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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:

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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.

-Website: http://www.elysegymer.co.uk

-Showreel: https://vimeo.com/211202074

-Animation Tutorials on Gumroad https://gumroad.com/elysegymer