Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Laura C. who is a first year Media and Animation student at The Art Institute of Orange County. For her report, she was required to interview someone in the Animation Industry to get an idea for the field and the types of jobs that are available.
In the next series of posts, I will share with you the questions she asked me and my responses based on my journey and perspective as a Freelance Artist. Please feel free to comment below with any questions you may have for me, and I would be happy to answer them for you.
Interview with Michael Voogd - Freelance Artist
Animator – Illustrator – Caricature – Comic Strips – Instructor
Tell me a little more about growing up an artist and your journey into owning your company. Was you family supportive of your artistic ambitions?
From my recollection, it was subtle support. They would often praise my work and encourage me to continue, but I never felt they forced or pushed me to draw. I think they recognized that I enjoyed doing it, and allowed me to embrace that peace and happiness when I would draw.
To their benefit, drawing also makes for a great babysitter when your parents have stuff to get done around the house. It would occupy my interest for hours, allowing my mom to cook dinner and clean the house without being distracted, which I am sure she was grateful for.
But as with any parent that wants the best for their children, as I got older they did encourage me to go to college and earn a degree, just in case I needed something to “fall back on”. So I attended a local community college and earned an Associate in Art Degree right after High School. Simultaneously, I attended the California Art Institute as a way to develop my figure drawing and quick sketch portfolio, which were standard requests when applying to animation studios.
It was during this time that I had my first epiphany. A “degree” means nothing if your portfolio is sub-par. You can receive high grades in all your art classes in college, BUT it really is your PORTFOLIO, the proof of your work that sells you to the studios. Another way to put it is that studios will hire you more on the work in your portfolio, than the grades you received in school.
There was a vast difference between art classes in a local college and that of an art instruction school. Where colleges teach Art History, Color Theory, and drawing pretty shapes with shadows and perspective, the classes at the Art Institute were not based on grades, but developing your work to strengthen your portfolio.
A few years ago, I attended a seminar by a veteran in the Animation Industry who said something in his lecture that I completely agree with. He said, “If you have been told to get a college degree so that you have something to “fall back on”, this is subliminally telling you that you will not succeed.” In essence, you will never put forth your entire effort because you have a safety net; something to fall back on. It’s when you don’t have a choice, when you HAVE TO succeed, that’s when you become intensely focused with unwavering dedication and determination. That’s when you succeed.