(Author's Note: This was originally posted on my LinkedIn profile but I thought I would share it here since it has some awesome nerdiness.)
A few months ago I was invited by a friend Watson to do some skunk work. He wanted me to do a 30 second animated work in an 8 bit style. I told him that I would do my best and it would be done in 3 weeks.
Yeah, it's been about 4 months.
Artwork is hard. Especially when you're a student juggling projects and have a part time job. I had to learn to maximize the use of my time and do work in between calls. Thankfully, Watson has been very understanding because I'm a student. He's paying me pennies for this and so really it's working out alright. Though I may not be getting paid much, Watson is a close friend and great connection in my professional network. (We'll probably make a movie together someday. It will be awesome so you better watch it. Until then, check out his awesome YouTube Channel.)
I'm about halfway through this project right now and I've looked back and thought, "Wow. How did I make it this far?" I've faced a lot of challenges in this project. As much as I'm doing this for my friend, I'm also doing it for me.
The animation industry is fast paced. Sometimes it's feast or famine. Sometimes it's late nights becoming early mornings. Since I'm still a developing embryo in my career, I've decided I need to learn quick on how to be a better artist and worker. I don't work fast, so how can I teach myself to work better in order to prepare me for the industry when I graduate in two years?
What's helped me make so much progress with this animation project for Watson has been having him hold me accountable. Each week Watson would contact me to see where my progress was. If I didn't do anything, I was honest and told him. If all I did was minimal, I still showed what I had done. It got to a point where I got excited to hold myself accountable to him. I realized that even a little bit went a long way in a few weeks.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
I quickly learned that my emotions could slow me down. I would spend hours working on a sprite and would become frustrated when it didn't turn out how I wanted. The funny thing was that it didn't matter how bad it looked to me, it looked fantastic to Watson. If I wanted to be timely in my artwork I had to also give up my need to be perfect.
This can sometimes go pretty deep for artists where their discouragement turns into depression. For me, depression can suck out any motivation I may have and I'll end up getting nothing done. Sometime between now and when I started this project I accepted myself and my work as it is. No, this animation isn't Seiken Densetsu 3. (I wish.) I'm also not a high rolling creative professional... yet. I'm still a student learning and once I accepted that my artwork got better and my work became faster.
It's bit by 8-bit
Work and projects can be hard to do but if you're a student like me, you are in the perfect place to learn how to work and finish a project. It's not overnight. It's bit by bit. Or in light of the project I'm working on you could say bit by 8-bit!