Send a Canadian to CalArts Send a Canadian to CalArts

Send a Canadian to CalArts

A lot of young artists apply to CalArts and get rejected. But what happens if you’re accepted into the prestigious program and can’t afford to attend? That’s the situation that 25-year-old Canadian artist Dan Caylor finds himself in after receiving a letter of acceptance last week.

Dan writes on his website, “Unfortunately, my family isn’t rich, and being from Canada, I’m not eligible for any government loans or funding. With a price tag of $200,000, I’ll need all the help I can get. I’m doing everything I can to make my dream a reality, including asking everyone for anything they can spare. Desperate times call for desperate measures. If enough people can help me, I can turn my bittersweet acceptance letter into the beginning of a dream come true. Every penny counts.”

After looking at his blog, it’s obvious that Dan is not only a talented artist, but that he’s also a passionate student of animation, its history, and understanding the individual elements that comprise successful filmmaking (storytelling, shot selection, staging, movement, design, etc.). His blog is also a nice resource for other artists offering excerpts from Don Graham’s classic book Composing Pictures and high-quality video of Michael Caine discussing his acting techniques.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a student post a public appeal for funds to attend CalArts. And it would be a shame if he couldn’t attend, especially after reading about all the effort that Dan made to get accepted into the program. So Cartoon Brew is not only going to encourage donations, but on behalf of Jerry and myself, we’re throwing $40 into the pot to get Dan started on the road to Valencia. Find out how to give a few bucks to the cause at

  • paul

    Canadian eh? Why not go to Sheridan College in Oakville Ontario , Tuition is a fraction of the cost of CalArts and its one of the best in the world
    Every Hollywood Animation studio has Sheridan Graduates

  • Patrick Runyan

    Where we you guys when I was going to school? It took me 10 years, a full time job and a part time weekend job to graduate college. And I was still 63 grand in debt after graduation.

  • Sean

    And what about all of us with student loans who didn’t get to go to CalArts, and also there are other animation schools, CalArts may be very popular, but I guess he’ll have to get by like the tons of other animators who didn’t attend that school.

  • mojo25

    I do agree with the above comments,

    The guy probably does have animation knowledge and a big heart
    but at the same time there is a lot of people out there with more
    skills which deserve the same attention and help and…they are
    doing it without guilt tripping no one. So, get a job(s) , borrow,
    but in this economy we all need help for many reasons such as:
    survive, make ends meet, fund our own projects etc… so do what
    we all did since ever, work, work and more work at the same time
    going to school.

    And, the first comment hits the mark. Go to sheridan is a great college,
    I had worked with great animators and artists from there and they
    are amazing.

    HEY!, don’t bug down with my comment, probably will make people

    Me personally I had work in the industry since 1987, i was 17, work
    my way up at a independent animation studio, move to CA and
    work at many different studios through the years, some majors and
    some game studios with a level of talent which was obtained by work
    and still to today I’m working in animation. Also, had myself produced shorts films which some had won awards at reputable international

    So then, I want some money too for my projects.

  • A reader

    It’s not as important to go to one particular school as it is to make sure people see your work, which is much easier via the internet. Sheridan gets as much attention from the major recruiters as Calarts. There are preferable options to being even half or 1/16th 200,000 in debt.

  • Anonymous

    Is it April 1st already?

  • Don’t forget those of us who have never BEEN to art school and still manage to work in the industry.

    Not to mention, going to CalArts is no guarantee he’ll get a JOB at the end for his 200 grand.

    (200 grand for art school, good lord O_O….)

  • Calarts grad

    From the Calarts site:

    Tuition in 2009–2010 is $34,830 for full-time enrollment.

    A lot of money but not 200,000. Obviously there are living costs etc. but there are all kinds of ways to eke out a living while at school. Keep in mind too that very few students go for 4 years. I didn’t both because I couldn’t afford it and I got a job.

    A suggestion: at Dan’s site it’s difficult to find his own work to look at apart from life drawing. He needs to have everything he’s bringing to the deal online and readily accessible.

  • Joe G.

    Sounds like a scam to me.

  • Wow that was fast. Thank you Amid and Jerry. I really appreciate your support in this endeavor. I am not particularly proud of asking, but my drive to attend is stronger. So even though this all makes me slightly uncomfortable/hopeful/nervous, I really appreciate it.

    I figure I should chime in here and thank everyone for taking the time to read about it. Rest assured I’m doing everything I can to pay for this. I’m applying left right and center for local bursaries and scholarships. If I get a few, $300 here and there could add up. I also work two jobs, and I have been saving. But because of the figure I’m reaching for, I still needed to do something. So this is just part of my effort to do everything I can to attend. Just like I did everything I could to get accepted.

    I realize there are other schools, but imagine being accepted, and being held back because of something as stupid as money. It’s a messed up system, and if I could take out a $200,000 loan I would. This is a great opportunity, and I guess I just figured $1 from a enough people could help put me there.

    I have to look at this as positive as I can, and consider it no different than asking local corporations for sponsorship (which I’m also doing) for education.

    Thanks for taking a look guys. I really appreciate it.

  • I was also accepted at Cal Arts years ago but couldn’t go due to my financial position. I then found out about Sheridan College and went there instead. Glad I did.

  • Anne

    Good Gawd, CalArts costs $200K now? Yikes. I’m almost glad they rejected me. ;)

    Ya know, I second Amy M. in saying you don’t need a piece of paper that costs more than a house to get a job in this industry…

  • As a non-CalArts/non-art scool guy with a long & healthy career, I agree 100% with what Amy said, and yes– going to CalArts isn’t a guarantee a employment in the biz.

  • Joe G.

    “imagine being accepted, and being held back because of something as stupid as money”.
    Wow! You are one selfish dude. (Cartoon Brew probably would not print what I really think of you.)
    As for myself, I could not afford go to the schools I wanted to so had to go to a “lesser” school. I still worked at Disney, Dreamworks and ILM.

    • Steffie

      Where did you go to school? I need to know..
      My daughter too was just accepted to CALARTS this March 2012, and I really do NOT want to have to sell my house to get her there? HELP!!
      [email protected]
      She took a couple of years schooling at University…not Sheridan though…went to Seneca instead….
      Any words of wisdom? And how on earth can people afford such an expensive school, and do they only choose the best..My daughter just sent down her portfolio but didn’t think she’d get in…
      She is very good though..and is there work for her now?
      Thanks Stephanie

  • S#$& Happens

    Well hate to say it but welcome to America’s wonderful education system. Also welcome to the world of art school. My neighbor to the north, it is time to take out a fatty ass loan and inevitably immerse yourself right into debt upon graduation.

    Plus you don’t have to take out a $200,000 loan all at once. Just apply for a loan every year that equals the amount that will cover that year of school.

    Education is so expensive anymore and we’re going to have a great amount of stupid people in the world if it continues this way. Probably too late considering what college costs anymore. They’re already here.

    Oh and never donate as an alumni if you get financially raped those 4 years. Leave that to the full riders to take care of.

  • Jeff

    I’d like to get a Master’s. Stay posted for my new donations website!
    Actually, I think I’ll have to take donations to get a really nice website to get donations!

  • I don’t doubt CalArts is an excellent school, but it is completely possible to still work your way up on your own drive, passion and talent with a lot of work.
    I was very fortunate to enter Disney with no experience at all and train on-the-job as an Inbetweener. While I realise that entry levels like this are rare these days, it is still your art that matters, not whether you went to school or not.

    And yes, what Calarts grad said – Dan, where is your actual artwork? The blog Amid links to is a commentary blog, not a portfolio one.

  • Derek

    I’m from Canada as well. I had the chance to go to Cal Arts in 91 couldn’t afford it…not even close. I taught my self to animate….and have had no problem finding work.

  • KC

    Is this some sort of joke? No one ever helped me through school, I did it out of sheer determination and won a lot of scholarships. However, I also didn’t go to Calarts and “purchase” my career. School is what you make of it, not because you pay $200K to go. I find the request appalling and ridiculous. There’s Sheridan in Oakville, and Capilano University in Vancouver. I worked with two girls who graduated from Capilano’s animation program and they are now working in feature animation. Last I checked their tuition is $6K for two years, and I am very impressed with the work coming out of there. A lot of kids from Calarts have been blacklisted from the TV studios here in California just because they have some sense of entitlement. Sorry, this sounds like a scam. I also cannot find his work through the sludge of typical fanboy inspiration.

  • Terence

    Anyone have a list of notable Sheridan grads so we can keep Dan in Canada? Wikipedia mentions some guys but I know for sure of several others from Disney.

  • Anonymous

    I can empathize with your dream, Dan of going to CalArts, but I have to ask, why would you apply if you aren’t already rich? You are extremely talented & could probably lead a great productive life without going to CalArts

    I thought it was no secret that only the rich and privileged get to attend that school anyway.

    I had my heart set on going there too, but after seeing the cost, I quickly reconsidered. There are just too many other schools out there that are just as good at 1/4 of the cost.

    There’s such a mafia-like mentality surrounding that school anyways, as if it is the ONLY great animation school. As if the ‘Nine Old Men’ are the the great deciples of animation and if you don’t learn the Disney way then you aren’t worth hiring at PIXAR or Disney (which is usually why most people want to go to CalArts)

    Sorry if this offends any alumni from there. There are great people with EXTRAORDINARY talent that come out of there. It is a terrible shame that people focus so hard on getting into an institution just because there is such a huge belief that it is the only great school out there.

    Unless mom & dad are paying your way in, it’s totally not worth being in debt for the rest of your life just to go there.

    Just my anonymous 2 cents.

  • Gerard de Souza

    Why? No school is the end-all-be-all. Wherever one studies is what one makes of it. If one is really that motivated, for <200K teach yourself and interface and get feedback online, for example. That was not an option in the 70s & 80s. CalArts is great but I think you’ve romanticized it. There are good people from all educational and training backgrounds out there in animation.

    Sorry. A Hyundai can get you where you’re going as well as a Rolls.

  • Charles

    You comment leavers are pretty ruthless. I can understand not wanting to donate(I’m not going to cause I’m broke as hell) but is it really necessary to put him down and be all like “tough luck kid, settle for less like the rest of us…”. It’s hard when you’re trying really hard to reach your goals. The last thing any of us needs is someone to tell us we can’t or even shouldn’t try.

  • I sympathize but 200k is a RIP OFF. I’d say go to Sheridan. I’ve seen so much good work come out of that school!

  • Speaking as someone who went to Calarts (not rich, btw, I just have really supportive parents. Perhaps…TOO supportive=p) I don’t think going to Sheridan is a bad idea. I had a really great experience at Calarts and it’s helped me get jobs, but I also have a ton of debt. I had basically no formal art training before I came to Calarts, I was previously an English major, so I think I did the right thing. But if you can’t get in, it’s not the end of the world. I know a bunch of Sheridan grads and they are just as good as Calarts grads (if not better, cough) and get the same kinds of jobs.

  • daniel lindquist

    what a waste of money, the animation industry is dead. besides, sheridan college is just as good as calarts.

  • J.

    So throw him a buck Charles.

  • Ralph Kramden

    I’d like a motor boat with three propellers but it aint gonna happen.

  • KC

    Yeah I’ll put him down, because I don’t think he’s trying hard enough. If he really really truly wanted to go to Calarts, he’d sure as heck find some way to. Work for a while. Offer commissions, anything but sit around and ask for it. What is he giving back to the community to earn donations? How about some tutorials for the neat pastel life drawings he’s made? Maybe I have this romantic notion in my head that you have to work for what you want?

    Also I don’t mean to say that all Calarts grads purchased their careers. I know most have worked very passionately and hard at earning their spots in the industry. Those ones I can respect.

  • Steven Spielberg

    I wanted to go to the University of Southern California School but I didn’t have the grades. So I went to California State University, Long Beach and look at me!

  • Patrick Runyan

    In lieu of donations to Dan, pick your favorite charity and give to someone who deserves it.
    are two ideas.

  • Good luck raising the money to get to CalArts, anyway you can. If you end up somewhere else, let me add my voice to the chorus of people saying “hey, might not be so bad after all”. I studied drawing and painting and got a well rounded university education at St. John’s University, thanks to a full-tuition scholarship. I know how hard it can be to pay for school, that’s why I went to one I didn’t have to pay for. Three years after graduating, I’ve got a film screening in competition at Annecy and couldn’t be happier with how my education prepared me to work as an independent animator. Where ever you go, bust your ass and things will turn out quite well for you.

