Getting the J-O-B Part 5: The Right Attitude

This is my final post for the series “Getting the J-O-B”. We’ve covered training, portfolios, professionalism and contacts in the industry. All with views for the animation and live-action film industries. You’ll find the rest of the articles by myself and Adrien at the end of the post. This image may not have a lot to do with ‘attitude’ but it’s illustrated by Quinn Simoes (a buddy of mine) and I think it’s pretty cool.


Last week I handed in my third storyboard for the series I’m currently working on. For the previous two weeks I had been going to bed around 3 and 4am. That day I was running on one and a half hour’s sleep for the last 28 hours. That was not in a row…I had three half-hour naps. When I handed it in to the director, I dared him to fire me.

Then I begged him.

I was obviously kidding (and delirious) and the director knew that since we go way back. I wouldn’t joke like that with just anybody (don’t you feel special Boots?). And I knew full well he wouldn’t let me go…as appealing as it may have sounded at the time of my pure exhaustion. 🙂

Would I be considered as having a lousy attitude? Maybe, by some. But I was really just being a smart-ass. And there’s a difference between being a smart-ass and having a crappy attitude.

What is a bad attitude?

Well, if you’re always sitting around the studio in a foul (or even nasty in some cases) mood and complaining. If you’re always trying to stir up controversy between the artists and management (or between artists and artists). If you publicly say negative things about the studio you’re working for. If you constantly put down the show you’re working on.

Those kinds of things.

No one wants to be around a negative-Nancy. It brings everyone down. There can be good-hearted complaining with colleagues and all that. Which can even bring artists closer together in a way. Knowing you’re not alone in your current ‘misery’ of a looming deadline is always a reassuring thing. But the point is, that it’s in fun.

When it’s real animosity, it’s poison.

If you want to work in the animation industry you’re going to have to face a fact. You’re not always going to work on amazing, popular projects. Many times you’re going to work on an average show. And sometimes you’re going to work on crap.

I am currently not working on crap. I repeat…the show I’m working on is the best show that will ever grace your television sets (*flashes big smile*). In fact, most of the shows I’ve worked on over the years haven’t been bad or anything. I’ve been pretty damn lucky in my career. But even if they were, I wouldn’t look at them that way.

That’s the difference.

I’ve never really put down a show I’ve worked on, weather it was for a pre-school crowd or too ‘gross’ for my taste. It’s a waste of time. I may have had issues with the way things have been run or crazy schedules or the money. You learn from those experiences and can always move on. But I don’t put down the shows themselves.

It’s just a reality of TV animation.

There can be ‘less-than-amazing’ shows being produced. It’s not all gold. It’s a business and it spouts out a lot of shows at high speed on tight schedules. There’s not always time to make it gold.

If you can’t accept this fact, then don’t work in this industry. If you come into it with this ‘I’m so above this’ attitude, you’re going to be miserable and make everyone around you miserable too. Because they’ll be sick of listening you.

You may feel you don’t have much input in the situation. You may feel stuck sometimes. But I always try to approach each show with the attitude that I’ll do my best.

As the storyboard artist, you can help the show by caring about your episode. Don’t storyboard on auto-pilot. Put some thought into the characters and the situation. Add great visual gags and strong acting. You have more input than most of the artists on the project, so run with it.

I look at it like this; I didn’t create it, I didn’t write it, but each episode will be the best I can make it. After my storyboarding job is done, it’s out of my hands and I move on. It’s all you can do.

But what else can you do?

Well, you can always work on your own projects on the side. Make your own cartoons and put them online. It’s very do-able these days. Start a blog. Collaborate with some friends. Make a short, live-action film. Take some classes in something totally different. Play music. Dance.

Be creative in other ways and if that crappy show comes along, just do the work and make your money until the next one.

And maybe that next one will be a gem. It does happen and it’s great.

So cheer up.

The next post will be Adrien’s take on the right attitude for the live-action film industry. Subscribe to the RSS feed or by email to catch it!

