Life is hard. Sadness, pain, and grief are inescapable facts of life for every single one of us. Getting out from under these emotions and the circumstances that cause them can seem almost impossible, and there is usually another calamity just around the corner.
“Hey, I thought this blog was about animation!”
Stay with me.
When the real world gets to be too much, one of the places we can turn to is art. Art has a way of touching us in a place that can compete, at least momentarily, with the worst emotions we face. This is why we turn to art that fits our particular mood. If we’re feeling heartbroken, we may search for upbeat songs that mask the pain, or sad ones that help us face it. If we’re doing something physically challenging, we might turn on something uplifting and energetic to power us through. The same can be true of painting, books, theater, film, etc.
Animation shares this power. Through the entertainment we put on screen, we can add some glimmer of light and levity to someone’s otherwise dreadful day. For the brief time that we can arrest them with our work, they can feel less suffering. For a couple of hours, a few minutes, or even just handful of seconds, all that other shit can take a rest. It’s difficult to feel afraid or sad while smiling, and the weight of the world’s problems can be lifted when one is in the grips of a good story. This is why animation matters to me. This is my way of making the world a slightly better place to live in, and I take it very seriously.
Just like anyone else, I don’t always want to work. Animation is damn hard and I go through a fair amount of discomfort to do it. But because I know why my work matters to me, I will always put in 100%. I haven’t gotten this far by just wanting to make cool stuff. That just isn’t a good enough reason to go through everything it takes to become a professional. Unless your reasons are more meaningful than that, you will find that your motivation eventually disappears. So I challenge you to do some soul searching and come up with the deepest “why” that drives you, and let that carry you forward.
When you’re having a bad day, or the shot you’re working on isn’t very interesting, please remember that what you’re doing matters. The world needs artists and storytellers to make the hard times bearable. We all need to remember that someday, someone we’ll never meet just might see what we’ve made and feel a little bit better. They might lift their mood enough to make a positive decision that day. They might learn a lesson or feel an emotion that makes a real impact in their life. They might even decide that they want to pay if forward by telling their own stories and putting their own art into the world. Think about it. What made you want to become an artist in the first place? You likely became inspired by those who came before you, and wanted to do that. Well, now you have the power to do that for someone else. Use it wisely, and make something great today.