  • I have an alternate plan for you Dan. Come to California and take classes at the Animation Union Local 839. You can get a great education, especially from life drawing masters like Glenn Vilpuu and Karl Gnass for as low as $150. As a former student at Cal Arts, one of the things I can tell you is that we lacked a strong life drawing program (not kidding), where you simply went in the class and drew the figure or went on an artsy tangent with it. Karl Gnass is a great teacher, incredibly knowlegable about the human figure, and I probably learned more about story from him in his storyboarding class than I have anywhere else. He teaches storyboarding for TV, and I’m sure any TV board artist here can tell you it is the ultimate training ground for becoming a filmmaker. It’s not as prestegious as getting into a major studio, but you will come back with more experience under your belt. As for learning to be an animator, there are alternate ways of making that happen, but you have to seek out out the right people.
    All I’m saying is don’t make Cal Arts the end all be all of everything. There are alternative cheaper ways of making your dreams happen. Why wait four years in college and spend all that money when you could do something to get started now? Cal Arts is the straight and narrow path that every ambitious student thinks is the only way to make a career for yourself in the industry. I had that same dream, and instead I wound up pitting myself in competition with every other student who wanted presige of going to a major studio. And honestly when I couldn’t live up to the standards of everyone else and failed to get a job afterwards, it made me feel like crap. I’ve had to spend years afterwards trying to pick up the peices and find my own way. Don’t feel you have to walk to beaten path. Find another way. It’s not only cheaper, but you will be suprised at the people you may meet on the way, and not just other students of animation. Come to California anyway and start making it happen for yourself.
    Karl Gnass site:
    Animation Union:

  • Sean

    Charles wrote:
    “You comment leavers are pretty ruthless. I can understand not wanting to donate(I’m not going to cause I’m broke as hell) but is it really necessary to put him down and be all like “tough luck kid, settle for less like the rest of us…”. It’s hard when you’re trying really hard to reach your goals. The last thing any of us needs is someone to tell us we can’t or even shouldn’t try.”

    No, but tons of us are in the same boat as him. What about our dreams and our debt? I would love to even have the chance to go to Sheridan college over CalArts. Is he going to to help me with money? What about the other readers? Tons of us had to work through school and tons of us aren’t even able to cross country to go to school, so this guy is a brat, and he should be so lucky. Calarts is as much of a dream as me telling everyone to pitch in to buy me a Ferrari because I would drive it well.

    He can go to an affordable school like the rest of us or not at all, if he can’t afford it. It’s not ruthless, it’s common sense, and he shouldn’t have such a sense of entitlement.

  • chris robinson

    Did he get accepted by the classical or experimental department?

  • Wow, this is really nice. Congrats Dan! I hope this helps you a little bit. I am on my own too in figuring out ways to finance my first year in the MFA program at CalArts, or USC (not sure yet), but I guess at least I can get federal loans as an American student. I can only imagine how hard it must be for foreigners.

    As for this CalArts bashing, yes, we are all romanticizing it to a certain extent, but look at its alumni. I don’t just mean career-wise, but as artists. Personally, I’m a fan of many a CalArts’s student/alumnus art blog, and student films. Take the Brew’s Dominic Bisignano’s film From Burger It Came. In my taste and humble opinion, this is one of the best animated short films I’ve ever seen. JJ Villard’s film Son of Satan first inspired me to apply to CalArts. Not to say that other schools aren’t equal or better to CalArts, but I don’t think the bashing is very warranted.

    How do you measure a college experience? It’s easy to decide that any school isn’t worth going into debt for, but I think that is definitely up to a student to decide, and varies from person to person.

  • T

    From my experience as a Calarts student, international students (that includes Canada) are not high on the priority list in terms of Calarts scholarship. Also, not being a US citizen keeps the individual from claiming FAFSA aid. So when you compound the tuition with living expenses, I’m guessing the ballpark (if Dan Caylor was to go all four years with no aid whatsoever) would be between 150-200,000 US dollars.

    That’s a lot of money, but it’s only money. If Calarts really is the dream for this guy, like it is for all the other students who have been accepted or are attending now, shouldn’t he be willing to go through the hoops to get there? He knew it was going to be expensive and I’m sure he knows there are other, more affordable, places to get a quality animation education.

    Regardless of what people think, the students in the animation department of Calarts are by and large very poor as well. While I do feel pity, this guy is not alone in his situation.

    If you’re an international student set on Calarts, you should know what you are going to be facing.

    I think Cartoon Brew is doing a disservice to all the other students out there (not just Calarts kids) who dig themselves deep into debt by posting this.

  • I’m sorry – did someone say $200,000? Surely not. $200,000? A misprint, right?. Is that normal? How can any normal person afford to start a career 200K in the red? That’s just insanity.

    More than that, they’re making $200,000 per student? How many students over, what, three years? Four? Are the halls made of gold that has to be renewed each year?

    I am gobsmacked.

  • Anonymous

    its not like there arent already some canadians here. and almost all of calarts students need help with funds, so this isnt really all that new. why not make a fund for all the students?
    there are a lot more highly talented artists going here that are in a serious threat of not being able to afford to come back, which is just a downright shame

  • I was in your shoes [Dan]. I ended up going for as long as I could afford and paying my debt off within a couple years of employment.-That’s probably what most do. And, it wasn’t impossible. But, CalArts isn’t the end all be all. We didn’t have the insane amount of resources available on the net that you do now. If you do a short film or two and read all the great educational blogs out there (ie. John K’s., Mark Kennedy’s, Mike Nguyen’s etc.) you’ll have a great education. There’s also Animation Mentor and fantastic books available now like Walt Stanchfield’s words of wisdom. Bottom line: you can save $200k and get very far. If I were you, I’d have your family support you for a year. Then, lock yourself in a room and take advantage of all those resources that are available.

  • I Go To Cartoon Brew For Inspiration – Not Handouts

    I don’t think it’s anyone’s intention to bash CalArts. But there are a LOT OF US who have had to pay our own way to go to school and it drives us crazy that Dan is asking for a handout to achieve his dream rather than by working for it. Dan’s asking for the FULL four year tuition! What has he saved/sacrificed for his dream? How much does animation really mean to him if it’s CalArts or nothing?

  • No school is worth $200,000.

  • Calartian

    I’m a current student and like myself, a lot if not most students here are not financially blessed and will probably struggle to pay off debt once we leave. Granted, it is tougher for international students, but in the end we all have the same price tag to pay. It’s not only a Calarts thing, but there are many institutions that cost a lot to attend. There are thousands who can’t possibly afford college, but go anyway for the sake of an education. While I sympathize with the amount you need to pay, that is the same amount I need to pay too. Things are bad for a lot of us, and a price tag as big as Calarts’ makes it a difficult place to attend for four years. So know that your situation is the same to those here, and a post like this can’t help but feel unfair to those who must also struggle to pay.

  • Chris

    I’m amazed at how negative the comments are here. You don’t have to chip in, but I think it’s nice of the Brew to try and rally some support.

    In terms of the schools…as a Sheridan grad, I wouldn’t tell anyone to go there. And I wouldn’t recommend the 200k at Cal Arts either. I would recommend Animation Mentor. Instructors working in the industry and a fraction of the cost. Good luck to Dan though!

  • Dan Won’t Get This

    There’s always Pimento University.

  • I wish that kid good luck, but in any case he should focus on honing his skills even if he can’t go to cal arts. Cal Arts provides an amazingly inspiring environment to work and study in and their network is perhaps the best to be a part of, but there is nothing in terms of technique and guidance that you couldn’t get on your own with enough discipline, intelligence and resourcefulness. No school can make you a great artist, they can only give you the breathing room to find out how to be great on your own.

    At least, that what I like to tell myself, I’m another guy that couldn’t afford to attend due to existing loans from a previous school. But I am a full-time storyboard artist now so it’s not like life is over. Plus you learn TONS on the job. There’s nothing better than actual work experience.

    Everyone creates their own path. but man, it’d sure be sweet to get $200,000 on a silver platter. haha.

  • A Current CalArts Animation Student

    Reading through the comments here have prompted a number of thoughts. First, to Dan. It is obvious that he is a very driven and ambitious young man, and it’s hard not to admire such drive in anyone. But as someone who is familiar with the same feeling he is experiencing, I can’t help but feel like his passion is driven by misplaced naivety. These commenters are right- there is something to be said of graduating without the burden of so much debt, especially in Dan’s situation. In his blog he spoke of being envious of the U.S. citizens who could get government aid: well the harsh reality of this is that there is no aid money to give out. CalArts is a private school, so unless you’re a California resident you won’t be getting any Calgrants, and the actual scholarship money that Calarts awards is a pittance for first years- a few grand shaved off the top of the gigantic lump sum. Instead of being envious of us, I am personally green with envy that Dan is a citizen of Canada, and that he has the opportunity to go to a great school like Sheridan- a school that is just as dominant in the industry if not more so. Dan- if you read this, you would be making a HUGE mistake to go to CalArts in this economy.

    Secondly, I’d like to address some of the commenters statements.
    Statements implying that CalArts students purchase their careers, or that CalArts students walk around with a huge sense of entitlement and get blacklisted from studios for being insufferable, are completely untrue. I have often wondered why there is such an anti-CalArts undercurrent here, and where it stems from.

    Maybe in some ways it’s in vogue to rag on Calarts, for there has even been gossip amongst alumni about CalArts’ fallen status. The point is, CalArts’ identity to CalArts students has long been quite different from what is projected on us, and it’s strange it takes so long to catch up.

    In many ways, the bloated reputation of our school comes from the likes of Dan, very green, VERY naive hopefuls who think that it’s their golden ticket to the animation industry, and once they get in they can coast on through to the good life. But acceptance at CalArts is no guarantee. Education is merely a vehicle to propel you in your own growth towards your goal, which must be driven by yourself. I should know, us CalArts kids LOVE to complain about the outdated labs, the over-crowding, and the ever-rotating lineup of nighttime faculty. But the great thing about CalArts is the passion, and the camaraderie of working closely with peers you respect and admire. That is something that you can find at a number of other schools, (like Sheridan) with a lower price tag.

    Lastly, about CalArts’ flagging reputation- in the golden age of CalArts, it was the only school to go to because there were no other schools! Animation was also much more of a fringe industry- there wasn’t the crossover with live-aciton in CGI or much mainstream acceptance outside of Disney. Now, there are many more people drawn to animation, and many more schools have popped up to feed that demand. I think this is an exciting thing for animaion- with more diversity there can hopefully be more experimentation and more quality. But this is where this myth about CalArts comes into play. In watching the films that have come out of CalArts, it’s undeniable that every year the films have gotten better and better. The level of work at CalArts and the creativity have far from fallen.

    I think, basically, there are just more schools out there than there used to be, and more people aspiring to be in the industry. And we are certainly not entitled- I think that no one has a better idea of how much grueling work and talent it takes and how intimidating that is than a CalArts student (or any student who’s been through a few years of schooling). Every day is a realization that your knowledge is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s people like Dan who naively hold onto the mythic status of CalArts without having first hand experience that promote the idea that this school is entitled.

    I think if you read other comments from CalArts students and alum, you’d agree. We are normal! Stop ragging on us! I’m kind of horrified that I have to deal with this terrible reputation about CalArts that has nothing to do with me as a person.

    Life and the economy is tough now, especially at CalArts.

  • dontknow

    you have got to be kidding, right?
    If any American on here is considering helping this guy, please go to the Cal Arts animated buzz forum and see what he really thinks of you…dang

  • Cartoon Brew Out $40
  • Cartoon Brew Out $40

    “Companies hire talent. The jobs wouldn’t be stolen if more Americans were more talented.”

  • What Dan said:

    “There’s also a 60% obese rate in America, which basically means more than half of Americans are lazy.”

  • Sean

    I’ll help:

    “Dancaylor wrote:

    There’s also a 60% obese rate in America, which basically means more than half of Americans are lazy. ”

    For the record he sort of retracted it afterwards, but still.

  • Karim

    From the same “forum”:

    “America OWNS animation, so this sort of discussion is best left for other industries. Because there’s not a lot of options as far as pursuing this dream goes for internationals outside of working in America. And by the dream, I think I speak collectively by saying feature animation.”

