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I would like say something about art colleges: I would strongly advise not going anywhere that does not offer a full scholarship. I became an animator, as you know, but I’ve run into a problem in my career: although I draw well enough for it, I don’t have the background to relate to the most marketable content.
Before embarking on a commercial art degree, the prospective student needs to ask themself: “What kind artist am I?” A fine artist does his or her own thing without much consideration for the audience. A commercial artist MUST conform to the taste of their audience which is very difficult if they aren’t from the same background as the largest target market: the Irish/German nuclear family in the Midwest that wants no higher than an eight grade education level in entertainment. As an artist community Californian, I found this audience impossible to connect with. I find nothing funny about the deplorable character of Peter Griffin and being comfortable with the lack female characters in my medium. I ran away from Hollywood after five years before I lost my mind.
I had much better gigs outside of LA, but through them, I’ve come to learn that what I like to work on does not sell, therefore the interest on my student loans are through the roof!
SO, with that said, if a student wants to be a commercial artist, they need make SURE they can psychologically handle despicable characters living in their head and never leaving (I still can’t get Fry and Bender out of psyche after 18 years since I worked Futurama!)If not, try the experimental animation department at CalArts rather than the trade school oriented Character animation. The experimental students get full (or nearly full) scholarships which makes it easier to step away from the industry when it goes “remake and Maslow’s lowest appeals” mode in order to fill its coffers enough to make art again.