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Artist RightsDisney

A Tale of Two Titmouses: A Cartoon Brew Investigation

Tale of Titmouses

Though they share the same name and the same owners, there is a wide starting salary gap between the two Titmouse animation studios that operate in Los Angeles and New York City. While wages for artists in the New York TV animation industry have historically been lower than their Los Angeles counterparts, the gap appears to be widening.

Cartoon Brew decided to investigate after learning that some New York Titmouse animation artists who are working on Disney’s upcoming TV series Motorcity are earning as little as $400 per week. If not the all-time lowest, it ranks as among the lowest wages ever earned by an American artist working on a Disney animation production. By contrast, an artist doing the exact same job working on the same show at Titmouse in Los Angeles would earn no less than $1,055 per week under the studio’s union agreement.

Titmouse Inc., founded in 2000 by the husband-and-wife team of Chris and Shannon Prynoski, opened a Manhattan studio in the summer of 2010 to support its growing West Coast operation. Prior to launching the studio, Mr. Prynoski, a veteran of MTV Animation in New York, created the TV series MTV Downtown. The company’s emphasis on quality has helped them to expand from a mom-and-pop operation into a major producer of animated programming, including shows like Metalocalypse, Superjail! and The Venture Brothers. In an interview published this week on Cold Hard Flash, Prynoski said that his company now employs over 250 people.

The company has recently been producing two shows for Disney’s action oriented XD channel: Motorcity and Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja. In order to receive its sub-contract deal from Disney, Titmouse signed a union contract to satisfy Disney’s requirements in the IATSE Basic Agreement. Titmouse didn’t want to convert its entire Los Angeles studio into a union shop, and thus created a wholly-owned subsidiary called Robin Redbreast. The new company is the signator with the Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, though it shares the same ownership and managements of its parent company, Titmouse.

The decision to split Titmouse into two separate companies was not an uncommon tactic for a company in its situation, Cartoon Brew was told by union officials in Los Angeles. Under the contract, Titmouse must pay union scale wages to artists in Los Angeles who work on Motorcity, but has the option of subcontracting work to non-union companies where it can pay lower salaries. While the studio sends work on the show to multiple places, including Canada, it chose to subcontract the Motorcity cleanup to its New York studio, along with some of the show’s animation. A staff of nearly twenty clean-up artists works in New York, where they are responsible for cleaning up the drawings of the animators in Flash and coloring scenes as well as doing occasional animation edits.

Cartoon Brew has learned that some of the animation was being cleaned up in the Los Angeles studio as recently as last October, when Titmouse decided to shift the entire clean-up operation to New York. An artist in the New York studio was told by his supervisors that the reason for the shift was because the quality of work by the Los Angeles artists was considered sub-par. Chris Prynoski declined to comment on the reasons for why the clean-up work was transferred to the New York studio.

Cartoon Brew interviewed four New York artists working on the series. Though Titmouse offers group health insurance, none of the artists interviewed in the clean-up department could afford the option with their current salaries. Many of the hirees are recent graduates from animation schools and could barely manage living expenses, much less begin to pay off student loans with their $400 per week salaries.

The artists’ feelings about their salaries ranged from satisfaction to complacency to frustration. One artist, a recent graduate of a four-year animation program, was pleased and said that he “never felt overworked or taken advantage of.” When questioned if the wages were unfair, he responded that he didn’t mind working for these wages because it kept the work in the United States. He said he’d rather work here than at Foxconn, referring to the Taiwanese manufacturer of iPhones that installed suicide-prevention netting at its factories after a spate of employee suicides.

Titmouse, in large part, has thrived on both coasts for creating a laidback artist-driven studio run by people who are passionate about animation. The studio offers unique perks to artists, like after-hours availability of Cintiqs for personal projects and independent freelance projects. The studio has made some positive impacts on the New York animation scene, particularly in the way that it deals with interns. The New York animation community is rife with stories of illegal internships at other TV studios like Augenblick Studios and World Leaders. Titmouse has committed to employing interns for no longer than one school semester, and by all accounts, makes a sincere effort to hire those who exhibit competence.

Titmouse’s operations in New York are expanding. The studio recently completed a move from its lower Manhattan office space to the Chelsea neighborhood, where they occupy two entire floors of a building. One artist told Cartoon Brew that the new offices were much much larger and fancier. “The last place was a dump compared to this place,” the artist said. New Cintiq workstations are continually being added, indicating that the studio plans to ramp up further.

Prynowski declined to answer any specific questions about the wages that he pays employees at his studio, but provided a written statement to Cartoon Brew in which he said that, “The rates we pay span a wide range – all based on merit and experience. Many of the experienced artists earn above the going rates. Everyone has an opportunity to advance if they have the drive and desire.” He defended his company’s approach, telling Cartoon Brew that:

“I really feel that giving young New York talent practical work experience is something that has long term benefits. As these artists learn and develop, they have opportunities within the studio for promotion. We encourage artists to pursue positions in which they have interest. We hope to help these artists develop into the next group of great animators, designers, and directors. Right now our NY studio is in its infancy. As it grows, the talent will grow with it. As the talent grows, the talent base grows not just for Titmouse, but for the New York animation community in general. I refuse to see this as a bad thing.”

The question remains, however, about why there is a nearly $700 weekly gap between starting wages for Los Angeles and New York artists working on the same show. New York has the highest cost of living in the United States (Los Angeles, by comparison, is ranked ninth), yet the studio’s starting salary for workers in New York is only $20,800. That figure ranks below New York’s average starting wages for unskilled laborers like doormen ($25,680) and sanitation workers ($27,842).

It is a fact of life that New York animation artists will make less than unionized workers in Los Angeles. However, wages haven’t always been this low. Speaking with New York animation veterans, Cartoon Brew learned that a fresh out-of-school starting salary for an animation artist in 2001 at Nickelodeon was $900 and included health insurance and 401k. In 2006, a starting salary out-of-school on a cable TV series at an independent production company was $800.

As the famous jazz pianist Hampton Hawes once wrote, “I’ve tried not to low-rate my market price because once your meat is down, they’ll always try to buy it cheaper. I said, I know what I’m worth, but I don’t know how much I can get. Just don’t embarrass me.”

But it’s easy to be embarrassed if you’re an animator starting your career in New York City.

  • anonymous in NYC

    Thanks for writing about this – I’d heard from a friend recently about this $400/week rate and my jaw hit the floor. In retrospect, this IS a step up from what Augenblick has been doing – getting unpaid interns to do these tasks. Unfortunately, there are few jobs and lots of enthusiastic folks who want to be a part of the industry.

    My personal experience – I spent a few years as a union MUNICIPAL worker here in NYC while making big strides in my career through personal films. The city paid me and my mostly teenage and college student co-workers $18/hour with benefits, vacation and sick days. That work led directly to getting hired by Augenblick at what I would consider an acceptable weekly rate. I now work from home on projects of my own choosing. Everyone’s path is different, but sometimes it might be better to find a way to advance your career with self-initiated projects and let someone willing to pay you a more reasonable wage do so… whether they make cartoons for TV or not.

  • zoe

    “The question remains, however, about why there is a nearly $700 weekly gap between starting wages for Los Angeles and New York artists working on the same show.”

    The answer to that question starts with a “U”.

    Over the past 30 years, professional culture in the U.S. has almost completely eliminated awareness of unions from the minds of the middle class. Young people who are now graduating from college are literally not old enough to remember a time when union protections covered any of the professions they might be interested in (the exception being teachers’ unions). “Intelligence work,” including the arts, is particularly susceptible to the propaganda that says, “Your job is hardly even work! It’s fun! And besides, you’re lucky to even have a job!”

    The artist you quoted in your article shows a pretty good example of this mindset–at least he’s not working for Foxconn?! REALLY?!

    The economy is bad, all right, but it doesn’t help that artists practically give away not only their labor, but also their ideas and distinctive visual styles, with a tragically distorted view of how much profit they bring to their employers. The cliche is that Millennials are “entitled.” If anything, we’re not acting entitled enough.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      They’ll learn the hard way!

      • Writer of Wrongs

        Yep. All when all the jobs will go to China, Korean, and India.

    • Great

      I blame the baby boomer generation, THAT has got to be the most entitled and worst generation the US has ever seen

  • Bottom line:
    – Overhead in NY is higher than in LA. As far as costs go, it can’t be easily reduced, but guess what can; salaries. There’s your difference.

    – The wage you work at is the minimum you were willing to accept; if you work for $10/hour the company isn’t going to pay you $12 because you’ll work just as hard for that too. By the same token, you won’t accept a job that pays $8/hour because that’s less than you’re willing to accept.

    – Wages are dependent on the demand for work and the supply of labour. NY and LA have different levels of demand and in this case, Titmouse NY clearly needs the work.

    – Union contracts will warp the relevant costs so it’s not fair to draw comparisons between two differing cost structures.

    – If you operate on a lowest cost basis, you will always compete on lowest cost basis. Clients won’t pay you $10 for something they can get across the street for $5. Operate on talent/ service instead and charge clients a premium for the privilege.

    – Embarrassed about pay? No, you should be embarrassed about the drain of talent to LA and the reasons why they aren’t staying put and contributing economically to the local industry instead. (Hint: they want more money but they want it the easy way)

    • Freekon

      Let’s face it…There is many levels of animation today…Many “Flash” animators are animators just because they say they are…some of it is practically unskilled labor….Titmouse does pay a lot of people based on merit…It’s a tough business for them I’m sure.

      Cartoons are made and budgeted a million different ways now a days…If you are really skilled you will do alright…Some facebook surfing flashhacks deserve about 400 dollars a week.

    • Drew

      If you think it’s easy to pack your bags, move to Los Angeles, and get a union animation gig, you are highly misinformed.

      • Aye, sorry mate, I didn’t mean to insinuate that it was easy, just that it was easier than the alternative. Trust me, I know how tough packing my bags and moving 3,000 miles can be.

      • Drew

        I am taken aback by your polite response. Oh internet.. there is hope.

        It certainly takes determination just to move to the big city, and I’ve seen plenty of fellow graduates experience the complete range from total failure to great success. It took me three years working out here before the first union gig came along at a company not named Titmouse, but without having ever worked at Titmouse, I’d have never gotten this job either.

  • :: smo ::

    next week on cartoon brew: the difference in payscale between a cell painter and a lead animator at warner brothers in the 1940’s!

    • Jorge Garrido

      More like the difference between the pay scale of a cel painter in one corner of a cartoon studio and a cel painter in another corner of the same studio, doing the same work, and one makes less than half what the other makes.

      This is not what we call in business “equitable.”

  • Billy Batz

    Why you trying to start trouble? Entry level positions in animation are always low. You don’t start off making two grand a week.

    • Bonbon

      Err, but under union agreement, an entry-level position like storyboard revisionist starts at 1,000/week at least. I think it’s great to be aware of the gap between union and non-union workers.

    • JIM

      you’re either a brain dead animation student or a producer, aren’t you?

    • michaelhughes

      An entry level, straight out of college position at a feature studio is gonna be over 100 grand a year. It’s all about the level of the industry you’re at.

      • Sir Hibbity

        What a charmed life you must live. Personally, it was temp BackGround/CycleAnimator at 1000 a week. And that was several years out of school. Juniors/BackGround/CycleAnimator equivalent here don’t top 60k a year when full time.

      • Jabberwocky

        Quite honestly, even $60k a year is nothing to sneer at. I’d have been thrilled to get even $30-40k/year, but I also don’t live in expensive cities like NY or LA.

      • You are seriously misinformed, even in this mythical land known as LA which is apparently just giving away money to you… err… to Vancouver ;)

  • TheDirtyVicar

    Not to belittle the serious subject, but according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the plural of titmouse is “titmice.” Carry on, as you were…

    • Harry Mouse

      No. Titmouses is, not are, grammatically correct. Yes, the plural of mouse is mice, and titmouse would be titmice. But when it is the proper noun of something, as in an animation studio, the plural takes an S in order to not corrupt the formal noun. For example, should my name be Harry Mouse, and my wife and children have the same last name, we would be referred to as the Mouses, not the Mice, the Mouse household, not the Mice household.

      • TheDirtyVicar

        That’s funny, I once knew a Hairy Mouse. But I digress. Avoiding further confusion, they should simply shorten the name of the studios to “Tit,” the plural of which escapes me at the moment…

      • What about the plural on “Final Fantasy”… is it “Final Fantasys” or “Final Fantasies”?

  • GreG

    Same thing happens in Canada as well.
    Look at the root of the problem. Animation artists are being paid lower than ever because the jobs are going to the studios with the lowest bid. every project is being done for cheaper, cheaper, cheaper…anyone can be awarded a job by saying they’ll do it for pennies…how about selling the studio based on the QUALITY of your work and artists?

    I hate to say it, but i also blame the artists. We accept this kind of treatment. We’re guilted into thinking “Oh, you’re so lucky to be able to draw for a living, it’s fun! take what you can get and be happy!”

    our weakness as artists, is our passion. It gets exploited every single day. Sadly, these brain dead grads have no idea what their talent is worth. we have no ownership over our own art form and it’s sad. Cutting wages is the easiest option for them, because we accept it.

    If someone offered me 400/week to work in this industry, I would laugh in their face. at that point you might as well go get a city job digging ditches. at least you’ll get some benefits out of it.

    Our industry is such a top heavy piece of shit, we’ve been enslaved within an art form that BELONGS to us. really makes me sick because I love this art form so much.

    • MattB

      Just wanted to say that GreG‘s comment is fantastic and deserves to be highlighted.

    • Someguy

      “I hate to say it, but i also blame the artists. We accept this kind of treatment. We’re guilted into thinking “Oh, you’re so lucky to be able to draw for a living, it’s fun! take what you can get and be happy!”

      No…you’re wrong. Artists need to eat and make a living. They take their skills and try to get the highest price for it. The reason they take $400 bucks a week is because no one is offering them $1200 per week.

      They don’t go ‘dig ditches’ because they don’t see how they can become successful at that kind of job. However, they believe that their talent and ideas can make them successful at animation, as opposed to being the best digger of ditches.

      I also love how you blame the artists. Not the companies that exploit them. Like it’s FOXCONN’s problem, but never Steve Jobs’. It’s her fault for being in that neighbourhood at night, dressed like that, but not her attacker.

      If you’re looking at someone to blame, try all the propaganda about how owners of companies and the workers of companies are on the same ‘team’, and how studios like Pixar are ‘dream factories’ and other such nonsense.

      These kids may do it for the love, but they’re not stupid. They want to make money, but they know that they can’t just demand higher wages without likely getting pushed out. So they have bills, and their costly skill-set is not in high demand, so they stay at a job that exploits that vulnerability, but it’s THEIR fault for being in a position so they can be exploited?!?

      Frankly, this is the reason I left the animation industry in Canada after 5 years. I got out, re-trained and never looked back because this will only get worse. This goes back to that post about studios opening up offices overseas in Asia. That directly affects this point. Every office cries poverty. Every company is just ‘hanging on’. Every worker is encouraged to ‘do their part’ or ‘be part of the “team” and “sacrifice for the greater good”. “Don’t you want a good “reputation” in the industry?”

      All Hogwash.

      So if you’re looking for someone to blame, might I suggest that you start with the following (this list is by no means exhaustive):

      1. The companies that, in the name of shareholder value and stock price, will drive wages down to subsistence level for the workers, to ensure that those precious stock options and bonuses can be maintained for those at the top and those who own pieces of the company.

      2. The propaganda campaigns that have been waged for the last 20 years to convince children that a corporate logo is anything other than a vehicle to siphon wealth from their parents. And the propaganda that reminds us that we must be rugged individuals and not work together and not work collectively and then when we fail to achieve our goals by working as individuals…BLAME OURSELVES for not being able to overcome an industry with millions of dollars and an army of staff. Plus a healthy dose of “unions are the problem”, “social programs are the problem”, “progressive tax rates are evil”, etc…

      3. The animation ‘schools’ that provide FREE job-training for corporations at the WORKER/STUDENTS’ expense. Which also has the added benefit of ensuring that your workers begin with THOUSANDS of dollars of student loans that they have to pay back with interest. Oh and courtesy of the US ruling clas…I mean “government”, these debts can NEVER be discharged.

      4. Speaking of the American ruling class, let’s talk about the subsidies that go to those very same corporations who then set up sca..”foreign” workers to do the same job for less. So that when those decadent Western animation workers demand things like paid over-time, The Boss can casually mention that the overseas studio is ready, willing and able to do that job for less. Can you please explain what leverage those artists have to get higher wages?

      5. Or the fact that those artists who work for $400 bucks a week might at least have access to some healthcare benefits and they might have prescription medication that they need to pay for every week.
      Or perhaps they have kids to feed. Or maybe they live in areas where the rent to live in a neighbourhood not controlled by street gangs is astronomical.


      So perhaps they accept the wages because they have no choice (and if you think being exploited versus starving is a choice, I suggest you try it and get back to me).

      But then again, maybe you’re right, it’s the ARTISTS’ fault.

      They should have been born rich.


      • Jenny

        Do you still do any sort of animation independently? I hate to say that I like pixar movies, but I know you’re right.

      • Someguy is right

        Most modest studios that aren’t founded on big money wells likes Steve Jobs, Philip H. Knight or The Disney Corporation…like Titmouse… and are semi-reliant on doing contract & service type work to survive have their own share of financial pressures, difficulties & balancing acts to preform. And while we all hope that they succeed as a company & wish them all the best, the fact is that most industries are service industries all with the same problems. This stuff is nothing new under the sun. And whether this is a good article or NOT & whether Titmouse is a GOOD or fair-wage company comprised of fine folk or not isn’t the real issue here. Because it certainly isn’t wrong to educate students & young wannabes about predatory business practices & the realities of this industry, considering the biggest animation industry at the moment (in terms of volume) is arguably the “Animation Education Industry”. These kids need to know that the world can be very Wild West & political, especially when it comes down to $.

        On an unrelated side note:
        The venture capitalist & shareholder business model is bullsh*t, the only folks who should own shares in a company are those who are employed there & doing the work. Nowadays companies are worth millions more on paper than the sum total of all their actual assets & products combined. I hope these institutions & corporations of “culture” & those other Silicon Valley schmucks crumble a little under the weight of their own arrogance. “The American Dream”, more like The Rich Americans Scheme.

      • Jenny

        Ah, you’re a marxist too,eh? ;) Me too to some extent.


    [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “It is OK to post with a nickname or alias, but your email address (which we will NEVER share publicly), must be a real, permanent email address. Comments with fake or non-permanent emails will be deleted.”]

  • In my opinion Unions do nothing to protect jobs without tariffs. if you want to have high wages and benefits in the US then we need tariffs to tax those import from other countries that are made with lower wages. This was the US keep high wages and standards and is not priced out of the market. With NAFTA we have no tarrifs–so as much as a politician says “let’s keep jobs in the US”–without tariffs- the higher wages will inevitably send those jobs overseas and the point is moot.

    As for the $400 per week salary–no one is forcing these people to work these jobs. get some experience and then move on. the animation biz in NYC is notoriously low paying–if you want high wages, come out to LA and get on a union show–there are tons of productions now–more than ever–studios are dying for good board artists–but they’re all working. many board guys have 3 jobs right now. As for keeping 2D anim here is the US–Good F—ing luck. You’ll never make $2000/week as an animator here. (and that’s what I think it’s worth) That work will always go overseas because it’s cheaper. Sure it may not be as good, but studios don’t give a F–! They won’t pay more for US animation–the system changed in the 60’s-70’s and that’s the way it goes. Let’s not forget producers get % bonuses for coming under budget–that means they’ll send the anim overseas to save hundreds of thousands.

    want to make money?–get into the app/casual game biz–or start selling meth!

    • Jenny

      I agree that NAFTA is an issue and unions, especially those who run the big ones like Andy Stern, can be trouble(see also here:http://www.laboreducator.org/darkpast.htm), but local unions can be really important.