    Dan > Working class kids are not supposed to talk like this…
    Do you really love animation? or are you seeking some kind of glory or a big studio name to fill your blogspot profile ?

    Step up and good luck.

  • Next fall is going to be awkward

    there was a quote on there about Americans being fat and lazy as well.

    dan could stand to learn a few things about social graces.

  • So basically, Dan did crap-all research on the excellent schools in his own country and just basically thought ‘CalArts = meal ticket’
    and anyone who isn’t Andrew Stanton within 5 years of graduating is lazy and stupid?

    Classy, dude.

    Companies hire talent
    Okay, so he just conceded that it’s talent that counts in this biz, not expensive qualifications. Just what some of us have been saying.
    Here’s another tip – professional attitude counts big-time, too.
    Artists with an inflated sense of their own worth do NOT get very far.

  • You’re all furry monsters and make the internet a wonderful place!

  • Reality

    Ok people hate to break it too you all but LIFE ISN’T FAIR! So quit whining that Dan thought of something that you didn’t, or if you had the same idea that he did, that he got through and you didn’t. Personally i find it perfectly fine that Dan is resorting to pleading. But if you didn’t notice in his post the donation is not his only source of income.
    He says he works two jobs, and has been saving. Give him a break.

  • S.Stephani Soejono

    There is a difference between going to a “top” animation school and actually working in the biz. How about trying out for an internship for a couple of months (Vancouver has quite a few studios) and see how you like it in the “biz” or not. You won’t be out of $200 K and the only money you’ll be wasting are for gas or public transit.

  • Thad

    I wish the days when all ‘animation school’ was was maybe taking a few life drawing courses and immediately getting a job assisting at a studio were still around. “Learn on the job.” The grass roots aspect is gone in all this greedy homogenizing.

  • Calarts grad

    I’m still interested in where Dan’s actual work is. I’d need to see more than that to feel anything about an artist who wants to be in animation. Character designs, sketchbook doodles, story sketches…where is it?

    As for his scheme, anyone’s free to try anything to get extra dosh. But as others have said it seems obvious that Dan Caylor’s attitude towards Calarts is overly romantic and way out of whack with reality. The “school” really isn’t much, honestly. At one time yes, its reputation matched the reality: it was almost the only entre for students to a studio job. But that’s not true anymore at all and hasn’t been true for at least 15 years.

    Why MUST it be Calarts and not Sheridan? Because Walt Disney “founded” Calarts? Does that also mean you’ll only want to work at Disney, too?

    In all seriousness I think you’re appealing to the wrong crowd for “dream” funding; wealthy adults not employed in the business who see it as one of those sentimental fantasy occupations would be a better bet. These are terribly hard times, and many good people are out of work, with families and very good Calarts, Art Center-and ivy league-educations.

    By the way, a number of animators are indeed overweight. One reason is because they’re chained to a desk every hour not spent driving to work or at home with the kids. Many of those animators are Canadians, too.

  • Tragedy of P

    I just have a question for Dan Caylor.

    WHY do you need to go to CalArts?

    First of all, I’m not going to bother by saying, “There are other schools” out there because a million people already hammered it in.

    But in the end when you get into the “biz” the work won’t be as glamorous as they say it is, on those “behind the scenes” footage. Why do you want to go to Calarts? Disney? Pixar? Dreamworks? (insert X studio)? I’m not trying to discourage but if you have some pipe dreams about getting into those big studios (and presumably be working on those cool movies like Beauty and The Beast, The Indcredibles, Coraline) as soon as you graduate, well, the chances are rather slim. It happens, but not immediately. Tons of people I know had to slave for a number of years doing Saturday morning cartoons/doing crap projects before they finally get hired at one of the bigger studios/become a person in charge.

    If you think you’d be a “happier” person/more fulfilled because you have the Calarts student card/work in a studio, well, it’s not gonna happen. Happiness does not come because you work for big studios or go to “top” animation school.

  • Jason

    You have to be kidding?. You can’t afford to go to CAL Arts? nor can most, oh well move on! Stuff costs money, deal with it instead of putting your hand out. People if you are going to donate money, please give to a real cause, not someone asking for handout because he can’t afford his favorite art school. What if we all did that? Why apply if you didn’t have the money?

    Dan is this how you’ll conduct the rest of your career too?

  • shlocko

    Just prove all of the above details:

    1-you are working 2 jobs

    2-copy of letter

    3-portfolio, not some life drawing samples, how about design.

    Is like borrowing from a bank, collateral.

  • Give Him A Break?

    Reality, he’s trying to raise 200 grand. That’s what tuition for 4 years costs. What has he saved from his two jobs?

  • I’ve got an animated feature film I’m trying to get made….

  • amid

    The discussion generated by this post, about both the relative merits and faults of a CalArts education, has been fantastic. But please keep your comments above the belt. We’ve tried to be liberal and let everybody get an opinion in on the issue, but insults and immaturity will be deleted.

  • People if you are going to donate money, please give to a real cause,
    Animation people can be generous to an amazing degree, whether it’s donating art for a charity show to help the TRULY less fortunate or giving money to help a respected animation mentor in a time of real emergency.
    These are truly worthy causes worth giving time or a little money for.

    Dan (if you’re still with us), nobody is telling you to give up and don’t even TRY to pursue your dream. But you are not the only genuinely-talented person (although we have only Amid’s word on that, as nobody can seem to find any of your work) who just MIGHT not be able to afford CalArts and nothing seems to indicate you are any more ‘worthy’ of our meagre disposable income than anybody else with talent and ambition. It’s not the end of the world if you pass on it, there are plenty of other ways to get good training and experience and still pursue the career you want.

    Personally, I think the reason nobody has thought to solicit donations to fund attending the most expensive animation degree in the country is because most people have more personal integrity than that and know that EARNING the fees rather than just hoping to get something for nothing is the more honourable thing to do.

    Tragedy of P is absolutely right – this is NOT a glamourous, high-paid industry. It’s a lot of fun sometimes and we get to do what we love, but I’ll bet no-one reading here is pulling huge money as an animation artist. It just doesn’t happen like that.

  • Acetate

    If you could somehow raise the 200 grand I have a better idea. Take the 200 thou and make your own independent film ! It’s been done before. Then you could say you were not only an animator but a film maker !

  • timmyelliot

    It’s guts to appeal for money like that. I graduated with a degree in animation. I got accepted to a school I couldn’t afford, so I ended up going to a cheaper one. It was a good school and, for me, a good choice.

  • Anonymous

    I would donate money to someone funding their own independent film before I would someone wanting to go to CalArts.

    Elliot & Acetate have the right idea.

  • Paul K.

    Dan Caylor, I hope you’re reading all these comments, (especially all the negative ones).

    Anecdote: I went to Columbus College of Art & Design, graduated summa cum laude, and got a job in the industry immediately out of school.
    Sure, I’m currently paying back the $35,000 in debt, but it’s not bad considering the total education was $90,000– and yes, I nearly starved while attending (1 ramen noodle pack and half a peanut butter sandwich a day, good times). Plus I worked part-time and had the work-study at the school’s labs (two jobs) while keeping a 19.5 credit hours per semester– so essentially, I lived off 4-hours of sleep and still enjoyed my classes thoroughly.

    The thing is, I’ve been working since I was 15 in textile factories, department stores and restaurants to save up for my “central Ohio animation education” and it still wasn’t nearly enough.

    CCAD wasn’t a compromise though, it’s a solid program — and there’s a decent track record of awarding international students handsome scholarships (try it, send in your portfolio, I’m sure you’ll at least get $25,000).
    Not being able to afford CalArts isn’t the end of the world, there’s plenty of other really exceptional schools.

    And please don’t ask for handouts… it’s kind of a moral compromise that especially irritates people during a recession.

  • Anonymous

    Here is dan’s portfolio everyone! i found it no problem.[email protected]/3072010349/

  • Anonymous – If you’re that enthusiastic I’m taking donations of any amount you’d care to give.

  • Mark Sonntag

    I never could afford to go to an art school, but I managed to work my way up the ranks over here in Australia and now am storyboarding on many projects from TV to feature both here and the States.

    Do I wish I could have done some real schooling, maybe. But I have loved every minute of my career and having the opportunity to work with some very talented people every one of whom I have learned something from and still do.

    My advise . . . use your talent and get into the business, do what schooling you can afford but just get in.

  • This prospective student best learn traditional animation on his own or with peers in the field. No education is worth that price tag, especially in THIS job market. Room with some people in NYC, declare poverty and get the state to pay for a CUNY education AND put money in your pocket every semester. That is a worthwhile education.

  • Just do lots of networking and traveling to various studios, man. Get your foot in the door the old fashioned way. Diplomas do little for things right now…everyone is being eliminated from the job market!

  • Matt Sullivan

    CALARTS is overrated. It costs too much money. If this guy was smart he’d just continue drawing, put a portfolio together, and apply to a studio. He’d save himself a lot of money.

    ALSO, I recommend he stay in Canada. Every Canadian animator I’ve ever known came down here, worked a few years, then started whinning about how much better life in Canada was. Stay there, get a job at a CANADIAN company. Build a Canadian studio so you don’t have to waste time and money coming to America.

    CalArts = Waste of money

  • Paul N

    Cal State Fullerton
    San Jose State University
    San Francisco State University
    Emily Carr University
    Vancouver Film School
    De Anza College (Cupertino, CA)

    …and that’s just off the top of my head.

  • Hey guys,

    What an incredible discussion this has generated. I don’t think I could have anticipated this kind of a response. Hopefully I can clear a few things up. I want you all to know that I have read most of the comments.

    First I want to thank everyone that has chimed in with their personal experiences as far as schooling, CalArts, and the industry is concerned. There are a few things I was previously aware of, but there was also a lot that I wasn’t. These stories are inspiring, and really add value to this discussion. It’s now a resource for other people looking for this type of information as well.

    Second I want to apologize to CalArts, and any students there because this discussion got a little off topic and started to stray towards a negative view of the school, faculty, and students.

    I have no delusions that anyone will give me $200,000. Some people have called it a handout, which when you really get down to it, it is. But this is no different than the scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships, and grants I’m also applying for. Those are just fancy words for merit-based handouts. The idea is that if you like the content I provide on my site, and you like my portfolio, and you think you can spare a dollar, donate. If not, don’t.

    The bursaries, and grants (etc) that I am applying for range from $50 to $3000 in value, and if I get any of them, I’ll be thrilled. The same applies to this. I’m thrilled with the donations I’ve received thus far. But I have no expectations of getting a free ride. I have a friend that had a dream to go to Africa on an educational trip while in university, but couldn’t afford it. She hosted a fundraiser at a local pub and raised enough to go. I have the same intentions, except I’m not out for the full amount. It’s a simple initiative, and one of the many many ways I’m trying to use this opportunity.

    Some people were interested in donating, but wanted to see my acceptance letter. I will post that on my blog in the morning for those still interested. Someone above has posted a link to my portfolio for those that could not find it. I’ll post my sketchbook work as soon as I get it back from the school. I also have some prints of my photography I can give to donators. I’ll set that up soon on my site. The rest of my work can be found on my blog in previous posts, but my best work is in the link above.

    Some of the comments above are disheartening, and it would be near impossible for me to address them all. But I don’t really feel that I need to because these comments don’t encapsulate me. The people here, and at CalArts that know me personally, know this. So I stand by my request for any help I can get, and I will continue to pursue my goal as long as I can.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.


  • A Traditional Animation Grad says

    Cal Arts is a good school but it’s NOT worth $200,000. There are plenty of good schools in CA if that’s were you want to come. But from what I’ve heard from recent grads is that Cal Arts is NO longer what it used to be. The nine old men are gone, Joe Ranft, John Lasseter, Brad Bird, etc. Glen Keane never even went to school, so I’m sorry but you’ve missed the boat by 25 years.

    And if you interested in animation I would just stay in Canada. There is more 2D animation going on there then the states. Your work is good but everybody else is right, just DON’t DO IT! Remember it’s a business, before an art school.

    The Art institute is good, Academy of Art in SF in good, San Jose State is good, and many more. You learn more by just studying on your own anyways. Learn off the net, join ASIFA, go to conventions etc. There is many ways to get noticed these days, I just hope I can pay back my student loans. I wished someone told me this four years ago. Good luck eh.

