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Student blog: Reviewing NUA’s annual Animation & Visual Effects Conference

First year BA (Hons) Animation student Joy Burston recently attended Norwich University of the Arts’ annual ANI VFX WIP conference, a two-day event bringing together industry experts from across Animation, Illustration and Visual Effects.  Students from all years across BA (Hons) Animation and BA (Hons) Animation and Visual Effects are invited to attend. Here Joy shares her experience of the event and what she learnt. 

Can you tell us a bit about your practice? What areas of animation interest you most?

I am a first year animation student with an adoration for 2D frame by frame animation. However, as I am only in first year, I have still got a lot to learn about myself and what areas of the animation industry I would fit into best.

Did you have a favourite speaker from the two days and why?

I particularly loved Samy Fecih’s session (CG Animation Lead / Supervisor); his passion for and mastery of his craft was awe-inspiring.

He described to us how he looks for and finds inspiration for animation in everything in his life whether it be various hobbies such as beat boxing, or funny videos on the internet of kids being told their parents ate their Halloween candy.

He showed off his bouncing ball tattoo during the talk, which shows just how much he pours himself into animation. Not only did he find inspiration in unexpected places, he also explained how when approaching a tough project he does deep research into the brief and thinks outside the box to create beautiful art.

Did you learn anything that surprised you?

It surprised me just how different each person’s career path was. There were differences in starting point, opportunities and choices. There is no one way to becoming a successful artist.

This made me realise I don’t need to be so worried about not knowing exactly where I see myself heading in the industry. Different inspirations and opportunities will come throughout my life. My career will be just as unique as all my fellow artists.

Was there anything or anyone who particularly inspired you?

When looking at these incredible artists’ current work its easy to get caught up in thinking “will I ever be good enough?”. However, seeing their show reels from when they were first starting out I realised that my dream is not as far off as I once thought. If I keep at my craft and continue to improve, I too can become one of the great artists that I now look up to.

Did you come away with any practical tips to put into practice?

Laura Tofarides (stop motion animator, sculptor, film maker) spoke in her talk about how the break you take to prevent a burnout will be a lot shorter than the time you have to take off if you keep working to the point of an actual burnout. Charli Vince (illustrator and organiser of Crisscross Norwich) broke down her weekly schedule outline and touched on the importance of taking breaks as well.

They made me think more deeply about the steps I personally need to take to not burn out. I tend to get very engrossed in my work and ignore signs that I should take a break. Learning how to pace myself better will definitely benefit my future career as a whole.

How did the event make you feel about your own animation practice?

I feel so excited and motivated to keep improving. I am also excited to go out and find inspiration for my craft in all areas of my life, like Samy Facih.

The talks really fed the flame of ambition in me. I feel more equipped now than before the event to strive towards my goal of being a really skilled artist.

The tips and insights they gave made my big dreams feel a bit more like things I can work towards achieving in reality.

Header image by Joy Burston. See more of Joy’s work on her Instagram

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