  • Don Corleone


  • S.KEM

    Can one really blame this studio for ripping people off – GO ENRON, oops I meant Titmouse ;0

  • anonymous

    Thank you for this article Amid. If animators are saying they are better off than over seas workers who are committing suicide, that’s not good.
    Animation is hard WORK. People who are trained as animators should be getting paid fairly for their talents. $400 a week is absurd for skilled creative labor.
    Artists need to stop accepting such low wages!

  • Tommy

    Did Amid ever tell you about my painting?

    Look at this. One dog points east and one dog points west. The guy in the middle is like “whaddya want from me?”

    • Jimmy

      “Looks like somebody we know.”
      “Yeah, without the beard—HA HA, HO HO!”

      Meanwhile in the trunk [thump, thump].
      CUT TO a quiet place in the woods:

      “Freakin’ studio exec is still alive!”

  • Bob Harper

    It’s not only the Union shops that have the wage gap, I’ve worked for some non union shops in LA for the same rate as union shops. The Union’s minimums, have contributed to the “going rate” factor, where artists of certain levels of experience ask for those rates, and when enough artists of the same caliber ask for the same rates, companies just figure that’s the cost, which is why things are continuously outsourced.

    I wish I knew a solution to the NY plight, many of those guys come out here to get paid more. There is no talent gap between the two cities though, both have exceptional artists, and both should get the same compensation.

    • Good question, how could New York artists get studios to agree to wage minimums and basic workplace standards and conditions?



      • Bob Harper

        Hey Steve,

        As much as I’m pro union, that doesn’t seem like a solution to their problem, considering how easy it would be for a signator studio to plop down in another state nearby, that same artists could commute to, thus not losing a talent pool hungry for work. The same goes for outsourcing to Canada and other places.

        Let’s face it, the studios, big or small have already figured out the loophole to get around the union for production work.

      • Hey Bob,

        Then the same situation arises in other states as we see here. Eventually, the whole industry unionizes and the producers (meaning the entertainment conglomerates) are forced to pay more for the entertainment product.

        Then, in contract negotiations, wages eventually flatten to the “level” that water always finds for itself. Meaning, equitable and what the market can bear as opposed to how low the artist who loves the studio they work for is willing to suffer.

        Understand Bob, this is how its worked out from the start. Business will pay as little as they can. Union contracts aren’t out to gouge employers. Union contracts set minimums and workplace standards to make sure the quest for profits don’t gouge the artists.

      • Bob Harper

        That’s nice in theory, but let’s talk reality. TAG doesn’t protect jobs. Signator studios still farm out animation work on productions that have union board artists and designers.

        I would believe that the whole nation would unionize if all of Los Angeles area would unionize, but that isn’t even happening even with Titmouse or Six Point Harness or Wild Brain which all have one show that is Union but the rest of the studio isn’t.

        The only way for artists to gain true empowerment is to follow the lead of the owners of Titmouse, 6 Point Harness and the original owner of Disney and form their own company and create content and bid on work. obviously that model is proven to be successful.

      • There’s quite a large amount of history to back what you call theory .. thus making it reality. Animation unions were formed because of poor wages and conditions. Read Sito’s book, its quite the journal of how it happened. So, if history is an indicator, I would guess once New York artists were fed up with wages and conditions, unionizing would be an option many would consider.

        No union contract has language that protects jobs. Union contracts protect people by setting minimums and standards that studios and artists agree on. That’s why unions are here. Overstep that boundary and we get a scenario much like the ’79 and ’82 strikes.

        You’ll never get me to argue against artists forming their own companies or creating their own content. As you surmised, its how big studios are born and I love seeing that happen.

      • Bob Harper

        I don’t need a lecture on how the union started Steve. Like I said I’m pro union. But, since you also know the history of the union answer why all of Los Angeles nor Northern California has organized. Also answer why Titmouse, 6 Point, and Wildbrain can enjoy having union and nonunion productions under the same roof. Also explain the failed attempts at Neopets and Rough Draft to organize.

        It’s simple. As you agree too, unions can’t protect jobs, which is the issue at hand, especially for New York artists. As soon as they unionize, then those productions would send stuff to Canada, or elsewhere.

      • Why haven’t all animation studios organized?
        Its up to the artists to bring union organization to studios who haven’t signed a contract yet. Steve H and I continue to bring awareness to artists at non-union studios through informal discussions and even fliers outside of studios.

        Why can Titmouse, Wildbrain and 6 Point have union subsidiaries?
        When contracted studios (Dreamworks, Disney, etc.) sub-contract their work, there is language in the IATSE Basic Agreement that stipulates conditions at the sub-contracted studio. I assume that Disney and Dreamworks stipulate a union contract to their sub-contractors to satisfy those requirements.

        When we’re approached by a studio who is going to receive sub-contract work, we make every attempt to work with them to make the process simple and as cost effective as possible. Its the studios who started subdividing their operations to keep some shows non-union. We agree to the practice since it meets the contract requirements and keeps the sub-contracted studio happy.

      • As to your other points, the union protects workers at the job. Workplace conditions and standards as well as wage minimums is whats in our contract. Some unions stipulate job protection, and those are the ones heavily demonized by the public.

        As for unionization equaling job loss, that argument is nothing but hog-wash and fear mongering. Jobs are fleeing the country as fast as the studios can push them out. Unions don’t exacerbate that situation.

      • Bob Harper

        The language of the contract illustrates my point that the union can do nothing about subcontracting, other than spell out how to do it,

        Your last sentence is an opinion such as mine is. But mine is based on a producer at an unnamed studio telling me that animation work will be outsourced as to avoid paying union minimums.

      • Apparently your extensive union history has some holes in it Bob. You forget, we did do something about sub-contracting back in the late 70s then early 80s.

        That experience illustrated the point that the union *shouldn’t* keep businesses from finding new and innovative ways to be profitable. The entire point of unionization is to keep that search for profit from treading on the backs of the artists.

        That unnamed producer from the unnamed studio will send the work overseas for whatever reason they want to. They will threaten doing so if the union comes knocking to keep from having to share the decision making power of the workplace. In truth, if they haven’t done it yet, unionization won’t be the reason it happens.

      • Bob Harper

        Alright Steve let’s talk present day and present topic Titmouse is outsourcing it’s union show to it’s nonunion NY facility to avoid paying union minimums. Plain and simple.

      • Better yet Bob, lets talk face to face. I would enjoy a conversation with you as I feel we’re more aligned than our conversation leads one to believe. Email me and lets meet up for lunch. My treat.

        As to your point, I’ve been saying that all along. I not only acknowledge it, but call it a shrewd business move.

      • Bob Harper

        Steve, if the opportunity presents itself I’ll take you up on lunch. Like I stated I am pro union. I have nothing but positive experiences with the union when I worked at signator studios. I’ve even donated my time sitting on a union panel for Flash animation, back when it appeared to be an opportunity for union members to animate again. When I finally get my studio going it will be union.

        The union has done a lot for animation and its artists. But due to no fault of the union, it can’t protect jobs. The artists who have spoken out here, prefer opportunity over higher salary.

        This is something that we all should think about. How we can educate the artists as well as prospective studios how to keep jobs here and offer union benefits and compensation. But as it stands now, signing a rep card won’t guarantee that a company won’t decide to produce elsewhere. We need to come up with a more diverse plan.

  • Oddone

    I just wanted to say Thank You, Amid, for bringing this to the public’s attention.

  • Frustrating stuff.
    Mr Prynowski’s statement is bothersome to me on two levels:
    * The emphasis on young animators on the way up coupled with these pay grades creates in the long term, a situation in which young animators should expect to be paid very little (even less than they are now). Effectively devaluing everyone who animates in NYC.
    * This situation pushes animators of my age (I’m 37) right out of the market. If recent graduates can barely get by then how am I supposed to make a living as a grown up feller with a mortgage and all the trimmings?
    If this is to spread, it puts a huge base of experience and talent out of work.

  • L. Chow

    There’s only one link to sum this up.

  • I know happy animators working at TitMouse LA, and was a little taken aback to learn of the discrepancy in wages vs their NY counterparts, however I’m not surprised.

    This is nothing compared to what I’ve seen studios in the Pacific Northwest get away with. (IATSE doesn’t cover animation at all here.)

    Talented animators who want to see any light at the end of the tunnel should focus on establishing a unique style and master a solid animation software. (or three) Working independently can be far more rewarding, and just as lucrative.

    Working for any of these meat grinders that churn out content, will gradually bite you. But they can also be great places to learn for a short time. Better to create, sell and own your own content.

    Steal back your time! The clock is ticking.

    • Al

      I’m someone who broke into the animation industry at a studio in the Pacific Northwest making a little more than $400 a week about 5 years ago. Honestly, rent is so cheap there that I didn’t have much problem living happily off of it. I then moved to NYC and got a job that payed $750 a week. Considering my increase in living expenses there, it was a comparable salary.

  • Mark Attark

    He should have just saved a ton of money and sent the animation jobs to Korea instead, no one would be mad at Titmouse that way, right?

  • miller70

    Keep in mind the hours that artists must work for these paltry wages. This is not a stress free 40 hour work week.

    It can be said that working in an artistic industry is a luxury, but that does not mean you cannot respectfully pay your employees for what is expected of them.

    I am always saddened to hear stories like this, it happens in all industries and is all because of greed.

  • Schmegz

    I know low wages are always a hard thing to hear, but consider what Titmouse has provided.

    They have brought animation back to U.S. soil. New York City even. That’s huge! When I watch Superjail and realize it was all done here it blows my mind. I can’t recount anything like it being done here since the Warner Bros. days.

    Research Titmouse, they have really just begun to grow in only the past 2 years or so. I’m sure a studio is expensive and must be handled carefully to eventually grow. They seem to be doing it right. My advice to those concerned with their low wage:

    Stick it out. You are new. Things will always advance and you are gaining knowledge while on the job. That is a rare and beautiful thing that hasn’t really happened around these parts in a while. Money and greed will only destroy something like this and you need to invest your time to really see the benefits later.

    If this was a place like Warner or Disney this would certainly be unheard of. Titmouse isn’t some corporate conglomerate enterprise empire white tower of uncreative business execs. It’s a bunch of artist running a studio and I’d hate to see a big fat money shit wash over and dissolve it and once again chase these opportunities away from America.

    Plus I recall seeing they kind of sponsor Cartoon Brew and their student film fests yea? WTF Amid?

    • boobrat

      you’re for sure a WELL paid employee of titmouse.

      • by “well paid” you mean, worked ass off day and night. otherwise dont bother comment on anything.

    • Schmegz.
      Perhaps you are a seasoned veteran, so I apologise in advance when I say that your comment comes across as inexperienced and naive.

    • No one should blame Titmouse for this. Chris and Shannon certainly have set up a thriving and growing *BUSINESS*. But, that’s the key, its a business.

      Add this little thought to your equations, Disney must be paying Titmouse based on the wages set in the union contract. All Titmouse has done by moving the work to New York is INCREASE THEIR PROFITS.

      That is, after all, what businesses do. After reading that they’ve moved to nicer facilities and are purchasing better equipment, its good to know that money is going back into the company.

    • Jenny

      Friend, I’m sorry, but you telling your fellow workers to suck it up and take it is bullshit. You gotta listen to those who are complaining and help them make it better. The NYC and L.A. BOTH deserve strong unions and good pay. I’m not in the animation business, but I know unfair treatment when I see it. Good fucking thin metapocalypse isn’t running new stuff right now, otherwise I’d boycott it.

      • Jenny,

        Glad to be your friend, but you should know I’m not an artist working at Titmouse. I’m the Labor Organizer for The Animation Guild.

        And I agree, both cities should have union representation for animation artists.

      • Jenny

        Actually, I was talking to Schmegz.

      • Ahh .. was confused. Damned blog conversation threading. :)

    • tommmy

      The only reason anyone cares about anything being made in the USA is that it *usually* means that people are getting better wages. If they’re not, who cares whether the sweatshop they work in is in the USA or [any other country]?

  • I’d heard rumblings about this here in the city and am glad you put up the article so that I could hear a bit more about it.

    Agree with what Elliot C. was saying above also…


  • Fartface

    Please leave Foxconn workers out of this. They are real people who don’t deserve to be made into a vague symbol of exploitation to be pulled out whenever someone feels undervalued.
    Using that non-direct quote from an anonymous Titmouse employee amounts to yellow journalism and does a disservice to the people who do work at Foxconn and undermines your own argument with it vagueness and hyperbole.

    • Someguy

      Totally disagree.

      You can question the scale, but it is the EXACT SAME MOTIVATION that drives both. Slavery had more to do with economic exploitation that race-based hatred. Racial difference was a convenient tool to explain to people how they can still be “good Christians” while raping, murdering, kidnapping, exploiting and selling human beings for a profit. This is why once slavery was made illegal we went into the share-cropping system; a debt-based system. And shockingly, on the share-cropping system both blacks AND whites could be exploited by the moneyed interests. It’s almost as if money and hierarchical control were the point from the beginning.

      You can say that the army crackdowns on the protest in Egypt that see people beaten and killed are much worse than the police actions during Occupy, but again the difference is only of scale and degree. The fundamental principles are all the same. The people demand justice and cops show up to serve (the rich) and protect (the hierarchical system). Do you believe that those cops wouldn’t open fire on unarmed protesters if they could do so with impunity?

      Did anyone see the signs the cops brought out to counter-protest the marches against police violence?

      They read: “Just Following Orders”

      Yup. Very different from the Egyptian military.

      Yes, if you work at Walmart, you have it better than Foxconn workers, but only as much as the law protects you. Imagine if they removed the minimum wage law? Do you think you’d still be making $10.25? Maybe you’d be down to 7.50 because of the “economic uncertainty”? If they removed the laws regarding working conditions and hiring/firing protections. Do you think working conditions for the poorest and most vulnerable would get better or worse? Without the laws, what exactly would stop corporations from driving down wages and working conditions until we were seeing Foxxconn like conditions in the West?

      Their collective ethics?

      This is why I vehemently disagree with you. There is absolutely nothing except the current laws that would prevent those conditions from being replicated right here. And this is why mainstream politicians are talking about eliminating the minimum wage laws and rolling back social protections enshrined in law.

      If you want a preview go look at the working conditions of undocumented workers in North America by some of the richest companies in the world. That is the future.

      China is not a cautionary tale.

      It’s a blueprint.


    • Tom

      Quoting someone comparing their situation favorably to that of a Foxconn employee very effectively shows the degree to which many in the industry undervalue their own labor and under-think their situations. Highlighting this thought process on the part of an employee is perfectly legitimate in the context of this article. Also, it’s a well-established standard practice for journalists not to reveal names of sources who have agreed to speak on condition of anonymity.

  • Spastic Colon Writes…

    In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
    “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
    He didn’t say any more, but we’ve always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were unsought — frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.
    And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes, but after a certain point I don’t care what it’s founded on. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction — Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the “creative temperament.”— it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No — Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
    My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this Middle Western city for three generations. The Carraways are something of a clan, and we have a tradition that we’re descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch, but the actual founder of my line was my grandfather’s brother, who came here in fifty-one, sent a substitute to the Civil War, and started the wholesale hardware business that my father carries on to-day.
    I never saw this great-uncle, but I’m supposed to look like him — with special reference to the rather hard-boiled painting that hangs in father’s office I graduated from New Haven in 1915, just a quarter of a century after my father, and a little later I participated in that delayed Teutonic migration known as the Great War. I enjoyed the counter-raid so thoroughly that I came back restless. Instead of being the warm centre of the world, the Middle West now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe — so I decided to go East and learn the bond business. Everybody I knew was in the bond business, so I supposed it could support one more single man. All my aunts and uncles talked it over as if they were choosing a prep school for me, and finally said, “Why — ye — es,” with very grave, hesitant faces. Father agreed to finance me for a year, and after various delays I came East, permanently, I thought, in the spring of twenty-two.
    The practical thing was to find rooms in the city, but it was a warm season, and I had just left a country of wide lawns and friendly trees, so when a young man at the office suggested that we take a house together in a commuting town, it sounded like a great idea. He found the house, a weather-beaten cardboard bungalow at eighty a month, but at the last minute the firm ordered him to Washington, and I went out to the country alone. I had a dog — at least I had him for a few days until he ran away — and an old Dodge and a Finnish woman, who made my bed and cooked breakfast and muttered Finnish wisdom to herself over the electric stove.
    It was lonely for a day or so until one morning some man, more recently arrived than I, stopped me on the road.
    “How do you get to West Egg village?” he asked helplessly.
    I told him. And as I walked on I was lonely no longer. I was a guide, a pathfinder, an original settler. He had casually conferred on me the freedom of the neighborhood.
    And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.
    There was so much to read, for one thing, and so much fine health to be pulled down out of the young breath-giving air. I bought a dozen volumes on banking and credit and investment securities, and they stood on my shelf in red and gold like new money from the mint, promising to unfold the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas knew. And I had the high intention of reading many other books besides. I was rather literary in college — one year I wrote a series of very solemn and obvious editorials for the “Yale News.”— and now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the “well-rounded man.” This isn’t just an epigram — life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all.
    It was a matter of chance that I should have rented a house in one of the strangest communities in North America. It was on that slender riotous island which extends itself due east of New York — and where there are, among other natural curiosities, two unusual formations of land. Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and separated only by a courtesy bay, jut out into the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound. they are not perfect ovals — like the egg in the Columbus story, they are both crushed flat at the contact end — but their physical resemblance must be a source of perpetual confusion to the gulls that fly overhead. to the wingless a more arresting phenomenon is their dissimilarity in every particular except shape and size.
    I lived at West Egg, the — well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them. my house was at the very tip of the egg, only fifty yards from the Sound, and squeezed between two huge places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season. the one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard — it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. it was Gatsby’s mansion. Or, rather, as I didn’t know Mr. Gatsby, it was a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name. My own house was an eyesore, but it was a small eyesore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor’s lawn, and the consoling proximity of millionaires — all for eighty dollars a month.
    Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans. Daisy was my second cousin once removed, and I’d known Tom in college. And just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago.
    Her husband, among various physical accomplishments, had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven — a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax. His family were enormously wealthy — even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach — but now he’d left Chicago and come East in a fashion that rather took your breath away: for instance, he’d brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest. it was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough to do that.
    Why they came East I don’t know. They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together. This was a permanent move, said Daisy over the telephone, but I didn’t believe it — I had no sight into Daisy’s heart, but I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking, a little wistfully, for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game.
    And so it happened that on a warm windy evening I drove over to East Egg to see two old friends whom I scarcely knew at all. Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion, overlooking the bay. The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens — finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run. The front was broken by a line of French windows, glowing now with reflected gold and wide open to the warm windy afternoon, and Tom Buchanan in riding clothes was standing with his legs apart on the front porch.
    He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body — he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage — a cruel body.
    His speaking voice, a gruff husky tenor, added to the impression of fractiousness he conveyed. There was a touch of paternal contempt in it, even toward people he liked — and there were men at New Haven who had hated his guts.
    “Now, don’t think my opinion on these matters is final,” he seemed to say, “just because I’m stronger and more of a man than you are.” We were in the same senior society, and while we were never intimate I always had the impression that he approved of me and wanted me to like him with some harsh, defiant wistfulness of his own.
    We talked for a few minutes on the sunny porch.
    “I’ve got a nice place here,” he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly.
    Turning me around by one arm, he moved a broad flat hand along the front vista, including in its sweep a sunken Italian garden, a half acre of deep, pungent roses, and a snub-nosed motor-boat that bumped the tide offshore.
    “It belonged to Demaine, the oil man.” He turned me around again, politely and abruptly. “We’ll go inside.”
    We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.
    The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.
    The younger of the two was a stranger to me. She was extended full length at her end of the divan, completely motionless, and with her chin raised a little, as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall. If she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it — indeed, I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbed her by coming in.
    The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise — she leaned slightly forward with a conscientious expression — then she laughed, an absurd, charming little laugh, and I laughed too and came forward into the room.
    “I’m p-paralyzed with happiness.” She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she had. She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the balancing girl was Baker. (I’ve heard it said that Daisy’s murmur was only to make people lean toward her; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)
    At any rate, Miss Baker’s lips fluttered, she nodded at me almost imperceptibly, and then quickly tipped her head back again — the object she was balancing had obviously tottered a little and given her something of a fright. Again a sort of apology arose to my lips. Almost any exhibition of complete self-sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from me.
    I looked back at my cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.
    I told her how I had stopped off in Chicago for a day on my way East, and how a dozen people had sent their love through me.
    “Do they miss me?” she cried ecstatically.
    “The whole town is desolate. All the cars have the left rear wheel painted black as a mourning wreath, and there’s a persistent wail all night along the north shore.”
    “How gorgeous! Let’s go back, Tom. To-morrow!” Then she added irrelevantly: “You ought to see the baby.”
    “I’d like to.”
    “She’s asleep. She’s three years old. Haven’t you ever seen her?”
    “Well, you ought to see her. She’s ——”
    Tom Buchanan, who had been hovering restlessly about the room, stopped and rested his hand on my shoulder.
    “What you doing, Nick?”
    “I’m a bond man.”