  • A reader

    Glen Keane did go to Calarts-he went at the very beginning when Jules Engel’s department was(for a time) the only animation dept.

    There are new people there now who will be known and admired someday-just as there’s always going to be those people, from every corner of the globe-not only the North American continent.
    Calarts is as expensive as any private arts college and it’s certainly not essential that anyone go there to work in the business, but it can be a great springboard and place to learn and crucially, meet other animation students. Like any school it’s ultimately up to the individual as to how valuable it really is.

  • ZigZag

    This thread is illustrative of one of the main reasons why I am not in the animation industry any more.

  • Traditional Animation Grad is right. Don’t do it, Dan. I mentioned before I was a graduate from the program 3 years ago, and for all the hard work I put into the school, nothing I did got me professional work. I’ve been at the Animation Union taking classes from Karl Gnass for the last few years and my drawing skills have improved dramatically. My storytelling skills have also improved not only through his storyboarding class, but also through the knowledge and influence gained from his life drawing seminars. You don’t have to follow my road to be a filmmaker if you can find someplace that helps you, but apart from learning to animate better, my education at Cal Arts has done nothing to help get my career started since school ended. Don’t waste your time, effort, and money because there are other much cheaper alternatives, and I swear to you the Animation Union in North Hollywood is one of them. You might even meet and make friends with an animator who can teach you how to animate. Come to California anyway. Make friends, find an internship, go to conventions, create your OWN PATH. Right now you’re riding on the dream of an ambitious 11 year old, and it’s wrong. I honestly wish I had found another way because I thought when I got to Cal Arts it was the only choice if I wanted to be an animator. I even went to the Animation Union before, which helped me get into the school. Now I’m back there again because the work I did at Cal Arts did nothing to help me. And now I have to pay for it. DONT GO. It’s not worth it.

    Karl Gnass site:
    Animation Union:

  • Maya

    from one international student to another – i really understand what youre going through! im not Canadian nor American, so wherever i’d want to go in North America the cost is h-e-a-v-y! five minutes into checking out the CalArts website, i had to close the browser. i knew there was no chance i could ever go.
    I understand the drive and the hard work, and (along with my family) did everything to get into Sheridan college, where i am now as a first year and enjoying it immensly. The cost for an international student here is about $20,000 – so we had to make sacrifices too, to make that dream come true!
    But you’re Canadian! you have even better options, financially, and if you;re that good and hard working, your future success could be just as great going through a school like Sheridan.
    all the while i also hope your appeal is fruitful and that you could go at it your way to sunny California.
    Being a poor student myself, i wish i could offer more than warm wishes and sympathy, but just saying that many of us non-US citizens feel your frustration and respect your amazing drive and talent!

  • Rich – current calarts 1st year international student from england

    i’m in the exact same boat. In fact, there are less financial aid opportunities available in my situation because there are some finaid options available to north america only, and im from england (i.e. states and canada).

    i went through the same thing last year, having spent a year working on my folio and 3 years saving up as much money as possible working in promotions and waiting tables.

    Got accepted 1st time, and at the age of 21, decided if this is what i really want to do with my life (and have wanted to be an animator since i was 7), then i should give it my best shot, not half ass anything, and make things happen. Atleast then if it doesn’t work out – i can say i tried my best and not live in regret of wondering.

    I am taking it year by year. This year, i got exactly no financial aid, and intially a token offer of $1,000 scholarship from inside calarts which they give to every student (won’t go into details but america requires all international students sign and fill in the ‘declaration of finances’ form, which basically ‘declares’ that you can afford (ON YOUR OWN) and will not bail out of the first year at the US school , meaning calarts hands were tied in giving me aid, as the office has to correspond moneygiving with the ‘paperwork’).
    I sent out, without exageration, over 100 letters seeking assistance including all grants, scholarships, people whom i thought would have interest and be able to assist etc. Eligibilty is ridiculous, but the bitter truth is the world can get by without white, male, british animators who are in their 20;s – so there is next to nothing set up to assist.
    I had interviews with my local press, appealing to my situation, includng newspaper articles and an interview on the news.
    All to no avail.
    it is, and still is, down to me to get in here.
    So I saved up. And accepted that i could no way save up for all 4 years, even if i worked 24-7 for 10 years (btw, tuition is $33,00 a year, plus room etc making it around $40,000 a year, so $180,000 for 4 years)
    I accepted that if i got there for the 1st year – maybe, just maybe, i could show people that i was worth keeping around and open the door to year 2, and so on.
    So thats what i did.
    Do it, bite the bullet, get here, and make yourself indpispensable. Thats my gameplan. Dodgy ground i know, but thats the only card i have, and by the sounds of it, you have.
    its a slow process, but it works. for example, i got the guys here to go back last year and relook at my acceptance folio, and told them my sitaution – and they boosted my aid from 1 to 10 grand. Every little thing is a step closer. Still had to find 30 grand for this year tho. And with no student loans aailable without cosigners, it was damn hard. My folks aren’t wealthy, but they helped all they could. but essentially, i worked my ass off and saved it al for this (then gordon brown goes and fiddles with the interest rates 2 months ago, screwing up the currency and denting my savings! So this month has been hard).
    It’s tough man. Sometimes i can only eat one meal a day cus i simply can’t afford to go out and buy food (and the cafe which you will have a mandatory meal plan on closes here at 4pm on weekends!) but everyones gotta pay their dues, especially if your not happy with accepting a run-of-the-mill 9 to 5 office job to pay the bills. Doing what you love is a challenging road. So it doesn’t piss me off – it just makes me want it more.

    Anyway, essenstially its up 2 us to do it. Unless by some grace someone wants to invest in someones career becuase they see something there worth encouraging, then its all on you. i’m working on my film right now, and will wait in anticipation to reveal it at the end of the semester. Its always amazing doing what you love, but the future is by no way certain, which makes every moment on this film right now even more important. Could just be the thing that keeps me here next year. Or might not. Who knows…

  • Sammy

    I wish I am a Canadian at the very least even to attend Sheridan… And it’s closer to USA than being in Asia.

    Still.. Hey, everyone have their wishes, right? Being Asian, I endured going through plenty of low quality animation studios here and there. Regardless, it’s better than nothing. There’s still some good ones, but a lot are just not as good as the US of A and are only focusing on the technicalities than good, solid stories. Or heavily dependent on outsource jobs to keep themselves going.

    Dan should be fortunate he is Canadian and has Sheridan to attend to. I read somewhere on his blog, is he already attending AAU?

  • akira

    just follow the john k blog and do his exercises!!! if you work hard you can learn as much or more than at calarts, and it’s FREE!!!

  • A traditional animation Grad

    Mike Caracappa is right! I would move to LA for contacts, it’s great for that. Hey Mike, your animation is good. Keep it up.

    I swear I heard from teachers that Glen Keane didn’t go to school but sounds like it was wrong. Either way he’s damn good!

    School is great for “sharpening” your skills and for gaining contacts. Is CalArts worth $200,000? No, NO NO! School on a resume looks great but your credit score will suffer from not making back payments to your student loans. Not to mention interest build up. You’ll end up owing $400,000 and maybe a job that pays you 40,000 a year. Do the math, it’s not worth it.

    Look at other options for school, get CalArts out of your head.

  • Who hasn’t thought, “if I could only get a penny from every person, I could _____”? I think it’s a good idea to attempt to raise money this way. When someone is desperate, he/she will hold out a sorry sign and solicit for help. And, what place is more appropriate than Cartoon Brew for his purpose. Besides now we have an idea of how many visitors the site gets. I’m sure the community could help a little. Good luck! I’ll try to throw in something. I figure you got through the hard part: getting in. So, why not try and raise the money? But, like I said earlier, you can do it on loans. And, it’s unlikey that you’ll complete all four years if you’re that tight on money.
    CalArts is way too expensive and there are other effective and affordable avenues which you should SERIOUSLY Consider… BUT!…I have to admit it feels good to have it on your resume. And, despite what people are saying there are the chosen few in the industry that have it made and do live a glamorous (in the animation sense) life-guess where many of whom went to school? Like it or not, there is a long line of influential artists that have gone through the institution and nobody will know what it’s really like unless they have experienced it for themselves. Not many take full advantage of it, but the school does have a lot more going on than just the animation program, which is what really sets it apart from any animation school I know of. Just like any prestigious school there is some pride that goes along with attending. I say all this to try and dispel some of the negativity about CalArts. The great thing about the school is that it’s communal and encourages free thinking. All it requires is drive-which you seem to have [Dan]. Good luck to you and anyone else who’s a dreamer. As far as working in feature afterwards, I think fresh meat has a better shot these days than people with experience. So, there’s another shot of encouragement for the focused dreamers.

  • Animation Student

    Tell Dan to find alternate routes to make money to get through school. Being an RA (though difficult for any animation student) usually pays a good chunk of the bills. Just something to keep in mind…

  • I think all the people bitching about Dan “having his hand out” are just mad they didn’t think of this idea first.

    I know I am!

    Good luck Dan!

  • Steve.

    I work at a major animation studio. I hope when Dan applies it’s my turn to review portfolios. I have my rubber stamp and red ink all ready.

  • Simply just go to Sheridan Dan.
    And just do good work and the rest will come.
    WHATEVER school you go to.

    I’d suggest donating any money you received to a charity.
    Doctors without boarders etc.

    As an artist, much better for your soul.

  • MattSullivan

    Dan, stay away from Los Angeles.

    You will waste hours and hours in traffic. You will waste ALL your money on the extortion called rent.

    You will become egotistical, vapid, andun-inspired ( hell something about this town makes you hate everyone and everything )

    Trust me. This is america’s anus. I hate having to work here..but my job is here. If it were anywhere else believe me, I’d move in a heartbeat. but some jack-hole decided THIS is where all the movies and tv shows need to be made.

    Another thing. i went to calarts for 4 years. parents insisted I stay and get a degree, which I did. Now I’m 20,000 in debt and I can’t pay it off no matter how much money I make because the cost of living in LA eats up every penny you make.

    F***in town. Overrated school.

  • it’s pat

    Welcome to 2-tier america, look but don’t touch.
    try not to let it make you sick, the health care’s even worse.

    Many american kids wish they could be lucky enough to go to sheridan (or other fine canadian schools.) I work at a very expensive private animation school and students tell me that. Every single student expects to work at disney or pixar when they graduate. Nobody wants to discourage them so the staff only talk privately but we doubt 1 out of 10 will even get a job. I feel very privileged that I was able to go to sheridan from the US, at a time when the exchange rate made debt easy to pay off. I don’t have to be a debt slave in this economy.

  • C.

    Hey Pat…. I think you should tell your students the reality of the way the business is. I went to a university that had an animation program (not an art school) and the best thing my animation teacher told me was that not everyone sitting in that room would be an animator, didn’t matter if you were super talented or not. Just that it mattered how much you loved it and how hard you were willing to work. My painting teacher also said that we were all wasting our time getting degrees, just to go out into the world and work on our art.
    The problem I have with Cal Arts is I feel like a lot kids come out of there with a sense of entitlement because their teachers aren’t honest with them. They just know that these great animators went there so they think they will become just like them. Which isn’t always true and honestly students should know what they are getting themselves into. I don’t think its discouragement, I think its reality.
    Dan, go to Cal Arts if you want or Sheridan or pick up the numerous animation books and movies out there and study those. Just know that in animation it doesn’t really matter if you have a degree. There are alot of very talented people working in the field that don’t have degrees. Any way you decide to go, good luck man, you’ll need it!

  • Belvidere

    Upon viewing Dan’s portfolio, I’m utterly curious as to what he plans to actually animate.

    I don’t mean to sound brash, but since there’s character animation involved, wouldn’t it be proper to show the internet audience some characters/storyboards/concepts, regardless of what you submitted to CalArts? Not to say the drawings presented aren’t skillful, but there’s nothing backing up the specific benefit their character animation program would have on the work you’ve presented.

    Additionally, I’ve noticed plenty of art/animation industry professionals teach at community colleges here in Los Angeles. Some of the classes I paid over $2,000 (in loans, I might add), were being taught right down the street at SMC. Plenty of these folks also host their own classes.

    Really, a name is a name. Your education depends solely on how much you are willing to put into it. If Dan only feels he can excel with a CalArts education, then I feel truly sorry for him.

  • shiyoon

    “Now I’m back there again because the work I did at Cal Arts did nothing to help me. And now I have to pay for it. DONT GO. It’s not worth it.”

