The Rising Stars Of Animation: Betsy Bauer, Elsa Chang, Jessie Greenberg, Natalie Hall, Sarah Marino & Isaac Orloff: ArtCast #59

I always say that the two secrets to success in animation are “Do great work and be great to work with.”

Sometimes, artists just get mad when I say that.

But more often, they ask thoughtful follow-up questions. …questions like “How, if I’m not already working in the industry, do I prove that I’m great to work with?”

Although I have a few responses to that question which I will talk about in an upcoming episode, I thought it would be clearer to just show you how it’s done.

So I brought together six of my favorite “Rising Stars” of the animation industry and interviewed them…

Betsy Bauer (Google), Elsa Chang (Disney), Jessie Greenberg (Disney), Natalie Hall (Dreamworks), Sarah Marino (ReelFX – whose art is featured at the top of this post) and Isaac Orloff (Zynga) join me for a two-hour-and-forty-minute marathon about everything from portfolios to personality types.

[ download the mp3 ]

"Popular" by Elsa Chang

“Popular” by Elsa Chang

These artists are living examples of what it’s like to be great to work with. And, lucky for us, they are easy to connect with online. So go follow them (links below) and see for yourself what I’m talking about when I say “Be great to work with.”

Topics Covered:

  • Breaking-in.
  • The importance of a focused portfolio.
  • Is there ever a time to put art that isn’t your best into a blog post or portfolio?
  • What to do when your parents are not supportive of your artistic dreams.
  • Is being a professional artist harder for introverts?
  • How to create a strong social media presence, regardless of your industry or personality type.
  • Our first time meeting Glen Keane.
"Harriet" by Betsy Bauer

“Harriet” by Betsy Bauer

Links:

Sarah Marino Betsy Bauer Jessie Greenberg Isaac Orloff Elsa Chang Natalie Hall Jez Tuya Shane Richardson Margaret Hardy

Listener Questions By:

Yves Capelle Carolyn Arcabascio

Resources:

Download the “Breaking In Stories” PDF Isaac Orloff’s Terrifying Avatar

Comment & Share:

What was the most surprising thing you learned in the interview?

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Keisha Okafor

Great blog post!! I loved listening to this interview, it made me hopeful of being able to get into the industry. I have been following almost all of these artists for a while now and it is great to hear that they have the same struggles that I have!

I am currently an art and design student and will graduate soon and have been wondering with my work and being an introvert if it’s possible to ever be an artist in animation. I am also on the east coast and this type of job is foreign at my school and in this area, my program is tailored to conceptual clothing design and animation. I do know that my work isn’t where I want it to be and I would love to join the Oatley Academy to improve my work. Will it be available in the summer of 2013?

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Chris Oatley

Keisha,

Thanks for your kind words about the episode. So glad it inspired you.

I’m sure there will be at least one course open for enrollment through Oatley Academy in the summer though I’m not sure, at this point, which one. It’ll likely be Painting Drama 1 again or my full-on Character Design course.

I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks, Keisha! Stay strong!

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Kira

I sat here listening intently and taking notes. I can’t get enough of this stuff :]

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Chris Oatley

Awesome, Kira! I’m SO glad you liked it!

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Sula

Excellent episode Chris, so inspiring :D We have to keep believing we can do it!

It was the Lion King that did get me interested in art too, but for a whole different reason than you guys (heheh). It took me a while to figure out that someone was drawing it – the movie, the merchandise, everything. I used to believe that for it to be so perfect it needed to be done by a machine, right? So I discovered that no, it was indeed someone drawing, and I was mind blown! I would pause the movie and stare at a single image and figure out HOW someone could possibly be that good in drawing.

Short after that, they got this rule in school saying we could not take our toys to class – I was 10 years old at time. Haha I got SO enraged I couldn’t take make little Nala toy with me. She was small and not distracting but she was my friend and no one understood that!

But you know what? I will learn how to draw her and that no one would be able to stop me again! She would always be with me, and no one could do a thing about it. Haha and that was how I really started drawing – than a couple years later I’d just switch to a different animation, and eventually land in games, and always trying to capture likeness and emotion and everything that got me hooked into it in the first place.

I never though about animation really, because from down here, working for Disney or Dreamworks seems like moving to another planet! But it is, indeed, I would deeply enjoy – apply for a painting position in the industry, maybe move to something lightning related after that. Or just plain good illustration :) They are m biggest passions.

Oh Chris, I so want this to happen!
Now let me load another episode and continue working!

Hugs and thanks for everything!