    • Ti

      If I’m not mistaken is this the Great Gatsby?

    • John A

      Um,I don’t get it, Why did you feel the need to print the first chapter of “The Great Gatsby” here?

      • A Painter

        lmao i know wtf? lol

    • too long to read… i draw faster

  • Interesting news about Titmouse from….Cartoon Brew.
    Maybe they can put some of those Kickstarter shekels together to pay some folks.

  • DrGrant

    I don’t know about you guys, but I really think Midnight in Paris is gonna win this year. Your thoughts?

  • Nick Lak

    “unskilled laborers like doormen ($25,680) and sanitation workers ($27,842).”

    The DSNY are NOT unskilled laborers zip.

  • Disappointed

    Why are you blaming Titmouse and Chris when the project is being funded by Disney XD? If you want the NY cleanup artists to get paid more, you should request Disney expand their budget.

    Chris is keeping Americans employed rather than sending the work to overseas artists, he could just as easily send that same work to Korea to be done by a more experienced animation crew for a fraction of the cost. Instead he’s giving these inexperienced graduates a chance.

    You touched on it a little bit in the article, Chris is probably the biggest proponent for giving young artists practical training and expanding their talent. He’s trying to turn this industry around and make it better, yet with people out there badmouthing him like this I don’t see why he should even bother, he wouldn’t have to worry about hearing Koreans complain.

    • Why do you see this as bad mouthing? This post is nothing more than shining a light on the situation.

  • MrTibb

    Yellow journalism is being kind. If there is an actual issue, (and there may be) this piece is so poorly presented that there are few, if any, real facts to be had as the truth of the situation seems to be obscured by a general haze of poor reporting.

    If I was the author, I would be the one embarrassed…

  • The thing about Titmouse is they let you show off what you got. They have 5 SECOND DAY where you can show off your talent. Chris, Shannon and the other owners RECOGNIZE that talent because they are artists and people you can respect.

    If you are talented and hardworking they recognize that and promote you. Everything Chris said is true because I’ve seen it happen to several animators. I’m sorry for the entry-level employees in NY earning that salary but there are other opportunities you are given besides making a larger salary. Is there another studio out there that even offers animation clean up? I cannot think of any.

    I’m so thankful titmouse exists; I think I would be a hollow cranky husk of an artist (like so many other animators) if I didn’t have this environment.

    • boobrat

      no one’s attacking titmouse. theyre attacking the absurd difference in pay for the SAME job between the east coast and the west coast.

      as an artist, it’s in your best interest that $400/week doesn’t become the norm.

      other studios that offer animation cleanup?

      wildbrain, six point harness, obb bot, renegade, Studio B…

      • If that was true then the article could of been just about the difference between NY and LA job Wages, not specifically at titmouse. But I guess attacking something makes for a better read.

      • MIKE M part 2

        Pretty sure the studios boobrat listed are all LA-based, and aren’t actually answers to the first mike m’s question. He asked with the wording “out there”, meaning NY. There may or may not be NY animation studios offering cleanup at better rates (I doubt it), but just so that’s clarified.

      • Grif 5th

        I agree with Mike M. This article has every intention of damaging the reputation of Titmouse by interviewing only one anonymous employee. Entry level work never pays well in any field. People can earn different rates depending on many factors, not just geography. This article unfairly suggests that Titmouse could be so shallow.

        What this article should be focused on is that it DOES offer paid entry level work, in a location that once had no work for us at all. Before Titmouse, you had a better chance of being struck by lightning then getting a job doing cleanup or animation anywhere.

        In our current economy, finding work in the field you studied in school was close to impossible. Titmouse makes it very possible to start your career and gain experience doing exactly what it is you set out to do.

        It’s wrong to drag this studio’s name through the mud without all of the facts. And I feel sorry for anyone dumb enough to take it seriously.

      • CleanUp

        Also, at Titmouse LA, starting rate for cleanup on non-union shows is $400/week, or around there, depending on the project’s budget. This is not an east/west coast issue, but union/non-union. Maybe Amid should have interviewed some west coast cleanup artists.

      • amid

        The article is about the discrepancy in wages for the same clean-up position on Motorcity.

      • Jody

        Well, Amid, then you may have wanted to disclose what point in their respective careers your examples were in. A fresh-out-of-school former intern is not going to make the same amount as a ten-year veteran cleanup artist.

        And you know it.

        However, you fail to mention it. I wonder why.

        I sure hope those extra hits were worth it to you, because to get them you sullied the name of one of the industry’s nicest and most sincere guys.

      • Amid:

        There are no longer any Motorcity cleanup artists in Titmouse LA.

        Those artists (2 total) have since been laid off and *promoted* to animators on other shows. Money saved from laying off the cleanup crew has been diverted to hiring *more* animators at Motorcity.

        Motorcity still needs cleanup, so it’s done by freelance in NYC, where the company also provides cintiqs, offices, and a chance to climb up in in the production, if they’re good enough. That is what the company can afford right now. If we were any other studio, these jobs would be outsourced.

        Are you stacking research from December and January and saying it’s up-to-date for February? You can’t say “The article is about the discrepancy in wages for the same clean-up position on Motorcity” because those positions in LA WERE NOT SUSTAINABLE AND DON’T EXIST ANYMORE.

        If anything, Titmouse should get props for even *trying* to get these jobs to function within the union.

  • frye

    Unions do serve their purpose, but in a case like this when a company has to pay higher wages than they can afford, then they are forced to sacrifice money in other areas like materials, research, etc. Then over time the company puts out inferior products and goes out of business.

    • Higher than they can afford? How do you figure that?

      • frye

        I don’t know their budgets over there, but when to have to pay employees more, then that means company profits are less. as harsh as that sounds, but would you rather have a company overpay employees than eventually go out of business so there is no more job, or would you rather the company underpay or pay a fair wage and that job has a chance to last a long time.

      • By arguing that the company is paying more than they can afford, then recanting and admitting you know nothing of what’s being paid, you’ve kind of made a fool of yourself and proven you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

        I’d rather see a company pay wages that were bargained collectively and reflect current market standards. I’d also rather see artists not have to bear the inherent risk that employers take on when running a business by being “underpaid” .. as you put it .. to keep the business running. I’d rather animation studios doing work for conglomerates charge the contractor enough to cover the cost of the artists plus enough to keep the business profitable.

        Its called Cost-Plus Pricing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost-plus_pricing), and the industry would be well served making this a standard.

  • SausageDong

    I think this is a terribly researched and mean spirited post.
    I work at Titmouse and it’s the greatest company I have ever worked for. They do more for encouraging young talent than any other studio – animation or otherwise – in the country.
    I have never seen any business provide the opportunities for growth and promotion that they do. Right down to the personal level, they treat their employees with the utmost respect and encouragement.

    It disheartens me to see a post so drastically mischaracterize both Chris and the company. And I strongly encourage the writer of this post to spend even an hour at one of Titmouse’s offices to find out what he is really talking about.

  • amid

    For the record (and per Chris’s request), I wanted to share Chris Prynoski’s entire written statement that he shared with Cartoon Brew:


    I totally understand and respect your intention in looking into this matter. I’m sure you have the NY animation artists’ best interests in mind. I believe that your heart is in the right place.

    I also know that my heart is in the right place. I came up in New York. My intention is to help grow the NY animation community in any way possible. This is what Titmouse NY has set out to do, and I think we are taking steps in the right direction. Do I wish we could pay every artist more? Yes, of course. Always. Right now we are trying to keep work in America and New York specifically. As you suggested, we could ship some of this work overseas. But I really feel that giving young New York talent practical work experience is something that has long term benefits. As these artists learn and develop, they have opportunities within the studio for promotion. We encourage artists to pursue positions in which they have interest. We hope to help these artists develop into the next group of great animators, designers, and directors. Right now our NY studio is in its infancy. As it grows, the talent will grow with it. As the talent grows, the talent base grows not just for Titmouse, but for the New York animation community in general. I refuse to see this as a bad thing.

    I can’t talk in very specific terms about production details on shows we have been contracted to produce. What I can comment on is that there is room for advancement and longevity within the studio. We have kept many artists employed for long periods, rolling from one project to the next. We have promoted many artists very quickly within the studio. The rates we pay span a wide range – all based on merit and experience. Many of the experienced artists earn above the going rates. Everyone has an opportunity to advance if they have the drive and desire.

    I do not claim that our studio is perfect. We are far from it. (We are run by artists, after all!) As we try to walk, we fall down a few times and learn – but I think the artists are willing to grow and learn with us. I have a long term commitment to making this studio work. And the studio means the artists. I welcome any person to bring any issue they may have to my attention. That’s what helps us all grow stronger. All I want to do is create a comfortable atmosphere to make great cartoons. And I truly believe that’s what we’re doing.

    I encourage you to come by the studio and see the vibe of Titmouse NY for yourself. I don’t believe you will see an atmosphere of persecution or exploitation. I believe you’ll see a tight community of vibrant, enthusiastic, devoted artists that inspire me every single day.

    Chris P

    • Mitch Kennedy

      Amid, Chris’s response should now be included in your original post.

    • Writer of Wrongs

      Jesus Amid. What a shitty thing to do. You write a slam piece and then you don’t publish the full statement from the person/studio you are slamming. That’s shameful and dishonest. For the sake of decency you should edit your original post and publish Chris’ full letter.

    • Jenny

      Could Chris at least admit that he should unionize the NYC studio? It’s a nice, respectful letter, but seriously.

      • Writer of Wrongs

        Jenny. Its not that simple. First, there is no animation union in NY. Second, the rents in NY are 5 times those in LA. So from a business standpoint that’s not an option. Third, the premise of Amid’s entire hit piece is wrong. So really this tempest in a teacup discussion is moot. Amid created this. Its up to him now to apologize, retract, and make things right again.

      • You’re wrong. The IATSE is based in New York. There are locals there that would be able to represent animation.

        I’m not clear on how the disparity in rent makes sense to counter a union argument. I can see how it goes to how the $400/wk wage is infeasible though.

        You seem to be making assumptions about unionization equaling an increase in cost. Its a common misconception. There is no way you can foretell what a contract between the IATSE and Titmouse NY would have as far as costs. That’s because, no one can know until the contract is written.

        Finally, and most importantly, the deciding factor in the unionization of a studio is with the artists. Unless another sub-contract deal is struck in New York, the artists will have to bring the union in.

      • Jenny

        So even if we and any dissatisfied NYC layout person demands unions, they can’t establish it?

      • Of course they can. If artists are interested in representation with the IATSE, they should contact me at [email protected]

      • Writer of Wrongs

        Steve. Bringing in unions always make business more expensive. To say otherwise is either naive or flat out lying. I am not against unions though. Just against predatory ones that don’t actually protect workers, but are about collecting due and keeping the status quo. Its a racket. And man Steve you are starting to sound like an ambulance chase.

      • You really are full of misconceptions. Your pseudonym fits you perfectly as I can’t find a better way than “Writer of Wrongs” to describe you. I’m happy to be chasing your “ambulance” of misinformation.

        There are stipulations in the union contract that include costs (Health and Pension contributions being the most popular). I assume that’s what you mean when you say “make a business more expensive”. What you’re not considering is the fact that *ANY AND ALL* items in a contract are up for grabs in negotiations. The IATSE certainly considers H&P contributions an important item, and I hope artists do as well. But, its not a foregone conclusion that they or any item in our contract will be written in during the negotiation process.

      • Writer of Wrongs

        [Comment removed by editors. Using multiple aliases in the same thread is not allowed. Please use a single name so readers can identify who is speaking.]

  • Titmouse makes what we all love: cartoons. I work for Titmouse, and I love it. And every coworker that I know loves it. Case closed.

    • Not Nico

      You’re missing the point entirely. Titmouse is great. The article wasn’t bashing titmouse. it was bashing the disgusting difference in pay within the SAME company for the SAME job from one coast to the next.

      as an “artist”, I would think you’d want your craft to be valued at what it’s worth.

      I wonder if you would be singing a different tune if you were getting paid $400/week

      also, you’re at titmouse? shouldn’t you be working right now, Nico?

      got to earn your big bucks. those cartoons you love aren’t going to make themselves :)

      • Ti

        But that point is mute. Cause NY Titmouse does clean up for 400 a week and LA Titmouse gets paid for animation. Two different jobs get two different salaries. Its like saying the mailroom should get paid the same amount as the manager.

      • CleanUp

        Non-union starting cleanup (most of Titmouse LA cleanup) is also $400 a week, or around there, depending on the project budget

    • Nobody

      Uhhh…did you even read the article?

      • Ti

        Yes I did and the guy did not get all the facts. All he did get was comments from one department of workers.

      • Hi “Not Nico”,

        I had to work in retail and restaurant jobs for 8 years before getting my position as an animatic editor (a completely different, higher paying position as it is) here at the studio. I dunno what you do for a living, but it’s unfair of you to assume this great job fell into my lap and I did no work to earn it.

      • Not Nico

        I was suggesting you should probably stand up for the fair treatment of your peers so that they can reach the same level success that you have fought for.

        The article was an attack on the system. not on your studio. It’s just an unfortunate fact that in this case, your studio is a proponent of that flawed system.

        Your response is totally off topic. no one cares about your retail jobs. it has nothing to do with the discussion. no where do I accuse you of not deserving your job. where did I imply that? you’re not the first person to work their way up from retail. You don’t need to make everything about you, Nico.

        What does it matter what I do? I have a cushy animation job where I can sit and post on forums all day.

        just like you :)

      • Snagglepuss

        Stop adding those smileys. They don’t change the tone of your words. Anyway, this post is weird. Like the Hearst papers of the 1910’s, if there isn’t a scandal, Amid will sniff one out and make one!

    • Jorge Garrido

      That’s one of the most immature and naive things I’ve ever read in my entire life. Nico, are you for real?

      The fact you find the work enjoyable in LA is irrelevant to the issue of the wage gap suffered by NY artists. Loving cartoons has nothing to do with business or economics.

      • Jorge Garrido

        Also, Nico, nobody is questioning the fact that you earned your job doing whatever at Titmouse. But your response rings of entitled chauvinism. We ALL worked our way through college or after high school doing minimum wage stuff. It’s not impressive.

        Ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome? Obviously this is a very MILD version of it, but a great culture makes you blind to this obvious injustice. And kudos that you found a culture that appeals to your sensibilities and that you really love. I’m very happy for you, but looking at the cold hard numbers shows a disproportionate wage gap that you simply can’t argue with, no matter how many times you end your post with “case closed.”

        I questioned on Facebook the other day why there’s no animation union in Canada. They said it’s because with a union they’d lose all their jobs. Canada is cheap labour compared to LA. But the irony of this is that minimum wage in Ontario is $10.25. In New York, it’s $7.25. So Titmouse employees are literally for $10 AN HOUR doing clean-up. Disgusting, they’re make 1/3 above the lowest legal minimum wage. The combination of low minimum wage and no union in NY seems to have created conditions for these disproportionately low wages. In Canada the same 1/3 increase above minimum wage would be $14. In LA it’s like $26.

        No union, high cost of living, and low minimum wage. I don’t understand how some Americans live like this.

    • Dan O.

      Please tell me you’re kidding, Nico.
      Your statement is incredibly ignorant and self centered.
      I know you love the limelight, but this isn’t about you.
      Is it such an abstract thought, that even though you’re being treated fairly, others arent?

  • Steve K.

    Money is not always everything. From my own experience, I’ve had high paying jobs that sucked ass. What good is all that dough when you hate going to your job?? How much fun is that?

    Isn’t bringing on young talent with the potential to grow for the long term what Walt Disney did? Remember, not everyone gets to start at the top. Titmouse is not a fly by night studio. It’s been around for a number of years now. How many other studios have come and gone for projects that burn people out and disappear as soon as the show is over?

    Long term and artist run? Sounds to me more like the dream studio.

  • Jody Schaeffer

    You know, as a guy that has known Chris for over 20 years, it’s especially galling for me to read this crap.

    Chris and I went to college together in New York. When work drew him out to Los Angeles he had always hoped and expected to return to New York. When the work dried up out there he was disappointed but remained optimistic. He knew there was a great community of awesome talent out there, and surely someone would tap into that. When the opportunity breathe some life back into the defunct New York animation scene presented itself, he leapt at the chance. He has never given anyone anything less than a fair shake and he has ALWAYS made studio morale his number one priority.

    So yeah. To even imply that Chris P is up to some unethical shenanigans says more about your site than it ever will about him.

  • Jimmy Boy

    Ok, I get the significant gap between LA and NY salaries, but you know what, it’s the best job I’ve ever had. whether they be animation, cleanup, BG, or storyboard artists, I work with alot of talented and humble artist.

    I’ve been here for about a year and a half and I look forward to getting up every morning and animating on these fun and wonderful projects. The LA Titmouse corps have come by on more than one occasion and they are one of the most outstanding people I have ever met. NY and LA learn from each other rather than trying to out do each other.

    Titmouse has given me a chance to grow, and in return, I will continue to keep going hard core and stand by their side.

    • I left NY because there were NO JOBS there, all preschool shows, there was world leaders, little airplanes, animation collectives, and now they are all gone. some people expect some 5 star hotel to be build in the middle of nowhere, and say why isnt the food taste anygood.

      its what happens when you rely on cheap tricks to make cartoons that goes no where.

      now titmouse is starting and its not perfect, but i know that chris p personally will never take advantage of anyone, HE’s AN ANIMATOR TOO.

      • Donald “The Donald” Trump

        5$ a drawing oversees? Then I guess they make much more than you. So what was your point Li? If anyone knows about hard work and looking good doing it, it’s me “The Donald”. You want to talk about 5 star hotels coming out of nowhere, I’m the man. When you work for a company you owe them and they give you in return what they think is reasonable compensation.

        It’s a game of pimps and hoes. If Titmouse wants to pay New Yorkers less then good for them and if they don’t like it, just tell them what I tell employes when they bitch at me “You’re fired!”In the mean time keep milking those tits Titmouse.


    my friends worked there for more than a year called “intership”

    2. People work over seas get paid 5$ per drawing, would you like to know how thats like, they draw better than you and they dont complain. are you going to defend them? are you going to paid them same wages with benefits and healthcare??

    we are bring work back to america, while you complain about low wages. ITS NOT GONNA HAPPEN OVERNIGHT, it takes hardwork, sacrifices to BUILD UP THE INDUSTRY AGAIN, AND HAVE MORE FINANCE TO PAY THE ARTISTS.

    • Ryoku75

      That first point is really irrelevant.

      $5 can probably get you more things in Korea than in the US.