    I disagree with you Mike. My experience at calarts has been nothing but good for me. Getting taught personally by Corny Cole, who was a assistant teacher to Marc Davis and Don Grahm at Chouinard, has been invaluable.

    The problem is that most people who rant about CalArts are either lazy or don’t know the resources they have in front of them. My experience is that most students don’t even do their animation assignments in the fall semester. They just start doing it last minute in the last 2 months before films are due! So there is no surprise that students aren’t learning anything!

    Also go to the library and read a book! There are tons of great art books in that calarts library that were from choinard~ there is a ton of animation lecture videos and notes in character animation office!

    ask some questions to your teachers! use them! ask them about what you don’t understand or what you do understand~

  • C., I don’t agree. Most coming out of the school are realistic, probably jaded already about what they know is a tough job market. My very first teacher was a real downer. He practically tried to discourage us all from the pursuit. That was a terrible way to inspire us. It’s my experience that anyone (with the ability) who persists and works hard-and gets a some breaks will find work. The hardest workers that I went to school with are doing well. And, they weren’t necessarily the best artist in school either. But, boy have they evolved! I heard an interview with Brad Bird about how he was directed to aim high. If you want something go for it!

  • shiyoon

    When I think about when I went to calarts, there were only a handful of us that were even using the pencil tests in the fall semester. In story classes or design classes only a handful would actually do the assignments let alone put some effort in to them. Hardly anyone would ask a question. It’s no surprise that these people that did put the work in to their assignments usually got jobs. But we hardly hear about these people because instead of ranting they’r actually trying to make art.

    The only comments we do hear on the internet are usually students or graduates that were focused on ranting rather then actually completing the assignments!

    Why do students expect to be spoonfed their education just because they spent 200,000 dollars? Shouldn’t it be since I am going to spend 200,000 dollars why don’t I try my best to get my education! But in reality most students are busy socializing and watching youtube clips of animation rather then trying to do it!

    I don’t understand how you can compare a animation legend like Corny Cole who teaches life drawing at CalArts with Karl Gnass at the animation union. Are you kidding me? Did you know Corny was a substitute teacher to Marc Davis and Don Grahm? I’ll go for Corny then Gnass any day!

    CalArts is still a great school with invaluable resources but only if you take advantage of what’s around you.

  • Brianne

    I agree with Shiyoon. With art school, you only learn as much as the effort you put into it. I did the full four years of Calarts. I learned alot when I was there and feel it was a pretty good experience for the most part. I didn’t sleep, went to all the classes I could, and finished my assignments. Not everyone there does that, but those that do learn alot from each other and their teachers. It’s college, they aren’t there to babysit you. It’s only four years, once a student leaves they will learn more working the next twenty-fifty years with others.
    Since working in the real world, I have learned a lot more than I ever did in school, and most of the amazing people I’ve worked with haven’t gone to Calarts, or had formal training before hand. School was a good jumping off point, but everyone is different. There isn’t one set way of going about working in animation. I don’t want to knock the teachers and fellow students that helped me get a foundation, and I respect the artists who take the time and allow me the opportunity to work with them. The school is fine, but it is not the only answer or final chapter in an artist’s life.

  • Soliciting for $200,000 for art school I just cannot relate to. I didn’t receive a cent from anyone as I worked my way from Jr. college to Cal State and then to Warner Brothers. I knew way back in 1985 that the tuition for Cal Arts (it was high even by those standards back then) was beyond my capacity.

    At the age of 23 I started at WB, totally inexperienced and filled with the desire to learn. Age 25..bought a home. Thank goodness I didn’t have a massive student loan getting in the way. I couldn’t care less if I don’t have the prestige of having attended on overpriced animation school. I’m proud I started at the bottom and found my way to the top..then earned the rest by working my buns off.

    Without the insane student loans hanging around my neck, I’ve been able to maintain a home, travel the world and start a business on the side. Here’s to humble beginnings…VERY humble beginnings! It CAN be done!

  • Shiyoon: “I don’t understand how you can compare a animation legend like Corny Cole who teaches life drawing at CalArts with Karl Gnass at the animation union. Are you kidding me? Did you know Corny was a substitute teacher to Marc Davis and Don Grahm? I’ll go for Corny then Gnass any day!”

    Karl Gnass has taught GLEN KEANE. And Glen continues to go to his life drawing seminars at Disney. In fact, I think it says a lot about Glen himself, who hasn’t just stopped learning craft. There’s a reason why he’s one of best animators around.

    I respect the work of both Corny Cole and Mike Mitchell, and I think they’re both incredibly gifted artists. But whenever I would go into any of their life drawing classes, they talk about the craft of drawing as if it’s just a burden to personal expression. They’d tell us how we have to get away from that Vilpuu sh*t and go off on some zen-like tangenet everytime we go into life drawing class. It’s like we were expected to know everything there is to know about anatomy as soon as we got to Cal Arts so we could just throw it all the way to make a personal statment. That’s insane. Craft just doesn’t stop at the door of Cal Arts. You need both craft and art to work together in order to develop. There were absolutely NO classes in Cal Arts Character Animation that taught anatomy or how to draw the figure. I am not kidding. The most we got was a class by another teacher, which was still just a workshop without instruction, but it was the only place for students to be free to work out their craft. Corny and Mike’s classes felt like you were obliged to make some personal statement out of every drawing you did. Some of us, myself included, who took Mike’s class and were not as skilled draftsman as some of the other students were often confused about the direction he kept wanting us to go with our drawing when we still didn’t know exactly how the bones or muscles connected. And instead what would happen is when Mike would take the drawings he liked and pinned them on the wall, every drawing looked like it was done by the same artist!! There’s no personal statement going on, it’s more like the students were doing drawings like Mike’s because they thought that’s what he wanted. And I understand that he wanted us to find our own path, but at the same time (for me anyway) it was confusing as hell because I was still trying draw a leg right. It’s not because I was lazy, or that I wasn’t putting enough effort into my work, but I didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to be doing! I didn’t know there was something wrong until I started taking Karl Gnass’ classes. Karl at least showed me how to value craft as much as art and get the two to work together. And that craft isn’t something that just stops, but you work with it, plateau for awhile so you can make your statement, then let it fall apart so you can move to the next stage. You can’t have one without the other, otherwise there is no growth. I can’t believe there are no anatomy life drawing classes at Cal Arts. It’s appalling.

    Btw, Shiyoon, how can you know if Karl Gnass is good or not if you haven’t actually taken a class from him? Maybe you should take one of his monthly seminars and find out.

    “In story classes or design classes only a handful would actually do the assignments let alone put some effort in to them. Hardly anyone would ask a question. It’s no surprise that these people that did put the work in to their assignments usually got jobs. But we hardly hear about these people because instead of ranting they’r actually trying to make art.
    The only comments we do hear on the internet are usually students or graduates that were focused on ranting rather then actually completing the assignments!”

    How do you know the rest of us didn’t put hard work into our assignments? For a time, at least in my first two years, I didn’t have much of a problem getting personal with my work, but my drawing skill was always holding me back. I would do all this hard work and would get some praise for my storytelling ability, but none of my work ever got me hired because I was always having issues with my draftsmanship. I would occasionally go to the union while I was in school to work on it, but why should I have to go somewhere else when I’m paying $200K learning to be an artist at Cal Arts? That and the fact that anytime I would go into those union classes, I would have Corny Cole or Mike Mitchells voice in my head telling me it’s all bullsh*t. And then having to struggle between “which side is correct, the right or left?”, when the real answer is ‘they’re both right’. But living with that struggle has been damaging. Arnold reaches and pawns)
    The artist left with the cool stack
    That and the fact that anytime I would go into those union classes, I would have Corny Cole or Mike Mitchells voice in my head telling me it’s all bullsh*t. And then having to struggle between “which side is correct, Cal Arts or Karl?”. There comes a time to learn something, but there also comes a time to break off from it. But for Mike and Corny to create this fued going in my head between craft and art has been damaging. Karl at least has the ability to teach craft and then get you to break away to move to the next level. But then craft comes back again and you learn to build on it.

    But there were times at Cal Arts when I’ve felt like a failure because I would do all this work and constantly have it shafted by studios because of my drawing ability. I could make a good film, but then get nothing out of it, no job, ANYTHING. By the end of my second year I had a meltdown because I was doing all this work, and discovering all these things about myself I wanted to say, only to get nothing in return. I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t laziness. But how are you suppossed to find yourself as an artist in that school? Continue going in that personal direction or make a film that will get me hired at Pixar?

    It was only after I started going back to the union and taking Karl’s classes the last few years that I feel like I’m starting to come into my own as an artist and not just preparing myself to be a cog at a studio. It’s helped me figure out some direction for myself as an artist vs. the idea “get into Cal Arts so you can get into Disney”. I learned more about drawing and how to be a storyteller from Karl Gnass than I did in my entire four years at Cal Arts. In fact, the teachings from his storyboard class I managed to apply to my own life drawing, and vise versa. My drawing has improved dramatically. And it only cost me $200 instead of the other $200K. Go figure that one out.

  • Sweet Pea

    Corny Cole’s house burnt down in the last year’s fire season.. he’d probably like 40 dollars.

  • Everyone has been listing schools on the West coast and Canada, would you please also mention some on the East coast? I’m especially interested in the NY area. Unfortunately being a Hungarian, I probably wouldn’t be able to afford attending a full time program for 4 years, they are all too expensive in the States, but continuing education classes at SVA for example? If anyone has experience about these, would you please share? Either here or at andrasev (at) gmail (dot) com Thanks so much!

  • shiyoon

    “Btw, Shiyoon, how can you know if Karl Gnass is good or not if you haven’t actually taken a class from him? Maybe you should take one of his monthly seminars and find out.”

    That’s really ironic because right now I am actually taking his life drawing classes at Walt Disney Studio. I’ve probably been in his class more then Glen has last year because Glen’s been directing Rapunzel. And Karl is great! I’m not knocking Karl because I’m still going to his class!

    but don’t knock Corny. I respect Karl but Corny’s history in animation spans a lifetime compared with Karl’s! Even more then Glen! My experience with Corny was that if I asked him specific questions he would give me knowledge.

    “How do you know the rest of us didn’t put hard work into our assignments? For a time, at least in my first two years, I didn’t have much of a problem getting personal with my work, but my drawing skill was always holding me back.”

    What happened to the next two years? So you worked hard for the first two and then gave up? I hardly remember people working on their animation assignments in the fall semester including yourself! I know this because me and only a couple of other students were constantly using the pencil tests during the fall~

    And I hardly remember students asking real questions to Corny. You have one of the greatest animation legends teaching life drawing and you don’t even ask him questions? Just because Corny isn’t dictating how you should draw doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to pick his brain. In my fourth year I asked Corny about things in Composing Pictures and he would break it down! He told me artists that I should look at specifically for certain concepts and even real fine artists who influenced people like Ward Kimball! Corny is a treasure trove of animation knowledge~

    I would probably be more sympathetic to what your saying if I wasn’t actually in school the same time you were. If you had such a big issue on what Corny or Mike was saying, why wouldn’t you ask them to explain themselves. If you had trouble with anatomy, did you really go and ask Corny specifically about it? And what about the library that is right in front of the character animation hallway? Did u ever think to read the tons of art books that are available there including things on anatomy, design, fine art, film, cartoons..etc?

    What I remember is most students sitting passively in class and afraid of asking a question because it’s embarrassing to say “I don’t know what you mean.”

