Well, when I was working full time in the industry I actually had a lot of fun, made many good friends and really enjoyed what I was doing. So animation and work in general were a big part of my life. Overall it didn't feel unbalanced, even though I always felt that a 10 hour work journey is a bit much for someone who has the desire to also pursue other interests in life outside of animation. But overall, working in the industry felt like it was the right thing for me at the time. Still, I found time to sing in a couple of bands, make puppets, write a couple of children's books, go out, enjoy my friends, go camping, etc.
What I found harder was to balance studio animation with personal animation. Let me explain: After school, I thought I was going to be able to work full time in an animation studio and also do my short films on the side. Unfortunately, somehow this was never possible. That also happened to a bunch of my friends. I know a lot of people who had dreams of making many short films; they actually had stories, character designs, etc., all waiting to come to life. The reality is that it is really hard to work on your short film after 10 hours (at least) of animating in a studio. So, I could never really balance animating in a studio with animating my own shorts!
In any case, after many years working in the industry I felt that the 10 hours a day was not really working for me, because I really wanted to spend more time on my personal projects. I also missed having a different type of interaction with people. I love teaching, and little by little I got more involved with teaching. So I got a tenure track position in a university, where I teach animation and help students with their own short film projects. In addition, I am a mentor at Animation Mentor, and I love the work I do with them. Parallel to my work in the university, I do some freelance work doing animation – in 2005 I worked on Henry Sellick's Moongirl and on Charlotte's Web, the next year I worked on Happy Feet and on a couple of cool coke spots (with Psyop), in 2007 I worked on SpiderWick Chronicles, and last year I did some freelance for Wildbrain.
Also, I now have time to dedicate to my own artistic projects, which feels great!
So, I think I found my own way to balance life and animation. I interact with people, I discuss, study and practice animation all the time, and I have time to work on my own personal projects as well.
Guest blogger Raquel Rabbit