  • Jeremy P

    This is one of the most poorly researched articles I ever read on this website. I’m gonna have to give you one disgusted thumbs down, Amid. Your article is ignorant and mediocre in its research and thought.

    • amid

      …says a supervising animator at Titmouse.

      • Jeremy P

        I didnt start out as a supervising animator. I started here 4 years ago, getting paid less than half of what I make today. I worked really hard and believed in what we’re doing here at this studio. I feel that my time and commitment spent here was well worth the effort.

      • Amid, what have you produced that hired more animators than titmouse? pls tell me

        You visited my school, that year, i was in the career class, and like 3 people got jobs after graduation. now you are writing a bad article blaming the wrong people. the world isnt all sunshines and rainbows. but people who work at titmouse are driven by passion and pride in our sacrifices.

  • CleanUp

    For the record, the starting cleanup pay for non-union shows at the LA office is also $400 a week.
    The big issue here is the union shows cost more, so the choice usually becomes to send all animation overseas. There is very little union animation/cleanup being done in the US. If you want to be an animator (and not a storyboard artist), you have to choose between having a non-union job, and no job at all. The union animation jobs are incredibly difficult to find, and fund, and so if only part of the production can afford to be union to keep animation in the states, the rest has to be subcontracted out at non-union rates.

    Or, you know, send it all to Korea and everyone will be unemployed.

    • PenguinFucker

      tl;dr “Oh no, these poor non-union workers are being paid to do what they love in a field they can’t find anywhere else in America at a studio that encourages creativity and cares deeply for its employees. Also the basics of writing and researching coherently have obviously been outsourced to Korea, because it is nowhere to be found in my blog.”

  • Jeremy P

    I didnt start out as a supervising animator. I started here 4 years ago, getting paid less than half of what I make today. I worked really hard and believed in what we’re doing here at this studio. I feel that my time and commitment spent here was well worth the effort.

  • Sarcasm


    • Ryoku75

      I see that they hire a well ranged variety of ages at Titmouse.

  • Parker S

    I have no idea how to properly respond to this. All I can add to the conversation is that Titmouse employed me right out of art school and has since provided me with consistent work, more than adequate pay and more opportunities than I would have ever received elsewhere. I went from shading to animating to boarding to directing and now I’ve got a great union gig with benefits.

    Chris and Shannon have shown more respect for my talent and well-being than even I have and are like family to me. I’m proud to be a Titmouse.

  • Jon Schnepp

    Wow. I’ll start by saying any animation done in the USA, which gives Americans a job in their chosen field of work, as opposed to being forced to work outside of their chosen field because those jobs have all gone overseas, is a good thing. I work at Titmouse LA, and have for the past seven years. I have directed and coproduced the show “Metalocalypse” at Titmouse for the past seven years, as well as bunch of other projects at the studio.

    I’ll also say that most of the people I’ve met from the NY offices who could be working at these rates (since I’m not privy to individual payments per employee), are fresh out of college or interns turned full-timers. As in early twenties age wise, and green to working as a full-time animator, and ready and eager to learn how to become a professional in the animation business. Your article makes it sound like they are dumb children being taken advantage of. These are young adults working for the first time in a professional world, where raises come and job promotions come as time goes on. Remember, like how other jobs work. I’m not saying this is not a very low rate, but seriously, you are taking a company to task very publicly for creating animation jobs in the states?

    Where does the part about trying out possible employees and seeing who is actually a real addition to the company, and who is not, and then the ones that make the “cut” and move on to full-time employees with higher rates, while the ones who didn’t work out are replaced with a fresh crop of the same “maybe hired or maybe fired”. The rates maybe low, but this is a competitive business, and no one is stopping anyone from working or not working at any place, or any studio. I think to call out a company who has done nothing but help generate a fresh exciting buzz in the community as well as in the field in general, and have stood out in both commitment to job creation here in the states as well as commitment to making new fresh animation, from a website that promotes animation business, is not only the pot calling the kettle black, but also ignorant, bitter, and very back-handed. Titmouse is a small company that has grown by leaps and bounds, and has fought tooth and nail to be able to make the shows that they want to. They have always backed me up on animation projects that I wanted to do, and have always helped push every artist to be their creative best, and to help with passion projects, and make the tools of the studio available to their employees. I’ve experienced this and seen it for others. Does this happen at other studios? I know first hand that a few of the other studios I worked at very briefly in a few breaks between titmouse jobs were not like this in the least, and were actually creatively oppressive.

    I started working in the early nineties, in Chicago, where there was no animation companies available to work or learn at, and I was not even in the animation business at the time, but as I worked at my friends music video company (H-Gun), I was paid per project, to help out or PA, or act as an extra, at $50 to $100 per day, not every day even. I was 22 years old, and I had the best time, learned so much, and went on to make lifelong friends, connections and business contacts that have continued to flourish to this day. Nowadays, I make more than $100 dollars a day, and so will most of the crews that are employed at Titmouse NY in the coming years. I think the sad truth that most people who are on the “complaining” side is that they probably have never worked at a studio as great as titmouse, or bitter and feel they are “owed” something for being able to draw a cute duck. Well, sorry, the world does not work that way, and NEVER HAS. Read a few articles about the history of animation, there are several thousand books available to check out from libraries or to purchase on Amazon if you’d like to own them before they stop making books and all the library’s are turned into facebook chat room connection points for the upcoming generation of children who could possibly also have their dream of working in the animation field crushed by finding out that there are no jobs for them because EVERY major company has outsourced the work overseas to pay $10 a day for animation employees because a bunch of people don’t understand the way businesses operate and want to feel like they have gotten the wrong end of the stick.

    Also, with technology being so available, and with seventh graders creating 3D worlds filled with digital characters that they modeled and comped and animated in their bedroom, the landscape has indeed changed for everyone. I’m sorry that those people who made $800 a day for animation can’t make that now, but look at the playing field, and realize that its is completely different. I know a ton of people who used to work in film, and video broke them. I know a ton of people who could not grow with the times, and became bitter complaining unemployed loud mouths.

    I don’t know many people, who instead of actually working in the animation business and contributing to creating jobs for US animators, would rather point fingers and write one-sided articles with a slanted take.

    Jon Schnepp

  • Duze

    Some valid points, but I deduct 10 points from you, Amid, on the title. If you’re gonna start that play on words, you should’ve gone all the way and called it:

    “A Tale of Two Titties”

    … that is all.

  • Dr.Veinkmen

    Amid, beyond all the this stuff thats going on with the article, I had a question. How much would it cost to have personal animation lessons from you. I mean I know your really busy all the time, and I respect that, I just want you to know, I’d pay whatever it took. I wanna learn to animate from the best.

    By the way, It’d be a cold day in hell before I let Jeremy be my supervisor. How dare Jeremy step to you like that!? Who the hell does he think he is?! Some kind of AMAZING ANIMATOR????? That brazen man, why if he wasn’t 3000 miles away, Id be forced to throw down fisticuffs with that hooligan.

    • Slimer

      Jeremy isn’t an amazing animator. He’s a super duper, over the top, crazy, out of this world, HARDCORE ANIMATOR! Jus’ thought I’d throw that out there.

  • Astrass

    I love my job. I LOVE my job. I work REALLY hard, and have ever since I have gotten this job. And I will continue to do so as long as I am here.

    But, I also had to work really hard to get this job I love so much. I spent years working cafes and retail to support myself, doing internships on my days off to at least be touching the animation industry. This was a time when all the New york studios were one by one collapsing, and NYC animation was on its death bed. And finally, something worked out. Titmouse opened it’s doors in NY.

    It should be a wonderful thing, to study something you are passionate about, and then walk right out of school and into a job! That almost NEVER happens anymore. Sure, the wages may not be dream wages, but at least you have your dream job. And it is a company that is very true to their artists. You do right by Titmouse, and Titmouse will do right by you. They give their artists so many opportunities to grow, as long as the artists have the drive to take them. I am ashamed we have someone in our midst that would betray us this way. You don’t bite the hand that feeds.

  • Zoë Moss

    Can I just say that the bullying replies to Titmouse employees is really creepy? Are you honestly trying to shut us up just because we actually work at the company? I personally believe we should be allowed to tell our side of the story and our experiences.

    When I entered Titmouse, I was making low wages on Superjail! as cleanup, a non union show. I stayed with Titmouse because this company believes in what it does and because this place treats you like family. It nurtures you, it appreciates you as an individual and artist.Titmouse is valuable not only for this but more importantly because of what it does for the animation community and industry; it’s trying to breath life back into it, particularly in NY.

  • Mike Carlo

    Interesting how the testimony of a hand full outweighs that of the majority. I guess those few people are not disgruntled and probably worked in the industry long enough to know better than those who have had many jobs over the years. I’m just saying that when one person regardless of their lack of experience comments negatively it seems like everyone wants to get down with that but when people who have been in it a while and worked their way through the same thing be it here or other places speak positvely they immediately get shot down… What do I know only been in the game 10 years.

  • :: smo ::

    i’d be interested to see what studios do in house ink and paint on entirely hand drawn shows [not puppety] that pay the aforementioned union cleanup rate. my bets are it’s mostly going overseas.

    hell, what shows are even ANIMATED in the US that have any level of motion?

    adventure time? nope. flapjack? nope. oh but we’re talking about motor city, so action shows… ben ten? nope. justice league? nope.

    i’d be interested to see a follow up article on that. studios that actually animate high action in the us.

    i’m an animator at titmouse new york. i am not a lead. i animate on metalocalypse, superjail, china, il…a lot of really satisfying projects. i love my job. i feel i earn my keep.

    i’ve worked in this city for six years. i’ve been on television productions, commercials, web shows, theatrical spots, laser light shows, all sorts of stuff. mostly freelance. between gigs i’d have to take on odd jobs. that’s new york. that was new york before titmouse. now the possibility of steady work is here.

    you’re going to be hard pressed to find anyone in new york making the LA union rates on any project that isn’t at an ad agency. i get personally offended when i see someone “exposing” cleanup rates when there’s barely any cleanup in this country as it stands.

    i appreciate the sentiment, i just feel it’s a bit misguided and potentially hurtful when the problem isn’t why aren’t cleanup artists rolling in dough, but why isn’t there any animation in the us outside of titmouse and auginblick and a handful of other small studios out west?

  • Kumamon

    I’m pretty sure the experience or whatever isn’t the issue. “They’ll get paid more with more experience and work their way up!” Here’s an idea: How about starting wages for a job be the same in the company regardless of location. What a novel concept. I think a lot of people are missing the point here.

    • Mark Attark

      As someone who who works at Titmouse, I can tell you that starting rates for clean up animation at Titmouse are the same for both LA and NY.

    • Special C

      Here’s another point people are missing: though $400 is indeed pretty low, isn’t $1,055 per week an INSANELY HIGH rate to pay an entry level cleanup artist? Is that a union demand? If so, no wonder a studio would want to be non-union.

      • Demand? It was bargained into the contract. When the contract was written, both sides had input as to its contents. The wage minimums were reviewed by Titmouse and after some negotiating, agreed upon.

        That’s how negotiations work.

      • Writer of Wrongs

        Flat out lie. Titmouse and other independent studios did not have input on the deal. The big corporations with the big animation studios controlled the negotiations. Then smaller studios and independent studios are stuck with a terrible deal that they have no say in. Its a way for the bigger studios to keep the competition limited. This is why the WGA and even SAG has a different rate of mins for independents and projects with smaller budgets. The only way an independent studio like Titmouse could grow the way it has is because they can only afford to make projects non-union. The union needs to look in the mirror and understand it is half the problem.

      • Really?! You were on the calls then? I was. Steve Hulett negotiated with the lawyer representing Titmouse. The lawyer presented Titmouse with our contract. Titmouse came with their proposals. Items were agreed to, changed and even omitted. A sideletter was created and signed by *BOTH* parties.

        Go ahead and be an anti-union tub thumper. But get your facts straight. No side got everything they wanted and that’s how you know a good deal was made.

  • By-stander Caught in the Cross Fire

    To reply to this article in particulars would be a waste of time. But I will add that I cannot believe how incredibly rude and hate filled most of these comments and responses are. It seems most people who are commenting aren’t even bothering to get the few facts in the article correct when referring to them.

    It just blows my mind how many people are just jumping down each others throats and saying such immature and snide remarks. Maybe I’m all hippy dippy about this stuff, but I see all of us artists as a community. Here to help one another and in this case trying to bring light on an issue where people could be being treated unfairly. It just seems that people are taking a lot of cheap shots at one another and that just isn’t a productive way to achieve anything.

    I’m not for or against this company. But if there are people who will bend over and take that pay they are also in turn screwing the entire field by saying yes, I will take this pay even though I wont be able to afford rent or food. On the other hand I also understand that companies have budgets, and I’m not sure but in the case of studios like this six-point etc its not them who make the budget. Its the big company like Disney and the like who are the ones handing out the Dollars. And yes there are injustices in the pay scale, I’ve seen it in the industry first hand. I work beside someone doing the same job making hundreds more than them. It’s not because I’m more qualified its because I fought to get what I deserve. But this is an issue we should try to justify not yell at one another and call each childish names. You have to work towards issues without reducing yourselves to school yard antics.

    Everything about this article, its comments, and responses are just… disheartening.

    • Writer of Wrongs

      Dude. The facts in the article are wrong. So quoting them is a waste of time.

  • Ryan DeLuca

    First of all, let me say that I am one of the TWO cleanup artists that was working on MotorCity in the LA studio. I started at the company over 5 years ago as an intern while still in school. Chris and Shannon have been the kindest and most encouraging employers that a young artist could hope for. They have allowed me to grow as both a person and an artist and in my 5 years of employment I have been an: animator, assistant animator, cleanup, color, bg artist, story boarder, production assistant, and production coordinator on various projects. Please tell me another studio that would allow this type of creative freedom of an individual artist.

    To imply that my work is subpar is insulting, and the fact that you did no research before making claims about why you think decisions are being made in this studio speaks volumes to your journalistic integrity.

    I started out at a very comparable wage to what the NY cleanup artists are quoted to be making and due to my desire and experience, I now make considerably more than that. I could possibly make more money elsewhere but for the benefits that Titmouse has provided (most often not monetarily), I would not trade my current job for anything. Please tell me another studio that provides creative outlets like 5 second animation day, or the good old fashioned stress relief of a smashing party. Chris and Shannon have made me feel like family and through the good times and the bad I have stuck with them because I believe in what the studio does.

    Your article is very one sided and full of irresponsible “reporting”. I would be embarrassed to have published something so hastily, but I suppose that just speaks to the quality of my work.

    • amid

      Ryan, I didn’t say your work was subpar. That is what one of the artists I spoke to in New York was told by a supervisor/management figure. I asked Chris Prynoski if he could comment on whether the reason the NY artist was given was valid, and he declined to comment.

      • Jody Schaeffer

        He declined to comment because it violates his NDA with Disney. But feel free to omit that since it gives the full story.

  • Charles

    Well it could ALWAYS BE WORSE! Up here in Canada, studios are trying and succeeding in getting fresh grads to work on a television series on an 8 month contract full time hours for FREE, …cough, sorry as an “unpaid” internship. And there is no union to speak of Toronto so be thankful that there is AT LEAST one in the US to keep some kind of standard for the industry. Or else you end up new animators working for free and taking jobs that used to go paid animators! Which is exactly what has happened and is happening in Toronto. Check out more information on what one studio(Guru) is trying to get away in Toronto.

  • miller70

    It is very amusing to read the negative comments towards Amid when he did in fact report an accurate story with numerous footnotes.

    I would be surprised if any supportive comments are coming from the artists making $400 a week, who one would now assume will be fired as a result of speaking to Cartoon Brew.

    The comments have shifted the focus of this piece, as the question is about business morality when it comes to fair compensation and not if Titmouse is run by nice people.

    “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Timothy 6:10

    • Fartsicle

      Thank you, Tim Tebow. I am making $400 a week doing cleanup in Titmouse LA, and I’m having a grand old time, so I hope your surprise level goes up as promised.

      • miller70

        “A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.” Ecclesiastes 10:19

      • nope money ISNT the answer for everything, and you are just quoting the bible.

    • Steph

      Actually, some of these comments are from people who are in LA and get paid the same as NY clean up. We’re supportive because we love Titmouse.

    • Jody Schaeffer

      The negativity stems from the fact that he most assuredly did NOT report an accurate story. He neglected to mention Chris did not comment on certain items because it violates his NDA with DIsney, and then went on to cherry-pick excepts from his rebuttal.

      That’s the definition of dishonest reporting.

      • miller70

        “Be as you wish to seem.” Socrates

    • CleanUp

      Titmouse LA pays the same starting wages for non-union cleanup as Titmouse NY.
      There is not an east/west coast discrepancy or feud.

      The fact is, the cleanup was subcontracted for non-union wages because the budget did not provide enough for union wages for that part of the animation process.

      • And that’s part of the reason the article was written. If the sub-contract work was given to Titmouse under the auspices of a union contract, and then Titmouse uses non-union employees (read: cheaper) to complete the work, it seems more logical that Disney would have allowed for union artists (read: more expensive) wages. Thus, better profits for Titmouse.

        Again, that’s not a disparaging remark. Its just fact.

    • Corey M. Barnes

      ““For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Timothy 6:10 ”

      So I guess those $400/wk artists shouldn’t be eager for money! Wouldn’t want them to turn evil.

      • they would turn into animator and possible directors.
        only people who complain all the time turns evil, thats a fact

  • Steph

    I’ve worked at Titmouse LA for the last five years since I graduated college, on and off as projects have come rolling in. I’ve been offered a variety of wages depending on the role, and my experience. I’ve worked on only non-union shows here, and that makes such a huge difference to the pay rate.

    I’m really proud to work here. I don’t care what I get paid, as long as I can make ends meet. Titmouse is a fantastic studio, and we may gripe about pay sometimes but anyone who works here -loves- it here. I’d never think once that Chris P. is out to stick it to any of us. :/

  • Jane Doe

    I got paid at Wayforward in Valencia $10.- an hr. I was told by an fellow Calarts Alumni who is a creator there that it was fair! I know its not and I sure know that he knows its not.

    I need the money and that was the bottom line. So I guess I could say, this could close the gap a bit?

    also,I think Armid needs to expand more research than doing this among people he knows. There are a lot of small studios around LA that pay so little. Appreciate the article though.

  • Grif 5th

    It’s unfortunate that this article sheds Titmouse in such an unfairly negative light. Amid simply has not done thorough research on the atmosphere and community here at the studio. Frankly, I’m heartbroken to read such cruel and biased journalism towards the very studio that has done nothing but improve the animation industry for artists and audiences alike. This studio offers opportunities and creative freedom that are simply unrivaled in the industry. The views and opinions of artists working at the two studios have not been represented in this article, and as one of those artists I feel betrayed reading these words. Titmouse has taken great strides in the industry, and has proven itself to be more than a studio, but a community of the most highly-talented, creative, and passionate people I have ever met. The attitude here has always been nothing but positive, and Chris and Shannon have always had our best interests at heart.

    • Steve K.


  • I tried to read all the posts, but goddamn, some of you people are long-winded. I live out in the provinces and freelance all over. Right now I got active clients in London, New York and Nashville. They’re mostly good Joes. But, I talk to a lot of people wanting me to compete for jobs with south Asians, who don’t have through the roof healthcare premiums and high internet connection fees. And good food is cheaper, unless TESCO takes completely over. I like south Asia. Maybe I should move there. Any move should be made soon, with 8 billion people coming to a planet near you. Get the idea?

  • Talk about a poorly constructed article. But I suppose even news blogs are capable of yellow journalism.

    Speaking as a friend and previously employed Titmouser, that company really looks after people. There was a point where I was completely down on my luck in my field (Graphic Design), but the studio gave me a chance when no one else did and I pushed to provide the best work that I could.