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Sly Eagle

Speaking as someone who had the confidence beaten out of me by teachers and peers – I’m a fairly decisive person who gets behind what I believe in and stands by my opinions, and in high school I got talkings-to by several teachers about being an arrogant snob and telling me that’s why I had no friends and people gossiped about me – how can I address my anxiety about appearing confident about my work? Because I’m afraid that if I come out looking strong about work that whoever I’m showing to, and it’s not that great (and I know it’s not, hence the anxiety) they’re just going to think I’m a pretentious snob and tell me it’s nice just to get rid of me. I don’t think I ever came out like those over-the-top charicatures of people who go “mine’s just the best” or whatever, so is there an obvious line of what’s “too” confident?

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Eric

High school can be terrible and if your teachers called you an “arrogant snob,” that’s horrid on many levels! But the quality that Chris emphasizes is “being great to work with”. Confidence in your work is good as long as the work is good. If your work isn’t strong, then the confidence is misplaced and off-putting. If you don’t know whether your art is good or not, you’re not ready to present it to a potential employer. Get opinions and critiques from teachers and peers first, and really listen to what they have to say. You may not agree with them, but they can see things that you may overlook. The confidence you seek comes from maturity and growth and being humble about what makes you extraordinary. If you wish to pursue animation as a career, you will never work alone. Think of the situation from the other side: would you enjoy working with someone who comes in with a rigid set of beliefs and refuses to learn other ways of doing things? Of course not. And your ways may not be wrong, just different. Being part of a team means learning and teaching at the same time and working together to reach a common goal. Sometimes, you’ll rise up to lead. Other times, you’ll grow more following a strong leader.

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Ericka Hampton

It was great meeting you at CTN and thanks for the post

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Annamarie

I think this may be one of my favorite podcasts yet! Maybe because the setup was perfect. I had to get up super early to drive my mom to work, then on the way back I got this inspiration for a painting, so instead of going back to bed I turned on my computer, plugged in my tablet, and listened to this while I painted. Basically one of the best mornings an artist can ask for.

These artists just had a flood of amazing stories, tips, and encouragement. Absolutely incredible! Also, Chris, I love your ability to take a few sentences or a story and sum up the main idea from it in just a short, concise sentence. It really isolates the most important lesson to take away from something.

I can’t wait to read about CTN-X! I hope everyone who went had a fantastic time.

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Scott Wiser

What a group of TALENT and PERSONALITY! It was great running into you all at CTNX and I hope to make the same sort of splash you all make in the future – I think I’m well on my way after following your examples. Great work and great collaboration are my newfound passions!

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Joshua Lam

Hi Chris,

Great episode. I really liked that you and your guests spoke about focusing the portfolio and being selective with is posted on-line. I just edited my blog a bit after listening. :)

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Joshua Lam

Oops. Typed too fast.

“…being selective with what is posted on-line.”

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Tegan Clancy

So inspiring! This made my first day back at work more bearable after the amazing weekend at CTN! your stories are all so easy to relate with! Can not wait to see more art from everyone in this artcast and congratulations on your achievements so far!

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Chris Oatley

Thanks, Tegan! Yeah, this is a talented bunch, for sure!

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Amanda

That was an epically long podcast, I’ve finally got around to finishing up listening to it. Awesomesauce. Thank you.

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Chris Oatley

Yeah, there was a point at which I thought I’d cut it down but everything they were saying was so good I couldn’t find anything to cut!

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sara

Amazing show, so chocked for of useful information for aspiring creatives! I listen to your show at my boring day job to help inspire me to draw when I get home :)

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Chris Oatley

Woo hoo! Yeah! Thanks, Sara. Glad we’re helping to keep you inspired.

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jonmcnally

Great episode, Chris. As mentioned elsewhere, it helped me course-correct when heading into CTN-X day three, resulting in my best day of the show. Also, hearing you kids refer to Lion King as an early creative touchstone made me feel OLD :)

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Chris Oatley

That made me feel old too, Jon. ;)

I’d love to know more about your CTN-X experience…

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Joshua Otero

This was a fantastic podcast! Understanding my fellow artists and seeing where they are coming from and what drives them helps put some of my struggles into perspective. Also with some of the advice given, I can now move forward with my goals! Congrats to my fellow Ringling classmates Natalie and Betsy! Now I am determined to come up with an explosion of excellent work for the next CTN-X! ONWARD!

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Chris Oatley

Onward, indeed. Thanks, Joshua. You’re awesome.

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Ying-Hsuan Chen

Thank you so much for hosting this episode! So much talent! This talk put me on a lot of thinking but it definitely gives me more reason to go to CTN :) It’s inspiring just listening to this, can’t imagine how much more it would be to actually see people out there.

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Chris Oatley

Oh yeah. Gotta do CTNX!

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Manelle

I missed the turn 30 level up. Bummer. I was never very good at video games that’s probably why.

