By Elyse Gymer – Animator at Creative Assembly

In an industry where if you’re staying the same, you’re falling behind: How do you get ahead?

As anyone in this industry knows: It’s tough. It’s tough to learn the skills, it’s tough to get hired, and it’s tough to stay talented. The reason for this is that everyone in the industry isn’t doing their job for the money, or because it’s easy, but because they have a burning passion for it, and the competition is fierce. If you are not striving to better yourself as an artist, there is someone else out there who is willing to put the hours in. I don’t think much expresses this better than this quote by Milt Kahl; One of Disney’s Nine Old Men:


This is why it’s so important for people in the industry, and trying to break into the industry to do personal work. Personal work can be anything in your chosen medium that is pushing your skills outside of work; A competition, a new short animation, a model based on some inspiring illustration. It is this one thing that can distinguish you from being a regular artist, to an incredible one.

If you are not currently employed, it is important to showcase pieces of work that relate to the industry you’re applying for. For example, if you are applying for the games industry you should try and showcase some cycles. However it is also just as important to work on personal work that speaks to you as an artist. This can show the employer that you’re not just someone with the mechanics of how to do the job, but proves that you are a person with interests outside of work, that has a pure love for the medium of which is hard to not take notice of. This freedom and time to create whatever you fancy becomes limited during the time you get in industry, so use this time preciously because it can be some of the biggest leaps in your skill you’ve ever made.

If you are currently employed in the industry, it can be surprising how hard it is to keep being artistic after a full day’s work of being an artist. The realisation also hits you that a piece of work that should take a few weeks, now has to span over months of your limited free time. At work however, you are often asked to do work that is not necessarily pushing your skills, but is just something that needs to be in the game. Also if you’re working on a similar style of animation/modelling/character design at work, you can find yourself struggling with unfamiliar areas artistically. I’ve also had friends that have worked religiously on a project for 2 years, and the project was cancelled and they can’t show any of their work. They then fall into the trap where if there is no personal work over that time period, suddenly your showreel is 2 years out of date of your current skills.

When you start a new piece of personal work, make sure it is something you are passionate about creating- but also that it is outside of your comfort zone and in an area that you specifically want to improve. The passion will push you to complete the piece, and the comfort zone will increase your skills.

Keep the heart of a student, post your work online, and help others by giving feedback.

We owe it to ourselves, to be continuously striving to work hard and do a great job, and to work on our own work that we feel passionate about.

I believe that every person reading this has the passion for the art the create, but ask yourself: Do you have the perseverance, to be truly great?

[email protected]. Animator at Creative Assembly. Currently working on Total War Warhammer. 3 Years industry experience.



-Animation Tutorials on Gumroad

So you graduated – whoopee! Now what? Well we’ve all be there, and then hit with the sudden realisation that you now have to find a job in the industry. You’ve sorted your reel out of your best work – 90-seconds or less (no longer). You’ve email hundreds of animation studios, some have replied, some haven’t. You’ve been to those animation meet-ups (Festivus is a good London one).

And now you are waiting, waiting for the email or the call, from a studio asking you to come in for an interview. If you’ve got a good reel, you’ve presented yourself well in your opening application (kept it short and polite, highlighting key skills including reel link), and you’ve sounded like you can offer real benefit to an animation production. Then the call finally comes, and you get invited in for an interview…

Lets be honest when you walk in that room you are thinking “Please let me get this gig”, knowing that if you do, this could be the start of your career in animation. Before you go, make sure you do your research about the studio such as; How long have the been going? What are their primary applications? What sort of projects do they do? etc. etc.

When you arrive at an interview, you’ll be seated in front of one or more people who will probably ask you a couple of friendly questions, like have you travelled from far, how was the trip etc. Be mindful these are actually leading questions, and part of being interviewed for the job. After that, it is likely you’ll be asked questions about where you studied, how was the course, they’ll also go through your reel and ask you further questions about your approach. At Sliced Bread Animation we’ll also ask for examples of your life-drawing work. It’ll probably feel like a quick fire of questions… and then, if you haven’t had the chance, you’ll be asked if you have any questions, here are some you might want to consider…

  • How many others are your interviewing for the position? (know your competition!)
  • What did you like on my reel that made you consider inviting me in?
  • What particular challenges do you come across in your productions?
  • What sort of tasks will I be expected to do?
  • What are the hours of working?
  • DO also ask about pay, try and go with a rate in mind, either annual salary, or a freelance rate.

If its going well, ask…

  • Will I be able to use the work for my reel?
  • At the end ask, make sure you ask “when can I expect to hear from you?”

After the interview, if you haven’t heard from the studio after say a week, follow up with a call, or an email, if the response if not positive make sure you ask for feedback. I hope those quick tips help!



Written by Jamie Denham
Managing Director of Sliced Bread Animation
@3djamie on Twitter
@slicedbreadanim on Twitter
@slicedbreadanim on Instagram

Sliced Bread Animation produces high-impact, bespoke animations and applications for marketing, corporate communications and e-learning, including virtual reality and augmented reality projects. Our work has won many awards for both us, and our clients.

We have an unrivalled reputation for offering complete and seamless project management, partnering with clients to create innovative, original multi-platform digital content strategies. We transform messages into compelling stories that captivates target audiences. So whether clients are looking to increase sales, develop brand awareness, or reach out to employees, we work hard to get the results they want.

We create games, apps, animation, explainer, films, infographics and illustrated content for education, marketing and internal communications that push the boundaries of technology and design, whilst working seamlessly across all platforms.