I studied New Media at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine and graduated in 2009. Originally I had applied to several other schools but, mainly due to cost, decided to stay in my home state for school.
My first jobs out of school all felt like I stumbled in at the right place and right time. My first year out of college I was a video instructor at a local high school teaching students about video production, editing, simple animation, etc. The next year I had the fun opportunity to work with some former alumni at a local television station shooting, editing, and producing video for TV.
In 2011 on a whim I moved from Maine to Chicago, IL with no job and felt I could just make it work. After nearly going broke I got a call from a corporate job I'd applied at to be their in house video producer and editor. This was my first "big city" job and while the corporate content might not have been the most existing subject to work on, the work that me and the design team created was some of the best professional time in my life.
Then from 2012 until December 2018 I worked for a small animation studio in Chicago designing, illustrating, animating, and directing animation for small to medium sized businesses. This was was I had the chance to cut my teeth and figure out what my favorite parts of animation and design were.
Initially I had thought that Boston was really my only option in terms of cities to move to. Maine didn't have a huge media industry so the jobs available were very limited. I think overall my education didn't ultimately set me up for what I really wanted to do but rather gave me a taste of several different areas I could study.
As mentioned above, most of my jobs really felt like I stumbled into them and just tried to work hard and be nice along the way.
Now that I'm remote freelance, the biggest things I try to achieve each day is some semblance of structure.
Typically I'll be up and have had breakfast before driving my wife to the train station at 8:00am. Back to the home office and responding to emails or sending out bids in the morning and trying to get a few hours of illustration or animation work in before lunch.
Over lunch when the weather cooperates I take a break and walk our dog. I've made a rule that I turn off notifications and don't let anything interuppt our 30 minute walks. It's a nice break in the middle of the day and let's you reset before the afternoon.
When we're back it's time for lunch and then working for the rest of the afternoon. Depending on my workload I try to end the day by 6:00pm so we can relax in the evenings but often times I find I'm still working late into the night. I'll get better at this eventually.
Don't be the best person in the room.
When I moved to Chicago I was in awe at the talented people I met at meetups and who's work I would drool over online. It wasn't until I started meeting people and making sure to connect with others that my work got better as a result. I mentioned above that my education didn't set me up for where I am now but that I've learned a lot more from the people around me and on the job.
Look for meetups and events related to your specific creative interest and go to them regularly. If there isn't one, try to get one started.
You don't have to try and do all of this alone and meeting other creative people will only help you grow both as a person and an artist.
Also don't think that your career path is going to be a straight line. There are a ton of opportunities to lead a creative career through many different industries and the path zig-zags along the way but will be unique to you.
Over the next 12 months I'd really like to finally work on my own animated short film. I've had various ideas over the years that I've always wanted to see on screen but never found the time to get started. 2019 is the year I get started.