But for real… I loved hearing about blog reading “hiatuses” and the struggle everyone has of comparing yourself to other artists. I forget other people struggle with that too. Even the artists that are amazing, that I feel like have “made it”. That comparison is one of the things that can make me the most discouraged. Good stuff.

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Chris Oatley

Yep. And it’s simply not true. Everyone is struggling with something…

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Emily Hann

Finally listened to this episode! So encouraging. Thanks, Chris!

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Chris Oatley

Great meeting you at CTNX, Emily!!!

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Emily Hann

So thrilled to meet you and Lora, too!

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Jackie

Listening to this podcast really cheered me up and made me feel hopeful that there something out there for me. I felt really lost about what put in my portfolio and trying to get some feedback after dealing with rejection, hanging with the wrong crowd in college, but after talking to some people in an animation forum, it really did help me a lot. Thanks for posting this Chris.

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Chris Oatley

You’re welcome, Jackie. Although our hearts can deceive us at times, I find that “Follow your heart.” is generally good advice for artists who are struggling to create work for the portfolio.

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Jorge

I love your website is one of the things maintain my strong to pursuit to be a Vis Dev

client.moonito.com

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Eric

Great to hear all the Ringling Alumni! As an illustration ’08 grad, I’m thrilled to hear that others are doing well.

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Hoover

Hello,
Just stumbled on this site–instant favorite. Huge thanks for putting this site together.

Hoover

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Carlos Pita

This is the first Podcast I’ve heard from you. I honestly have to say that this has got to be the best Podcast that I’ve ever heard Chris. Kudos to you and what you do for the community. I hope that one day I can go to CTN. The plane tickets are soo expensive during that time of year that CTN takes place. I look forward to meeting you one day and all the other incredible talent and awesome people that gather at CTN.

By the way, how can I get access to the “Breaking In Stories” PDF? The link is broken.

Thank you!

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Carlos Pita

Before I forget, any idea when the course will be open again?

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Andrew

Splendid information providing some high quality insight and inspiration, any doubt or worry that had been gathering on my mind disappeared tonight while I was listening to the podcast and doodling.

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Colleen

Hey Chris, I hope I’m not repeating questions, but the talk on networking sparked something I’ve been wondering. Should undergraduates be tenacious about networking and how would we do this without a complete portfolio? If we do have some work to show, should we bother if it’s not ‘complete’ per se? I’m personally 2-3 years from graduating so I’m wondering when to begin pursuing relationships with people in the field.

Thank you!

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Damon Drion

Hi Chris

After listening to a very uplifting show, I felt I had to comment on your Beauty And The Beast story. You really connected with me on an emotional level in regards to your experience in the cinema that day, for me It certainly wasn’t the point where I realised that I wanted to work in this industry. It was however the moment I knew this was the standard of art and animation that I wanted to achieve!

To this day while watching the Beasts transformation scene I still get goosebumps and tears in my eyes. I never admitted this before as I felt nobody would understand but I was never crying for the beast I cried because the art was so beautiful. I really believe you can relate to me with this.

It was really great to hear the artists individual stories and their realisation of wanting to work in the entertainment industry. My personal realisation came very early when I would draw characters for my teachers, as they wanted to frame them for their children. For some reason this trend followed me from being an 8 year old kid right throughout my education. The movie that I would say gave me my “calling” which I know most reading this will immediately relate to is without a doubt in my mind, The Little Mermaid.

I’m glad to say my passion for animation art is strong as ever, I believe that social networking and the abundance of talent out there has had a great deal to do with that.

Once again thank you so much Chris for working as hard as you do to provide our community with such informative and interesting articles, talks, tutorials, podcasts… I’m tired even typing this, I don’t know where you get the energy! lol

Kind Regards

Damon

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Nera Granic

Thank you for the wonderful interviews.

I’d very much like to go to conventions, but unfortunately I live in Prague at the moment (summers spent in native Croatia) so I’m very far away from any of them.
I’m planning to go to Brano, Czech Republic in May for Animefest so that is something. (haven’t been able to go last year because of college assignments, but I’ll try to free up a weekend this year)

Hope to see you all someday in person at CTN when I get the opportunity.
Nera

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Jasmine Rossetto

Hi Chris!

I’ve just finished listening to this podcast, I think what you’re doing is amazing! Thought I would share in appreciating your podcast. I’ve been feeling quite exhausted lately and listening to your podcasts reenergises me. I got a bit emotional this morning because I was up to the part where you were all talking about meeting Glen Keane, and I remembered when I was lucky enough to meet him. I cried. So it made me remember that, which I think was the best day of my life because he’s such a huge inspiration.

Also I’ve been following Elsa Chang for a while on blogger and I’ve come across the other’s artworks at some point and I think it’s great that you interviewed them. I also love that they’re well over an hour long!! Amazing! So thank you so much for the work you’re doing :)

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