    Talking in round table discussions with Chris P and Antonio, you really get a sense that these guys have a vision but want to see your take on projects. They encourage artistic growth in a professional, and delightfully exciting way. It is a wonderful company, and while the pressure to succeed runs thick, the encouraging and friendly atmosphere creates an inviting workplace I rarely see elsewhere in my career as a freelancer.

    Reading about the New York studio is a shock, but we have to sit down and really research the facts and nuances that effect our current economy (Since Amid was unable to provide these details), as well as the lives of many, many young artists and animators. These are details that would have deepened the impact of this article, and expressed a less biased opinion.

    (And really. Biased journalism is sooooo boring. Instead of creating an atmosphere where people can debate solutions and thought provoking questions, you are only pitting two different opinions against each other. Hardly good writing, if you ask me. Its cheap. Generating anger is easy.)

    Let’s discuss how nearly 11 – 12% of our current population is unemployed. Young people account for 15 – 18% of that unemployment rate.

    Nearly one out of five people between the ages of 20 – 29 can’t find a job.

    It doesn’t take a genius to know that artistic jobs are not in high demand, especially animation work. Walk through craigslist, and animators are constantly being underbid by people for freelance work, studios request free internships by the bulk (with no promise of future employment), and jobs are constantly outsourced by larger companies to cheaper avenues (such as Korea).

    Titmouse is expanding a small business in a very rough, economical period where fifty people often line up for a single job as a waitress in a restaurant that requires three years of experience. And as they expand, they offer more jobs here in the United States, and more jobs create an environment of hope and future prospects in a time where many animation students feel increasingly dejected.

    I’ve watched the company really care about people, and welcome openly new people. I’ve watched them grow into a fantastic, exciting place where more and more people are actually getting hired and paid to do what they love.

    But it is a tight economy.

    Perhaps a better question you should ask is:
    Why would Titmouse pay such low wages in New York City? What is the reason? What research can I produce to offer a nuanced opinion?

    And then actually answer the question, instead of excite and frighten people.

    But I guess you were successful in what you wanted to do, right? Lots of people clicking and visiting this entry, offering their responses and opinions – angry and spitting as they are.

    Its sad that’s what journalism has come to.

    • Nicole

      Alyx: Cartoon Brew is a blog, not journalism. Pick up a newspaper if you want journalism.

      I live in New York. Our animation industry is very small, despite the amount of fresh young talent coming out of school. If (and when) competition for talent is low, studios can name their price. Titmouse is enjoying this advantage, but it’s driving down the value of the skilled work we animators do. Titmouse’s short-term gain lowers the value of the east coast industry as a WHOLE.

      Let’s be honest: Titmouse would sooner outsource outside the US than give the east coast cleanup artists and animators a living wage. So, Let them send the work away! Bring on a healthy middle class to an overseas economy, and stop teasing the starving artists.

      • lets be honest, “Titmouse would sooner outsource outside the US than give the east coast cleanup artists and animators a living wage”

        how do you know that?? if titmouse is outsourcing, there wouldnt be a titmouse east ? agree?

      • Alyx Jolivet

        Not just that, Ben Li, but how would outsourcing jobs overseas actually help improve our economy and the lives of Americans?

        It is a horrible idea. Its better we keep jobs here, regardless of whether or not projects are underfunded.

        Jobs have to stay here.

      • Machete

        Don’t worry esse us Mexicans will have all of your animations jobs.

  • MadShatter

    I’ve never looked at this website before, and thanks to Amid, I now know to never return if it is willing to take facts out of context and partially publish quotes. This entire article is based on the gap between 2 employee’s wages (out of 250+ employees). Even if they are working the same job, on 2 separate coasts, did anyone stop to ask about their differing experience levels? Several factors come into play when determining a person’s salary then what is discussed here. Chris P should be commended for keeping work in the States, instead of really wanting to pay less, and shipping it overseas.

  • Thomas Hatch

    Gareth Keenan Investigates!

  • Wow .. this is certainly educational.

    I’ve never met Chris or Shannon. I’ve heard nothing but good things from people I’ve spoken with, and I am the guy that runs the New Member Lunches for the Guild.

    There is nothing in this article I read that puts Chris, Shannon or Titmouse in a bad light. Amid simply presented facts. Titmouse is a business and they’re acting as business owners do. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people or don’t care about the feelings or well-being of their employees. It means that have a profit margin to consider and will do what they can to keep it as robust as they can.

    People are quick to rush to the defense of a perceived attack on their employer rather than think about why there is such a wage disparity between the two cities. Titmouse employees are fast to attack Amid for shining a light on low clean-up rates instead of asking themselves why $400 a week is acceptable for any line of work.

    Steve Hulett regularly talks about the concept of Leverage and how people achieve what they have the leverage to get. When I see a group of people band together to speak as one with the aim of righting a wrong, it warms my heart. However, when that aim goes against their own best interests, I take a deep breath and realize that there’s much more work to be done.

    • Jody

      The point, Steve, is that there is no wage disparity to speak of. Entry level non-union cleanup artists get the same wage in both towns. Amid fails to mention that.

      We are fast to attack him because he is tarnishing the name of one of the nicest people in this town in order to garner web traffic for himself. He’s not shining a light on anything. He’s engaging in sleazy journalism.

      • amid

        The article isn’t about entry level non-union cleanup artists.

        The article is about the discrepancy in wages for the same clean-up position on the Disney series Motorcity.

      • Jody

        Yes, and as I mention elsewhere, the same position is not necessarily the same position. Interns hired fresh out of college will not make as much as veteran cleanup artists with well-established credentials.

        That’s the fundamental flaw in your argument.

      • amid

        Union clean-up artists on the show are guaranteed a minimum amount, regardless of experience.

      • .. which leads to wage disparity between union and non-union shops and/or New York and Los Angeles. It also touches on business practices in today’s animation industry.

        You are fast to attack him because you would rather stand up in defense of your employer (brownie points, don’t rock the boat) than take the precious few seconds to think about your industry.

      • Indeed. That’s the point of the article Jody.

        Again, this isn’t a slam on the Prynoskis. This is business. A union contract, with wage minimums, generally gets higher wages.

      • Jody Schaeffer


        “Brownie points”???

        I’ve known Chris since 1990. He worked on my show at CN, Megas XLR, before I worked for him at Titmouse. I’ve worked at MTV Animation, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Warner Brothers, and I had great experiences at all of them. I work at Titmouse because I WANT to work there.

        There is more going on than Amid lets on, and he is doing it on purpose to garner web hits.

      • So, yes. Your employer. Glad that you guys are friends. I hear that he’s a good friend to have. And thus .. yes. Brownie points, love, sticking up for a buddy. Its all the same.

        You’re perceiving a threat and attack on Chris. As someone who is emotionally invested, you’re attacking back.

        This article points out wage disparities that you can’t seem to see. The $400/wk wage seems low for any field. Regardless of the same wage being offered in LA, its not offered to union members because the contract says so. If there are clean-up artists in LA working on Motorcity, they’re not making $400 a week.

      • Jody Schaeffer

        No. It’s not all the same. I am speaking as a friend of the man who has watched his business grow and develop first hand. And I say with conviction that Amid is not telling the whole story. The fact that he cherry picked Chris’ rebuttal and refused to acknowledge the reason Chris would not speak on certain issues was due to his NDA is ample evidence that Amid is manipulating the facts.

        Amid was way off base and the haters are looking for someone to hate. Same as it ever was around here.

        It reminds me while I stopped coming to this site.

      • We’ll have to agree to not be on common ground here then Jody. I’ve seen a full response posted here by Amid. I’ve heard that Chris and Shannon are bound by NDA and can’t speak on the matter from multiple sources including Amid.

        More importantly, I’m still convinced that you’re anger stems from your desire to help a friend and employer. You denied my claim yet confirmed it at the same time. The point of the article, as I read it, is to highlight part of the business practices in the animation industry.

        Titmouse did nothing wrong. As a business, they made a shrewd and profitable move. From what I read, they showed their dedication to growing the business by taking the profits and turning it back into the company (new NY offices, more Cintiqs).

        If artists feel differently, there are avenues available to them to make changes in the workplace that are agreeable to both sides and secure minimums and standards that the artists have a voice in crafting.

      • Writer of Wrongs

        Steve. If you are trying to do some union organizing/union defense here let me give you a piece of advice. Do not hitch your wagon to Amid. Its working against you and kind of embarrassing. Amid’s article is disingenuous and doesn’t include all the facts which now Amid has had to admit.

        And let’s be honest. Titmouse has a choice to send cleanup work to Korea, Singapore, India at rates much cheaper than $400 a week. But instead they chose to keep those jobs here in America and train the next group of talented artists who will one day join your union. As a union leader you should embrace this fact and figure out a ways to work with independent companies like Titmouse so they can continue to do the good work they do (as artists and employers) and grow their business while making sure their employees receive a fair wage.

      • I’m not doing anything more than trying to shoo away some of the more emotionally driven claptrap here. I’ve said multiple times that moving the work to New York was a shrewd move for Titmouse.

        The article not only points out a disparity in wages between the cities, but also points out that a union contract is what helped to set the minimum wage here in Los Angeles.

        Amid pointed out that Titmouse created Robin Redbreast to receive Disney sub-contract work, then sent that work to a non-union arm of the company. This effectively circumvented the use of union artists (higher wage), while arguably being paid for a union artist to do the job.

        No one can argue that $400/wk is a livable wage in either city. I pointed out that if New York artists were interested in setting wage minimums and workplace conditions in their city, there is an option to assist them in doing so.

      • .. and as a point of clarification, I am not a union leader and the union is not mine.

        I am the Labor Organizer for The Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE. I am an employee of the Guild, not an elected official. I can not be an elected official since I unfortunately have never been a member of the IATSE.

      • Mike Hunt

        I’ve visited the original studio in NY and the workplace conditions were pretty stellar. Titmouse does not need a union to regulate workplace conditions — its actually laughable that you even mention that as a concern.

        And in your issue with setting wage mins. The market can regulate that. Its called capitalism. If the artist feels the wage is too low, then they can find a different job (or move to LA where they will be extremely lucky to find a union job). No one is forcing them to take the $400 a week job, which btw, they love and gives them tons of experience and starts their career. Things might be different in say, the service industry or in factories where workplace conditions can be sucky or downright dangerous. And the people often doing those jobs are interchangeable. The skills they need for the job are not nearly as specialized as say, animator, where talent and experience win out.

        Interesting how this discussion born out of a terribly misleading, and from reading many posts from Titmouse artists, downright inaccurate, has turned into a discussion of the validity of an animation union. Amid’s crappy reporting has actually pointed out the need for either less unionization in this industry, or at the very least, a union that can remove its head from the ground and understand the economics of being an independent studio.

      • I didn’t comment specifically on the conditions at Titmouse NY. I said that a union contract sets workplace conditions and standards that artists have a say in writing. I’ve said many times in these comments that what Titmouse did was a shrewd business move and for that, they should be commended. I’ve also stated its good to hear that any profits they’ve made from moving the clean-up to New York are going to improving conditions out there.

        As for your “market regulation”, trickle-down, wage minimum theory, it goes to show your experience and age more than present itself as a viable argument. You may as well make the same argument for the federal minimum wage requirements.

        I’ve commented in this thread to present counter points to some arguments. I feel I’ve kept from the real thick pro-union discussions I’m capable of.

  • PFTttt

    Working with Chris and Shannon, I feel like they have made a animation oasis, at Titmouse, for their artists to interact, learn, create, and make kick-ass animation.They sincerely appreciate everything that everyone does here.

    I’ve been in animation for 14 years now and when I started with Titmouse, I was paid less than what I had been paid as a Photoshop BG Colorist, in a union studio. But they also taught me to use Flash and paid me while I learned. The loss of wages was far outweighed by everything Titmouse offers. Now, I am back on another of their projects and overjoyed to be here!

    $400.00 per week is above minimum wage for both California and New York. (California $8.00 and New York $7.25, hourly rates) I don’t know who was interviewed for the article but I’m guessing animation graduates. Most graduates do not go into high paying jobs directly from school. I know their wages are being compared to union scale but non union wages are usually less. With so many people out of work at this time, I’m glad Titmouse chose not to outsource the work and was able to give the opportunity to some deserving people here. (Had the work been sent overseas we wouldn’t be reading this article.) Both studios are doing amazing work!

    Titmouse is THE BEST place to work.
    I’m constantly inspired by the other artists and I have learned so much while working here. I really do look forward to going to work every day.

  • Congrats on creating a scene and generating a bunch of misdirected anger and confusion over a studio that’s truly a nurturing environment for artists and a one-of-a-kind workplace. I’ve never been happier and more fulfilled than I have been working at Titmouse, and I’ve never felt a greater sense of community and family from the top all the way down at any other studio. It saddens me that people reading this article that don’t have first hand experience with Titmouse might leave with a gross misunderstanding of a really positive studio that’s actively pushing American animation forward.

  • Carl Aspuria

    Dear Cartoon Brew,

    For lack of a better term, you suck! But in all seriousness, due to half-truths and tabloid journalism, I find it disheartening that I even have to defend the studio that I am more than happy to be a part of. But it is unfair and unjust for Amid Amidi to post slanderous comments so that your website can generate more traffic. Hate only generates hate, so my response to your “article” is only to clarify some of the hearsay you have failed to properly research.

    The Los Angeles clean up “crew” that worked on Motorcity only consisted of another person and myself. I was an intern at the studio almost 3 years ago and have been gainfully employed by them ever since. If memory serves me right, a job as a cleanup artist is an entry-level position for an animator. My current wage is based on my job performance for the studio over the years. When asking the other cleanup artists what they make, you should also ask how long they have been working at the studio. In doing so, maybe the difference in pay would make more sense to you.

  • Dadwardian

    I believe it’s all been said.
    So for my part, I can say that a conversation about wages in our industry is a good thing and how it seems the concentration of work can lead to an imbalance when it comes to wages and longevity of a job.
    However, this article was written with a blind-spot to the way the animation industry as a whole works; with kids coming into the business and working their way up. That being said, there is also a brushing aside of the good will and passion that Titmouse has fostered amongst all of the talent that works at both studios. More importantly, and it has been said, time and time again in the comments: Titmouse has made it a point to keep animators working in the U.S., and that is a more noble goal to strive for to keep our industry going and thriving.

  • AMAD

    What a bad brew this morning! But then I remember the more controversy Amid stirs, the more hits Cartoon Brew gets, the more his ad rates go up. Remember his only audience for this blog is people related to the animation industry and so those are the people he’s going to troll.

    If this post disgusts you, vote with your IP address and stop giving him money for going after shit like independent animation studios and My Little Ponies. There are plenty of other animation content aggregators that aren’t this jaded and deliberately biased.

    And if you get any of those NY animators fired for reporting on how you got them to violate their NDAs then shame on you, you’re doing a worse service to them than anything titmouse is doing.

  • Corey M. Barnes

    I’ve been at Titmouse for roughly a year now, and so far it’s one of my favorite places to work. I feel there are no secrets here, I get along with almost everybody including bosses, and they always make an attempt to keep me working when I have no work, because there are so many jobs to do here. Around town we have union and higher wage shops that lay off employees the second they’re capable of it, and can’t shift them to another job like layout because it’s been sent overseas, or they freelance most of their production and institute rolling hiatuses. How stressful is that? Yes, the money is not what I could be making elsewhere, but sometimes co-worker relationships, being able to work on fun projects, and opportunities to grow and advance within can overshadow what you see on your paycheck every 2 weeks. I often feel bad for some of my industry veteran peers, who would love to work on a fun project they look forward to drawing everyday, but due to the lifestyle they’ve chosen or the choices they’ve made, are forced to go work on some garbage heap of a show that makes them miserable every day. But hey, at least it pays well! Right?

    If an artist doesn’t feel they’re compensated properly, be it monetarily or emotionally, they should LEAVE, and when enough people refuse to work for a lousy company, it will go away. Clearly there are people at Titmouse NYC and LA who are happy to work there. Organizations like TAG should be allowed to educate workers on the union and collective bargaining rights, but I would hope no one attempts to use force on the worker.

    And in the midst of all this talk of corporate greed, no one wants to blame the government of New York City for making the place such a poor environment for nurturing a business. Highest cost of living in the nation, taxes continue to rise, and standard of living continues to remain stagnant or fall. Studios like Augenblick, Animation Collective and World Leaders had to resort to illegal business practices, and two of them are now out of business! I’d love to know how Titmouse actually spends for each New York City employee. If you ask me both sides should be allowed to keep those SSI and Medicare withholdings. They’ll never be able to benefit from them anyway.

  • Kumamon

    I love how everyone who’s rushing to aid Titmouse are LA employees. Or employees as a whole. Of course you’re defending it, you’ll get fired if you don’t. Good job. This article is pretty darn fair if you ask me.

    • Parker S

      Yes, they fire people who don’t stop work to waste time on a website. Nice logic there.

      • Kumamon

        no I mean

        if they agreed being paid less to work on a union show in NY was bullcrap (it is), and posted their name with it, they’d be fired if Titmouse found out


      • MIKE M part 2

        If all these employees were commenting out of fear of losing their jobs, they wouldn’t be so impassioned, nor would so many be going out of their way to defend the company! Be sensible.

      • MIKE M part 2

        The employees love it here — I’ve never seen or experienced such a positive work environment, and I’ve worked at many animation studios over the past 9 years. I took a pay cut to work here, and I’m so glad I did.

      • Grif 5th

        Kumamon, the names that people use here are anonymous. If an artist is being treated unfairly they can post about it here under any name they want. They could even say they work for Titmouse and no one would ever find out their identity. Titmouse isn’t gonna “backtrace” a comment so they can fire some one because “they done goofed.”

        The reason Titmouse employees are all defending Titmouse is because this article is coming from an outsider’s poorly informed perspective. We are all trying to clear the air about this amazing place that is not being unfair to anyone.

        This entire article’s information came from ONE anonymous employee. One, out of over 250 people who’s voices can only be heard in the comment section. I think it’s repulsive that anyone put any of the information in this article towards their opinion of this studio without also hearing what the people who actually work here have to say.

        If any Titmousers had anything bad to say, they would be saying it here.

        But yeah, “lol.” You seemed to have skimmed one article about a studio, and disregarding the endless comments defending Titmouse, you’ve condemned that its practices are “bullcrap.”

    • Keith Kin Yan

      The brain washing is good here. It’s what happens when your employer treats you with respect as an artist and as a person.

      Compositor – Titmouse LA.

      • Jorge Garrido

        All the respect of making 1/3 above minimum wage in the most expensive city in the world.

      • Jorge Garrido

        “I can’t afford to eat 3 meals today, but I feel self empowered!” It’s like Maslow’s stupid hierachy of needs flipped on its head.

    • Joe Capps

      Hey Kumamon, NY Titmouse employee here…you don’t know why your talking about buddy. That’s the funniest thing about all this… LA and NY are one unit. We all stand together. That’s where the pride and loyalty comes from pal. We’re a crew, and we don’t appreciate people who don’t do proper research, who don’t do proper interviews, who don’t do proper citation, and who generally don’t have a sense for what were all about, telling us “how it really is”. You wanna know more, come on down to 27th street. We’re open for business and are all willing to meet the people who have so much to say about us, and know so little. So come on down, but I won’t hold my breathe waiting.

      Oh and for all those who would take my post and say I have it wrong, and it’s not about loyalty, it’s about the protection that unions provide, get your head out of your ass. NY has no union! Period! End of conversation! I hear a lot of talk from ASIFA East, and a lot of BS books being sold, and a lot of BS classes being taught, and whole lot of NOTHING being done when it comes to practically helping students advance themselves. Like I said I’ll be waiting to have this convo face to face with anyone who actually “cares” for the well being of others. Again I won’t be holding my breathe. Till then, go Titmouse!

  • Jenny

    Are we sure all the testimonials from employees aren’t from one sockpuppet?

    • CleanUp

      Cartoon Brew’s email requirement is to prevent that. I guess someone could be creating a million email accounts just for this one thread, but that seems pretty paranoid.

