A Word from the Wise Animators

One new idea for every day in 2011. We're talking big, small, local, international, in action, and on the drawing board. Here's today's -- what's yours?


The spring of 2010, Willie Downs knew he was studying to work in the wrong field. His dream was to go to animation school, but he opted for another major and found himself regretting the decision during most of his classes. 

It was that spring that he wrote two letters to Pixar and DreamWorks animators. And to his surprise, both replied. 

Downs was looking for some encouragement, and after each animator responded, he posted the handwritten letters on his blog. Countless replies from hopeful and professional animators later, Downs is on a mission to collect more letters.

Downs hopes to publish a book of letters he collects from animators of different major studios that push students that were in his position to stick it out and apply to animation school. 

If you're an animator, here's his pitch: 

Perhaps you could tell a personal story from your own life that tells how you got to where you are now, living your dream. Have you gone through any hardships- emotionally, financially or even mentally while becoming an animator? Was this a struggle for you, and how did you overcome it? What gave you the strength to keep pushing on and to not give up on your dreams? 
If you have a story, no matter how big or small, and would like it heard, I would really appreciate it if you could please write a handwritten letter (please write it in your own hand, as it will be much more personal than a typed letter), addressed to aspiring animators (please don't address it to me), with advise and encouragement that you think would help someone who needs that extra boost of encouragement and inspiration to take that first step in following their passion of animation, like I did.

For more information on the project and to see the letters Downs has collected, check out the Animator Letters Project website.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton