Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Animator Letters Project

Back in May, an aspiring animator named Willie Downs sent me an invitation to contribute to his Animator Letters Project (a hand-written snail mail invitation, no less!).  Willie is planning on compiling the letters he receives into a book, and while he's only gotten a few responses (my buddy Aaron was the first to respond), they're all fairly inspiring!

I wasn't going to post the letter until Willie published his book, but Letters of Note put it up on their site, and I've been getting the most awesome and uplifting feedback from people. So here it is for anyone who needs a word of encouragement today.

If you're a professional animator, please consider contributing to The Animator Letters Project. It only takes a few minutes to hand-write a letter, but you never know who you may inspire!

And in case you can't read my chicken-scratch, here's the transcript from Letters of Note:


May 17, 2011

To Whom it May Inspire,

I, like many of you artists out there, constantly shift between two states. The first (and far more preferable of the two) is white-hot, "in the zone" seat-of-the-pants, firing on all cylinders creative mode. This is when you lay your pen down and the ideas pour out like wine from a royal chalice! This happens about 3% of the time.

The other 97% of the time I am in the frustrated, struggling, office-corner-full-of-crumpled-up-paper mode. The important thing is to slog diligently through this quagmire of discouragement and despair. Put on some audio commentary and listen to the stories of professionals who have been making films for decades going through the same slings and arrows of outrageous production problems.

In a word: PERSIST.

PERSIST on telling your story. PERSIST on reaching your audience. PERSIST on staying true to your vision. Remember what Peter Jackson said, "Pain is temporary. Film is forever." And he of all people should know.

So next time you hit writer's block, or your computer crashes and you lose an entire night's work because you didn't hit save (always hit save), just remember: you're never far from that next burst of divine creativity. Work through that 97% of murky abyssmal mediocrity to get to that 3% which everyone will remember you for!

I guarantee you, the art will be well worth the work!

Your friend and mine,

Austin Madison



Logan Pearsall said...

Thank you for this, Austin. I am always finding myself inspired after visiting your blog, and this is no exception!

I'm looking to get into the Academy of Art University in the Fall for the Graduate Illustration program, which will be my first official art training, aside from some limited classes. But up until now, I've been teaching myself, essentially, and because of this, I always feel so alone in my efforts, like I'm the only one stuck in the 97% mode. So your words are VERY encouraging. Thank you so much!

Nate Villanueva said...

Oh my goodness, I also thank you for the encouraging words. Is there a place somewhere we can meet so I can give you hug? Youre a gem.

Leftover Bloom said...

Thank you so much for writing this, my parents just hounded me about how I'm wasting my life away by having to wait until January to go to art school so I can become an animator by the end of it, instead of going back to my old university to get a degree I'm not even interested in. I'm definitely printing this off and putting it on my wall to read whenever I need to be inspired again! Thanks Austin :)

Unknown said...

Logan- You're very welcome! Good luck on your Academy application. You'll have to stop by my animation class and say hi!

Nate- Emeryville, man. Hugs are a buck a pop, though.

Searching- Keep on keepin' on, man! When you make art for a living, you won't "work" a day in your life!

Megan Nicole Dong said...

Amazingly inspiring words! I'm really glad I read this :)

deeeya said...

thank you so much for this letter! i'm starting university in less than a month, i'll be studying digital media design and i want to become an animator.. my dream is to work at pixar... so, i have to admit, your words made me cry of joy. i actually made a silly doodle inspired by them hehe!
you're amazing!! thank you so much !!

i just met you and i love you!! xx

Jacob said...

Austin, as someone who has been visiting your blog on a consistent basis for more then a year now I just wanted to express how enjoyable it is. Through your blog we are allowed to see how you apply your art to your life. I enjoy seeing the fun wacky life in your drawings. this blog is a place for me to go and just enjoy a wisecrack comment or comic. In a word your blog is "Fun". I appreciate your letter and hope you keep enjoying life and allowing us readers to enjoy life with you.

Charles Santoso said...

Thanks a lot for this, man :) Really meaningful :)

Unknown said...

Megan- thanks! Hope to see you at the Con.

Deeeya- awesome, thanks! I'd love to see the doodle. Have fun at school. I'm still riding the wave of inspiration I got from my years at CalArts.

Jacob- thanks for the great compliment. I hope you keep stopping by.

Charles- glad to hear it, Charles!

S said...

Thank you so so so much for writing this, Austin. You have no idea how much inspiration you (& Pixar) have given me and how much it encourages me to never give up.

Working at Pixar has been a dream of mine every since I was young and my gosh if that day ever comes..wow what an honor. One more year of high school before I go to uni and I feel more encouraged than ever now thanks to you.

Thank you so much. Again.

Anonymous said...

I came across this posts via a friend on Google Plus. I realize the note will be going into a book, but I run a podcast that takes great posts and turns them into audio renditions.

I would love to reproduce this for the BlogsAloud Podcast if you would give your permission. All attributions would remain and you would get linked from the site.

Please check out the podcast and let me know if you are interested.

Allison Duncan
The BlogsAloud Podcast

Unknown said...

S- have fun in uni! They'll be some of the coolest most creatively fulfilling years of your life, I guarantee it.

Allison- I'm flattered, permission granted! If you could please have James Earl Jones read my letter, that would be fantastic. Thanks.

deeeya said...

oh i'm hoping you weren't just saying that to be polite, or i'll feel really awkward for showing this, but here it is (the doodle) : http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2011/187/8/2/persist_by_deeeya-d3l85cj.png
i really wish i could at least visit calarts someday, so many amazing people have studied there !!

Unknown said...

Thanks Deeeya, that's awesome! An excellent illustration of "inspiration." Thanks for sharing!

Polyminthe said...

That's what I needed to read today. Thank you!

froggie is... said...

quagmire. that is the most APT word, austin. thanks soooo much for your time and thoughts on the daily grind! "-)

here's to being striving to be all cylinders every day, minus bad hair days. "-))

Erika Meza said...

I have to say, this does come in the most suitable time. Came here from Drawn! I needed this badly - and I intend to stick it on my wallpaper. Thanks!! :D

Unknown said...

Polyminthe-thanks, I think there's a moment in every artist's day when they can use an encouraging word!

Colleen- haha, ESPECIALLY the bad hair days, Colleen. That's when you just put on your adventuring fedora!

Erika- thanks Erika, I'm honored. It's equally inspiring to me to hear feedback from all you artists who know what I'm talking about. :)

Gabby Zapata said...

Thank you for posting this. I keep going back to this and read it again from time to time. It's truly inspiring to read every time :) Thanks again!

ruhani said...

Thank you so much for these encouraging words of yours. I needed this!

I have since a little child, always loved Disney movies, mostly the Pixar animation ones (The Lion King being an exception) and ever since then I always wondered how it would feel to be an animator. And that is what I strive for today!

My biggest dream is to work as an animator in Pixar, but that is only a dream.

- ruhani.tumblr.com

S said...

Hi Austin!
I commented on this blog post last year, and once again I would like to say thank you so much. I recently received my offer from CalArts for BFA Graphic Design and I am ECSTATIC. I printed out this letter and stuck it on my wall, and it has kept me going for so long. Thank you so so much.