      And I am not a Sock Puppet *^_^*

      • Jody Schaeffer

        I’ve never really been one for internet anonymity. And in this particular case I want people to know who I am and why I am advocating for Titmouse.

        As did a host of other people that have posted here in Titmouse’s defense, some of whom have never even worked there.

      • Jenny

        Eh, fair enough.

  • Haywood Jablowme

    Amid. How much did your hero John K pay kids right out of college at Spumco? How much does he pay now? Ask him. I’m guessing you won’t like the answer.

    • Ryoku75

      Hows all of that relevant?

  • JT

    Before Titmouse gave me an opportunity to work for them….I was year out of high school, year into junior collage trying to get units so i could transfer to an art school, working at a goddamn papa john’s pizza establishment; making barely $300 as two weeks pay (min wage, no raise, busted my ass, dusty and smelling like pizza crust)

    When Titmouse first hired me…I got paid less than THIRD of what Im making, but boy o boy how that didn’t phase me. I didn’t care what my pay was (more than the pizza place) since I was too grateful to get an opportunity to meet people and work on different projects get my skill set up by doing what I love and good at. Like Jeremy I had to work my way up too.

    Titmouse liked what I did and offered a position and the starting wage, and I took it and it was the best decision of my life. There are bunch of studios and if you are looking for a another great studio that’ll give you a shot, willing to see how you do on a cool production even if you’re don’t have any work experience and pays way more, then good luck. Take it or leave it, no ones decision but your own.

  • slave

    i work at a mega studio run by a mega corporation. i like my union benefits, and my decent pay and the fact that don’t have impress some guy named “chris” or think that being able to smoke weed and keep liquor at at my desk is a “perk.” A perk to me is a bigger paycheck and being able to go home when i feel like after i get my work done on a schedule that wasn’t formed by underbidding for a project that inevitably ends up torturing your artists with unrealistic deadlines and late hours.


    yeah man. Small studios exploit more than big studios. This is what depresses me. The fact that an artist run studio is more exploitative than the big studios that people rag on so much. It depresses me when I see other artists taking advantage of younger artists. You can’t play dumb like an executive and not know how much time doing a drawing or cleaning up animation takes because surely you’ve had some experience in that, CHRIS. So don’t fuck over your artists and pretend like you are offering them an “opportunity.”

    Take care of your artists, respect your fellow artists and not in some condescending free pizza wednesday bullshit. Artists are not 8 year olds. They are adults with bills to pay. Instead of expanding your studio maybe you should expanding your current artist’s paychecks. And that whole argument about bringing “animation back to the states” is a bunch of bullshit. Yeah I’d like to see that happen to but not if it means people are getting paid chump change for it.

    • LOL

      i went for a meeting at titmouse a few weeks ago and people were getting stoned in the parking lot. i kind of wished i could smoke with them, but i grew up from that stuff once i graudted from college.

    • Kumamon

      That’s pretty much what I wanted to say, but as an outsider who had (emphasis on had) a loved one working in the New York studio, I didn’t know how to communicate that message.

    • MIKE M part 2

      This is a gross misrepresentation of Titmouse employees, and it’s the first time on this thread I’ve been truly offended. This is a studio of passionate, serious, responsible artists, and honestly, the most articulate and well-reasoned comments here seem to be by those same people. I have worked at the full range of animation studios, including several “mega studios” as you say. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and it’s up to every artist to choose what they’re comfortable with. I prefer an environment where the artists truly love their art form, with a possible pay cut; but I don’t condemn anyone deciding the other way around… Nearly everyone I worked with at larger studios were great, fun, and awesome people, as are my current coworkers at Titmouse. It’s just a slightly happier environment here. I find your comment incredibly disrespectful and naive, however — the amount of artists coming to Titmouse’s defense here should speak volumes. This article only cites one disgruntled employee who is likely on the very lowest end of the pay range, and is by no means representative of all the NY employees. Cool down the misdirected anger.

    • Grif 5th

      Dear Mr Slave

      I’m sorry you felt like Titmouse’s only perk was that it was laid back and has free pizza. I’m glad you’re not an 8 year old, because then that would be a article worth reading.

      In actuality, the perks to working at a studio like Titmouse is the community and consistance of projects. When a project ends or is pushed back or whatever reason you’re job ended, Chris and Shannon make an effort to keep you working.

      Mr Slave, you’re comparing a job that pays well but is short lived, to a project that pays averagely but goes on and on. It’s simply a different strategy to finances, Mr Slave. Please don’t paint us as a club of moronic pot heads who can be bought off with pizza because you had a bad experience here. Please be fair with your assessment of us.

      We are hard working, talented people who are committed to doing what we love. It’s fair to say that you prefer a higher salary at your current job, and I’m very happy for you. But the job security, comfortable workspace, open and friendly environment, and overall good projects are what I get from Titmouse. I prefer all of that.

      This line of work isn’t easy, and a sense of entitlement doesn’t really go over to well with artists. Chris and Shannon are very fair with how they divide budgets. It’s sad that you assume that they aren’t paying their artists as much as they could be. But it’s offensive that you make us out to be brainless slaves who would allow themselves to be treated poorly. I can promise you, we are not slaves, Mr Slave.

      • slave

        I know the artists are titmouse are talented. My qualm is not with the artists and i wasn’t painting them as “morons.” Maybe you should re-read my comment. It’s about an ARTIST RUN STUDIO that is paying it’s employees (other artists) chump change. Titmouse isn’t alone. List off all the others (augenblick/sixpoint) and see the same working conditions. Whether or not people decide to take a pay-cut because the environment is more fun etc. etc. is another story. Artists shouldn’t have to take pay cuts period. The problem is when people start accepting $400 a week as OKAY, when they accept 10- 12 hour days OKAY is when you can say goodbye to anymore respect or power that artists have working in the industry. I can’t fault a college grad for taking a low paying job and trying to get his/her foot(pinky toe) in the door. But what about all the old guys who have kids, mortgages and bills to pay. Oh that’s right. They are obsolete they don’t matter.

        my point is ALL ARTISTS MATTER and none of them should let themselves be taken advantage of by big or small studios. Why don’t you go to the union XMAS party and see how depressing this industry really is. All those out of work veterans that no one gives a shit about. The ones who worked on mega hits. I got news for you. All these current rango animators and pixar hotshots are gonna be old news too in 15 years.

        You can toot your collective horns and come defend how great this cool laidback fun artist friendly studio is but if it was really that way I’d think they would pay more. MONEY TALKS. end of story.

        But this industry is so fucked and divided and the desperation and insecurity of artists is so ridiculous that i don’t see things changing. It will just get worse. And when some p.a. sees that at studio X they were able to do shit in half the time, they will carry that to studio Y when they move up the ladder and they are now your producer. All the while artists just have their heads to their desks with their blinders on drawing into the night while they get fucked in the ass yet again.

        open your eyes and stop defending bullshit.

    • You go, slave!

      There needs to be more information before jumping to a conclusion about Titmouse, which Amid hasn’t really done. Yet in their fervor to pile on Amid, everyone keeps failing to address the issue of a $700 difference for the same job coast to coast.

      OK, Chris Prynoski is a good guy, he loves artists and kids, Titmouse is a haven for artistry. OK. We get it. Now what about the staggering difference in entry-level salaries?

      Why is it biased or “yellow journalism” to even mention it? If you think $400 a week is an acceptable living wage for a college graduate of any kind, you’re simply out of your mind.

      Time and time again the artist will exploit his fellow artists worse than any executive, paying chump change and justifying it with the same line of “we’re saving animation”. “This is the only true creative environment left.” “We’re preserving Walt’s vision.” Etcetera. The artists buy into it and react violently when it’s suggested that they’re being had.

      It’s so easy to [deservedly] rave about the suits, censors, “non-artist” writers, but it seems unquestionable for the artist to take some responsibility for the problems.

      This is the kind of reporting I’d like to see more of on the site. The hornet’s nest stirred here is not the usual flame-baiting, but highly enlightening.

      Oh, and for Haywood Jablowme’s edification: the pay was an average of $10/hour for layout on Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon at the non-union Spumco LA in 2002-03.

      • The Gee

        Well put, Thad.

        I can understand that the owner want to “bring it all back home” and contribute to animation in NYC however…

        between LA and NYC, $400/wk might be doable in some places. Like some are stating, the issue Amid writes about is about a Fair Wage at two divisions of the same company. And, part of a Fair Wage is considering the Cost of Living somewhere.

        I get that people are defending the owners. Be grateful they are good people.

        One of the things you are doing by defending them is that you’re just proving how small the industry is by chiming in. But, like Thad and others are pointing out, you aren’t making yourselves or the studio owners look that good.

        That said, I hope anyone who works for Titmouse gets a chance to grow and reap the rewards of working at the studio, or, can go to more rewarding pastures and use the experience they glean from working there, but, I hope you all are getting by okay financially. Heck, I hope Titmouse continues to grow and is your greener pasture.

        Look up thread for what Steve Kaplan wrote….

        Now, if only MOM would tell people to settle down or the Hulk would smash this comment thread onto the right course.

      • :: smo ::

        Dude. The union rate for ink and paint couldn’t be maintained due to the number of artists needed to pull off a high action show so they outsourced the cleanup. Big freaking deal. We aren’t talking layout or animation. We’re talking cleanup. To my knowledge no one in la is doing cleanup. John k had a studio in Canada, does that upset you too?

      • Charles

        I doubt that would surprise anyone, John K is Canadian.

      • Haywood Jablowme

        Thad. Thanks for clearing that up. And thanks for using my full name.

    • Jorge Garrido

      Right on, Da- uh, I mean Slave.

      “I LOVE TITMOUSE!” Well isn’t that very chauvinistic of you?

    • I miss the pizza wednesday, but i am not dumb enough to think thats why people work at titmouse work there.

      sorry ‘SLAVE’ that you feel that way, that you didnt “impress” anyone during your stay. I wish the best for you to continue your career at the mega studio. i hope no one will take adventage of you, and you never have to work harder than the 8 hour shift. because thats just not what ‘real’ artists do.

      • slave

        I’d rather do an 8 hour shift at some lame big studio and have the rest of the night to draw personal stuff that i own, that is an investment in myself than do a 14 hour day turd polishing on an identically lame tv commercial product that will get canceled after 2 seasons because some exec in NY was like “erm yah, not getting ‘spongebob numbers'”

        to each their own. And by the way i’ve done my share of all nighters. “real artist” is a pissing contest. IF you want to win the contest on which artist can get taken advantage of the most by his/her respective studio, then by all means take first place.

      • Sharky

        I’m a former Titmouse employee and I’m currently working at one of the big studios, earning union wages. I used to do clean up over at Titmouse and, despite the fact that I made pretty little when I started out there, I have absolutely no regrets about being there. My overall experience at Titmouse was a positive one, and I have so much respect for the studio and especially for the community of incredible artists there. The biggest perk, to me, had nothing to do with the smashing parties, fraffles or pizza Wednesdays. It was working at a studio that really values artists’ individuality. I love where I work now, but my studio does not have an animation shorts program like Titmouse and Pixar have. The place I work at is never going to produce work that is as stylistically diverse or edgy as some of the projects I worked on at Titmouse. There are pros and cons to working at both the union studios and the independents. You and I might have chosen to work for “mega” studios, but to suggest that we’re entirely better off is pretty condescending. I think the Titmouse employees have made their stance pretty clear!

  • Craig M

    Great article Amid!

    Sadly this happens all the time in the industry, not just at Titmouse.

    A producer role is to simply get you as cheap as possible. Never take the first offer and fight for something that you can live on.

    it’s your choice though, you make the bed you sleep in.

  • Damon M

    A lotta “internet brave” experts smack talking here. Typical forum troll fare. Titmouse is full of cool, fun, people making cool stuff. I’ve never worked with so many freshly promoted-out of college, once were interns, off-the-street applicants. I got hired off the street with no connections. I just called and asked for a job. That’s damn near impossible at most large studios/networks.

    These are all first world problems that a bunch of entitled and spoiled children whine about. Put down the ham sandwich, drop the PS3/X Box controller, turn off your World of Warcraft, and go outside and do something. Hike, swim, MTB…whatever. Get some fresh air and cancel all your lame forum site memberships.

  • Craig M

    I am curious if titmouse would care to comment on “slave” statement about “unrealistic deadlines and late hours.”

    I always assumed titmouse runs on young blood, judging on what I have heard, but how do the employees feel about that? After rolling form one crazy deadline to another?

    • Titmouse runs on dedication and drive. people who dont have them dont work here….

      • Colonel Guile

        You don’t know the first thing about “dedication” until you have yourself a wife and a couple of kids to look after. Go home and be a family man.

      • I work well over the average number business hours in my job and also have a wife and two kids. Neither at home nor at the office would they say I’m not dedicated. It’s not easy, but I not a slacker in either camp.

  • Beautifuk

    Hey Amid – If you want to expose exploitation – how about you write an article on companies that outsource American animation to countries where their studios actually DO resemble sweatshops and pay their people nothing and really don’t give a crap about their artists. Cuz that’s NOT what is happening in NYC. Shouldn’t we instead be asking why Disney thinks it can get a show (that is definitely going to make them bank in merch alone) for less than it takes to actually make a show in America using American artists?

    • A Painter

      Go create a website and do it yourself. This is HIS website. he can write whatever he wants

  • A Painter

    “Oh hi am a Titmouse employee living in New York and I get paid 400 but my brother in L.A. gets paid over a grand for doing the same work! but guess what that doesn’t bother me cause i Love doing what am doing! YEAH!”

    SMFH this can’t be life.

    • Mark Attark

      That is because one person is doing entry level clean up right out of school, while the other is an experienced animator. On any given show at Titmouse the rolls/salaries can be and often are the reverse of what you describe.

  • Being Real

    To be honest Titmouse isn’t trying to keep animation in America…they have farmed out a lot of work overseas…even now they have shows overseas!! Let’s deal with nothing but the facts: Titmouse business is getting MORE for LESS…PERIOD. Titmouse knows how to make SOME of their workers feel special and create a cool environment…yet the entire time they’re screwing you in a terrible way!! In the end Titmouse wins at any cost!!! I personally think Titmouse should be investigated for their mistreatment of certain employees who don’t fit within the certain “cliques”, “have the accepted skin color” or “go along with the company program of being used” that exist.

    • Being Real’s Bitch Slap

      Grown ups don’t over speculate based on half truths and biased, TMZ level journalism.

    • RE: Being Real.

      Yes, I got the sense that cliques are BIG at Titmouse and if you don’t belong to the smoking/drinking group then you are ostracized. This would be a nice follow up article, to inspect how mindless followers worship fake bosses. Seems like the studio heads are the nerds who wanted to be popular in high school and now they finally have their minion clique.

      • Jenny

        were you an actual employee at the company at all?

    • Alyx Jolivet

      Do you even know what you are talking about? Titmouse Animation has one of the largest diverse pools of animators I’ve ever seen, from every background, every country.

      Hell, the fact that a large chunk of employees are actually women speaks to the merits of Titmouse’s diversity program.

      And clique my butt. Everyone there is welcoming and friendly. I don’t think I’ve ever walked through that studio without someone introducing themselves to me. And I don’t even currently work there right now.

      • RE: Being Real.

        If by no cliques you mean that when a group of people ask you to smoke weed at work and you turn them down so they stop talking to you, then you’re totally accurate. Thanks for clearing this up Alyx Jolivet.

      • CleanUp

        RE: Being Real, sounds like you had a bad titmouse experience, but I am guessing this was not because you turned down smoking weed, but because you are an asshole.

        For the record, I do not go out and smoke weed at work, and I have never felt ostracized from any “cliques”. Everyone I know at titmouse is friendly and welcoming, and I hang out with a variety of co-workers, at and outside of work.

        I brought a friend to the studio to test for a position, and she said afterwards that the one day of testing at titmouse, more people introduced themselves, talked to her, and were friendly at lunch than at her entire internship at Cartoon Network. Oh, and she was not smoking weed with anyone.

        I don’t think your own personal problems making friends is reflective of the general atmosphere at this company, or at all relevant to this article.

    • Sharky

      …Cliques….Have the accepted skin color…What the hell are you talking about?

  • a new LA animator

    I work in an entry level position at an animation studio (not Titmouse) and I get $400 a week too. Personally, I think it’s great because the studio is very willing to let me learn and grow while on the job. If it was a union studio, I probably wouldn’t have even been hired. Besides, when compared to all the studios out there that are abusing interns, Titmouse looks great. At least they’re paying them something!

    • Ryoku75

      “the studio is very willing to let me learn and grow while on the job”

      About every work site does that.

  • Yvette Kaplan

    I’m sorry Amid, but with all due respect, you are off base here. My feelings and comments may well be tempered by my admiration, respect and great affection for Chris, Shannon and many of the Titmouse folk. But that is not my sole motivation, because the way more troubling issue points in another direction: As a director, producer, and now a show creator, I have been watching network show budgets drop at a mind reeling pace, and along with it, shrinking schedules and crew size. How can a studio, especially one who wants to do quality work, compete in a worldwide market, get that commission, and actually deliver the goods? Something has to give. As some of the comments here have touched upon, I think a way more interesting article would be one that starts at the top and asks harder questions, like: Why have budgets for the average 22 minute TV episode dropped since the mid 1990’s? Based on numbers I remember from that time, working on my first series in NYC, today’s budgets seem cut in half. How is that possible? And have the above the line costs met the same fate? I doubt it. Someone is making money, but who? And where is it all going? Hopefully not to the level of this job posting I came across yesterday on a highly regarded job site:

    “Looking for a freelance animator to work on a new cartoon series for a fledgling television network. The budget is very tight–10K per 22-minute episode. All artwork and design will be created by the artist/producer and you would be responsible for making the images move. We are not looking for glossy, perfect animation. Simple and raw is fine.”

    I couldn’t believe my eyes, and yet I’m sure there will be takers, just like the “artist/producer” said yes to the “fledgling network.” Artists want to make art and the ones in control of the money know that. Obviously, there are and will be no simple answers. The market has changed. The borders are no longer NY and LA, they are the entire world. And the digital landscape has of course changed things enormously too. But an article aiming for an understanding of the whole picture, now that would be a worthy piece, and one that I would certainly like to read.

    • I think your answer lies within your question:

      How can a studio, especially one who wants to do quality work, compete in a worldwide market, get that commission, and actually deliver the goods?

      I’ve noticed that studios (meaning the conglomerates .. not independents like Titmouse) aren’t interested in quality any longer. Its too expensive. It goes back to the being a business. They’re after profits. As quality decreases, yet ticket sales remain or increase, profit margins widen. Simple math.

      I think your job posting example proves it. The conglomerates will push the edges on all facets of the process to increase profits. Its what companies do. The only thing that will stop them from doing so is a marked decrease in revenue. Once people start voting with their feet, quality will return.

    • eric eiser

      Brilliant Yvette!

  • Snagglepuss

    I don’t know if this has to do with anything, but this is an article from the guy who predicted the death of TV animation about a year ago. I see this comment thread as interesting, people at Titmouse going “We’re very happy!” and know it alls at other jobs going “No you ain’t.” More than money folks, and doing what you love in NY is worth the pay reduction.

    • A Painter

      its not about doing what you love. its about making it FAIR for everyone. You can’t just sit back and say “Hey I am not getting what i deserve for this cause other people are getting more money doing the same thing at the EXACT same company but its okay”. Why does it have to be okay? why sit back and continue to get screwed over like that? You know how rich people stay rich? They KEEP their money. There stingy. they never give it away. And if the bank owes them even a PENNY. they’ll go through hell just to get that penny. Artists aren’t confrontational thats why. We are a bunch of skinny, fragile people who take it up the behind all the time. We need to grow some balls for a change

      • Harry T.

        If they wanted to be FAIR, they’d pay the same or more in NY.

        That or stop making crap like boondocks (which is admittedly based on a crap comic strip).

