Accelerate Your Career with the Right Animation Mentor

find an animation mentor

Effort and commitment are required to reach your animation dreams. While developing your animation skills, you’ll face many challenges and it’s best not to face them alone. With the right mentor, you can overcome obstacles and achieve goals that would be more difficult if you tackled them by yourself.

Who is an animation mentor?

A mentor is someone who has expertise in a field and acts as an advisor to someone with less experience. A good animation mentor is able to help you develop relationships with professionals and potential clients, hone your animation skills, share best practices for career management, and motivate you to keep pushing yourself to improve. Animation mentors work beside you to offer tailored advice for your success.

Professional animators with hands-on experience in skills, such as 3D animation, 2D animation, or character animation, make better mentors than those without direct experience. In the field of animation, the theory is not enough to advance your career. Animation mentors understand both theory and practice, and they want to pass on that same knowledge to you.

Who can be an animation mentor?

There’s a saying that goes, “Those who can’t do, teach.” Well, that doesn’t apply when it comes to animation mentors. If they don’t have sufficient experience in the skill and niche you’re seeking to advance, then they are not qualified to be your mentor.

There are some programs that enlist mentors to advise entry-level animators. They may have set their own qualifications. However, there is no official set of rules that qualify an animator to be a mentor. Here are some things you should consider, though, when vetting a potential mentor:

  • How many successful years does this person have in the niche you’re developing? It doesn’t do you any good if they’re proficient in 3D animation while your career is moving in the direction of stop animation.
  • Does a degree matter to you? If so, what are his/her academic background and achievements? 
  • Do your communication styles complement each other? Being able to understand each other is crucial to effective communication. Also, using the same tools to communicate can help make the mentorship successful (e.g. email, video conferencing, text messaging, etc.).
  • Do they have the time to commit to your development? Some people need more or less attention than others and not every mentor is able to fulfill those demands.
  • Where do they work? Ask about how they gained their knowledge. If they worked at any major studios like Pixar animation studios or have experience at DreamWorks Animation, chances are they’re highly skilled at what they do. When applying for jobs in the future, you can also ask your mentor to be a reference, which will be a great boost to your application.

Why do you need an animation mentor?

An animation mentor can teach you things beyond the animation basics you learn in school. Learning how to navigate the animation industry can only be achieved through actually giving it a try. Industry-trained animators walk beside you to help you avoid common pitfalls and build up your confidence, skills, and network.

An animation mentor can fill in the gaps that are left open after classroom instruction is complete. Entry-level animators can use the advice from their mentors to build better portfolios, conduct efficient job searches, and prepare for interviews. Because of their learning experience, animation mentors know the do’s and don’ts of the industry.

Both animation students and self-taught animators have a lot to gain from having a mentor. Many successful animators are self-taught which means they have plenty of experience walking the same path you’re beginning to take. With support from your mentor, you’ll save a lot of time and avoid a lot of headaches trying to figure out something your animation mentor has already discovered.

Where can you find an animation mentor?

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of searching for a good animation mentor; it’s easier than you might think. You will, however, need to first decide what your budget will be. Hiring a professional to be your mentor usually comes with a fee because they’re providing a service to you 一 sharing their priceless experience and knowledge.

Here are some platforms where you can find excellent animation mentors:

Animation Mentor

At this online animation school, entry-level animation professionals can learn 3D animation from industry experts at major studios focusing on visual effects, gaming, and other areas. Mentees will interact with their mentors online, which widens the pool of potential to a global audience.

Animation Mentor is both a school and a community where animators openly share their passion for animation and knowledge about key software. Before choosing a mentor, you must apply and be accepted. From there, you’ll have access to various core animation courses and animators around the world.

WIA Mentorship Circles Program

Women In Animation (WIA) empowers people of underrepresented gender identities to share in the creation and production of animation. Their mentor program is a group experience rather than a 1-on-1 relationship. Each Circle has a different focus allowing you to gain the most relevant knowledge during your participation.

To enroll, you must identify as female, transgender, or non-binary and be an active member of the WIA community. Interested animators can only apply to one Circle during the posted application period. Selected applicants will be notified within two weeks after the last group closes. There are fees associated with the program that is best explained on their website.

Wyzant

This is a 1-on-1 mentor platform that makes access to experts more affordable and accessible to those wanting to learn. To find a skilled animator, search for the subject you’re interested in. After clicking next, a list of experts will appear and you can choose the one that best fits your needs. Use the filters to find more senior animators, varied availability, and more. On average, you can expect to pay about $60 per hour for mentorship.

How to find an animation mentor for free

Not all mentor relationships come at a price, there are many ways to find a mentor. Here are some ways to find free mentorship:

  • Ask around: Reach out to your network of friends, family, professors, and other professionals who may have connections in the animation industry.
  • Join animation forums: Online forums, like Anizone, are a great way to find mentors who are passionate about animation and willing to share their knowledge with others. There are usually many experienced animators in the forums, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them.
  • Attend animation events: Conventions, workshops, or seminars are other great ways to meet experienced animators who may be willing to mentor you for free. Remember don’t go empty-handed! Bring a tablet, laptop, or something to showcase your work. People will not give you animation training or advice for free unless they see a common passion or enthusiasm. 
  • Use social media: Many animators utilize social media as their portfolio or places to showcase their works. As such, these platforms are excellent places to find animator that suits your needs and styles. Social platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, are great places to start. One good way to find mentors is to visit big studios’ LinkedIn pages and check their employee lists. Most animators will have their emails and the link to their works on LinkedIn.

Let your animation mentor accelerate your animation career!

You can only learn so much in a classroom. Animation mentors can help you learn the industry much faster than you would try to figure it out on your own. With their guidance, you can advance your career, hone your skills, and reach your animation goals while avoiding common pitfalls.

There are many programs available that, for a fee, have animation experts ready to share their knowledge with you. If you do a bit of research yourself, you might find someone who’s willing to help you out for free. In any case, the Animation Desk is a beginner-friendly software that includes a rich collection of tutorials for students and entry-level animators. 


Visit Anizone, a social platform created by Animation Desk, where animators can connect, share ideas, and participate in mini-challenges.