Comic: I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation

I just finished reading Natalie Nourigat’s independent comic “I Moved to LA to Work in Animation” after seeing this rave review from Cartoon Brew’s Amid Amidi:

“This is not a standard recommendation – Nourigat’s book is absolutely essential for anyone considering an animation career in Los Angeles.”

I do tend to agree, with my only comment being it is relevant to animation artists everywhere, not just Los Angeles. Even as an Australian living and working in Europe, I could relate to almost everything Natalie writes about.

But it’s more than just relating to her story that resonated with me, it’s that she touches on topics in such a truthful manner that I personally rarely saw before entering the industry, let alone before signing up for animation school. Our perceptions of the industry before we enter it are very much influenced by commerce; schools, studios, podcasts, conference presenters and even industry magazines paint a glossy picture of the industry as it’s often in their own interest to do so.

While Natalie does paint a success story – she documents going from no art school to working at Disney features as a story artist – she does manage to describe her hardships and struggles quite well, even admitting seeing a therapist at one point for depression related to her move.

On top of that she also touches on the demands of overtime work, how much she struggled to kick start a career, the downsides of living in a city for work rather than personal choice, difficulties of apartment hunting in a new city (surprisingly more stressful than it sounds) and also gender/race inequality in studios. All great things to be aware of, for people considering whether to make a career out of this industry and how they could approach doing so.

The comic covers plenty of positives and definitely shows the joy she gets from working in animation. It’s by no means a hard hitting critique on the industry, but it is one that documents the experience of being a new comer very accurately in a balanced while also enjoyable and visual way. You can buy the comic via gumroad.

A side note. If you do read the comic, just keep in mind:
– Natalie is a story artist, not an animator. L.A is known for pre-production, while a lot of animation is outsourced. If you’re a level entry animator thinking of moving to L.A to find a job, it might be best to talk to people already there about how many openings there are for junior animators or if somewhere like Vancouver or Montreal is more viable.

– Natalie works at one of the biggest and most successful studios in history. A lot of the perks she and/or union workers experience aren’t universal or to be expected. For example the work hours, benefits and salary of a junior animator at a feature studio in L.A can be a lot different to what would be experienced at a feature studio in London, Tokyo or Sao Paulo.

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