Seven Questions for Irina Golina-Sagatelian

Greetings fellow Thrivesters! 

I've been invited to share a recent series of interviews that I completed on the Thrive Blog. Recently, I asked 7 artists 7 questions about their careers. Each artist comes from a different practice and each artist also uses very different media. It was a great way to compare and contrast the variety of creative approaches to an art practice. Enjoy! - Sunshine Frère

Interview 2 of 7 Irina Golina-Sagatelian

Irina Golina-Sagatelian is a freelance illustrator and animator with more than 12 years of professional experience. She enjoys working in variety of artistic fields including advertising, editorial and children's books illustration, video and board games, character design for animation and movies.

She has worked with major studios and publishers: Dreamworks- TV , Nickelodeon, MSN, ICQ, AnimationLAb, DPSI, Coolaby Publishers, Penguin Publishing and more. Irina also teaches and lectures on illustration and animation. She began her career in Israel over 15 years ago as a classical animator and she is now focused on the creation and visual development of animated content for film and television. Her profile can be found on IMDB and Behance.

For more info on Irina's work visit: https://www.behance.net/graficat

For more info on Irina's work visit: https://www.behance.net/graficat

WHAT TYPE OF SOCIAL MEDIA DO YOU USE TO PROMOTE YOUR WORK, AND WHY DO YOU USE IT?
At this point in my career, I have an agent so, I actually don't use any social media platforms. I do post stuff on Facebook but that's all, it's mostly to show people what I'm doing, like my personal projects for example. But when I started my career, I was trying everything. When I was freelancing, I was trying all kinds of sites, I tried several freelance sites where people gather together to find jobs and job postings. Most of my sites were based in Europe, not Canada and the United States. Facebook can be useful to connect to people in your industry. If you are in animation, try to use Facebook to connect with others who are also animators. Try to find groups and get into those groups. Through these groups, you can also meet people, go to live drawing sessions and other things. 

HOW DO YOU BRAINSTORM AND COME UP WITH NEW IDEAS FOR PROJECTS?
When I was working on my personal projects and worked for clients you get my creative input and the client's creative input, But when you work for a big studio, its different, most of the ideas are already given to you. You get the directions, the story board and the video board and the only thing that you can do to show your talent is to show how differently you might be able to do something than the story board, or to show how awesome you are in your art. Most animators are actually really, hidden actors. They don't want to put themselves on stage but they always have a lot of ideas on how to act out things.

For me my ideas come through intuition, a lot of references through your animation life, you'll see a lot of videos and movies and have things that you like from that, I have lots of inspiration from things back in my childhood, cartoon movies, the Looney Tunes and Tom and Gerry. I work through it, I am a cartoon artist, I do a lot of cartoon animation, a lot of squashing and stretching animation of characters. Each animator really has their own style. When you work in the studio your supervisors know what you can do. If they know that you are a cartoon artist, they give you specific shots, if you are more of a dialogue artist, they give you different shots. The ideas mostly are connected to what you are capable of and what you like.  

HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR TIME IN ORDER TO ENSURE YOU COMPLETE PROJECTS ON TIME? 
When you have a big project, the first thing is to understand how much work is involved and what the client wants from you, does he want quality or quantity. Divide the time into seconds and minutes of what you have to do, try to be really concentrated.  Set yourself time frames, like, "I can only work on this portion for one hour" and then take that portion and put it aside. You can always come back to it and work on it later. If you aren't consistent and constrain yourself, you will probably not do your quota, and this could put you out of work. 

Once again, this is a two part question, part of my life, I was working as a freelance artist, and now in a bigger studio. Freelance is hard, there is lots of responsibility, most of the time you work hard to get something, no matter how many hours it takes. Nights and days and you are thinking about it all the time, even when you are in the shower. You're always thinking about something. Trying to find and connect all these different ideas. 

It can be easier to keep to a deadline when you work in a big studio, they keep the timeline. Managing your time in a studio is mostly trying to understand what they want from you. If they want a production of good quality, try to spend more time on the parts where they want this, but if they want you to be really fast and to do a higher quota with less quality, try to cherry pick certain shots to work on for your portfolio but remember that your quota is your quota, if you don't finish it you will be seen as not doing your job well.  


IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU WISHED THAT YOU HAD LEARNED EARLIER IN YOUR CAREER THAT WOULD HAVE SAVED YOU TIME AND EFFORT?
I came to animation late. I was trained at an academy in art, I trained in oil painting and traditional forms of art. I had a small animation course during the time I was training as an artist. I loved it so much, so I started to play around and to train myself. I was finding information on the internet, trying to speak with people about it, looking at all kinds of books. The best thing I would suggest is that if you have an option to go and study from a good animator, teacher or instructor, someone who can really give you the basics, a good foundation. This is the best. The thing about animation is that there is so much around it, you can be an effect animator, a character animator, and so many other kinds. It is important to be specific in the type of animation that you want to do. Don't try to cover everything. Animation is a huge profession! If you really focus in on something specific you will be a stronger artist and do a better job. If you want to do characters, try to work most of your time on this part. Try to find a teacher that does this, try to learn everything that you can from their mistakes so you can improve on what you are doing. If you spend the time in the beginning, and you focus-in, you will get better and improve in a short amount of time. 

WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVOURITE PART ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? 
I think in all jobs, there is a least favourite part. I love my job! If you are good in animation, you do it all the time. It is your passion, you can't just shut the door and stop thinking about it. It is a major part of your life. An animator artist. I would say that this intensity and the time that you take in your field, takes up a big portion of what you are doing and in some cases you don't pay attention to how much time you are spending on things. In my case I have a family, so my husband doesn't like that he is the second part of my life because the first part is really animation and what I am creating through that. 

WHAT IS THE MOST FAVOURITE PART ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? 
Not that many people love their jobs, this is what I am always telling my husband. Many people work for money, I really don't do it for money. I pick my projects because I love them and the people that are doing it. If I don't like it but they are willing to offer me more money, I never go there. I have a choice to do what I love and that is satisfying. It is the best part, I love my job. 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE INTERESTED IN A CAREER IN ANIMATION?
Try to understand what you want. Do you want to work in big studios? If you do, be prepared for certain specifications, you will work a lot of hours, probably work work on someone else's' ideas, but you will be part of something huge and work with a lot of talented people. If you want to be more self-employed and work on your own projects, work in small studios, try to study a lot of stuff from people in different fields and then you can actually do your personal projects. When you work on personal projects, it's not just the ideas, there is a lot of other stuff around it. So try to be specific, choose what you want to do, where you want to work, what type of projects you want to do and what do you want to animate. Once you understand most of this, it is much clearer what your next steps should be.