Monday, March 7, 2016

How to Make it as a Storyboard Artist

"Would'ja believe.....that desk is also a car?"

This January I had the privilege to join Storyboard as a guest teacher for one of their industry webinars. Titled "How to Make it as a Storyboard Artist," the sessions began with a webinar where I talked with moderator Sergio Paez (a master story artist and great public speaker, to boot) about industry experiences and practices. We had about 200 attendees signing in live around the globe, submitting questions regarding best ways to find work, when to use contracts or letters of agreements, and different methods of getting paid. 

When marketing a class, tell the student what they get in clear, concise words.

Between Sergio and myself, we were able to cover the tools of the trade, professionalism, and how to work under pressure. I shared a bit of my history, including my time as a Disney Animator, my role as an Art Director on "Madden NFL" and my early struggles shopping around my portfolio in the pre-digital age. Especially of interest was how-the-heck does one freelance for 7 years full-time while raising a family. It was a lighthearted session, even though packed with tons of information for beginners and professionals alike, and I received many warm messages from participants who appreciated me recounting my personal struggles and successes.

The indefatigable Sergio Paez, co-founder of
The webinar was followed by two classes, where students were able to gain details regarding portfolios, marketing and self-promotion, networking, and web sites. Through the miracle of Google Hangouts, I was able to speak on camera here in my studio, surrounded by my books, computers, hard drives, animation desk, collectibles and the general state of clutter that I am forever battling. Students submitted portfolios and received personal portfolio reviews where I discussed their strengths, weaknesses and potential strategies for getting work. It was an honor to review the students' work, as it was to provide feedback with respect and encouragement. 

Personal projects like this frame from a movie pitch
offer variety and excitement not always found in client work. 
Despite being called a "successful storyboard artist," by Sergio, I emphasized to the group that success in this industry is often transient, and encompasses not just getting clients but living a balanced life. Making money from a skill set or talent like drawing is a blessing, but one which must be tempered by preparation for rainy days. Having personal or "vanity" projects like writing a screenplay or a comic book involve the ability to reinvent yourself, to stay flexible, and adapting to whatever times require. It helps to be able to work in many formats and styles, and not accept the comfort of being a one-trick-pony. When you're not storyboarding the next great commercial spot or the current animated Nickelodeon series, there is no shame in doing product comps or personal commissions. 

By the look of those phonemic distortions,
I could be singing "Mammy."
I enjoyed coordinating the sessions with Sergio and his co-founder Anthony Rivera. I look forward to future sessions where I might help inform and educate pro's, beginners and clients, while elevating the distinction of the storyboard artist community. For info on classes and storyboard resources, visit

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