Two years ago, my junior year of high school, I made the tentative decision to pursue animation as a career. That’s right, I didn’t always dream of being an animator. There were no childhood moments watching a Disney movie where I went home thinking “that’s what I’m going to be when I grow up!” To tell the truth, the idea had never even come across my mind.
I clearly remember an AI representative coming in to our art class my sophomore year of high school and presenting on a number of art majors. One of them had been animation. And he told us “to be in animation, you have to draw all the time. You have to do dozens of drawings day.” I can remember thinking how intimidating that was. I never considered myself very good at drawing, nor did I really like it all that much, mostly because I was bad at it. I was into photography and graphic design. It was something I was good at. I was planning on studying advertising design, I thought it was fun.
In fact, I can’t recall exactly when, why, or how it was that I changed my mind. Looking back, it all seems like a blur. You might say that it was just a series of random events that lead me into looking into animation. The next thing I knew, I was attending a free figure drawing course for teens at a local high school. And so it began.
At this point, I think it’s important to know that I am an overachiever. When I want to get something done, I’ll do it. I made straight As throughout middle and high school. I always gave it my best, and I always was one of the best in most of my classes (save perhaps gym class and physics). I don’t mean to say this to sound arrogant, just to be honest. I was good at being an academic student. I had just the right balance of intelligence and work ethic to be exactly what public schools want their pupils to be.
I was terrible at figure drawing. I had no idea what I was doing, I had never been instructed in drawing the human form before. I didn’t grasp any of the ideas very solidly. The simple concept of a gesture for example, didn’t make sense to me until months of study and practice. I felt incredibly intimidated. But, instead of getting frustrated and giving up, I only wanted to improve even more. Over the summer I had friends come over every week and model for me. I went to public places and drew people. I scoured the internet for whatever information I could. I checked out dozens of books on drawing from the library. I found uninstructed sessions to attend. I did everything I could to prepare a portfolio that would send me to the ever so exclusive “calarts,” the school guaranteed to work me harder than I ever had before, and deliver me to the world as a trained animator.
I worked myself crazy. There were emotional breakdowns every week. I was exhausted. And when March came, I found myself sitting on my bed with a plain white letter explaining why I could not be accepted into the school of my dreams. I never foresaw myself ever getting rejected to any school, art school or not. I was the perfect student, but I was not the perfect artist. I had expected myself to have a huge mental breakdown if I had gotten rejected, but strangely I felt oddly passive to the fact. Perhaps I had been led down such a path of insanity I had completely lost all sense of rationality, or perhaps I was relieved because I truly hadn’t felt ready, but there was only one thing to do: move forward.
I told myself to do my own animation, my own short film. I made a vow to myself that if I could finish it in time for my IB art examination at the end of April, that I was meant to be an animator and that this wasn’t a foolish choice. I cracked out my animation books, and I spent the next month going without sleep to complete a 1 minute film. Miraculously, I found success. I made a film. I felt dead inside, but it was the good kind of dead inside. I guess you can say I found hope, and that now I continue on to study animation in whatever way I can, although with some luck, hopefully it will be at a decent school, like that of Calarts.
So, how did I switch from photography and graphic design to animation, complete opposites on the spectrum of art? Why didn’t I just give it up, even after all the obstacles I found? After I couldn’t draw, after seeing everyone’s amazing portfolios, after being rejected, after slaving away at a terrible film that will hopefully never again see the light of day? I have pondered this fact many a time, and here’s my explanation: I crave the challenge. It’s not fun unless there’s something I have to figure out. Why would I pursue something that is easy to me, why would I bore myself for the rest of my life, when I could be constantly tearing my hair out, staying up until the sun rises trying to get an animation done? I like working hard. It’s in my nature. Calarts is one of the only schools promising to kill me repeatedly each year with work. And animation is the only subject that I have found to be so difficult that I’m not one of the best goddamned students out there. It is one of the only subjects in the world worthy of being my “bitch,” if you will. I’m not going to give up on it until it is, which could very well be the rest of my life.
OR I could go with something a little more straightforward in response to their prompt...here's what I'm thinking
Issues that impact my art-making:
Food mostly, I like to eat a lot. Also those hairless, skinny, pasty freaks out there in the world we like to call “people.” I guess if you want to sound arty you could say they inspire me.
Why I am applying to Calarts:
I love paying 37k and up for advice on how to draw better, and I’ll be damned if I don’t know someone who doesn’t.
To rule the world, duh.