remember not to get too attached to your own creations. I always fall into the bad habit of investing a little too much into the things I make and then getting upset when not everyone loves it.
Also, get feedback from everyone. Feedback from your peers and tutors is great (and bountiful at UTS) but people outside of the animation bubble bring fresh perspectives.
Also make sure to drink some water every now and then and stretch your wrist out frequently – nobody likes an RSI.
There you have it! Some career insights from a UTS alum and Technical Animator at Plastic Wax.
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Featured image courtesy of Pexels
Alyssa is the Operations Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about helping people and always manages to put a fun and friendly spin on admin. Alyssa loves learning and developing new skills and working as part of a vibrant team that helps people to achieve their goals.