Two years after I moved to LA, I decided that I wanted to work in animation. Too bad I didn’t figure that out when I was still in college! But it didn’t matter. I really wanted to work in this field, so I had to find a way to sharpen my art skills and learn everything I needed to work at an animation studio. And quick. I was running out of money.
I decided my bachelors degree in Film/Video from University of Michigan actually was helpful, because my education consisted mostly of watching loads of films from all different genres, directorial styles, countries, and time periods, analyzing them and writing papers on them. These powers of analysis that I developed at U of M served me well when trying to decide how best to shoot a scene or when deducing why a sequence isn’t working.
For the sharpening of art skills and learning about animation processes, I did a lot of gesture drawing at cafes, animal drawing at the zoo, and inexpensive animation classes offered by the Animation Guild (which included a figure drawing class with Glenn Vilppu.) While these classes were helpful, there are so many more education options open to today’s aspiring artists.
The article I linked to in this post touches upon some of these options. The author writes about the increasingly out of touch costs associated with an art school education. I’m not sure I agree 100% with ruling out an art school education. But I do agree that $50,000/year or more for art school is probably too much. There are just too many great cheaper options out there. An artist can custom create a very good art/animation education a la carte from a myriad of different sources.
The best part of this article describes a “$10k Ultimate Art Education.” There are some great ideas in here. Figure drawing taught by Glenn Vilppu will immediately impact your drawing and the way you see the human figure. Gnomon is a fantastic repository of workshops covering all things art, animation or VFX. They are very up to date with current software packages. And the author’s suggestions in the “free” category are right on the money. Can’t afford to go to life drawing classes? Just do gesture sketches of people at a cafe or in a museum or any other place where lots of people congregate. Finding a peer group to get constructive feedback is a great way to get that feeling of being in art school, surrounded by other talented artists, inspiring one another to create better and better art.
Bottom-line: the options for an art/animation school education are limited only by the artist’s imagination. Not their budget.