Monday, October 22, 2012

Pete Doctor - "Whatever you like doing, do it!"

After reading through some of the remarkable letters and correspondences on www.lettersofnote.com I found this gem from animator and director Pete Doctor. His simple summation of his work is a brilliant example of how to move forward positively.

May 5, 2009


Dear Mr. Kelsey,

What would I tell a class of Middle School students?

When I was in Middle School, I liked to make cartoons. I was not the best artist in my class — Chad Prins was way better — but I liked making comic strips and animated films, so after High school it was no surprise that I got into The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), a school that taught animation.

CalArts only accepts 25 students a year, and it attracts some of the best artists in the country. Suddenly I went from being one of the top artists in my class to being one of the absolute worst. Looking at the talented folks around me, I knew there was no way I would make it as a professional. Everyone else drew way better than I did. And I assumed the people who were the best artists would become the top animators. 

But I loved animation, so I kept doing it. I made tons of films. I did animation for my friends' films. I animated scenes just for the fun of it. Most of my stuff was bad, but I had fun, and I tried everything I knew to get better. 

Meanwhile, many of the people who could draw really well kind of rested around and didn't do a whole lot. It made me angry, because if I had their talent, man, the things I would do with it!

Years later, a lot of those guys who probably still draw really well don't actually work in animation at all. I don't know what happened to them. As for me, I got hired at Pixar Animation Studios, where I got to work on Toy Story 1 and 2, direct Monsters, Inc., and Up (due out May 29th this year).

So, Middle School Student, whatever you like doing, do it! And keep doing it. Work hard! In the end, passion and hard work beats out natural talent. (And anyway, if you love what you do, it's not really "work" anyway.)

Good luck, 

(Signed, 'Pete')

Pete Docter



2 comments:

  1. Wow, it's nice to know there's hope for me yet! :P Thank you for sharing Jordan, it was a lovely pick-me-up! :D

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  2. No problem :) Always good to remember that the best in the industry had to work hard to get there. Despite all the work and late nights, it'll all be worth it. Having a passion for what you do will always be more worthwhile than anything else in life.

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