Interview With A Recruiter: Portfolios

Interview with recruiter Portfolio Case

This is the second article of my interview with Anne Denman of Studio B Productions.

She is the Head of Recruitment/HR at the studio and is giving us her advice on what she likes to see come in the doors when she has to do some hiring. You can find the first article on making a good resume here.

Today she talks about portfolios. It’s not the ‘nitty gritty details’ of putting one together. You can find that in my ‘Building a Storyboard Portfolio‘ article.

She’s giving a glimspe from the other side of the desk, which you don’t always get to see.

So pay attention.

I now give you Anne’s advice on Portfolios:

I love to see talent. I love to be blown away by it.

How to make your portfolio stand out is to have your really clean, fluid stuff up front.

If you’re new, showing off good line quality can help get you noticed. Whatever you’re applying for, show you can do that first and that you can do it well.

Animators need to show animation (in the form of a demo reel) storyboard artists need boards, etc.

For character designs, show a variety. Don’t just show the big breasted vixen on horseback. Most animation companies aren’t interested. It may work for gaming companies, but animation studios get tired of seeing that same stuff over and over.

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Interview With A Recruiter: Resumes


On the off-chance you might want to read something not about sad celebrity deaths, I bring you this.

It’s an interview I did with the fabulous and lovely Anne Denman of Studio B Productions here in Vancouver. We talked about resumes, portfolios and getting hired at an animation studio.

No ‘questions and answers’ really. I just let her go on a roll, so it’s written from her point of view.

I may add a few of my own comments along the way though.

So let’s get to know Anne a little bit, shall we?

I started at International Rocketship as a receptionist for three years which evolved into Production Coordinator. Then after taking a three year hiatus to be a mom, I worked at Vancouver Film School as the program manager in the 2D animation department for eight years.

I was then approached to become the Director of the Student Program of the Platform International Animation Festival, in 2007, for Cartoon Network.

In 2008 I decided to get back into the studio system. After sending a timely email to Studio B’s Blair Peters and Chris Bartleman, I was asked to Head the Recruitment/HR at Studio B Productions. So here I am at a studio I L-O-V-E.

The Resume Stuff: What do you look for in a good resume?

One sheet. Don’t make it difficult to read. No crazy fonts or tiny type. Twelve point type is good because the person reading may be over 40! *ahem*

At the top, put your name and what you do. Or vise versa. Almost better to put the title, then your name because that’s what the recruiter is looking for first…the position. We’re going to be looking for an ‘animator’ or a ‘storyboard artist’ or a ‘character designer’ but rarely a ‘John Smith’.

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A Little Artist Lazy Linky-Love Post

Okay, this is a cop-out. I admit it.

I’m really working on a post (or series of posts) with an interview I did with Anne Denman of Studio B Productions about resumes, portfolios and applying to studios and stuff.

We recorded the interview during lunch on an audio cassette and I’ve transcribed it. But digging through it all and actually *writing* the article is inflicting all sorts of procrastination-ish stuff on me.

I will get it done though!

So to fill in the gap, I’m going to pimp out a few artists.

This is what happens when you sign up to the Storyboard Club Mailing List Which Is Really Kind Of A Newsletter Thingy on your right.

Some of my ‘list people’ wrote to me and gave me a link to their sites. And they’re very good, so you should look at them and learn.

There are some good examples of making a blog a half-decent portfolio. And some are just really nice drawings.

Take it away Eric the orchestra leader!

(Name that reference and you get a cookie.)

Aidan Casserly has two nice sites. Aidan’s portfolio site is clean and easy to navigate. Aidan’s blog is full of more storyboard goodness. Check them out.

Drew Blom. After reading my series of posts on making a portfolio site, Drew made a very nice site on Watch and learn folks.

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A Video Non-Review of ‘UP’

OK, this is an experiment. One that I may regret. I’m not sure yet. But I feel as though I’m in a bit of a ‘posting slump’ and need to shake things up a bit. And since I started using audio in my Mini Critiques, I realized that audio and video really are a godsend … Read more

Ten Tips for Tackling a Storyboard Test


There’s a test?

Nobody said anything about there being a test!

Yup. It could happen.

And most likely, it will.

At some point or another in your career, you may be asked to do a storyboard test. (Or animation test, or design test or clean-up test…but I’m dealing with storyboards here, so that’s what I’ll stick with.)

What is a storyboard test exactly?

It’s usually given to inexperienced artists or those applying for an intern position. But there are times when studios even ask experienced artists to take a test.

You are usually given design materials, some sort of storyline/script and a deadline.

Then you ‘have at it’.

You draw up an original storyboard and hand it in either with your portfolio or after they have already seen your work and want to see more of what you can do.

Why do you have to do a test anyway?

Can’t they just judge your skills by looking at your portfolio? Yes and no.

They may want to know if you are a good fit for that studio or even for a particular show. No one knows how long it took you to draw all that stuff in your portfolio.

Or even if you really drew it all yourself. (Note: You better have!)

A test puts all applicants on more of an even playing field. They can look at a bunch of tests and see whose stands out. Who’s ‘got the goods’.

And most of all, they want to see if you can tell a story!

So let’s look at ten tips to tackle a storyboard test.

1. Look over all the materials.

Have you been given character designs? Any backgrounds? Is there a script or a story outline?

Here is an example of a storyboard test that is given for a story intern position at Blue Sky: Blue Sky story intern test. (The deadline was April 17th so don’t get excited.) But look it over, because it’s good practice.

It’s just some characters and a simple story outline. Some studios give out more.  Either way, the materials are there to be used.

Use them.

2. Respect the deadline.

You are sometimes given a storyboard test after your portfolio has been viewed. They are interested and want to see more.

And they want to see if you can make a deadline. That’s part of the test!

Because if you can’t pull off 25-50 panels in 2 or 3 weeks, you won’t look too good. In real life, you have to pull off 10 to 20 pages per day to make your deadlines.

So make the deadline!

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