Thursday, August 02, 2012

words: Whatever you like doing - Do It!

When I was young, I wanted to be so many different things when I grew up. I was constantly trying new things, adding to my ever-growing list of hobbies and passions. There's something so fearless about us as children. We're not afraid of failure. But as we grow up, we start to look around and compare ourselves. And some of those past loves of mine suddenly went to the back burner. Sometimes it was because I lost interest, and other times, I just didn't feel like I was talented enough to keep pursuing whatever it was.

Pete Docter describes himself as a "geeky kid from Minnesota who likes to draw cartoons." He was just your typical introvert whose passion for drawing turned into an incredible career in animation. And while he may have not been the best artist, his drive and determination landed him a gig at Pixar. Since then, he's best known for bringing some of the most successful movies to the big screen - including Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, and Up.

We all need to start somewhere. And when Martin Kelsey, a teacher, wrote to him asking for some advice to pass on to his students, Pete responded back with an encouraging and thoughtful letter. Here it is...

May 5, 2009

Dear Mr. Kelsey,

What would I tell a class of Middle School students?

When I was in Middle School, I liked to make cartoons. I was not the best artist in my class — Chad Prins was way better — but I liked making comic strips and animated films, so after High school it was no surprise that I got into The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), a school that taught animation.

CalArts only accepts 25 students a year, and it attracts some of the best artists in the country. Suddenly I went from being one of the top artists in my class to being one of the absolute worst. Looking at the talented folks around me, I knew there was no way I would make it as a professional. Everyone else drew way better than I did. And I assumed the people who were the best artists would become the top animators.

But I loved animation, so I kept doing it. I made tons of films. I did animation for my friends' films. I animated scenes just for the fun of it. Most of my stuff was bad, but I had fun, and I tried everything I knew to get better.

Meanwhile, many of the people who could draw really well kind of rested around and didn't do a whole lot. It made me angry, because if I had their talent, man, the things I would do with it!

Years later, a lot of those guys who probably still draw really well don't actually work in animation at all. I don't know what happened to them. As for me, I got hired at Pixar Animation Studios, where I got to work on Toy Story 1 and 2, direct Monsters, Inc., and Up (due out May 29th this year).

So, Middle School Student, whatever you like doing, do it! And keep doing it. Work hard! In the end, passion and hard work beats out natural talent. (And anyway, if you love what you do, it's not really "work" anyway.)

Good luck,
(Signed, 'Pete')
Pete Docter

A lesson that if you do what you love, anything's possible.

P.S. Remember this touching letter from a father to his son?

1 comment:

  1. ...if you love what you do, it's not really "work" anyway...unless your boss is the source of all your hate in the world. /rant. Great post though.