Today, I would like to share a letter with you that is a little different that the usual letter I post on this site. This letter doesn’t come from a professional animator that has been in the industry for years, but rather from an aspiring animator with a dream that he is not giving up on. His name is Clinton Racine, and he shared his story with me in hopes of inspiring some fellow aspiring animators out there going through the same difficulties. As creatives, we feed off of inspiration, whether it be from the professionals or from fellow students, so I have no doubt this letter will be an inspiration to many of you.
Please be sure to follow the Animator Letters Project on Twitter @AnimLettersProj. Also, please remember, this project is only a success because professional animators like yourself take the time to write a letter. Whether it be to share your story of how you broke into the industry, struggles that you had to overcome, or to share some advise or wisdom you have learned over the years, you can be sure that it will encourage and inspire aspiring animators around the world! Please consider contributing a letter to this project if you want to see this project continue to grow and make a difference in people’s lives.
You can mail your letter to me here:
605 W. Main St.
Whitehouse, TX 75791
Hi Will, Merry Christmas!
My name is Clinton Racine. I am a 29 year old animator from North Carolina, working in the I.T. Industry as a computer tech. When I’m not at work dealing with hard drives and firewalls, I am building myself a better animation portfolio. To be an animator is a dream I have wanted to fulfill since childhood. I came across your ebsite through Twitter, and I was inspired by the letters I have read there. I cannot wait for your book to come out. I would like to share my own story with you. It is more or less an ongoing adventure to become a professional animator. I grew up watching cartoons. As a child, I watched classic Warner Bros., and MGM cartoons, Nicktoons, Cartoon Cartoons, FOX Kids Animation, and of course Disney cartoons. I filled my bookshelves with VHS tapes of my favorite cartoons shows, Batman, Darkwing Duck, Tiny Toons, and Ren and Stimpy. The Ren and Stimpy show was, and still is my favorite cartoon. The characters felt so real to me as a child that I wanted to draw cartoons just like John K., and Spumco when I grow up. I decided then I wanted to become an animator. I wanted to create funny, slapstick cartoons that were believable in their actions and reactions. Ren and Stimpy was a huge inspiration for me throughout school, and college.
After high school, I moved to Florida to study computer animation at The Art Institute. There I was introduced to 3D Studio Max and Maya. Instead of concentrating on learning software, I decided to work on my foundation skills instead to improve my skills. I opted out of 3D classes in favor of more life drawing classes and more time in the 2D animation lab. During my time in college, I made a lot of new friends who shared my passion for animation and the cartoons we grew up with. A couple of my friends and [I] even started our own animation club. We would spend our time together watching classic cartoons and working on independent animation projects. While I was on cloud 9, I did not realize I was making some mistakes along the way. When I was in college, I built up a lot of debt. I had so much debt that my part-time job could not support paying it all off before I graduated. The stress affected my schoolwork, and ultimately my portfolio. I graduated with a mountain of debt and a sloppy portfolio. Worse than that, I had to move back home and get a job to pay off debt; bummer! I got a job as a computer tech and was able to pay down my debt before the collection calls started to happen. The first year after college was the most depressing. My friends and I look back at it now and call it, “The Worst Year”. But after a few years of working, struggling, and saving, I am happy to tell you that most of my bills, my debt, is almost gone completely. Thanks to a new higher paying job, I have a fresh start.
Since I know how to fix computers, I bought some parts and built my own computer workstation to study. I started my own website called, “Soggy Grits” after my grandmother’s receipe. There I post my drawings and share my adventures online to become an animator. I attend workshops in Rileigh, and plan to sign up for more next year. A couple of years ago, I travelled to Emeryville to attend a Meet-N-Greet at Animation Mentor. I met Jude Brownbill, and Bobby Beck himself. I told them my story, as I am telling you. Both Bobby and Jude were very supportive and encouraged me to move forward; to not give up. In my pursuit of my dream job, I have made new friends and learned a lot about myself through adversity and experience. My friends are always there for me to push me towards my goal. Many of them are professional artists and engineers in their own right; they continue to inspire me everyday. I have been working as a computer tech for seven years, and I still have not given up. I believe my misadventures have enabled me to see my path more clearly. The most important task at hand for myself is to have a portfolio. I love to draw cartoons! While I’m working and fixing computers all day, by night, I’m a machine working on a better portfolio! I will not give up, because I am an artist; an animator! And I want to spend the rest of my life doing what I love. I hope my story will inspire others as much as yours did for me.