This is probably where I will lose all of the positive support I've been getting since I started this blog, but what I'm about to say desperately needs to be said...
Artists in the animation industry love to bitch about how poorly they're treated by executives, line producers and whatnot... and much of their grievences are legitimate (thus, the purpose of this blog).
But if we are to explore ALL of the problems that infect the industry, we need to turn that deep, dark truthful mirror on ourselves as well.
I realize that as artists, we are prone to certain eccentricities... we are creative for a living, and that takes a special type of individual... we're different from the average American worker.
Nonetheless, the animation industry IS an INDUSTRY. And it is a COMMERCIAL industry at that. We work, oftentimes, for big corporations or affilliates of big corporations.
We are animation PROFESSIONALS
But ask yourself this: Do I act professionally?
I have, in the course of my career, been in the position of taking pitches and interviewing young artists for jobs, and it never fails to amaze me what a bunch of disrespectful, filthy little wretches many of you are.
Back in New York, I was working for a major studio there and had a very attractive position available for an art director. The pay was great, the benefits were great, the work environment was great, the project itself was great... this was the kind of job animation students dream of.
I was determined to give the position to some undiscovered young talent... someone with motivation and drive.
So we put out the call through all the trades and schools and I took what seemed like thousands of applications and conducted hundreds of interviews, and out of all of the people I met with, 99% of them:
1) Showed up to their interviews LATE and oftentimes VERY LATE.
2) Showed up looking like they hadn't showered or changed clothes in a month.
3) Brought in portfolios that looked like they had been run over by a stampede of wild buffallo.
4) Showed virtually no enthusiasm and, more often than not, copped a snotty attitude.
5) Mumbled or spoke incoherently.
This was a JOB INTERVIEW.
Now, as an artist myself, I tried to look past a lot of these traits, but as I see these trends among artists getting worse and worse, I simply have to say: If you want to be TREATED professionally and TAKEN seriously, you have to ACT professionally and BEHAVE appropriately if you want to command any degree of respect - ESPECIALLY when dealing with producers, executives, etc.
I understand that cartoon studios should try to cultivate a fun, casual environment, but if you've got a staff meeting to attend or a pitch to conduct, maybe you should consier combing your hair and putting on actual pants (sweatpants don't count).
It's one thing to wear your stained "INCREDIBLE HULK" t-shirt and dirty, torn shorts and flip-flops on a day when you're just sitting in your cube drawing, it's another thing entirely to wear it to a pitch where you're trying to convince someone to allocate money from their development budget in your direction.
How can you hope to create a bond of trust with anyone you work with - whether it's your line-producer, director, or whatever - when you come in late and turn in your work late?
I believe that one of the major keys in artists taking the industry back for themselves lays in artists proving that they are better animation professionals than all of these glorified secretaries and hack stand-up-comics who have wrestled it away from us by sheer virtue of their ability to dress professionally and speak with clarity.
It's a matter of respect.
Generally speaking, when you give it, you get it.