Here are the other posts in this series:
Getting the J-O-B Part 1: Five Key Things You Need to Storyboard Professionally
The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on Training
Getting the J-O-B Part 2: Building a Storyboard Portfolio
The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on Portfolios
Getting the J-O-B Part 3: Professionalism in Animation…or Anywhere
The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on Professionalism
Getting the J-O-B Part 4: Contacts in the Industry
The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on Contacts in the Industry
The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on Contacts in the Industry-Part 2: Unions and Film Commissions
The Live-Action Go-to-Guy’s P.O.V. on the Right Attitude

10 thoughts on “Getting the J-O-B Part 5: The Right Attitude

  1. KM

    Well said!
    As you know, I am very familiar and passionate (read opinionated;) about this subject.

    I would compare it to the real estate motto “location, location, location”… in animation (or any other job where there is a high level of collaborative effort) it’s “attitude, attitude, attitude”, no matter the quality of product. There can not be enough said about coming in and STAYING at a consistent attitude level, ESPECIALLY if you are an in-studio employee. I’ve seen the deterioration too many times, and especially with newbies. Because of inexperience dealing with the realities of the industry stress level, the ‘glow’ goes away and gets replaced with bad attitude.

    The difference between those that are successful at getting callbacks and the people that get cut to the end of the list sometimes simply boils down to attitude, even above skill level. Of course everyone faces burn out during a project, but it just takes a smile and a nod, maybe a knowing grin to know that everyone else is under the same amount of stress. Why not face it with positivity? After all, every project has an end. And this is what we do! Whatever our personal reasons are for doing it…we’re all in it together, and we’ve chosen to take it on.

    For everyone else around you, it sucks to work with someone that has a crappy attitude. It’s like a bad cold, and the dangerous part to everyone is that it can be passed on to others. Like you say, it’s POISON…to the studio, to the crew, and to the job itself.

    Keep up the great posts! this has been an awesome series.

  2. KJL Post author

    Thanks for the input KM!

    I know you know what you’re talking about. 😉 I love the comparison to a cold…how it can spread. So true.

    You’ll have to guest post one of these days to get the view from the ‘other side’ of the drawing table. We can learn a lot from your experience and expertise.

  3. Boots

    There’s certainly a lot to be said about working on a show that you like or are excited about – that positivity can also spread itself through the crew… like, um, peanut butter.

    Thanks for caring about the show, Karen. One of our network execs called your second episode his favourite yet, and if you hadn’t put as much care into your work it would have been a different case. Obviously I’d be a real jerk if I fired you now.

  4. KJL Post author

    Aww c’mon, do it Boots!

    Kidding, kidding…(*as she picks up her pencil to continue thumbnailing*)…

    And how could you not be excited about a show if you created the damn thing! (or know the guy who did) Not too many folks can say that, so you should be proud guy.

    Thanks for that feedback…made my day. Puts a spark back in me and it’s always nice to hear, not matter how experienced you are. 🙂

  5. Debi

    Wow, I can see the glow from Karen blushing from here. Awww.

    All what you said in your post is so true for any job, from lawyers to fast food servers (though bitterness from the latter is much more understandable!). Also so true for just getting through life. Sure you don’t want to start a blog on “Life Lessons”?

  6. KJL Post author

    Hmm…Life Lessons According to KJL…something to think about.

    Frankly, a little part of me likes the idea of having a blog to rant, swear and be totally sarcastic on…heh heh.

    Damn my professionalism! I’ll have to keep that stuff for my real life. 😉

  7. Todd Jacobsen

    I’d subscribe to that blog, too. :)~

    Great stuff as always, Karen. I agree with the sentiment that even if one’s given crap, one doesn’t have to return crap.

    Put a such a sheen on that turd so that *everyone* will have to go out and buy a pair of those super-dark Ray Bans.

  8. KJL Post author

    Thanks Todd. I’d probably get more readership on that blog too! But I’ll take quality readers over quantity (or both is nice).

    You’re not the first person in animation that I’ve heard the term ‘polish that turd’ from…lol. Good name for a studio. Feel free to run with that one…my gift to you. 😉

  9. Mike

    Thanks for the great post! I just found the site, and I’m definitely reading more.
    What is the show that your friend created? I would like to see it.

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