I'm a relative newbie at this game called "animation," having only been in the business for four years. In that time, though, I've seen a hefty variety of attitudes about the the animation industry, and heard plenty of stories -- both good and bad -- about people, companies, projects, etc. I've also been thrown some interesting curves along the way, helping me to build my own collection of stories. I'll never forget attending my first company meeting on day three of my first animation job and finding that I was about to have my first brush with layoffs. *SMACK!* Hello, reality!
So after four years of ups and downs, I find myself blessed to be at a growing company, supervising a team of animators on a big project. In dealing with the unique joys and stresses of that responsibility (along with trying to figure out the ever-present problem of what on earth I'd like to do with my career going forward), the whole "balance" issue has been coming to mind with greater frequency and urgency. As though on cue, Jim Hull over at Seward Street posted a transcript of a great article about the importance of balance in an animation career.
One key aspect of this article is that it features examples of several successful animators who managed to have long, healthy careers despite the noise, chaos, and idiocy that's interwoven with the beauty, joy, and inspiration. While it's fairly obvious that balance is important, and it's not much of a stretch to think of ways that such balance can be achieved, having examples of folks who have pulled it off is an extra kicker, and a very welcome one at that. For me, at least, their presence helps to push the concept of balance from aspiration to inspiration, and these people become even greater heroes. They're not just successful animators. They're successful in spite of all the negative influences that can so easily cloud the mind and burden the soul. They've passed through the refiner's fire, letting the dross slip away while allowing the heat to appropriately refine them. They are truly great!