Advice for a late starter
 
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  1. #1
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    Advice for a late starter

    Hi, I've read this forum for a long time and the amount of talent here is impressive. I was hoping if I could get some insight and/or advice?

    Short version: I struggled a lot in the past and I finally reached a point in my life where I can pursue things I wasn’t fully able to before. My dream is to be involved in the production of an animated film or series and maybe someday foresee my own. But given my past and my late start, I’ll settle for the former. After some back and forth with schools over the years I ended up completing a program in media arts at a local college. It was among the better choices I had available to me if I wanted a grant for my education but it was mostly technical-based. I know I’ll benefit from traditional courses (colour theory, perspective, composition, lighting, etc) as an artist.

    Can I still make a career in film/comics/animation without a more traditional art education? I’ve been drawing from a young age, although I stopped for a few years until recently and have been teaching myself through books and tutorials. Through schools there’s the opportunity to create a network that can be invaluable and I’m considering to pursue a BFA in film or animation. But I also recently turned 31 and feel it may be best to start building some sort of professional experience at this point instead of spending another 4-5 years in college. At the moment I work part time doing illustrations for educational games but I still feel a bit discouraged. There isn’t anyone I can really talk to about this so any insight would be greatly appreciated!

    Last edited by cali; August 6th, 2012 at 06:06 AM.
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  4. #2
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    cali

    First let me say thank you for being so open with your struggles. I'm sorry to hear you've had to struggle so much.

    In regards to school, I always recommend going. A lot of people will tell you that an education does not matter as long as you have a good portfolio, but personally, I would get the degree. You learn a lot from college and not just about art. College also offers great relationships, resources, and studio time.

    If it is something you are passionate about and want to pursue, then I would say not to let your age be a factor. Go for it!

    Just think... 4 years from now you could be saying one of two things...
    "Wow, if only I had gone through with it, I would have my degree right now..."
    or
    "Wow, I can't believe I'm about to graduate with my degree!"

    As far as professional experience goes, you can always try to get side work over the summer months while taking a break for school.

    Hope things work out.

    Best wishes.

    Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

    - Pablo Picasso
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    Yoooee, thanks for the response! It's a bit late to be applying for certain programs for this fall as they are either full or waitlisted. So if I do pursue a degree or four year diploma, it would be in another year. Meaning I’d graduate five years from now.

    I'd be lying if I said that timespan didn't bother me. I want to focus on concept art or animation so I suppose between now and next year I'll probably spend time preparing an even stronger portfolio, regardless of whether or not I go through with applying. Also, if I go to college it's going to be either be on a loan, grant or scholarship. Preferably not a loan.

    When I ask myself where do I see myself in five years, I want to be able to reach my goal by then, and maybe go beyond it. I realize the time spent in college would be extremely valuable but I also know I could accomplish a lot in five years outside of it. I guess my problem right now is figuring out which would be the best route to take in order to accomplish my goal.

    So, I guess I’m still on the fence on what I should do. Although, you did bring up some good points in terms of going through with it.

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  6. #4
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    I am also a late starter. From experience what I can say after reading all this is that you should chase that dream else it will eat you up

    At this stage we begin to to a lot about age, time etc... it really does get to you and you begin to wonder if its all worth it. By day I am a software analyst and night I teach myself whilst also going to life drawing classes.

    The point I am trying to make is that with age comes discipline, focus.. your mentally stronger. If you can go to school, do it.. Also with age comes other responsibilities like family so that decision can be difficult. No one helps you make these decisions. I have stopped pondering about it in greater detail and just looking ahead and actually taking it a day at a time.

    Like you and I don't know how this will end up but I actively stop myself from thinking about the process because I have spent months doing that.

    In the future I really want to help people get past all this because everybody here is just trying to figure out their way and in the process confusing the help out of us newbie's.

    I hope I have not confused you any further.

    Feel free to give me a shout plus its nice knowing I am not the only one is a similar position.

    regards,
    sapeleboy

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  7. #5
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    I'm one of those people that will tell you school doesn't matter. Your portfolio is what’s important. I started to be serious with my art at 30, gave myself 5 years to get a job as an artist and landed a job at Lucas Film Games at 35.
    I’ve been in the industry now for 22 years working as a professional artist.

    Animation is one of those fields that is pretty easy to build a portfolio of great animated shorts if you have the desire; that's what I would do. Working on all aspects of an animated short should give you the incentives to learn about color keys, backgrounds, perspective, etc. targeted to your specific needs.

    If you feel you really can't do it without instruction take some workshops or short courses from top industry pros like Nathan Fowkes at the LA academy that way you are getting focused instruction from people in the industry. That's what I did and it really helped me keep on track when I was on my own contracting.

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  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by yoooee View Post
    cali

    If it is something you are passionate about and want to pursue, then I would say not to let your age be a factor. Go for it!

