A Cool Event for Vancouverites

I have an actual post in the works, but here’s a little note of interest for you Vancouver artists. It’s pretty neat and you better hurry because at the time of this writing, it’s 75% sold out! So get cracking. VanArts is proud to present a Masterclass in Animation & Story Development with instructors Story … Read more

Interview With A Recruiter: Applying to Studios

success applying to animation studios

I now give you the third and final 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 and the second on portfolios here.

Today she talks about applying to studios and getting the job. Cause I just know you want to hear about that. Right? Right?

As before, she’s giving us that glimspe from the ‘other side of the desk’, which is awesome.


Anne’s advice on getting the job:

When visiting or applying to studios, find out the culture of the studio and what the studio does.

Do your homework.

Find out all the recruiters in town. Google the studios.

What have they worked on? Who are the owners? Get information and write it down or put it in your Outlook.

If the studio does mostly ‘family stuff’, then show them family stuff in your portfolio. Research the studio and research the person in HR who does the hiring.

Know their name!! And spell it right. I have gotten letters addressed to “Hi Competing Studio (that studio by name)”.

Not the best way to make a good impression.

(Karen’s note: And it makes you look…you know…stupid!)

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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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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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Your Portfolio Site: Taking It Up A Notch…or Two

Well I may as well finish off this series about online portfolios and the like.

Then those of you who are digging it can know all the information I want to share. And those who are bored to tears can say, “Uh, thank Gawd that’s over with!”

So there was the online-presence stuff with the warning not to be an ass on the internet and why are you hiding on the internet?. Then some online portfolio stuff with why you have that blog to begin with and what to do with that portfolio blog you already have and some other free website options you have available.

Which takes us to the last steps in an online portfolio.

The ‘Not Free’.

Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds. We’ll take it in baby steps.

If you have a bit of money to spare, I would suggest you invest in a domain name. It could be your name, a business name or something else. For a personal portfolio, it’s probably a good idea to have your own name registered.

But it’s up to you.

If you go with something else, just make it easy to remember and easy to spell.

Don’t be clever, be clear.

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Your Portfolio Blog: Using Pages

Okay, I’m back talking about that budding portfolio site of yours.

You can read about other online-presence goodness with the warning not to be an ass on the internet and why are you hiding on the internet?. Then some online portfolio goodness with why you have that blog to begin with and what to do with that portfolio blog you already have.

I can hear some of you frantically tweaking your Blogger blog to make it a little more functional as a nice portfolio site. That’s great.

But I want you to see what else is out there.

Because a Blogger blog is just that. A blog. And maybe a blog isn’t the best way to show off your best work that is your portfolio.

What am I getting at?

Static Pages.

Blogger doesn’t have a static page option. And that, in my opinion, is what makes it a less desirable choice for a portfolio site.

If you made some of the tweaks I suggested in my last post on your Blogger site and are happy with it, cool. But if you want to take it one step further and still keep it FREE, read on.

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Your Portfolio Blog: Now What?

Well, since the ‘blog paranoia’ is riding high, I feel I should continue this little series I have going on.

You’ve had the warning not to be an ass on the internet. Then I posed the question, why are you hiding on the internet? And the next question, why you have that blog to begin with.

Have you given that some thought? Good.

Because now I get into some nitty-gritty. Some practical advice on what to do with that willy-nilly, half-assed portfolio blog you have going on there.

Please keep in mind I am no expert on this stuff. Heck, I even make fun of some people who ‘blog about blogging’ for crying out loud.

And here I am.

Blogging about blogging. *sigh*

Oh well. Some of you need the help, so let’s get cracking.

Even though the last post may have looked like I was crapping on Blogger blogs, I really wasn’t. It’s just that a lot of animation types seem to start out on Blogger.

And guess what? That’s OK. Really.

Again, I want to stress that I am talking to people who have (or want to have) a blog as a PORTFOLIO. Some of you are trying to do it and some of you are doing it wrong.


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Why You Blogging?

I’m just full of questions these days, aren’t I?

So I guess I’ve started a bit of a series here. Sorta.

It started with watching what you do on the internet so you don’t look like an ass. Then it was about being lost and found on the internet.

And because I still have more to say about the whole portfolio/blogging thing, I will.

First, a bit of a disclaimer.

I’m not picking on anybody in particular. You can turn off that tiny paranoia button. I’m just talking out loud and all of this is just ‘food for thought’.

I’m not talking to other ‘bloggers’ here (OK, Friar? 🙂 ). People who blog because they like to write about whatever. That’s awesome. Keep doing it if it makes you happy. Read no further.

I’m talking to the young animation artist (or any professional artist for that matter). The artist that has a blog up on a free service like Blogger. Because there are a LOT of you. It’s to you I pose this question and offer some advice.

Why do you have that blog?

There could be many reasons.

  • Is it just a fun thing to update family and friends to what you’re up to?
  • Is it a place to discuss your favorite movies, comics and animation?
  • Is it to show off your latest sketches and share some fun videos you found?

If it’s any of those, feel free to keep doing what you’re doing. Those are the perfect reasons to have a blog. That’s putting the blogging platform to good use. Enjoy and have fun.


  • Is it your internet ‘business card’ to showcase your portfolio and your resume?

Then that free Blogger blog (that looks so much like everyone else’s Blogger blog) may not be the best place to do that. And if you’ve combined this reason with any of the first three questions I posed, you might want to think twice about mashing it up all together.

Finally, do you have a Blogger blog just because everyone else has one?

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Why You Hiding?

So a few weeks back I wrote about your internet presence and how it can bite you in the ass.

About what would happen if you Googled yourself and some nasty, embarrassing stuff showed up that you can’t erase. Not so good.

But there’s a flip side to that.

Last night my manfriend wanted to show me a blog of a colleague of ours. He’s been in the animation business for a very long time and is super talented.  And apparently he has a little blog where he posts up some work and writes stuff now and then.

You know. Like you might be doing.

So we Googled him.

I found some politician in Australia, and a few entries that might have been him, but no blog. My manfriend then remembered he called his blog something else, it wasn’t under our colleague’s own name.

Which is fine. But my manfriend couldn’t remember the other name.

I went searching again today and found a site that mentioned his business name. So I went on the lookout for that and I finally found his blog. He used the business name before the blogspot.com.

So it didn’t really take too long when I knew what to look for.

But it got me thinking.

What about you?

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