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Also known as “3D Animators,” “Digital Artists,” “Illustrators,” and “Multimedia Producers.”

Job Description

Multimedia Artists and Animators draw (freehand or on a computer) images for media such as television, video games, or movies. These images appear to move – they are often animated.

Multimedia refers to the many media these artists can work in – TV, movies, or other. It can also mean these artists are able to work in hand-drawn animation, computer animation, or a combination of both.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Creating visual art regularly, that is shared with the world.
  • Working with a team to create a unified vision for a movie.
  • Well compensated for a passionate field.
  • Often self-employed, providing freedom and independence.
2018 Employment
71,600
2028 Projected Employment
74,700
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Animators and artists work indoors in a studio setting. They often are able to work a regular schedule. When deadlines approach, they may need to work nights and weekends to meet the deadlines.

During a typical day, they can expect to:

  • Create graphics and animation using a computer, either directly on the computer, or by scanning in hand-drawn art.
  • Create a movie, video game, or other media with a team of fellow animators.
  • Create character models, research models to use for design, and create designs that fit a project’s needs.
  • Get feedback from producers and directors on how to edit sequences, appearance, and other work on a project.
  • Creating a storyboard – a comic-strip style script to help visualize frames of animation.

Specifics can differ dependent on an artist’s specialty or the project. For example, if the project is a scientific program, they may need to animate photo-realistic models. If it is a feature film, they may be assigned lead over animating a specific character throughout.

Some other specialties multimedia artists can focus on are:

  • Backgrounds and scenery, especially in video games
  • Level Design for video games
  • Focus on mouth movements for narrative projects; matching the voice actors words with a character.
Skills Needed

Soft Skills

  • Written comprehension
  • Critical thinking and active learning
  • Visualization of spoken or written directions

Technical Skills

  • Computer Aided Design such as solidThiniing or 3ds Max Design.
  • Graphic and photo imaging software such as Adobe Photoshop
  • Video creation and Editing software such as AfterEffects or RenderMan
  • Web Development skills
  • Illustration and Drawing
Different Types of Organizations
  • Self-Employed/Contract Work
  • Movie and TV Studios
  • Computer Design
  • Software Publishers
  • Advertising and Public Relations Firms
Expectations and Sacrifices

Animation is a field that values a good portfolio and strong network. You also need to demonstrate good computer programming skills for your area.

This field does not always require a bachelor’s degree. However, you will need to work to build a strong network as well as be willing to show off your skill. This can mean working as a freelancer for non-animation art roles as you build your portfolio. It can also mean volunteering work if it adds value to your network.

Many people will try to take advantage of young artists and animators, suggesting they do work for free exposure. If you are talented and able to understand the value of your work, you will be able to turn these offers down and find more suitable employers.

This field needs a strong combination of demonstrated, great skill as well as connections and networking. You will need to be bold and willing to put your work in the world via portfolio – people may not always be kind to your work. It can take a long period of rejection as well as working other jobs before you find a suitable job.

If you are in the freelance world, this can mean being aggressive on selling your talent. You may find yourself doing just as much selling of yourself as you are creating animations.

Current Trends

Animation continues to focus more and more on computers. Not only the creation of character models, but in the animations of frames. Work is also being sent overseas where it can be done more cheaply. Multimedia Animators and Artists need to demonstrate they can add more value than what is made up in saving money in this way.

It has also become easier to maintain an online portfolio of static art and animation reels. It is easier for employers to find you if you are able to provide a strong portfolio presence online.

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were young...
  • Drawing, painting, and other artwork.
  • Creating video games.
  • Making and watching movies.
  • Studying animation in books.
Education and Training Needed
  • In this field, you can teach yourself, or take community courses, in animation and illustration. However, taking a 4-year Bachelor’s program can provide internship opportunities and networking connections.
  • Bachelor’s Degree – Animation, Fine Arts, Computer Graphics
  • Include computer science
  • Check if your school as specialized degrees in interactive media or game design.
  • Seek out an internship, even if not required.
Things to do in High School and College
  • Fine Arts courses, particularly painting and illustration.
  • Computer Graphics
  • Computer Programming – enough to familiarize yourself with it.
  • Participate in set design in Drama activities
  • Volunteer to create visual media for student businesses, government, or at the office.
  • Student magazines or publications.
  • Look for small-scale freelance opportunities online or in your community.
How to land your 1st job

The two most important items will be your connections and your portfolio. Your portfolio does not need to be large – it needs to demonstrate your very best work. This can be a short animation showcasing several skills you may have.

A strong network can be built during college, or online. Take the time to connect not only with other artists, but with local businesses who may need your services. This will help you build your portfolio as well as provide strong references for later in your career. Accept feedback and criticism graciously and use it to improve your work.

Your college program will likely be able to provide resources for jobs after graduation. However, many artists work in a freelance capacity and you can start this during school. Manage your time and work with your professors to determine a fair rate for your work. Your college professors will be able to help you make sure you are fairly compensated so you can leave school on a strong footing.

You can also use social media sites like YouTube or TikTok to showcase your talent on an ongoing basis. This can help build a personal following, but may not lead to work. Be mindful and thoughtful about using this tool.

How to Climb the Ladder

With experience, you will be able to move into other positions such as an Art Director, or a Producer or Director of your own project. Producers and studio leads will look for strong teamwork and time-management skills. You may move into a supervisory capacity, which can lead to more leadership.

You will also need to look for opportunities and offer your own perspective on projects. Be confident and offer suggestions. If you respect the integrity of a project, they will often be examined and taken to heart. In the art field, you will need to sell yourself. Waiting to be noticed is not always a good plan.

Recommended Resources

Websites

  • National Association of Schools of Art And Design
  • Association of Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques
  • Publications
  • Animation Magazine
  • Cinefex
  • 3D World Magazine

Take Action Now:

  • Khan Academy - Pixar in a Box – Learn to animate right away with this 45-60 minute lesson.
  • Behance - Online Portfolio Site – Create a site for an online portfolio today, featuring your best static art. You can also use standard website sites such as Squarespace or Wix.
  • 2D Animation 101 – Paid online classes teaching you animation techniques.
  • Upwork – Create a freelance profile and find work to add to your portfolio!
Plan B

Art Director
Graphic Design Artist
Film/Video Editors

An artist or animator can look for salaried positions using their skills. 

Words of Advice

Becoming an artist and animator is a challenge. It will be rare to find the position “animator” on your local job board. You will likely need to travel to an area with this industry, or be savvy enough to find distance work from home. 

Be willing to take advice and criticism, but do not let it discourage you. If you have the skills and are able to sell yourself well, you can find work in this field. Keep practicing your skills even after finding work. Be brave enough to submit your portfolio to animation houses – check if they accept unsolicited portfolios.

Being a multimedia artist and animator is a true passion project. Treat it seriously and take risks. If you are able to demonstrate your talent and build a strong network, you can be successful.

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