Some artists, animation supervisors and directors have agents to help get them work but it can be cost prohibitive for most of us. An agent can take anywhere from 10%- 30% of everything you make! That’s a lot for someone to just speak well of your work. You should be able to do that yourself! But it is hard. Most of us grew up with the idea that a humble person does not “toot their own whistle”. But in the competitive industry of animation, humility can mean not eating too!
Selling yourself as an artist just means getting the word out about who you are, your past accomplishments and what you can do for an employer. Be confident! Don’t speak about your work in terms like, “I think this could have been better if only I had more time” or “other people liked this so I put it in my portfolio” or “I know I could do better then this now…” These are all negatives. I have heard all of these and more from artists showing me their portfolios while applying for a job! I can’t believe it. Be positive when talking about your work! If you are not confident about who you are and what you can do then why would I be? Remember, you are the best person to speak about what you can do and what you have done.
In today’s world of the internet there is no reason that an artist can’t get the word out about their work-and for free! It used to be a very costly thing to make copies of your portfolio and animation reel and send those out to studios to get their feedback. Now, every animation artist should have their own website, Vemeo, or Youtube channel that has your portfolio and demo reel on it so you can send a link to possible new employers. Not only that, but I know artists who have gotten full-time jobs at studios because they had a strong presence of their work on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Deviant Art, or Blogger to name a few. Social media sites are like free agents that you don’t have to pay a percentage to! Don’t misunderstand it is work though. You will spend hours online just to keep all of these sites updated with your latest work but like never before, you will be able to reach the WHOLE WORLD with your art work and resume’. Yup, that’s right, animation is a world wide industry so work can come from anywhere.
Lastly, there is nothing like face to face either. You can meet new people and talk about your work at Conventions, Expos, Festivals, parties and other animation networking environments. I highly recommend Siggraph, Comic Con, CTN Animation Expo, and the Annie Awards as some that are worth the price of admission. These gatherings are great places to meet other artists who are doing stuff just like you and can help broaden your horizons or meet possible studio head hunters or recruiters always on the look out. You never know what a positive impression will make on someone, but you do know what no impression will make! There are so many possibilities out there to help sell yourself but it starts by getting out there! And, for goodness sake, speak well of yourself and your work!
Author of Focal Press’s Directing for Animation