Something that artists need to remember is that you have to push yourself in order to get better. It definitely helps when there’s a project where other people are counting on you to finish by a deadline. No better way to push through a challenge when procrastination is not an option.
When I worked at Digital eMation, I had the opportunity to work on a myriad of great projects. The TV shows we worked on were Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Scooby Doo. One day, I finished up one of my many projects. I went to my supervisor to see what I would be working on next. She asked me if I wanted to model a snake for Scooby Doo or a batmobile for Family Guy. Because I wanted a challenge, I chose the batmobile.
I started my usual process of finding as many reference images as possible so I could model the car accurately. If you’ve ever seen the 1989 Michael Keaton batmobile, it’s a very intricate vehicle and a lot of it is one piece. I had no clue how I was going to start or finish it, but I had to jump in and hope for the best.
This project was one of those projects that would re-confirm that I made a good decision when majoring in animation and my $32,000 a year was not in vain. I was in the midst of modeling the batmobile and I was just sitting there, in the zone, smiling to myself. As a troubleshooter, this was a great project for where I got to figure out how to get from this piece to that piece to end up with the finished product. That happiness, if even for a second, in doing something you love is an awesome feeling.
I would encourage any and every person, artist or not, to start a project that challenges you and pushes your skills further than their current capabilities. Rinse and repeat. That’s how you become great in your industry.
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