natalienourigat natalienourigat

If You Are Thinking Of Starting An Animation Career In L.A., You NEED To Read This Comic

If you are a young artist interested in launching a career in the L.A. animation industry, you have to pick up a copy of Natalie Nourigat’s I Moved to LA to Work in Animation, a 70-page autobiographical comic that she just released on Gumroad.

This is not a standard recommendation – Nourigat’s book is absolutely essential for anyone considering an animation career in Los Angeles. It’s filled with hard-won real-life experience from the perspective of an artist who is at the beginning of their industry career.

Nourigat, who is currently a story artist on Wreck-It Ralph 2, offers a disclaimer at the front of the book: “This is just one person’s experience. It is all colored by my background, identity, and privilege.” She recommends seeking out advice from different people to get the bigger picture.

That’s all true, of course, but the insights she offers in her comic cover basic aspects of the Los Angeles animation industry (and L.A. living in general) that I have never seen laid out so clearly or comprehensively in a public document.

There’s tons of practical (and common sense) advice in her comic that will apply to anyone thinking of making the jump to L.A. from the simple act of moving and finding a place to live through applying and taking tests for animation jobs, and then workplace tips for those who have made it into the industry.

Nourigat’s relatively short experience in the industry works to her advantage, because it allows her to present information from the perspective of an entry-level industry artist, and not someone with the jaded outlook of an veteran. (It would be illuminating to read a follow-up comic after she’s been in the industry for a few more years.)

Industry-focused schools need to make this required curriculum for their students, but until that happens, you should pick up a copy on Gumroad. It is the best $10 investment you can make toward launching an L.A. animation career.

  • Tracy Reynolds

    They are only advertising this on Twitter as far as I know, but TODAY ONLY all Gumroad profits are going to Unicef for Puerto Rico hurricane relief.

  • Troy

    “Nourigat’s relatively short experience in the industry works to her advantage, because it allows her to present information from the perspective of an entry-level industry artist, and not someone with the jaded outlook of an veteran.”

    That’s funny because entry level or no level artists was told that the industry is not the place for newcomers, should consider to go overseas or LA is not the area worth having a job there because of the unstable nature of the city being picky on newcomers who actually knows how to do animation but no job experience; but hires people who have job experiences unrelated to animation and let them have the job due to scarce animators within the city. I hear THOSE mostly from the general public *rolls eyes* I don’t know how those kinds of misinformation got to the point that it is treating it like a rule.

    I will be buying the book since it is always good to hear an animator’s experience but based on the quote above on this comment it is rather a grim outlook for future newcomers.

  • Greg

    That resonates with me. I moved to L.A. when I was around 23 and failed hard. Did test after test after test and when I finally got a gig, another studio bought the show and my job ended like “that” *zip*
    All my neighbors were drug addicts or dealers, most artists I met were too cool for school or seemed jealous of me, made some friends though but they were new to the industry as well. Heck, it was actually all the writers and comedy fanatics I quickly became friends with, not the animators.
    I eventually couldn’t afford the high rent, broke up with my girlfriend of 3 years and went back East. Been trying to figure out a way back ever since. I know what it’s like though, some of us just want to be a character designer, board artist, or simply a clean-up artist who comes in and listens to their favorite podcast while going over other people’s work for good pay. We see tv shows and go “whoa, that looks like so much fun! I wish I can make a ball-sack alien for Rick and Morty” or “shit, I could have totally done SOMETHING on the new Rocko’s Modern Life movie, that show was my whole reason I got into animation!”
    I don’t think it matters where you go to school ultimately, I’ve met people who never went to art school or only drew stick figures and got awesome animation gigs! It’s really sometimes personality or chance…and having a car is a huge plus.
    I decided I’m just going to do my own thing and release comics and cartoons online and be a poor butt, though everyone should try L.A., even just once. If you fail at that, it’s not the end, there are other outlets and even places to go, Canada seems ok or the story about the guy who went from America to Korea just so he can animate anime for cheap pay. Just put love into what you do, and things will be ok. I mean, in the end we will all die or the Earth will and none of this will even matter, so it’s not the complete end of the world…or is it?

    • Strong Enough

      wow. you ok dude?

    • Nikhil Kumar

      I got some tears;__; hope you are okay.

  • Richard H. Thorndyke

    I like her spirit, I really do, but the operative word is “start” of her potential career. Its not a stable industry, and it takes years before the verdict is out on whether any of us have a bonafide career. Its good as a job, I’ll say that. People with careers have stock options, bonuses, contracts, and have a commitment made to them by their employers. We’re all just nameless interchangeable cogs with too much uncertainty to rely on animation as a “career”. I would draw a parallel to actors in Hollywood. Okay, you got a good solid role in a movie – I’ll check back about your career when you have as good a role in 20 movies.

  • Nestor

    I’ve been enjoying it so far, for a person who knows almost nothing about the industry in L.A. as myself, this comic has been very helpful. Kudos to Natalie! and thank you.

  • KW

    I could have really used this comic 5 months ago? My company asked me if I wanted to move to LA to work at our studio there. After some thought and asking for advice from friends that work out there or used to I decided against it. I don’t like the idea of having to rely on a car, the amount of pollution and traffic and how hard it is to get around in general, plus the cost of living, and the fickleness of the industry especially on new comers. I’ve known too many friends that get there work a few jobs and then suddenly cant find any work and end up doing jobs that arent animation related. Some seem to enjoy it but to me the negatives just arent worth it.

    Even cost wise alone I didn’t find it viable to do so. I can live a relatively comfortable life where i’m at now doing animation and and with the debt I already have I’d rather not have to dump money into cars or super high rent. There’s up sides and downsides to anywhere you live or anything you do, but moving to LA would have lowered my quality of life drastically. I get LA is the center of the industry and maybe one day I’ll end up there but I don’t want to go there until I want to go there, I don’t want my career to dictate what I do with my life.

  • waterworld

    I enjoyed reading this comic. I think it’s a very accurate description of what it’s like to move to and adapt to L.A. while starting out an animation career. I know that people considering the big move will find this material very helpful.

  • Marie

    Just finished reading it last night and loved it! As someone who unsuccessfully went animation job-hunting in L.A. from NY back in 1992, it would have been great to have a resource like this.

  • Thanks for the share. Looking forward to reading this!

  • Tomm

    Great read – would be interesting to see someone do something similar for the European scene

  • Strong Enough

    so shes entry level but got a job at Disney right of the bat? well damn