Thursday, 17 October 2013

What I've been up to: If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door!

Graduation - June 2013
It's official. University is over. In fact, my education is over which is the scariest part. My degree experience was everything I ever hoped for: 3 years of gaining great skills in a subject I love, exploring areas I never thought I would, evolve into a better person and most of all meet amazing people that I am hoping to keep in touch with forever.
Since September ended, I came to terms with the idea of my new graduate life. So far it's been a journey of adapting into a new lifestyle with mixed feelings of university nostalgia and excitement for making a new start. This post is a summary of what I've been up to these last 2 and a half months and how I tackled the graduate 'September Blues'. A lot has happened, so prepare yourselves for a mini essay :P

So shortly after my first self-promotion experience during the New Designers exhibition, I felt the urge to 'get out there' and start applying. I believed that working as part of a dynamic Animation studio in London would be the 'ideal' first step to the industry. With an enhanced CV and a tidy online portfolio and presence I applied for almost 40 Junior and Runner positions hoping to hear a reply from them during August. 
In the mean time, I was doing my  research on how to find my way to the industry. I even attended one of the monthly Bring Your Own Animation sessions in London where I got some advice on how to improve my show reel and and got feedback on my animation skills. I was fortunate enough to receive advice from a 15 year experienced animator which was a great eye-opener to my work. As a skilled animator, he praised my creative skills but focused mainly on my animation skills. To my 'not-so-much' surprise he commented on how much improvement my animation skills needed. I was aware of that. But I was also aware that I didn't just have animation skills. The CGAA course gave me more than just animation. I learnt how to convey my ideas using my creative skills, build characters from scratch,  tell and direct a story and be an art director. Even though I felt slightly disheartened with that feedback I decided to see my various skills as a big plus rather than something that could hold me back from my aspirations.

So a whole month past and I heard almost nothing, only automated emails and replies from companies saying how they were not looking for anyone. To my frustration I began to think very negatively about my future as a CG Artist. I  was terrified with the idea of doing nothing, especially after 3 years of very active workload. August was a month of emotional ups and downs, gaining hope for some positions but then feeling down from not hearing back from them.
At the very beginning of September, I received an email for a Runner position in Framestore, one of the biggest visual effects companies in the country. I was excited that my CV even got noticed out of the hundreds they receive weekly. I was enthusiastic with the idea of working as a runner for a big company but at the same time tried to keep calm in case nothing came out of it. Unfortunately, after my interview, I received a reply shortly after about not getting through due to competition.

To not let myself back into the zone of 'the blues' I decided to stop hoping for someone to knock the door to me and instead build the door myself. I accepted the fact that my entry into the industry will firstly depend on who I know and secondly on what I know. The media industry is a competitive one to get into, so what could be better than getting to know the people that are already into it and even the ones that will help me produce the work for it? I was determined to use my social skills to meet new people- what inspired me. So here is what happened when I 'put myself out there' and became social:

My first opportunity to get back into my 'active mode' appeared in one of the most unexpected places, where me and Dayle got asked to produce some Pre-visualization work for Master Art Brokers. I cannot reveal anything else on this project until it's done.


Just before I was about to apply for a TEFL course (Teach English as a Foreign Language) to broaden my skills, my second big opportunity came surprisingly from my local Job Centre. A number of media related unemployed, young people were commissioned to produce work for the promotion of Crystal Palace Park. I am very fortunate to be part of this 12 week project; working with Carve Productions, Open Cinema, Living Networks and Bromley Job Centre which will give me the opportunity to gain more skills and network with important personalities. This project is one of a kind; a chance for young, creative people to gain experience in the areas of Web Design/ Print, Social Media, Film, Photography and Business/ Marketing. Our team of 23 will be working on the enhancement of the Park's digital online presence. I am part of the Business and Marketing team (got encouraged to go for that pathway) which will give me a chance to overlook the whole project, art direct it and get local communities involved for the promotion of the park. In the mean time, I will be applying my animation skills wherever needed. This is a great opportunity for me to apply my variety of skills; what my course taught me. There will also be lots of work experience opportunities outside the project with Carve.

The people who will be mentoring us during for the next 10 weeks are:
Aaron Carty and Tom Conran from Carve Productions
Christoph Warrack and Hatt Reiss from Open Cinema

..and Jane Lewis from Living Networks.

Check out our first press release!

Working hard (?)

And pictures of our teams :)

Follow us on Twitter #JCPLN1 and @CPP_Revive

Watch this space for more updates on the project.

Volunteering was also a good way to keep myself active which is why I applied to volunteer for this year's Anifest in Canterbury organised by Dan Richards from Animate & Create. Working for the festival was a great experience where I got to interact with other animation students from various backgrounds and meet industry professionals like Aardman's modeller Jim Parkyn and Storyboard Artist Benedict Lewis.

I also become great friends with a Couchsurfer during my stay in Canterbury, an Illustration graduate! Check out Mike Laraman's work. He made a comic book strip of me!

The Anifest volunteer team (I am the one hiding on the left :P )
A comic strip inspired by my Couchsurfing stay in Canterbury by Mike Laraman


In the mean time, I've been trying  to keep myself artsy with small projects like these: Designing a drinks Menu for a 1920's themed party, two kids' birthday party invites and party bags!

1920's party Drinks Menu..
...all printed and laminated.
Barney's invite with Scooby Doo..
..and Casper's invite with Rex
..all printed and ready to go!
Animal-collage party bags!


Oh! Also been keeping in touch with University and my course by working as a Student Ambassador during Open Days and mentoring two 1st Year CGAA students. Besides that, I've been meeting up with my Uni friends which are great  to hang out with.

Phew! So that's it for now. I am hoping there's more good things to come. I am determined to grasp any opportunity and expand my connections. I am feeling very grateful to be part of great projects and to be interacting with creative people. Watch this space and apologies for the huge post  :)