  • Craig M

    I think your kinda right snagglepuss, money shouldn’t be our only motivator; however, is it really only 10 dollars?

    In actuality i’m sure it isn’t 10 dollars an hour, It’s more like 6-7 dollars an hour, since you can rest assure there will be unpaid over time and scene’s that will need to be redone and changed. Will it be like that all the time? maybe not. I never seen a production that didn’t require some OT to finish.

    I’m sure if most employees actually calculated how much unpaid over time they would have earned and how much they are actually making…it might be a little bit of an eye opener.

    look at the aging japanese animators in japan who couldn’t save up for retirement or anything els since their wages were so small.

    400 a week to survive in NY, not likely friends. Even in LA that is a stretch but NY……come on guys.

    • just saying

      I disagree with the last comment.

      Provided that you are a recent grad in you’re early 20’s living with roommates without dependents in new york city for less than 1400 (taking off 200 for taxes):

      Rent 650
      Groceries 150
      Metrocard 104
      Utilities 50

      And you’re still left over with more than $400 a month for student loans and lunches. And these estimates are rounded up in my opinion.

      If you can work at a bar or a restaurant and make 400$ a week working 4 days a week, you are left with more hours in the week to work on freelance/personal projects. But maybe you’ll come across the opportunities less frequently and sacrifice those hours not exercising your skills.

      Anyways I just wanted to demonstrate that it is likely to survive in nyc this way and people in other industries live on similar wages in new york city. At least here there’s room for advancement in your chosen direction. Just because you bought a degree from a private four year college doesn’t entitle you.

      Also would like to direct attention to this article for comparison:

  • Steffen

    + 1 for love of Chris and Shannon and the crews at Titmouse East and West.
    Thank you for existing and helping me on my way.

  • Doe John

    Hi Amid,

    The reason there’s such a huge difference in pay scale for a union and non-union position has much more to do with how globalization has affected the US animation industry’s competitive rates than anything Titmouse has been able to decide.

    What is this investigation about? if it’s the discrepancy between union and non union animation pay, it should cast a wider light than just Titmouse, to cover union and non union studios in NYC and LA.

    If it’s about how two people working the same position on the same project make different amounts, that investigation should be more thorough in contrasting the experience and skill-set of the workers, and be fair in mentioning the studios reasonable policy of promotion for new employees right out of school, who are making less.

    I’ll be checking back on this article so if you’d like to take some time to answer those, I’ll definitely be back to read your response!

    • If either of those had been the true aim of the article, a minimal amount of “investigation” would have led Amid to information that explained everything in a much less sensational light. I really doubt he will offer any sort of correction or retraction, because these facts should have been obvious and readily available to him from the get go. There are differences between union and non union rates, and there are differences between starting rates and veteran rates – that’s not news nor is it something Titmouse invented, and it certainly doesn’t expose some sort of twisted conspiracy against east coast animators. In the meantime we’ll keep cranking on Motorcity and Randy Cunningham and let our work speak for itself.

  • Someone I know called this article “yellow journalism”. Well, if Amid’s goal was to make people like me uneasy about working at a studio, he succeeded.

    I’m an independent animator. I’m making a decent living making promotional web videos for businesses. I HAVE worked at animation studios, but as a freelance remote worker sending work via FTP. I’ve NEVER worked inside a brick and mortar studio, so I don’t know about any of this. I have to REALISTICALLY consider that I MAY have to work at a studio if working independently doesn’t work out for the long haul.

    And I’m sitting here and I’m reading this article and I’m reading everyone’s comments and I have to say… I’m concerned. Nervous. Scared, even.

    I would LOVE to work for Titmouse or a studio like Titmouse just to be there and be surrounded by talented people and get the health insurance and all that and I might want to apply to some soon… But am I better off working for myself? If I do apply, do I have to move ALL THE WAY from Virginia to California? New York would be a better option for me, but at lower pay??

    • Parker S

      The reality is there’s more consistent work available to you in LA,regardless of pay.

  • Chris Prynoski is a brilliant creative mind and businessman. I make a lot of money elsewhere, and I’ve even offered to work for Chris for free on nights and weekends, just to be in the Titmouse environment and learn anything I can from him. There is no way he could have built and sustained the balanced creative + productive cultural hurricane that is Titmouse for this long if he lacked ethics. He’s done more for the weird underground creative community of L.A. than anyone. I recommend visiting his studio and meeting him and his crew. It is truly a phenomenon and anyone involved in it is lucky to be there — most people probably have no idea how valuable that place really is. $400 a week? I would honestly PAY that much to work there, even if all I did was answer the phone. Go, Chris P!

  • :: smo ::

    Still waiting for someone to tell me of a current high action traditionally animated 22 minute television cartoon with all ink and paint done in house where everyone including cleanup makes the going union rate (with no outsourcing).

    Just name one show and I’ll be appeased. Promise.

  • :: smo ::

    *excuse me, I mean the entire production is done in house includes animation etc.

    • Better yet, Smo. Let’s see if there’s anyone that can find a recent graduate doing animation clean up and making the claimed “no less than $1,055 a week”. (Not just in LA, but anywhere)
      It just doesn’t exist. And, if that’s what Amid is claiming to be the point of the article, than what are we getting at?

    • Dickrat

      That is not true. Titmouse NY has plenty of Clean Up artists making more then 400. The best part of this article is that most of it is not true. There should of been a little bit more research done on the studio before making this article. Pretty sad that nobody thought it might be a good idea to interview the animators there. Most of them use to be Clean Up artists…

      • Parker S

        Unfortunately, anyone who signed an NDA shouldn’t be answering questions directly related to the production of the show they’re working on. Anyone who could answer that type of question would be in violation of their contract, so it’s kind of a moot point.

  • I don’t have anything to do with titmouse, but I do live on the west coast, and I have family who live in the Midwest, and central U.S. who have bigger houses and lower mortgage payments than I do… To be fair, everyone in the US should be paying the same… That is all…Fairness RULES… :) Oh and I should get a job as soon as my degree touches my finger tips… When they start doing year long internships, then its time to take issue… Id say avoid looking into Gaming salaries… You’ll likely be aghast…

  • Vincent

    Honestly, reading Chris’ full letter was all I needed. There is a difference between someone paying lower salaries in order to feather their own nest, and someone paying lower salaries because it is the only way to get the job done while keeping the work here in the US.
    I believe Chris and Titmouse are in the latter group. Everyone has to decide what they are willing to work for, and what they want to work toward.

  • big bad balloon

    so to clarify..the SAME position within the SAME company should not have the SAME minimum wage?

    Forget about the new hire and veteran nonsense. They don’t have to be paid the same wage, but they should BOTH have the same minimum. While the newbie starts out at 1000/wk the veteran can ask for 2000/wk but both the minimums are 1000/wk. How is that hard to understand?

    I wonder how much defending there would be if the studio name wasn’t mentioned. I’m sure the defenders would be quick to poo-poo on the shenanigans.

    Gotta squash some grapes to make wine – can’t live on 2 buck chuck forever.

  • Fernando

    No one put a gun to whoever they are’s head to take the job. You don’t like the ammount you get paid?
    Better yourself, make yourself more employable show the company you can do more. Take on a part time job. Be an adult for goodness sakes.

    • I agree with you 100%, Fernando. Most entry-level jobs (in a variety of fields) pay around $400 a week. When you don’t HAVE a lot, you learn to appreciate what you eventually receive. It takes time. :)

  • :: smo ::

    It’s as if half the readers here…and the author, just discovered the concept of outsourcing and are more upset about work getting outsourced to new york city than korea. This is maddening. Where have you been for the last sixty years guys?

  • Ryoku75

    Lets all consider that there was once a time in the US animation industry where you were lucky to be paid anything at an entry job, and could be made to unpaid work over-time.

    This was when our cartoons were quite good, by the way.

    As for Titmouse, well if this article dosen’t turn-off future employees than their comments sure will.

  • Craig M

    actually they are won’t be making 10 dollars an hour.

    After taxes and unpaid over time they will be making significantly less.

    unpaid over time happens all the time, the only way to make it work for both the studio and you, is to get a fair wage up front.

    Titmouse is growing into a much larger studio and the small studio mentality won’t cut it forever. Under staff and under budget from poor negotiations can only last for so long.

    That’s the other problem, big studios don’t want to spend a great deal of money for quality. How can we beat that mentality? How can we make them pay more for quality and better conditions for all? I really don’t know.

    company loyalty is a great thing, it makes everyone work harder and feel like you are working towards something great.Don’t let it skew your perspective.

    400 a week + unpaid over time + taxes= very little to live off , esp if you have student loans (50-100k with most schools now in days), rent, food etc. etc.

    • Special C

      …which is why nobody stays in an entry-level, $400 per week job for very long. If they exhibit talent and skill, they move up–which happens frequently and quickly at Titmouse NY and LA–and their salary increases. If they don’t, they either stay at that level or are let go. In the meantime, they are trained in television animation production skills they did not possess when they walked in the door, which many $100K four year schools don’t teach them.

  • Craig M

    That is true Special C,

    although every studio gives out a test right? They help weed out the talent and pick the ones that can do the job the best.

    SO 1. they can draw great!- and they know the software since you can see how they structure the files -great!

    So they have to learn your production pipeline which shouldn’t take very long.

    Here it gets tricky. How long will they have to live in poverty? For a season ? for two season ? So if they don’t work the unpaid over time does that count against them? Basically not being paid for hours they worked (this is hypothetically but this could be a real situation.)

    So after a season of 10 dollars an hour what kind of raise can these people expect to see? 2 dollar raise? 5 dollar raise?

    I guess my point is, how long will they have to wait? If a producer has a tight budget and high over head cost…It’s far more tempting to say “We want to test you ……..further.”

    • TalentAndDetermination

      Check out my comment below

  • Lala

    It seems to me like we are pretty much rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic here….I have a feeling that while the artform lives on the idea of a ‘studio’ in this industry is on its last legs.

    Every wage or decision you agree to is a choice, and you can walk away from anything, and saying that I have no idea why the heck talented people can accept wages that are that small and bend over backwards to get those wages as well. And its these people who keep the wages down here. Unfortunately, for every wage YOU refuse someone is always going to do it cheaper…this person gets to hang onto a scrap of a career but it ultimately cheapens work as a whole. And honestly, for what? To produce more media trash to heap on the pile?

    As an ant who had realized it was working in the ant farm I decided to leave the industry itself and work in a more stable career. This gives me the freedom to form collectives and create artwork as I see fit,to support artwork that I believe is meaningful. With the rise of the internet you can really make a name for yourself and make yourself a lot bigger than you really are.

    That’s my take on the truth. It was hard to accept but now I feel like a live a much more fulfilling life.

    • Lala

      Either stand for something, or fall for anything.

  • TalentAndDetermination

    Tests don’t reflect work ethic or determination.

    I was hired at Titmouse for a cleanup position at $400 a week. During the hiring process, I asked about moving up to higher pay rates, and how that happens in the company. I negotiated for having a talent review 2 months after my hire date, to reassess my rate.

    Two months later, with a glowing review, I received a raise to $600 a week, and an agreement that I could request another performance review in 6 months. This is how quickly an entry level artist can move through the ranks of Titmouse, if that artist is talented and self-advocating. Believe in what you are worth, show what you are worth, and you will receive it.

    • Nicole

      Huh. This is a nice perk that the east coast studio doesn’t have. New York clean-up don’t get a raise, even after working for six months.

      Again, why can’t both studios have the same salaries for the SAME show?

      • GeeGolly

        If you had negotiated for that perk, you may have gotten it, rather than just assumed it was given to you. You need to speak up for what you want, not just assume you will be given it.

      • TalentAndDetermination

        Agreed. I know of no profession (certainly no job I’ve ever had) where raises are included, expected, or guaranteed. If I feel I deserve a raise, I make a case for myself and ask for it. Raises are not “perks” that are just given out. They are earned. Advocate for yourself, and if you deserve it, you will get it. Or if you don’t, and you truly feel you deserve it, you should quit.

        And the same show/same salary argument has been answered many times over. The production didn’t have the budget to hire cleanup at union rates, so those LA jobs were terminated (there is no longer ANY union cleanup in LA; it was short-lived and financially unfeasible), and all the cleanup had to be outsourced at non-union rates.

  • dave

    I realize I’m late to this crap fest, but I want to say this article doesn’t seem to be written by someone who has an understanding of the realities of producing a show.
    I’ve never met Amid, and my only dealings with him occurred when I once prepaid for his animation magazine, and waited almost a year and a half for it to arrive, but other than that, I really have no idea who he is or what his experience producing animation has been. I just know he doesn’t deliver his magazine when he says he’s going to.
    BTW- My first animation job in NYC was working for a well-known, fantastic animator/director, and I was only making $300 a week, and I was thrilled! I gained invaluable experience. Titmouse is providing similar opportunities by giving people the opportunity to get a foot in the door.
    I’ve since gone on to produce several well know shows, including a multiple Emmy award winner, and had I not taken the $300 a week job, it would never have happened.

    • Ryoku75

      “I’ve since gone on to produce several well know shows, including a multiple Emmy award winner”

      What shows are these? Just out of curiosity.

  • eric eiser

    I have only respect, admiration and gratitude for Chris Prynoski and his Wife Shannon. Chris has energized New York animation. The skills, experience and networking will have years of mileage for all the recent graduates, interns and artists involved.
    How many people will come out of this studio with new ideas, shows, techniques and
    talents that will continue to flourish this once lukewarm industry in New York.

    I continue to be amazed by your negative and disrespectful attitude to the students, SVA,
    and artists who are trying their best to make it in a difficult career choice.

    I know it’s not your job… but what have you done to help? How many artists are
    you responsible for, let alone furthering their skills?

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself, Eric. :)

  • Amid must have thought it was worth it to make a lot of enemies by slamming Titmouse and Chris Prynoski — over business details that should have been handled privately. I’ve made this same sort of bad choice and all it did was make everyone involved feel bad and closed doors for me. His article isn’t a noble act of protest against a mega-corporation exploiting the poor. There are nuances to every business, and there is not enough information available for an outsider (especially one who has never run a company with 250 employees) to judge why the same job is paid different rates in two locations. Isolating one fact ($400 vs. $1055) and only interviewing four entry-level animators, then reporting the results is not a solid “Investigation.” It was just a bad idea, and my advice is that Amid should apologize for the public attack — because the end result is that Chris and Shannon will continue to achieve and grow the studio, and people will be reluctant to trust Amid in the future.

  • Dickrat

    Yea they aren’t even entry level animators. They are clean up artists. That’s the best part. Can we stop saying that he interviewed animators? He just interviewed a few kids that he uses for information. The ones that think this website is actually good for the animation community. ha

    • Bananas

      Do you not realize that a lot of entry-level animators start out with grunt work like clean-up?

  • mark

    I’ve worked in NYC for 13 years

    I have a rate, and if you won’t pay it I won’t work for you.
    I work for myself no matter what studio name is on my paycheck.
    I won’t pledge allegiance to a place just because they have a pool table and a “snack island” full of all the high fructose garbage you can stuff your face with.

    All animators should work this way, but there’s always people desperate enough to work for cheap. a lot of these people don’t last in the industry to long. The quality of your work will always outweigh your inexpensiveness.

    Survival of the fittest.

    • “The quality of your work will always outweigh your inexpensiveness.”

      Marks wins this article’s comments. Sums up my, and many of my friends, sentiments on the matter.

  • Yvette Kaplan

    Amid, I have been thinking of this mess since you unleashed it, and though it is likely too late for real damage control, I agree with Carl King. Please just admit that you were misguided in your attempt to come to the artists’ rescue. I am going to assume you can see that now. Rescue assumes someone has asked to be saved, and no one has asked. Cartoon Brew should be speaking FOR the artists, not against them.

    And because I’ve had this little personal anecdote in my head since I first read this post, I’m going to share it now. I know exactly how the grateful young artists Chris and Shannon have employed, many right out of school feel. Because I used to be one myself.

    In New York in the old days, believe it on not, there WAS a union. Problem was, there was hardly any work at all, just a handful of studios, not that different than NY pre-Titmouse, actually. Well, I had lost my union job, and having just spent 4 yrs. learning animation- after a lifetime of drawing and dreaming about it– I had the audacity to take some animation work at a– gasp!– non-union shop. The union called me, along with other traitors, to task. They were honestly aghast, and bewildered: “Why on earth would we want to work at a non-union shop when we could get a job at McDonalds!” I swear that this is true. Thank Goodness, the Animation Guild in Los Angeles has no such illusions or arrogance. Members are consistently encouraged to WORK in their craft, union OR non-union, and allowed an honorable, and temporary withdrawal if that is necessary. There are just no hours contributed towards health and pension benefits. It’s fair.

    Anyway, I say this complete certainty, that had Titmouse arrived in NY when I was starting out, I would have run to them with my arms open – pencils in hand.

  • Chris Webb

    Amid can write what he likes, it’s his blog.

  • Mike Luzzi

    Great Article, Amid. This is definitely something that needs to be noted. It is surely in part because of unions and in part because the NY labor market for animators are so hard up for work that they’re easily exploited. Even if there are no unions here, kids getting out of school need to speak to their peers and talk about wages so everyone knows the rates that others are getting paid. $400 a week is less than half the starting salaries in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and that is a big step backwards for the industry.

    I think someone who can animate should be paid more than a barista at starbucks. That’s just my opinion though.

    • I was going to say, go work at Starbucks AND probably have time to work on your own stuff at home, making more money, with an easier path to benefits. This whole ‘it’s the economy’ excuse to trick people into being thankful for what little they’re offered is nonsense.

    • Jeff

      Mike Luzzi, You are seriously clueless. Budgets have plummeted since the late 90’s and early 2000’s – due in large part to digital production. Shows I produced in the 90’s had budgets of almost 600K per 22 Min. By 2004, it was down to 230K. Hard to pay people what they used to make when budgets are slashed almost 2/3. You’re like most idiots on here, just blabbing away without having a clue what is going on. If people don’t like the offer of $400, let them go elsewhere. How Titmouse chooses to run their company is none of Amids or anyone elses business, and its seriously foolish for Amid to write about it on here. It’s a free country, people can go elsewhere if they don’t like the offer from Titmouse.

      • Mike Luzzi

        Thanks for the classy response, Jeff. You are really elevating the level of discussion in the animation community. When I mention my personal history, I am speaking exclusively of digital productions, by the way.

        I am glad Amid brings this up because setting rates this low lowers the bar for all productions in the industry. Now Titmouse is making productions that look great on shoestring budgets (apparently) by paying kids about half that of other shops. Next time a show gets bid on by studios, everyone will have to compete with this low price point, driving the overall cost of production down and everyone’s rates along with it.

        Animators, of course can choose where to work. Others working in the animation industry also have the right to discuss what they think is harmful or unfair practices taking place. Why don’t you keep the insults and name calling to yourself.

  • squirrely

    I was recently employed by Titmouse. When they contacted me for the job they said the rate was $400. I thought they meant per day (that’s what I had been getting as a day rate for freelancing). Boy was I wrong! I completed the short term project and moved on to greener pastures.

    I should also note that when talking to my male friends at the studio that their starting salary was twice what I was getting paid for the exact same job. Sexism perhaps?

    I was later offered a full time position as an animator for $600 a week. I felt good turning it down.

    Animators, please, DO NOT LET YOURSELF BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF BY THIS COMPANY. We do an incredibly hard job and we deserve fair pay.

    Want to know the best thing you can do? Don’t take a job with this them. There are better opportunities out there. When Titmouse can no longer find employees willing to put up with this treatment, they will realize that they must provide us with fair pay. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of- it hurts all of us.

    • Jenny

      Well, shit. I guess all the pro Titmouse people were from L.A.? Amid, you really should reply to Chris with the testimonials above and below.