  • Mike Caracappa

    Hey Shiyoon,

    First off, I apoligize for making the assumption that you hadn’t taken any of Karls classes. And like I said, I have great respect for Corny and Mike Mitchell. But they both are not teaching life drawing in there classes. How are students supposed to know what questions to ask if there is no time devoted to instruction about how the body works? Its not enough to just come to Cal Arts with everything you learned in drawing before. You have to continue developing craft simultaneously with your art. Its not enough to just go to life drawing without instruction and just have Corny or Mike stop by once in awhile to give me hints.
    The majority of students who also come into character animation at Cal Arts are either in their late teens or early 20s, and the majority of them have not had the life experience to know who they are or what they want as artists. They’re not nessicerily going to know what questions to ask, and having to go up to the teacher and ask he/she to explain themselves all the time is not what they’re paying 32 grand a year for. If there were any sort of instruction going as to how the teacher got to where they were, the questions should automatically come out. Its not the students fault if they dont know what to ask. And for students that young, with little life experience and now in the #1 animation school in the country, they’re not nessicerily going to argue with how the instructor runs their class.
    Mike Disa, my animation teacher, was the best instructor I had at Cal Arts, and he was somebody who not only could instruct and explain things, but he inspired me to go up to him and ask what he was doing. The questions just came out. Disa also gave more encouragement to keep building on craft, wheras Mike and Corny made you afraid of it, as if you would become a Vilpuu clone. Its like they forgot that they had to learn all this to get where they are now. And I said before, I like Karl because he can teach craft and how to branch off to make a personal statement. And then break that down again so you can move to the next level. He makes it easy to understand, and he teaches it like a zen master.
    There’s alot of ego and stubborness at Cal Arts regarding Karl and Vilpuu, and I’m sorry but the instructors at Cal Arts are wrong about them. I freaked out after my second year when I realized how much I didnt know about myself, not just personally but also the unknown direction of my art. And being in Cal Arts surrounded by artists devoted to getting into their favorite studio, but also being surrounded by artists who just want to ignore craft and go off on their own personal tangent. Its like the entire department is split in two. Your either an “artist”, or your selling out to Pixar. So if you’ll pardon me for saying so, I have every damn right for being confused. During those last few years of Cal Arts, I knew I was changing. I was still young with not much life experience, but looking back the school was so split up, I got no clear direction from any of the instructors. You were either with one side or the other. So I went back to Karls classes. I didnt know why, but for whatever reason he’s compelled me to keep going back again and again. And I don’t come out of class feeling like a scitzophrenic.

  • Mike, I know your frustration. There was an admired teacher that I took for a semester before she passed away name Eva Roberts. I felt the same frustration you’re talking about. She was speaking a different language. And today, when I look at someone’s work like Teddy Newton or Joe Mosier some of what was able to grasp makes perfect sense to me now. But, back then I was struggling to try and do a drawing that she approved. And, I was very frustrated. Mike Mitchell opened my eyes to viewing subjects as forms, shapes and how to play with perspective. Corny, for me was an inspiration on expressive drawing and experimentation. Point is, every good teacher will plant seeds that will make a lot of sense when you are confronted with a problem. I often hear famous animators talk about how they are still enlightened by pearls of wisdom as they improve. You get into CalArts based on your portfolio. You should have the fundamentals before you start there. You should already know about how to control shapes and volumes and where the anchor points are on a form. I’ll bet once you have figured all that out. Those voices of your teachers will benefit you down the road.

  • shiyoon

    “The majority of students who also come into character animation at Cal Arts are either in their late teens or early 20s, and the majority of them have not had the life experience to know who they are or what they want as artists. They’re not nessicerily going to know what questions to ask, and having to go up to the teacher and ask he/she to explain themselves all the time is not what they’re paying 32 grand a year for.”

    It’s really baffling that you don’t know what questions to ask if your confused. How about , “Hey I don’t know what your talking about? Can you explain it to me?” And I disagree with that it has anything to do with age. Just be brave and ask a question if you didn’t understand! How simple is that concept! I was straight out of highschool when I went to calarts and I had tons of questions to ask my teachers.

    Most of my questions came from doing the work and reading books. How hard is it to bring a drawing that your struggling with and asking Corny to draw over it? It really is that simple.

    Your relationship with the faculty there isn’t everyone’s experience there! Everybody has their own path to learning but for me I learned a lot from the faculty there.

    And please don’t bring age into this either. There were tons of young talented students in the past that asked questions. Just listen to a 1973 lecture done by Milt Kahl at CalArts and you can hear a young brad bird ask questions!

  • “And please don’t bring age into this either. There were tons of young talented students in the past that asked questions. Just listen to a 1973 lecture done by Milt Kahl at CalArts and you can hear a young brad bird ask questions!”

    Yeah, and look what happened to him. He finally got to Disney, and Disney FAILED HIM. And he left when he found out the studio he envisioned from his childhood was no longer the place it once was. I’m sure that was a period of serious struggle and heartbreak, and it took him years, even working on the Simpsons for 8 years, and through the failure of Iron Giant before he finally made his mark with the Incredibles. I would like to say that most other people carve out a path like him, but they don’t. Instead for most students at Cal Arts, I think it’s safe to say that most people make it their focus to go to a major studio, especially when they start out young. I felt the same way as everyone else. But if you’re the kind of person who wants more than just steady job, who actually wants to make some kind of difference in your career, than you know what? It’s going to be difficult and confusing. And I’m angry that half way through school, when all these questions started rising about myself and who I wanted to be as an artist, there was no one who could really help me. That and the fact that I was still insecure about my own drawing skills, and that we were getting no classical training is ridiculous. At the time I didn’t know what to do. There were others who had trouble finding direction or some motivation to get better at their drawing other than to just get a job somewhere. I’ve had friends who were crying and felt like failures when everyone else was off getting a job somewhere, and they felt like they had done something wrong. I’ve felt like that too, and I’ve had moments of guilt that my second half of Cal Arts wasn’t as strong as the first. But there came a point where I didn’t want my focus to be so narrow as to just get a job anywhere. And THATS FINE for other people if that’s what they really want. But in the moment I wanted more than just a job somewhere,I felt Cal Arts failed me. I found myself caught between two polar opposites: those focused straight on becoming mainstream artists and those going a totally independent route. And it wasn’t until I kept going to the animation that I started finding focus for myself.

  • Tragedy of P

    To Mike Carapacca’s last comment to Shiyoon

    Thank you for sharing that. I’m a student myself and I’m starting to feel like that and I felt a little weirded out to be feeling that way.

    To Shiyoon
    I’ve had some problem regarding asking questions. Some of our teachers has favourites and when I line up for weekly critique sometimes they spend too much time on their favourite, by the time they get to me, class is over and they go home. If you go to another class’ lecture they won’t let me ask questions because I’m not in that class. Yeah, I e-mailed them, I even have their office extensions memorized. Sometimes things aren’t a black and white as you say it is. Some faculty members just don’t want to spend an extra time to help students because they’re not getting paid for it. Good for you that you have decent, dedicated teachers in CalArts.

  • shiyoon

    “Yeah, and look what happened to him. He finally got to Disney, and Disney FAILED HIM. And he left when he found out the studio he envisioned from his childhood was no longer the place it once was. ”

    wth? My point is the importance of asking questions. You don’t have to have a incredible life experience to say “I don’t understand what spacing or timing is.”..or .. “Can you draw over this hand I’m struggling with..”

    The bottom line is.. students need to work hard on their homework assignments and ask questions if they don’t understand.. for all four years while at school!.. to me if your not doing this, it just sounds like your whining!

    It doesn’t matter if you want to get a job after you graduate.. or go on your own path.. It’s your responsibility as a student to do the homework assignments and ask questions if you don’t understand.

  • Mike Caracappa

    I’m talking specifically about life drawing here. If there’s no instruction and your a kid straight out of high school, your gonna assume the instructors know what they’re doing. I was 20 when I got into Cal Arts, not much older than you, and I went along with the program like everyone else. But it wasn’t until I started taking classes with Karl Gnass that I realized how screwed up the life drawing was at Cal Arts. Just expecting students to ask questions is not enough. Cal Arts is not the only place that does this, but its a crying shame that a program as prestegious as it was isn’t doing what it should, which is teaching the importance of craft and art together.
    And another thing (and I’m sure I’ll get stoned for this), hard work doesn’t mean sh*t. You were complaining earlier about students not doing there films till the last month. I worked my ass off my second year of school on a film I was passionate about. It was three minutes, I spent one school year on it, and I was determined to get every shot animated in the film, because for most student films I don’t think its fair to the audience to just animate a few scenes and have your audience sit through a glorified animatic or story reel. I spent a week each on two long scenes, and then the rest of the film I had to animate A SCENE A DAY. I put everything I had into it, even with the limitations of my drawing. Meanwhile another person in my year, a much lazier student procrastinated forever until the last month. He did a cheap one shot gag film that was actually an attack on another student…because he was jealous that the other student asked a girl out he liked because he was too scared to make a move. So he portrayed that person in a subtle caricature and had him shot at the end of the film. His film got into the end of year Producers Show. And then after school ended he became a story artist at Pixar. Tell me what that has to do with hard work. I developed stress problems by the time my film was done. It got some nice praise from a lot of people but its done nothing for my portfolio…because I couldn’t draw as well as that other guy could. There were even animation teachers at school complaining about the life drawing classes just being workshops instead of being devoted to actual instruction. I probably should have devoted more time to practicing my skill, but I was more interested in actually making a film for my audience, even if it meant I had to coast on what drawing skill I had. So between what I had to go through and what the other guy did, it just had me scratching my head wondering what the point of all this is supposed to be. I became a filmmaker because I want to create stories for other people, not just put in hard work and perseverance so I can get a job working for someone else. But that’s what most people end up doing. And the other group of artists, the ones only following Corny and Mikes tangent on making a personal art, end up going off into a corner ignoring the rest of the student body. I didn’t know what side to choose or what I should be doing. How do you know all that hard work won’t just make you like everyone else? Glen Keane works hard. So does James Baxter. They’re still employees for someone else . Nobody outside animation is really going to know who they are. How is someone like me supposed to find myself in art school when my only choices are selling out or going off the deep end?

    Hard work doesn’t mean sh*t.

  • Before I went to CalArts I took Karl Gnass’, Steve Houston’s and Glen Vilpu’s classes. They were all very helpful and instructive. But, what really turned me off was that everyone in class was getting it and drawing the same. They are great teachers but each has a system of drawing. And it’s designed to construct the figure realistically. When I started school my big hurdle was breaking out of that and seeing things graphically. Ultimately, film is a graphic medium. Today, doing character design it’s paramount to create interesting shapes that are economized rather than depict the underlying structure. I do think there should be at least a couple lectures devoted to constructive technique, but it’s far more important that a student is guided to draw his or her own way.
    Life is unfair. You should be looking at what was effective about that guys film instead of comparing your toils. I’m sure his film was stronger due to the content, and not the execution. I’ve seen some great stick figure animation, and even animatics that I would happily sit through again. I think you would be happier if you didn’t personalize these things and just collect the seeds that are being presented to you. I don’t know if you’re already working on a crew, but you really can’t take direction personally when you’re working. It’ll kill you. You should trust me when I say hard work does pay off. I know a few guys that I thought drew as poorly as you describe and today they are at the top of the field.

  • To Dan Caylor, you should update the fund amount so we have an idea of your situation.

  • Mike Caracappa

    Dan, the people in Karl Gnass class are drawing the same way because they’re trying to learn something about drawing the human figure. Its not about art, its about getting better at your skill. As Karl would say, craft is building your instrument. Art is playing it.

    And about the student I was referring to, you clearly don’t know this person. All I can say is that I know him very well, and that I know his personality and where he was coming from. Your right, life is unfair, and its people like him who eventually weasel their way to the top and become directors or executives in the animation business. He may have drawn well but he was not an artist. The guy was all talk. He didnt have a shred of vision or personal outlook on life. He just wanted to get into Pixar.

  • NYanimator

    What are you people talking about? By the time I got to end of this thread, I felt compelled to write. This is the most self-pitying bunch of sour-grapes-having people I’ve come across! “where was my money when I had to pay for my college?” What does that have to do with anything? Did you ask for any? You didn’t ask me . . . I certainly wouldn’t have bitten your head off for it. I personally couldn’t care less whether Dan goes to CalArts (think it’s mostly a waste of money frankly), or what he does with his life, but if he wants to go, what do you care? If he asks for donations on a web site, what do you care? Don’t donate! Geez. I occasionally actually read his blog (before any of this hoopla) and appreciate that he goes to the trouble to post what information, etc. he can. So he uses that platform to ask for whatever anyone wants to donate. What’s the problem here? (hint: your troubles in schooling, money and career don’t really have anything to do with this kid’s situation. You might think they do, but they really don’t)
    An example of what cheeses me off “I work at a major animation studio. I hope when Dan applies it’s my turn to review portfolios. I have my rubber stamp and red ink all ready.” Really. Let me know which studio you work for, genius, that you think it admirable trait to burn bridges and make stupid snap judgements like that before someone presents you with the finished “product”. I’ll be sure to adjust my opinions of that studio’s policies accordingly.
    I know everyone thinks they know what’s best, especially for everyone else, but just lay off Dan a bit and chill out. He sink or swim on his own merits, talents and gumption (internet handouts included). BTW, I’m not in a position to give anything to Dan, either. Sorry, Dan, but thanks for asking.