    Just think... 4 years from now you could be saying one of two things...
    "Wow, if only I had gone through with it, I would have my degree right now..."
    or
    "Wow, I can't believe I'm about to graduate with my degree!"
    Sapeleboy- "I am also a late starter. From experience what I can say after reading all this is that you should chase that dream else it will eat you up"



    As a 40 year old newbie, I registered this Fall 2013 to a community college to enroll in a "Basic Drawing" course. I have been wanting for a long time to be more creative in photography and art. My bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice has been un-useful because of injury years ago. Studied IT but that market is over saturated, out sourced, and fast changing that some courses could become irrelevant soon after completing them.

    I've been struggling to find an occupation/career that I will enjoy and have something to show for at the end of the day. While listening to NPR recently, there was a story about a prominent economist lady who recently passed away. She lived until 94 (I believe) but didn't obtain her PhD until 48! Waiting around, looking back with regret is NOT how I want to live. We only get one chance at this life!

    Fortunately for me I don't have tons of debt or family to support but I'm just scrapping by myself. My plan (so far) is to take all the hands on classes I can at my local colleges. Then pursue artist workshops. In my situation, I don't see the value of getting a BFA or an Art degree. I rather suck up all the knowledge from artist professors than worry about grades.

    Of course as I get more exposure to different courses and artists, my plan is to be flexible so I can improve where needed.

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  9. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cali View Post
    My dream is to be involved in the production of an animated film or series and maybe someday foresee my own. But given my past and my late start, I’ll settle for the former.
    If you really want to eventually do it, reach for it! Work for it! It's never too late.

    I'm probably not the right person to even say this sort of thing given my own goals, but still, you shouldn't have to settle over minor crap like the time you started off.

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    Everyone, I really appreciate the responses. Reading them was encouraging and helped a lot! I guess there are pros and cons regardless of which route to take. Either way I was considering to register for a workshop like APW here in Toronto. That way I'll be preparing a great portfolio while getting my skills up to par, be around others doing the same, and maybe have an opportunity to get input from industry professionals. By the end of the workshop, or maybe even partly way through it, I'll most likely have a decision on what to do from there. Although, right now I'm leaning toward the idea of just applying to college. I'm single and don't have family commitments so if I'm going to do this that also gives me some leeway to do it now.

    I guess I need to kick the age thing now. Stop looking back and move forward, right? Otherwise, I'll always be stagnant and put limits on myself. That's easier said than done but doing it helped me through college before so I guess I shouldn't limit myself now regardless of how long it'll take to reach my goal. Wish I could figure out a way to tell myself this whenever I get discouraged again.

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  11. #9
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    Hi cali I just want to say thank you for sharing that. I'm in a similar situation as a sort of "late" starter, although I'm only 23 (I know you will laugh), I started uni late to begin with but I've spent the last 3-4 years pursuing a degree in which I have no passion to work in, convincing myself that I'll do art on the side maybe and only recently just gathered the balls and determination to do what I've always wanted to do, whilst most of my friends have finished their degrees, doing masters, already well under-way in a creative career or otherwise. The degree I was doing was fairly insular and "unsocial" too which didn't give me the opportunity to network like an arts degree did so starting a fresh in a creative direction, I have no artistic contacts and peers, know the industry or where to go from here. My boyfriend is in the same situation as well, having just started pursuing a music career at 38! So don't give up! There's this comic artist Jen Broomall, and she has a particularly inspiring piece she did that she posted on facebook of a comparison of the same character drawing in 3 years. Check it out! :
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...2065229&type=3

    She was also I believe a late starter and it just shows you what determination and real love of art can do! I look at this picture when I get discouraged and it always puts the fire and magic back! I think in the creative industries you need to lap up all the inspiration you can get to keep going because modern society does not accommodate for artistic independence and its so easy to get discouraged. Actually, I did learn something from my other study field (Psychology btw), I learnt that "too old" is only a cultural illusion of western, individualistic society. A very large majority of asia (and lets not forget that it IS very large) has the common view that older means wiser, more competent, better prepared for knowledge and more deserving of respect, much more so than youth. So just remember that if you think its "too late": its only an illusion! Not of what you actually are or able to achieve!!

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanks and relate to you )

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  12. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mablesyrup View Post
    Actually, I did learn something from my other study field (Psychology btw), I learnt that "too old" is only a cultural illusion of western, individualistic society. A very large majority of asia (and lets not forget that it IS very large) has the common view that older means wiser, more competent, better prepared for knowledge and more deserving of respect, much more so than youth. So just remember that if you think its "too late": its only an illusion! Not of what you actually are or able to achieve!!
    When I was in college the majority of my classmates were eighteen, nineteen and while there were some who were older I still sometimes felt a little weird about it even though I look much younger than I am. Remembering things like what you mentioned helped me to get passed those thoughts so thanks for this. Also, thanks for sharing that comparison meme. It is quite something!

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