A Pro Animator’s Advice: Embrace Opportunities!

By Phill Powell

(Editor: We recently asked DMA instructor and professional animator Arturo Miramontes to write about the recent Silicon Valley Comic Con. He did such a fantastic job that we’ve asked him back, to discuss how he’s been able to leverage his opportunities and training into a professional animation career.)

DISCOVER THE OPPORTUNITIES ALL AROUND YOU

By Arturo Miramontes

When I was a kid into animation, all I ever wanted to do was draw comics and cartoons for a living. While I do this now and continue to practice and gain experience, I have found that embracing multiple skill sets has opened up many new possibilities and options for me.

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Arturo’s fun take on Marvel’s beloved Captain America! (Illustration by Arturo Miramontes)

We all have that dream job, that special goal we wish to achieve right out of college or even during our time in school. But the reality is, we should be ready to take on any new challenge or opportunity that comes our way and visualize it as merely a stepping stone – a rung on a ladder that is taking us that much closer to our ultimate goal…whether that be Pixar, Disney, Google or Apple.

NEVER LIMIT YOURSELF

While I was in middle school, I began taking piano lessons and then learned guitar. Through summer programs and into college, I was fortunate enough to find work as an art teacher, but eventually found even more opportunities teaching music alongside art.

The point I am trying to make here is we should not limit ourselves when it comes to future jobs/careers/school projects/activities, etc. Coming from an animation background, one thing you learn quickly is that having multiple skill sets and being open and willing to take on new tasks/jobs will only benefit you in the long run.

I cannot tell you how many times I have worked on a project where I ended up doing multiple jobs or a completely different job than the one I was originally assigned.

STAY FLEXIBLE

Disney 3D animator and character designer Bobby Pontillas has worked on some of today’s most popular and beloved animated features – from Tangled and Wreck it Ralph to Big Hero 6 and this year’s Zootopia. But he didn’t begin in animation. Bobby Pontillas started out working on video games.

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Bobby Pontillas worked in the game industry before coming to animation. (Illustration by Bobby Pontillas)

Coming from the video game industry, Bobby found his way to Southern California, and soon was working alongside (as well as learning from) industry legends such as Glen Keane. Keane was a traditional Disney animator who was responsible for many childhood favorites, such as Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan and many more). Bobby also worked with character designer Stephen Silver (Kim Possible and Danny Phantom).

It’s not uncommon for one to switch concentrations within the industry. The important thing is to continue to aim high, be open to new things and never stop creating.

LEVEL UP!

Ben Levin, one of the writers on Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe, started out by attending animation courses. However, he quickly found a passion for writing, which eventually led him to Cartoon Network’s Level Up, a live-action series and soon after that, to one of today’s most popular cartoons, Steven Universe.

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Ben Levin started as an animator. Now he’s a writer for Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe!

Although he is primarily a writer, Levin has also created and put various content on Tumblr, including his very own animated web series, Doris & Mary-Anne.

We live in a virtual and digital renaissance of growing technology and entertainment outlets. While we may have our end goals that we should always keep dear to our hearts, we should not be opposed to the incredible paths and opportunities that may spring up throughout our career journeys.

A NEW AGE OF OPPORTUNITIES

Indie game companies have only increased the number of opportunities for future game designers, programmers and artists. Netflix, Hulu and good old reliable YouTube continue to change the way we watch and create shows.

And dare I mention the number of jobs and opportunities that will continue to flood us due to the influx of blockbuster, tent-pole films? “Star Wars” is back, and DC and Marvel comics have both decided to bless us with live-action adaptations culled from their long and rich histories.

Embrace the new age, my friends. Being open to these new chances will only help you grow as an animation professional. Don’t lose sight of your dreams. Continue creating and stay connected and inspired!

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Arturo sharing his love of animation with DMA students!

DMA instructor Arturo Miramontes is a recent graduate of San Jose State University’s Animation/Illustration program. Currently he serves as both a part-time illustrator and full-time 3D animator at the Defense Language Institute in Seaside, Calif. He also works as a freelance illustrator and character designer with experience working on projects for major corporations (like Adobe and United Airlines), as well as illustrating and publishing children’s books.

Check out Arturo’s work:

And visit these personal sites!
http://arturomiramontes.portfoliobox.me/
http://artym1990.tumblr.com/