  • I agree. But, that’s the same thing you were upset about with the Corny/Mike legion. I’m trying to point out a distinction in there instruction. And, how I think in a conceptual art college the latter is more important than the former. Ideally, the student has the fundamental before going there. But, those ideas will stick, and you’ll appreciate it later. Also, I have that same disdain for people like that guy. And, I feel like some of my school mates were unbelievably phony, kiss asses-I could easily get worked up about them because many of whom excelled. Unfortunately, people love to be on pedestals and will reach down to their fanboys sometimes. But, it’s not helpful to view things that way. Karma will take care of that kind of behavior. You have to be restrained enough to be civil once they do grow up-or don’t. Because, it’s a very small industry. People do change. And it’s very likely that you’ll be working with people you don’t respect at times. Ultimately, if you get with the program, those valuable CalArts grads (or the like) have a bond with you that you can take advantage of.

  • NYanimator, I agree with the first half of what you worte. The second half seems to contradict to the first. Which Dan are you referring to? The guy asking for help clearly isn’t at a major studio. There are three intersting issues that keep me coming back: The value of going to CalArts is at the heart of it. And I agree with Dan Caylor that this thread has become a valuable insight for prospective students. So, I’m trying to contribute to that. The issue of hand-outs is worthy of debate, and interesting. And the third topic for me, is this issue of art education to prepare you for working life-another debatable subject. I think hindsight is helpful to those just starting out.

  • NYanimator

    OtherDan- Sorry if I was confusing, I probably glossed over some of the comments at the end when you guys were talking about drawing classes, so if my comments seemed “out of place”, my fault. (any comments about Dan were about the “other” Dan Caylor)
    While I can’t speak to first hand experience at CalArts, but I’m still paying for NYU. Probably not worth the money, but I did it anyways. Maybe a mistake, maybe not, but you gotta make a decision for yourself at the time, right or wrong and live with it. Don’t mean to trod on the conversation about the value of CalArts . . .
    Mike C. – two things: 1) hard work is the most important element, IMO. It’s reflective of how much you love your chosen field and how much room you have to grow. 2) as O.Dan was alluding to, it might behoove you not to worry so much about others. The industry is full of idiots and geniuses. Nice folks and sh*tty folks. Just like anywhere else. An open, collaborative mind tends to make life easier/happier for everyone. You probably wouldn’t want people ascribing motives and judgements to all you do, so best to be careful airing nasty opinions about others. Just my two cents. Chin up!

    Honestly, I don’t take umbrage with anyone’s opinions about anything, the value of art school, the value of CalArts specifically or the idea of pandering on the web included. But the level of vitriol directed at Dan (the one asking for money) is ridiculous. I simply can’t understand why so many people are actually ANGRY at this guy (hence my distaste for people ready to reject him for work when he hasn’t even applied to their studio). The guy got into CalArts. Why do people need to see his portfolio to make a judgement about giving him $1? He’s asking for help, presumably so he can go WORK at his craft, not buy a flat screen tv. Are you only willing to help if he’s brilliant? If he could make animations that moved you to tears and laughter he probably wouldn’t need your dollar. He’s be working in the field. To those who offered their opinions civilly, I don’t mean to lump you in my criticism . . . but those who called Dan selfish, etc or used this as opportunity to gripe about how tough they had it, need to get over it. It’s not this guy’s fault you had it tough. As many have said, just don’t donate. I’m not sure what’s contradictory about any of this and I certainly don’t want to interrupt anyone’s conversation about schools. Just trying to get people to stop personally attacking this kid. Lighten up. (not you, Other Dan. You’re just fine.)

  • NYanimator

    btw, the comment about “red ink” and “rubber stamps” and out of hand rejection was “Steve’s” comment about half way up, not my own.

  • Mike Caracappa

    Hi Dan,
    First off, I appreciate hearing your point of view on all this.

    I disagree with you about the Corny/Mike issue, its not the same thing. Here’s why. Everyone starts off with a solid foundation in craft. We can agree to that at least. What I’ve discovered is that the more I work with my craft, the more I see a kind of evolution take place. There are times when you will plateau, and you will want to branch off from craft to try something new with your drawing skill. You reach a point where you can make a personal artistic statement with it. But once you’ve made that statement, you go back to craft and move on to the next level, and the cycle repeats itself. That’s how you develop and grow. I don’t have a problem with Corny and Mikes classes. I like them both. But they’re workshops. They’ll come around and help you, and I’m all for getting their advice. But if there’s no classes devoted to actual instruction of craft, the chance of growth is very limited. Yes the drawings in Karls class can look the same, the difference is it’s not art. But your still working towards something that will bring you too a higher level. I didnt feel that in Mike/Cornys classes, and so did a lot of other students. There were no craft classes to accompany where they wanted us to go with our drawing, so it was very confusing. The may have imparted pearls of wisdom, but most of the time I felt like I was thrashing around in a void. And then I’d look at student work he liked to try and see what he wanted out of us, but in the end all I would be doing is trying to draw like those people. I didnt know how I was supposed to find my voice in their class. And then of course we’d get a bunch of the same kind of drawing each week. With craft at least you actually feel like your going somewhere, even if its not art. But working with it will help you support your own statement. I’ve seen this happen! Again, I have great respect for Corny and Mike, but sometimes I think they forget that building on craft is what got them where they are.

  • I gotta say, this thread has indeed become gold for prospective students and people who just want to learn. Not merely for the tired topic of “is Calarts worth it?” but about art/animation education in general.

    I understand where Dan coming from though, you got your whole life planned, you work hard to get accepted into your dream school, but can’t afford it; it’s devastating, suddenly you feel like a failure.

    If Dan’s still reading this, here’s something to keep in mind: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” -Churchill. Keeps me going.

  • Mike Caracappa

    NYanimator, I have no intention of making nasty comments about anyone, I did not mention anyone by name, and I was using that situation as an example to make a point. Please don’t make personal assumptions about my character when you don’t know me.


  • Ant

    Okay, I really wanted to stay out of this, but I think you’ve crossed a line Mike.

    “Meanwhile another person in my year, a much lazier student procrastinated forever until the last month. He did a cheap one shot gag film that was actually an attack on another student…because he was jealous that the other student asked a girl out he liked because he was too scared to make a move. So he portrayed that person in a subtle caricature and had him shot at the end of the film. His film got into the end of year Producers Show. And then after school ended he became a story artist at Pixar.”

    – First of he was not lazy, he wanted to be a pixar story artist from day one, and worked his butt of to get there. He grew as an artist and a draftsman, and deserved that job. A Job I must remind you, he loved and dedicated himself to – up till the end. Is it so hard for you to understand that not everybody in the world has to subscribe to your preconceived notion of what makes an artist? God forbid some of us have bills to pay for, to call the thousands of fantastic artists in this business all sellouts because they work for a larger studio system is a huge slap in the face of each and every one of us.

    – With regards to the topic, Calarts was a unique adventure, full off both wonderful, and tough times. Some students will connect better with some faculty members, others not so much, but that kind of thing is really up to personal taste- and is present at every school.

    -I have yet to see any evidence that Calarts is still not producing the cream in the animation crop – in my class alone many graduates are not only in the business, but leading in their fields. It is by no means the only school in the world for the art form, but it remains on the the best. While the character animation program itself did have a few holes in the education, many of the teachers were fantastic, and my fellow students were more than a constant source of inspiration and motivation.

  • Mike- I knew him too, and he was an artist. A great one in fact, and a friend. Have some respect. Bringing that up does nothing to prove any point you’re trying make.

  • Mike Caracappa

    Alright, well I suppose I’ve made my point. For those of you Cal Arts students who wish to continue sending me hate mail, please dont because Im going to delete it. Im done with this topic and pretty much done with Cal Arts in general. I’m moving on with my life now.


  • Sigh…

    Alright, I HAD to chime in.
    I’m not a CalArts student, I’m a canadian student of one of the aforementioned schools.

    First off to Dan, who this original thread is about. Dude, you’ve probably heard this a million times: Which school you go to doesn’t matter, it’s all about meeting like-minded artists – you learn more from your peers than your teachers. In high school, I originally wanted to go to CalArts due to locale and reputation – being a Canadian myself, once I looked at the price, a school close by was my only option and I never looked back. I applied out of high school, and did TERRIBLY on my portfolio review and was rejected, and ended up going to an art foundations course in the same college. I worked my ass off for the entirety of the year, and ended up getting in. I met some of the most amazing people in my life today, and created friendships that will last through whatever career paths any of us choose to take. That said, I worked my ass off through the four years and now I’m currently working my dream job, my friends are working theirs (they all worked their asses off or just had a knack for it) and I’m working with tons of CalArts grads who are all phenomenal, just like my peers in my attending school. I understand your desire to go to CalArts, believe me, I BET you it was unparalleled with mine, but sometimes you get thrown a curve ball, and you have to learn to deal with it. I wish you good luck in your endeavors, but think you could definitely handle it differently and better than you are. There are so many other causes and people to give money to.

    Mike – I guess you won’t be reading this, but in case you come back. I have no idea who you’re talking about at CalArts, not having gone there, so I can’t speak for the character of the peer you’re referring to, but here’s my two cents:
    First off, I’m in a similar boat as you described with struggling to find your own voice and struggling with your draftsmanship. All artists are, to an extent, some are just further along than others. I think there are a few lessons you haven’t learned in school: 1) Don’t burn your bridges 2) It is ALL about the hard work, drawing is not something that comes even remotely naturally to me, yet I’ve worked my ass off to get to where I am today, and honestly, I’m still struggling with it every day and I do it only because I love it. 3) No matter who you are, there is always someone or many someones who you look up to. There are always 100 people who are better than you at any one given thing. Being humble is what makes us great artists, and too many young artists these days seem to have a sense of entitlement, and too much pride. These aren’t good characteristics.

    Thanks for reading this.

  • Thank you NYanimator

  • Rich – current calarts 1st year international student from england

    Can you contact me, I have some questions for you?


  • Mike Caracappa

    I’d like to say one thing, and then I no longer wish to comment on this subject. I did not mean to suggest that all industry artists are sellouts. I was using Pixar as a metaphor to explain my own feelings regarding the position I found myself in at Cal Artls. It was ill-chosen and I apoligize for phrasing it that way. What I meant to say was that most students who are focused on one particular avenue (such as the studio they want to go to) are relying on a particular kind of shorthand when doing there art. The trouble is that particular shorthand may not be their own. The focus is on the goal, so that’s the kind of work they present. The good thing about Mike Mitchall and Corny Cole is that they try to help students break out of that and try to find their own voice with their art. But by just ignoring craft, and telling students to just go off into wherever with their drawing is useless if they have no knowledge or tools to back it up. Or tools they can experiment with and see if they can come up with something new. A more experienced artist might understand this, but what about the majority of 18 to 20 year old artists who come into the school? How do they understand there’s a relationship between the two if there are no specific anatomy courses to explain this? I didnt understand it when I was there. Its why I feel the department is split into two opposing sides, and I think this is a serious problem with the school. When you go to work at a studio, you can’t really go off and do your own thing because your working on somebody elses project. You have to go where they want you to go. But the good thing is that working can help you build your skill, even if its not your own art. But also building on that skill can lead you to someplace later on. For people who want to become filmmakers, and make their own astistic statement, regardless of the shorthand or the medium, I think this is really important. But if that’s not clear from the start, how do you know your not just relying on sombody elses work to keep you going?

    Its not only about working hard, its about having the tools to express what you want to say.

  • …and if someone wants to go to CalArts, I always say it’s best to do all that foundation stuff (including general ed classes) before you go to maximize the investment.

  • Outsider

    I am an outsider listening in on this discussion. My husband is an animator, so I feel I have some background on this subject. In my experience, EVERY field will have people working in the industry with varying levels of skill and interest (and approaches to their craft) and *also* varying niches for those skills and interests to be placed in. It seems like you all are getting in an uproar over approaches that can work together and strengthen each other, or at the very least, might all have a place in the industry.

