Tuesday, 8 June 2021

How Do You Find a Mentor?

Over the course of your animation career you are likely to have a number of mentors. Very few of these will be formal mentorship roles; most will be informal, and you might not even realise these people were mentors until many years later.   In the course of my animation career I have been lucky enough to be mentored by animators such as James Baxter (Road to El Dorado), Andreas Deja (Lion King), Duncan Marjoribanks (Pocahontas) and even Glen Keane, whose notes on planning animation I still refer to today.  But mentorship is, in each and every case, very much what you make of it.

Finding your mentors
Who are your mentors? Your mentors will include all the people in your life who have made a positive impact on your life, career and character. Your parents are your first and most obvious mentors; later on your will find teachers and others who will support your learning, and take an interest in your development. 

At Animation Apprentice I act as a mentor to all my students, helping them to learn their craft, to reach a professional standard of skill and - ultimately - helping them to find that crucial first job in the industry.

Industry mentors
Once you are working in the industry, your mentors will include the lead animators you report to, and any colleagues who you learn from.  Your mentors might include a producer who takes an interest in your career, people you ask for help along the way, and anyone who gives you a leg up in the industry. 

As a junior animator, you should never be shy to ask for help, and always remember that people are, the most part, pleased to help newcomers in the industry find their own way.  We all had help from others when we were juniors, and most of us want to help others on their journey as well, as a way of returning the favour to those who helped us.

My mentors
On multiple productions, my mentors included the lead animators who I worked under, such as James Baxter (Road to El Dorado), Andreas Deja (Lion King), Duncan Marjoribanks (Pocahontas). 

I never worked on one of Glen Keane's teams at Disney, but his animation notes on how to plan animation were like a "light bulb" moment for me when I was learning my craft, and I still refer to them today. 

None of them ever had a formal role or title of "mentor". But these were all people I went to for advice and help. They were all - in one way or another - my animation mentors. 

Careers Resources at Animation Apprentice
We have many resources available at Animation Apprentice aimed at helping our students find work in the animation industry. To get started, see the blog posts below:


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