Case study

Freelance animator and director — Cat Bruce

Cat started her career in animation when a local model-making company approached her after seeing one of her films at a degree show

What was your first job after graduation?

I started out in the model-making department of an Edinburgh-based company; they had seen graduate films at the degree show and offered a couple of student's positions on stop-motion productions they were working on. By the end of the last project, I did a stint as an assistant animator before deciding to go freelance.

How relevant is your degree?

I wouldn't be working in animation if I hadn't done the course. However, although the degree course allowed me to discover and develop my animation skills, it doesn't guarantee employment after graduation.

For me, finding employment straight after university had a lot to do with good timing.

Maintaining a career in this field comes from a mixture of having the experience, skills and knowledge from the degree, enthusiasm for your field, working hard, being easy to work with and getting on well with people.

What's a typical day like?

When I'm working from home, my day starts at 9.30. I'll start with work emails and then move onto animating. The working day ends at 3pm. When I'm working on a stop-motion project I will rent a studio and try to be there from 9am until 5.30pm.

What are the challenges of your job?

One challenge of being a freelance animator is working on my own. It can be quite isolating, and you need to seek out criticism in order to see your work from another perspective.

Where would you like to be in five years?

I'd like to still be making things.

What advice would you give to others?

Though I said it was important to work well with others, you also have to make sure that you don't get walked over. Concentrate not on trying to please everyone, but on being friendly and communicative. Open, honest communication and approachability is so useful for avoiding conflicts and misunderstandings as a freelancer, or in any situation.

It's important not to get too stressed. No matter how great your job is (and how great you are at it), if you're constantly stressed out, it may not be worth it. Find a balance, and routine. It's important to be able to switch off from work completely each evening, just having down time, or doing something you enjoy. Learning how to do this while you're at university is good so that you can create a habit of it.

When you start working in your chosen field, take it one step at a time. Instead of focusing on the end goal, enjoy the steps and the journey they take you on.

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