Hello! It’s been 6 years since I graduated college. I’d like to work on breaking into animation in one way or another, either through design, concept, or storyboarding. In your experience, do you see a lot of older people fresh into the industry? Would a 30+ year old have a chance at getting a foot in the door? From social media, I see so many young people announcing they’ve gotten a job, that it’s really discouraging and I feel less motivated if I think my age will affect getting hired. Thx!

Hi! First off, I wanna say that it took me about 5 years after graduation to get my foot in the door. I was 28 when that happened. To be honest, it’s not your age, it’s your skills that get you hired. I know it seems really tough and that it feels like every super young kid right out of school (or even still in school) is getting work immediately but I try to think of it this way– If you’re about my age, or older– we didn’t have what so many of the kids today had growing up concerning computers and internet. Even less so if you grew up in an area that didn’t have much to do with the industry.

My best friend Kyle and I have discussed it before, and he noted that it feels like we grew up just in between the analog and digital age. I totally agree because when I was in school, we had computers but things were so basic concerning the software, the hardware, and then the whole thing going on with internet, blogs, and videos. Today, kids have access to a plethora of tools, and this is especially so with online guides, tutorials, lessons, and demos. My mind melts to think of how I could have developed my drawing skills and photoshop technical abilities if I’d had access to the stuff that’s been out for the past 5-8 years— just a few years earlier than we got it. It’s crazy. I grew up in Maine and I didn’t really have much to relate to concerning my interests when I was in school and learning, or in my spare time. I remind myself though, that it was out of my control. I also remind my self that we never stop learning so it’s okay. There’s time to learn and get better.

That leads me to this point: Your age does not matter. Your skills do. I wanted to ask my friends what they felt about the subject and I got a lot of responses. Some of them were from folks who are in the same kinda boat you are. They’re still trying, and they too feel frustrated sometimes. You are NOT alone. Something I hope everyone can remind themselves of is that– and to remind themselves to not get discouraged (which can be hard I know), but to rather take that feeling and use it to drive them to learn, improve, and get better. That is what I found worked for me.

I hit a super crappy part of my life, I got dealt a super shit hand of cards, and I realized it pretty much couldn’t suck any worse. I took that sadness, anger, and overall helplessness and used it as my energy to make myself get off my butt and get better. Everyone does things differently, and that’s what I found worked best for me.

Enough about my path, though– the meat and potatoes of the discussion are the amazing responses I got from friends about the subject at hand:

Greg Colton, a Director at 20th Century Fox Animation had this to say concerning age, talent, passion and persistence:

“Studios
don’t care about age or even what school you went to. Passion, drive,
talent will get you the job. Never get down on yourself by comparing to
others and never fear being persistent. A rejection isn’t really the
worst thing – not even trying is worse.

I know things are a little different now for job hunters with the
internet & social media, but I think confidence and persistence is
still a fundamental truth.  I can’t tell you how many artists I know who
are afraid to even approach a potential
job due to fears – “Oh, they won’t hire me because of (insert excuse)”.
How can they hire you if you don’t approach them?  My portfolio was
absolutely terrible – but I was persistent. You have better odds when
communicating with a potential employer and getting on their radar. I
“beat out” far superior artists because the people hiring saw someone
who really wanted to work on their show vs a great but “silent”
portfolio sitting on their desk.”

He makes an absolutely important point– you have to keep trying.

You never know what will happen, and if you don’t try, you’re not even giving that a chance.

Amanda Wong responded:

“It’s
been in my experience that studios don’t care about your age at all,
but it is a totally valid feeling that you’re getting passed by all
these early-20s grads. My career didn’t really take off until I was 27,
not 30+ but still a little bit older and
for three years or so (2008-2010) I was pretty angsty about my younger
classmates getting jobs and me still struggling. I know of a lot of co
workers who are in their mid to late 30s, with spouses and a child, and
still graduated school recently and made it into the industry.”

And it is possible to get into the industry even if you’re not a young kiddo fresh out of school. There is no one way to go about it. Life can happen, and you can still work on your focus and goal of getting in the industry. Also importantly– you’re not alone in that feeling of frustration at seeing others get there faster than you.

Kyrstin Avello said:

“I can’t speak personally as I was mid-20’s when hired, but! My art lead
went to school for animation, and didn’t start working at our company
until his mid 30s, I believe. And a fellow core artist was in the
military for a few years before going to art
school, and he was hired at 30. So it has been done, and in a harsh
market of Chicago no less. But I totally get it, it’s so tough seeing
programs for college students/recent grads, and 18-20 year olds getting
jobs “easily” out of school. What a good Q! Would love to hear more
insight from others.”

And when it comes to age, My best friend Kyle A. Carrozza mentioned that he hired someone who is 41 for their first animation gig :)

As other folks responded, they mentioned things and gave advice that can help you get your foot in the door.

Anne Walker Farrell gave some excellent advice:

“My
advice – for someone my age trying to break in – would be to make your
art stand out.  Make it AMAZING, and never assume that you’re the best
artist in the room.  I keep seeing artists 8-10 years younger than me
who can draw me under the table and it’s equal parts terrifying and motivating.

Also
– go to events, meet people, network, and be friendly and courteous.  
People will remember you if you’re a cool person.  They’ll also remember
if you’re a jerk, so plan accordingly.”

and Kristen Bailey makes an excellent point:

“My
latest gig isn’t animation but video games and I got this job by
exhibiting at conventions and the client looking through my portfolio
there. There’s many ways to get into the business and several ways of
getting your name out there.”

Try different things to get your name out there– and don’t forget that your skills could be just at home in the video game and other industries :)

and Bill Drastal notes:

“Another
point is a lot of breaking in isn’t just what you know but who you
know, and who knows you and what you can do. Get out there and meet
people.”

So ultimately, there’s a lot of folks who are in the same situation, but do not lose hope! Keep working hard, and hone your craft. Also, don’t let the whole age thing get you down. Your passion for the craft is what can also help you get your foot in the door, or back in the door again. Times have changed, we all learn differently, and there is no age limit to learning, improving, and getting a job. You are super rad, and you can do it! I know you can :D

I hope these responses, knowledge, and advice from folks gives you a boost, and I hope it helped! Please let me know if I can elaborate more! :D

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