Being a Freelance Animator : While everyone dreams of working at home, in animation school, they forewarn you that in some ways it may not be as lucrative as you think it is. In a studio environment, you don’t have the distractions that your home life often features. Yet in both cases, you’ll find yourself under the gun, depending on how much you take on. Working freelance gives you some freedom as you can work based on the schedule that your client requires. However it’s very easy to get distracted when working at home.
The important part of working freelance is searching for clients. Clients aren’t going to come to you; you have to seek them out. If you’ve been to animation school, this is one of the things that you’ll learn. It’s a cutthroat industry and there’ll be plenty of competition. One way to help you get noticed is to create a demo reel of your best work on a DVD and send it to animation studios, advertising agencies any kind of industry that you think will benefit for your animation skills. Television stations and record companies may also be lucrative connections as computer graphics are used in music videos and in TV news.
Even if you’ve gone to animation school, it’s best to start small, especially if you’re just starting out, but as you acquire more clients, you then have the opportunity to branch out and contact larger companies.
As a freelance animator, I find myself at times distracted by everyday things, but the skills that you learn in animation schools help prepare you to avoid these distractions. Sometimes I have to deal family issues that can intervene with a rush deadline. One of the kids may be sick, one of the dogs has somehow gotten out of the house and into the neighbor’s flowerbeds or your significant other may require your assistance in the kitchen. Even worse is having the TV on in the background and you get distracted by that episode of “Law & Order” that you’ve already seen ten times. Overall, it’s best to situate yourself in an area where there are limited distractions.
You also want to make sure that you’re on good terms with your clients regardless of how involved the animation is. Sometimes clients want last minute changes, or even a complete revamp of the animation you’ve provided. If you’re dealing with a client that’s extremely unreasonable, you have to make sure that they understand how complicated the process of altering the animation can be and when to expect changes. Most animation schools will tell you that working freelance can be extremely challenging, especially when dealing with hard to please clients; yet it’s helpful in getting more work and building your reputation.
I had one such experience where I was unable to satisfy the client regardless of how many alterations I did to his project. He wanted to work with me, yet felt that I wasn’t fully understanding of his creative needs. So I called him to discuss all the issues before us and managed to work out what was essentially a form of miscommunication.
I was always reminded in animation school that communication is essential in this industry, so if you’re thinking of going the freelance route try to minimize your distractions and be sure to have a good rapport with your clients once you get a few and things should progress at a relatively good pace.