Despite our moderation efforts, the comments section on Cartoon Brew can occasionally feel like a free-for-all. However, we also recognize the value of providing this forum. Readers feel comfortable and safe to comment about the animation industry in ways that they don’t anywhere else on-line. I was reminded of this when I took a look at Ross Perlin’s timely expose Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy. There’s a paragraph in the book where he quotes extensively from readers who commented on this Brew post about illegal internships at animation studios.
Illegal internships are a major issue in the animation industry and I hope to address this topic in greater depth in the coming year. Too many employers abuse the concept of internships, and make interns perform demeaning tasks that don’t pertain to the industry, or use interns for extended periods of time to perform tasks that they would otherwise have to pay staffers to do. Entry-level animation artists in New York are worse off today than anytime in the past twenty years, not just due to internships, but also because of minimum-wage positions for artists that have pushed salaries down to 1980s levels. The current situation is untenable in the long term and needs to be addressed openly. Reading Perlin’s book looks to be a good first-step for any college student who is considering an internship and wants to protect themselves from being exploited by unscrupulous studios.