    • Boobrat

      Did you ask if your male friend negotiated a higher wage, and was there any gap in productivity, experience or skill? I say that because as a recent graduate who is about to begin working for Titmouse, I was “at the top of their list” among the pool of students they were interested in. Of all the other students in talks with the studio that I know of, I was offered the highest rate, in one case 145% of another female classmate.

      At first I entertained the possibility of gender discrimination, but talking with other classmates put it back into perspective; I can draw and animate in different styles (some very complicated), I am one of the most skilled 2D animators among our year of graduates, I have a decent knowledge of after effects, can animate almost as well in CG, and I can also do a competent job as layout. They were also paying another female classmates a rate that was 20% higher than another male and female classmate being considered for a job.

      I can’t speak for clean-up, but the rate offered was $1450 as an animator, and the closest female classmate was offered $1200. The lowest offer I’ve heard of, from the NYC studio, was $1000. One of my good friends was offered $950 for bg color at the new Vancouver studio– which is a $100-150 above the going rate of two other, similarly sized Vancouver studios that offered her work.

      My interest is not to defend Titmouse; I’m genuinely interested to know whether or not you were being paid half the rate of your male co-worker, especially if you are more skilled, experienced and self-advocating, on the basis of your gender. If it is the case you had to fight to get half the rate of your male co-worker, despite being a better and more productive artist, that would be outrageous.

      • NosirNotmyname

        Was this at the NYC or LA studio?

  • Tron the DOG


    titmouse employees seriously need to look at the bigger picture and stop looking at their own little world and thinking “well they didn’t screw me! Who cares about all the other people we jerked around.” not everyone is going to have a suckling tit story.

    Titmouse is an unpaid internships studio, unless that’s changed. Chances are those poor bastards have a long way to go until they make a good wage, Titmouse isn’t just going to say “well you did great on the internship! Lets put you to 25 dollars an hour.

    Anyone who says 400 is a fair price and you could LIVE in NY on it, is seriously fucking stupid. grow up tools.

    Everyone should get a pay cut and pay chris and shanon for sharing the air they breath.

    do you have food? do you have food? no? ……….pfff go to hell.

    • Snagglepuss

      Why not? 400$ a week, first two weeks make rent, half of third week is food, the other half is fun and fourth week is a nest egg. This is an entry level job. Not a job for thirty somethings.

      • MamaBear

        You forgot about paying Uncle Sam. Let’s see, $400 a week equals roughly $1200 a month. Doesn’t sound too bad until you figure the IRS, social security & other taxes take about 25%. Now you’re down to $900 per month net. Try living in NYC on that!

  • Calista Flockhart Writes…

    Man, Tron the Dog sounds to me like a former and disgruntled employee no? Or how else would he know what the REAL TRON SAYS!!!!! So for the record, the real Tron prefers to go “Ruff”, just like your mother likes it Trebeck. In all seriousness my post is here to illustrate the point of how this article is stupid and has gone nowhere. Just a bunch of people on either side ready for a fake fight. Come at me dawg! Come at me Bro! Lets get into a slapping match online. NERD FIGHT! NERD FIGHT! Internet tough guys unite!

    Seriously, were all so lame.

    • LoL. Thats because we are all animators… basically big whiney children :P

  • Anonymous

    I was recently the lead animator on a project for an ad agency in the city. I had an assistant that had worked as a cleanup artist for Titmouse NYC on Superjail. Her rate was 9.50 an hour. She was frequently expected to work all night and her pay would be frozen after 7pm. Maybe some people feel a good deal of loyalty to them, but I’m apprehensive about testing there. I have been since long before this was published.

    I’ve been working at Motion Graphics houses making around $400-$500 a day. I’m sad that I’m not working more frequently, but I’m making more money working half as much.

    Amid, you were RIGHT to publish this. Students need to be made aware that there are other options. I don’t think that paying a less than livable wage to a cleanup artist is “giving them a chance” I think it’s ensuring that the only people that are brought into the studio system are people that have parental support and can depend on that until they change careers or begin to get paid barely living wages with barely passing benefits and thousands of dollars worth of student loans.

    Maybe Titmouse NYC isn’t directly to blame for this problem, but it is a problem, and animators need to stop arguing against their own interests. An entry level After Effects Animator in NYC can get paid close to six figures. Maybe budgets are much larger for commercials, but I’m sure something can be done to increase the budgets for these shows if enough people are willing to get behind it.

    • On my film, “The Lift” I paid $5 per character per frame and $3 per frame for color. For the most part I split up shots so I didn’t overburden my team. For me, on an average shot, I could clean up about 4-6 frames and hour.

      On a side note does anyone care to comment about the other skeleton in the NY animation closet? Studios who use a 3rd party company to hire you as ‘staff’ so they don’t have to and take a cut of your pay.

    • Jeff

      Amid is NOT right to publish this. It’s no ones business how Titmouse runs their company. If people don’t like the offer from Titmouse, they can go somewhere else – its a free country.
      You talk about After Effects work, but you don’t mention if it is working on commercials or a TV series. If it is commercials, the budgets are significantly higher. I’ve produced 22 minute episodes for Cartoon Network that only had budgets of around 200K and I’ve produced 30 second commercials that had budgets of 250K. There is a big fucking difference, but you are either too stupid or too inexperienced to know the difference. You seem like a cog who will remain a cog for your whole career, and clearly you know nothing about business.
      BTW, Superjail is a super low budget show, and people should just be thankful it wasn’t sent overseas.
      Go back to being a cog. You don’t deserve to work at Titmouse because it’s clear you are only worried about making money and not about creating art,gaining experience, making contacts, learning your way though a studio system, working on interesting shows etc… You really sound small minded and clueless.

      • Re:
        -“Amid is NOT right to publish this. It’s no ones business how Titmouse runs their company.”-

        It’s everyone’s business how anyone runs any company, if it’s possible to get the information out. It appears Titmouse may not always be doing the most savory thing. That should not be a secret from anyone considering working at the company. Knowledge is power.

      • Ryoku75

        At Jeff: I don’t see how bringing up a companies wage automatically means that Amids all about making money.

        Plus, you gotta be able to put dinner on the table somehow.

      • Jeff

        [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Be considerate and respectful of others in the discussion. Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted.”]

      • Jeff

        Ryoku75 my comment was aimed at the post by “anonymous” which is located above my post.

      • Ryoku75

        I never saw that comment before it was removed, but thanks for clearing that up.

  • Snagglepuss

    For God’s sake, would you have them work internships instead? You, for some reason, went for a company that pays people at the entry level. Every other places has interns, glorified slaves promised vague promises of rising up in the business. Who cares how much less they pay on one coast than the other!? I’m going to go on a limb, but the Titmouse in LA probably gets INFINITELY MORE CLIENTS. When you’re a working entertainer living in NY instead of LA, you’re making a decision to focus more on living in a nice city than making a lot of money. Sadly that’s how it is.

    This is one of those “Amid clearly isn’t a working animator” entries, which have grown so common on this website. Achingly out of touch with the job market, with how people feel and out of touch with how businesses work outside of a fantasy scenario with infinite budgets and infinite sponsors.

    How long did it take you to make that graphic anyway?

    • You may not care, but people on the fence about working at Titmouse are. Its degrading working as an artist for a company and KNOW you’re making less money than most retail jobs.

      Artist’s shouldn’t sell themselves short, or it brings down the expected pay ceiling for everyone.

      Also, it’s not just interns making spare-change pay, they tend to do work for free. It’s actual full time employees making minimum wage.

  • Jody Schaeffer

    Oh, hey, one last question, Amid…

    How much do you pay your writers here at Cartoon Brew? I mean, there are plenty of writer’s unions in New York. Surely a union advocate such as yourself wouldn’t be scamming people into getting you to write non-union gigs, or even for free, would they?

    Just asking.

    • amid

      Writers? You mean how much do I pay myself? Not nearly enough.

      • Jody Schaeffer

        “Not enough”? Kinda suspicious. I wonder how much you make compared to your writers.

        And whether or not you use the union.

        Given the subject matter you have chosen to write about I think these are valid questions, don’t you?

        Or do you decline to comment?

      • amid

        Jody – Again, what writers are you talking about? This is a blog that I own with Jerry Beck, and the two of us have written Cartoon Brew exclusively since 2004.

  • Are you seriously kidding me with these comments? 400 bucks a week is being offered to you, and you’d slap it away and laugh in their face?? Umm, hello. I’ll take that job. I’d GLADLY take that job. I have bills to pay, a POS car, student loans, and a rent that’s getting more expensive. I would LOVE to have 400 bucks a week. Sign me up!!!

    No seriously, guys at Titmouse? If you’re reading this an entry-level 3D animator is looking for work. Hit me up <3 I will bend over backwards to get a starting salary like that.

    It sure beats NOTHING.

    • You can do what you want but that attitude is why artists lose respect from the rest of the world and why artists can’t demand better pay.

    • Do you live in New York?
      No– have you ever lived in ANY major city?
      Try it. Then your tone will change.

  • If anyone is interested we interviewed one of the head Titmouse animators a while back, Mike Roush. He shed some light on some of the transitions that titmouse has been going through since the split up. But nothing near as hard-hitting as this article!

  • Ryoku75

    I’d like to see a post from a Titmouse employee that dosen’t mention “I will continue to grow”, resort to ad hominem, or assume that Amids ignorant.

    NYC employees are getting a lower wage than LA, no amount of “Growing” or bad arguing tactics will fix that.

    • Corrections Office

      For the last time. NY are the only people doing cleanup on this show, they have no counterparts in LA. Additionally, entry-level cleanup positions in LA pay the same as in NY. This uproar was caused by veteran clean-up artists getting the union rate for their work, which was incredibly short-lived.

      But please, feel free to continue to be bitter and resentful.

      • Ryoku75

        I love how you post a decent defense, then assume that I will resume being “bitter and resentful”.

        Its usually the bitter ones who do the correcting.

  • Get out of animation

    Thanks Amid for bringing this up. I’m sure every employee at Titmouse in NY lives with their parents and has no student loans. Animation studios will soon be having “American Idol” competitions for animation. The employees are just hurting themselves.

    They don’t see it now, but just wait till you hit your thirties and have to live on your own. Let’s just say you make $400 a week and you want to move on. You go to your next employer and they see how much you make, I guarantee your making the same amount there too. They will know that you think shallow of yourselves. Score for them, 0 for you.

    Thank God our hero’s John Lasseter, Glen Keane, Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg, Brad Bird, Steve Jobs, didn’t have to go through this. You would have never heard of them, and these studios never will let you become what they are today.

    Start your own studio or quit animation. Pay is only going down while the bills go up.

    • Special C

      Enough with the “student loans” stuff already. Has ANYONE in the history of working paid off their student loans with the salary from their first job out of school? Even Bud Fox had to wait until he landed his second job with Gordon Gekko to do that.

      These are entry-level clean-up jobs. The “mail room” of the animation industry here in NY, given mostly to promising but inexperienced people just coming out of school. And those with talent and skills beyond the job description are not overlooked, ignored, abused or exploited. Titmouse is dying to find the next Brad Bird and move him up. No one worth a damn would be doing this job for long without a raise, nor into their thirties

      This is just one path into the animation industry, for those willing to take it. If, to paraphrase Jon Schnepp’s remarks, you think the world owes you more than $400 a week because you “can draw a cute duck,” you don’t have to take it. You can bartend or work at Starbucks to pay your rent while you keep plugging away on your own art and bolstering your portfolio until you’ve got the goods to enter an animation studio at a higher level.

      And just to be clear, Titmouse is not hiring animators, designers, storyboard artists, editors and directors at this rate, much less seasoned ones. (So all you experienced thirty-somethings on this message board can stop quaking in your Converse over what this all means to your own day rates.)

      (Side note: Since when do prospective employers look at the pay stubs from your previous job? And how dumb would a person have to be to neglect to negotiate his/her salary two times in a row?)

      Read more about your heroes, too. I guarantee they all paid their dues somewhere along the way.

      • Get out of animation

        Animation is not in a good place at this time. Our hero’s are talented and they did pay their dues but you will not see “new” talent come up as our hero’s did. You have no idea how horrible these students loans are today for students, I also recommend students to NOT get degrees in animation, it’s over rated and not worth big bucks.

        Also this is another bad idea for the studio themselves because they WILL have high turnover rates of employees. And when you apply for a new studio, they do ask how much you were making at the old studio, and you better lie about.

      • Special C

        I AGREE that an animation degree is probably not the best course, unless your parents are paying for it completely, your teachers are amazing and worth the money, and you’re still busting your ass at night on your own stuff.

        Better, I think, to NOT pay tuition, and get PAID to learn the business from the ground up at a real, working studio, where I could potentially move up quickly, no?

        For the record, I’ve worked at five studios and freelanced for at least half a dozen more. I’ve never ever been asked what I made at a previous job. And if I was applying for a character design or animation job, I certainly wouldn’t be talking about what I made as a clean-up artist.

        I DISAGREE that animation is in a bad place at this time. Sure, Disney isn’t hand-drawing feature films out in LA, and the fat 90’s dollars aren’t rolling around NY anymore, but doors are open that never existed before. Quirky little shows on cable and the internet that are fun to work on and grownups actually watch. Computers and software that make it possible to produce every aspect of an animated short in your bedroom, then put it online for the WORLD to see. And now, some real in-house animation production has come to NY…and those of us who are here are pretty excited about where that may lead.

        The times will never be good for hacks, or for people who expect to settle into a high paying job–in any industry–for life.

      • Animation Degrees are overrated. The problem is parents these ays believe that you need a degree to get a job and society at large feel that without a college degree you are worthless. In fact the whole way animation and art is wrong especially within the institutions of college.

        I believe it would be more appropriate for students to learn the basics over 2 years for an associates degree then get some sort of certification by completing 2 years as a journeyman artist in your chosen field. Then 1 – 2 years of thesis advised by a teacher similar to getting your doctorate.

    • Ryoku75

      Considering the deluded and naive workforce of the US Television animation industry, I’d rather get a $400 job elsewhere.

      Plus, its the writers that make cartoons these days, the animators just move the characters for what little animation there is.

      Unless if we ask for more, we will continue to make squat, while higher-ups get their daily bonuses.

  • Tory

    Are these fulltime jobs? I worked at Walmart for about the same money. I’d rather be in animation though.

  • christy

    whats it mean when the comments are highlighted brown?

    • Pokey

      I think they got 10 or more “likes”.

      • christy

        oh-duh (me)

  • Mr. Bean

    Animation degree are worth taking into account since most of the people that will be doing this job are students. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.

    It’s a shame that so many people feel as though you have to pay your dues by being abuse.

    Another thing to consider; If your going to be working really late hours, how much are you really going to grow? If they are working you long hours to get a unrealistic deadline meet how much time will you really have to practice other things?

    Most likely you will only have enough time to worry about your day job.

    I can’t tell you how many times I heard students say “I really want to do X” but by the time the work day is done they look to dead to do anything els.

    I truly feel sorry for the NY branch…Animation is truly a young person game.

  • A Young Man’s Game

    Slave is right about the Animation Union Holiday party. It’s GRIM. If the animation veterans today are the Ghosts of Christmas Future, get me the hell out of this industry.

    • The Gee

      I hate to trot out cliches, but we all make the future and we make as well improve it for ourselves and others.

      That’s why fairness Now is important. If all are treated fairly in all segments of the industry it bodes well for Now and for Later.

  • Elb

    I made 800 a week on my first animation jobs.In USA you guys have really low minimum wage, and no worker’s rights, and the gap between rich and poor is huge.

    • optimist

      Elb, so did I at my first job out of school. That was in 1989. I got the union minimum. I was working on a TV show. I learned on the job, made mistakes,got better, worked insanely long hours doing what I loved, networked, made friends, you name it.

      The first/last time I got $10/hr 400/a week was at my day job before I went to animation school in 1985.

      1985. Think about it. the cost of living has gone way up since then.

      Thank god for our union.

    • Ryoku75

      The only rights that the US really has are to report discrimination, thats it.

      What were your jobs, Elb?

  • OK lets do some math

    $400. per week = $1,600. per month

    -$500. per month rent (most if not all of these kids share apartments in Brooklyn)
    -$52. monthly metro card
    -$400 per month on coffee cigarettes food drugs
    -$300 on H&M Skinny jeans, flannel shirts, and a pair of canvas shoes

    $368. left over per month.

    That’s good money for a recent graduate with little drawing skills and work experience.

    • maybe you should have majored in math

      $52 a month metro card?!?! get real. it’s over $100 a month. and $500 a month rent?! where the hell do you live? crown heights? i think the only way you could have rent that low is to live with 6 people in the scariest neighborhood in nyc. i have 2 roommates and pay almost $900 a month in greenpoint.

      you have no idea what it costs to be a recent grad in this city. clearly you are delusional. LIVING HERE IS EXPENSIVE. and this “salary” is unlivable. i know from personal experience.

      why are people even bothering to defend this? i bet you never got paid this shitty, and if you did, it was more than 20 years ago. oh and inflation? yea…

  • Craig M

    Your also forgetting student loans Robert.

    so lets say 200, even though just paying that amount won’t make a dent at all on your loans and your loan will just keep getting bigger the more you wait.

    so you’ll have 168 bucks according to you’re “math”. Even though 500 for rent is possible….assuming your sharing a bed as well and living in a nice dump. I lived in NY and 500 isn’t going to get you anything remotely safe, so it would be easier to just sleep under your desk.

    168 isn’t a good buffer for anything. jay walking ticket, roommate moves out so rent goes up, utility goes up etc. It’s a drop in the bucket.

    The whole “let me show you how much in poverty you will be.” to me sounds awful like “a modest proposal.”

    well done chaps

  • Erin Kilkenny

    I’m probably too late to this to even get trolled, but I have a few thoughts:

    Amid’s absolutely right to publish this article – people need to know that this happened. The best way to negotiate yourself a fair wage is to start out knowing what people actually get paid. Talking money with colleagues is kind of a faux pas – but please, do so occasionally, with ones who you trust.

    I think many of us forget exactly what it’s like to be a recent grad – at least in my case, circa ’04, it was complete ignorance about the business side of things. I had no way of knowing what people’s day rates were – so I later found out that I was the worst paid person on my first animation job, by a LOT. I felt exploited, but I was desperate for work that led somewhere.

    Desperation is never a good place to be in a negotiation. You have no power. The unfortunate thing about drawn character animation work in NYC, whether you’re a 22-year old entry level person or a lead animator (or, probably, the owner of a studio), is that it always involves some level of desperation. There are simply more qualified people than work. This is the underlying reason for Titmouse being able to pay people $400/week, which by the way is awful and all but impossible to live off of in this city.

    The upside is that network series animation is not the only game in town – diversify your skills and hustle and you can do really well. There’s a thriving motion graphics and advertising industry in NYC where people make more than 400 per DAY. A lot of that work is done at small, fun studios with beers in the fridge. There are design companies and web companies and freelance illustration gigs and whatever else – and there’s the whole bartending or day job and filmmaking on the side route. You have to think outside the box of a typical animation degree, you have to work your ass off for years on end developing new skills, and you have to have talent, but it’s possible.

    As for Titmouse, I have nothing really to do with them other than knowing a couple people who have worked there. In general, studios do well to properly budget projects so they can pay people well and get them out at a decent hour. That way the best employees, who could go anywhere, stick around for a long time and don’t totally burn out. Anyone who reads this and is a director or producer or lead for Titmouse – push them to pay everyone better, even the fresh grads. It’s the long view of how to succeed as a studio.

  • Julian

    I’m just offended they’re making another show (robo-cop rip off) putting a bad image on Detroit, yet any serious animation studios for all the talent here in south east Michigan? Screw New York, they got enough jobs, I would work for that wage if I could stay here!

  • Canadanimation

    Avatar and Titanic are the highest grossing films of all time. Modern Warfare made quite a lot of pennies. This industry makes money, and talent is the key. Think about that. Your talent=money. The artist should set the prices…any project can be amazing, it’s up to the individual to make that happen.