    Also, I hate to say this but I feel it would be helpful for everyone involved – Mike, you seriously need to rethink your expectation for Cal Arts to spoon feed you a successful career and meaningful artistic avenue. You really need to take responsibility for yourself and your future, and stop blaming the world for your misfortune. Sorry, that’s just the real world, buddy. Then maybe you’ll find satisfaction with your job and the direction your art is going.

  • Alright. I’m gonna go ahead and give you my experience, for what it’s worth.

    It’s been said that there are two split camps at Cal Arts, the “Expressionistic artist” camp and the “Big Animation Studio-or-bust” camp. I was definetly in the “Big Animation Studio-or-bust” camp when I first got to Cal Arts. I got in with just enough drawing skill. I always had trouble with my drawing skill, but I made every effort to go life drawing and get better at it. And because I put all that hard work and effort into going, I assumed that on some level I was making progress with my work. I put as much effort as I could into all my homework assignments, and I had the dream like everyone else that I would get to work at a great place like Disney or Dreamworks or Pixar. My first year film reflects that ambitious feeling most. The nice thing about first year too was that everyone gets into it because they’re excited to be at Cal Arts. Students in my class all made as much effort as possible to animate every single scene of their films, which was terrific, and it was fun to see our very first works presented to a full audience at the Open Show.

    But when I got into second year, I could tell that excitement was dying down. Students had already done all this hard work their first year, so coming back second year to do that all over again, I think everyone in the department has that little nagging voice coming into their heads, which says…”You’ve already done this. You have to do it again? And with twice the work load?” I started seeing students coming in later for classes. The ambition and excitement was still there, but I could tell the energy was starting to wane. But to be fair, there were people excited to take on the challenge and do another ambitious piece of work. Mine was “The Jellyfish Girl”. I had started developing that idea over the summer, and I wanted it to be amazing. I kept going to life drawing as usual, working hard at it feeling that I must of been accomplishing something. “Jellyfish Girl” was originally going to be a very cute, Disney-like film. But as I developed it, I started noticing that it was going into darker and darker territory. I didn’t know if I liked it, but I kept plugging along. The were originally adult characters, but after awhile I thought the story was getting too dark, so to lighten it up, I changed them to kids. It was much better, more fun developing the situations, but I didn’t know how I wanted to end it. Then one day out of nowhere, this thought appeared into my head: “Kill off the little boy”. It was a little freaky at first, thinking that no one would accept an ending like that, afraid people would start giving me funny looks in the hall with the idea…”so that’s what you’re really like.” I was scared to make that film. At one point I almost quit because I seriously thought people would hate me if I did it…that and I thought that no big studio like Disney or Pixar would ever except a story like that from someone they wanted to hire. Or worse the nagging thought “Could I pull this off?” But the more I thought about it, the more I became in awe of the idea. It was a chance to completely reverse peoples expectations. A film that would start out like a typical Disney/Cal Arts film, and suddenly reveal its true form at the end. I was still not a great draftsman. But I decided anyway just to take the plunge and go for it. I worked even harder than I did on my first year film, animating a scene a day to get it done (the only way I could get the film finished). Towards the end I started developing serious stress problems, but I kept going anyway because I wanted the film to be fully animated. I intentionally did not want it to be a storyreel/animatic where I only spent time animating specific scenes that I could have put on my reel. It may not have been the wisest choice, but toward the end I realized I wasn’t making this film because I wanted a job somewhere. There was something else, something personal driving me to get this done. When it was over I was completely burned out. The film had changed me, because while I was working on it, I started breaking out of my shell personally, questioning my private life as well, among other things. But also suddenly realizing that my true self was starting to emerge. The real me that had been hidden behind this shy, quiet, kid-like adult that was me. Making that film changed everything about me, and I soon discovered something really shocking: I had no idea who I was.
    What was once just a happy go lucky animation guy who wanted to get into Disney, I suddenly found myself not knowing which road I was supposed to take, and this is where all the confusion started. My third and forth year at Cal Arts, I was trying to rely on my education there, but at the same time I could feel something was wrong. The instructors at school were trying to help me, and I wanted to trust their judgement. I had help, but still the nagging feeling was always there that I was being asked to walk one path or the other, and I just couldn’t choose which way to go. The “Pixar-or-bust” route no longer interested me. But I did not want to go the other “Corny Cole/Mike Mitchell-route”, independent artsy films…or however you might explain that path some students wanted to take. I spent my whole life listening to other people, but when I made the choice to go through with “The Jellyfish Girl” and what happened afterward, it’s got me questioning everything the instructors and students were telling me. So, in a zen way, Cal Arts definetly forced me out of my comfort zone.

    It also left me stranded.

    I was too busy fighting with myself, trying to go back to my old ways, feeling I had made a mistake in what I did, or that I was misunderstading or doing something wrong. I thought what I need was somebody to help me go back to that old way so I could be like everybody else again. Only I couldn’t. My life drawing was not improving, even though I kept telling myself it was. I asked for help from instructors many times. But just always asking for help was never enough, but I swear I thought that if I just kept going to life drawing everyday I would get better. And I didn’t.

    So I started losing interest in my films, because I realized no matter how much effort I put into the story, no one was going to take it seriously because I couldn’t draw well. This expectation that everyone is talking about, that I should have just gone to the Cal Arts library and looked at an anatomy book is ridiculous. Because I was paying $32,000 a year to go to this school which I thought was supposed to make me a better artist and would make me better at drawing. I took it on faith that for whatever reason if I just kept going to life drawing I would get better.

    I went to the animation union before I finally got excepted to Cal Arts. Because there was no real instruction about anatomy in life drawing, they instead wanted us to go off on this personal path with our work in the life drawing workshops. So the assumption on my part was that I had learned what I needed to know about drawing at the union and that I was supposed to now branch off on that. I was also a young 20 year old guy, and I wasn’t about to question what they were saying. Because HEY, it’s Cal Arts, which is the most prestigious animation school on the planet. If your that young, would you really question them? I’m going to assume they know what their doing.

    So in this moment of crisis after “Jellyfish Girl”, where I don’t know where I’m headed or what direction to take, there was now NO INSTRUCTION that could guide me. I was alone, lost, and very upset. You can go ahead and tell me that it was my fault that I didn’t study harder or go look at a drawing book or whatever. But I also put my faith and trust into this art institution because I believed it was going to help me break out and discover something about myself. And it did, but the moment that it finally started to happen, NO ONE IN THE SCHOOL COULD HELP ME! What am I supposed to do? I had no tools and no instruction to help me. And like a member of a religion, all I could do was try to come up with ways that made that religion still valid. For these two “camps” of artists pitting themselves against each other, it’s not doing anything to make the program stronger. That’s like saying the right and left brain shouldn’t work together. It’s total nonsense.

    Instead I could feel myself falling apart with no one to help me pick up the pieces. I WANT to choose my own direction, but I want it to be a direction of TRUTH. Not some idea that I have to either give myself up to get a job or strip naked and run off into the woods away from the rest of society. Eventually you’re going to have to come back to your self, and ask why it is your doing what you’re doing in the first place.

    And truthfully speaking, the instructors at the animation union helped me find that. It’s amazing how finding one mentor who can give you the experience for what you need to know. And still manage to actually INSTRUCT at the same time. It’s a lot easier than having to deal with 7 or 8 instructors with conflicting viewpoints. Having many voices in my head is going bring up conflicting arguements everytime I want to try and do something. With one voice, your objective is direct and clear… if you choose to listen to it. If you don’t like that particular voice, then replace it with a voice that does make sense.

    Finally you mentioned something about burning bridges. You may not want to hear this, and you can totally walk away and ignore everything I’ve told you if you want. But I’m going to say it anyway:

    Burning Bridges is OKAY. If something doesn’t work for you, it’s okay to let that thing go and move on. Even if it’s the most prestigious animation school in the world and you spent $200K to go there. IT DOES NOT MATTER. Burning Bridges can also be a step for growth. I’m going to be very honest:I think the way Cal Arts is teaching students about being artists is wrong.
    I also believe that there has to be a better way of training people to be filmmakers instead of just working on ONE film a year. I find the TV boarding route interesting because it forces you to practice and keep your skill up. Working on a film a year may teach you some things about filmmaking and give you great practice as an animator, but I think its setting students up to be directors instead of filmmakers. By that I mean nursing a project for so long will make it too precious. There has to be a way to keep practicing and moving on. From stories I heard, Brad Bird got this kind of practice while working on the Simpsons for 8 years. I want to share the feelings I have about my experience at Cal Arts, because the moment I realized I didn’t know who I was, there was no one at the school who was able to help me. I’m sorry but it’s true. When I went to the Animation Union in North Hollywood, I brought my sense of entitlement and background from Cal Arts, having spent all that money. But when I finally started listening to Karl Gnass in his lectures, that craft and art need to always work together for an artist to grow, it’s given me a difficult road to follow, but one where I feel like I’m finally starting to get somewhere and grow. And now I’ve come to the conclusion that my Cal Arts education is no longer valid, and I have to let it go.

    You can argue with me, accuse me about being a jerk or tearing the school apart, fine. But I know I am not the only artist in the program who feels this way. There are other artists who have argued about the lack of direction in the moment they were searching for something in themselves.

    And guys, there has to be other points of view out there about a school and not just the most popular one that everyone wants to listen to. There are cheaper, better alternatives for finding yourself as an artist if you know where to look, and for those of you in the L.A. area, the Animation Union 839 is one of them.

    So that’s my story.

  • Sammy

    Wow Mike. Your story is something else… But it does gets too personal here and I don’t think it’s exactly relevant to the topic anymore. It’s interesting nonetheless. I would say you are sort of over thinking the subject. I am surprised with the ‘Pixar or bust’ mentality in Calarts if it’s true… Because WHY the obsession with Pixar? Making films should be for yourself, because you love it. And these opportunity to get into big studios are extra. It’s a golden opportunity for you to learn even more in a great environment, but it’s not the end of the day if you can’t get in. I wouldn’t have let that Jellyfish girl project of yours changed your goal or confuse you. And not overthink that companies wouldn’t like it anymore and all. I saw Pixar artists blog drawing ADULT subjects, and there’s always cases where Disney artists in the past sneak in naughty stuff into the film (subliment messages?). Does it matter what you do are not what the studio output into the market?

    What NYanimator said is true, a lot of people here are so sour about it, but the point of this blog is is sending a naive Canadian to school despite we don’t even know who this guy is personally.

    Honestly, I wish there’s less people like Dan. Because it’s people like them that is feeding these school some kind of bombastic ego to overcharge students tuition fees. Demand and Supply, you know? I realize school these days raise their tuition at such crazy rate, it’s like they already know students will find a way to pay it up anyway even if they can’t afford it, and they become this insane desperate people searching for loans or something everywhere to pay the tuition. It is because of this life style, that makes it one of the many reason the economy went kaput. People who can’t afford to pay back the loan causes the bank to go bankrupt. And these degree crap… Goddamn overpriced piece of papers just to prove you paid a bunch to get into a school, sit through it and survived through it. It’s real sad.

  • That’s a great story Mike, I liked that film before but now it’s even better knowing the filmmaker died too. It’s too bad you had to destroy yourself after you spent all that money. I keep hearing from other students there that CalArts won’t make you into something, and I guess they were talking about, among others, you. I feel I was in a similar position as you before but I didn’t get into the school when I was directionless and had the luxury of dying and being reborn on my own time.

    Dan, the girl scouts sell cookies and the boy scouts sell awful popcorn, you really could have handled this with more grace and no more effort. Cafepress or something.

  • dontknow

    dont listen to Tool…he is known crazy

  • Mike Caracappa

    Hi Sammy,

    My story is meant to be personal. This is what happened to me at school. And the discussion asked if Cal Arts was worth $200k to attend. As a former Cal Arts student, I say it was not worth it.

  • Mike, I haven’t read you’re long entry yet, but off the cuff I think you should have stopped above where you said you were going to. I think that is the skill you need to hone: You need to learn when to say when and move on. It’s kind of at the heart of what you’ve been writing. You seem to have a lot of resentment and it may be holding you back. That being said, I wish you well.

  • Anonymous = James from Abuzz

  • Sorry, make that dontknow = James

  • Mr. Tool, thank you for your understanding.

  • amid

    Comments are now closed on this thread. A lot of valuable comments were made earlier in the thread, but the comments have veered too far off-topic. Everybody take a breather. Thanks.