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Meet Gerell Wilson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gerell Wilson.

Gerell, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am an animator and story artist. My art journey did not start until I enrolled into my local community college at 20 years old. Funny thing is I originally enrolled with the goal of going into nursing, specifically to study radiology. But the three years waitlist was a massive disappointment, so I fell into the art major. I used to draw chicken scratch in my notebook as a kid but I never took it seriously until I was already an adult. I remembered taking an animation course back in my senior year of high school and was pretty decent at it so I wanted to pursue that field instead.

Luckily California State University Long Beach had an animation program and it was not too far from my home. I transferred into CSULB not long after, met a ton of really nice students and faculty, and even had the opportunity to meet and work with animation professionals at a workshop that ran inside the Animation Guild in Burbank. I got to work on two short films from within that same workshop and finished my own 3 minute short film for my senior thesis. Since graduating, I took independent contracts animating and editing corporate instructional videos. I recently switched to focusing on storyboarding for animation and am currently updating my online portfolio to meet the competitive needs of the animation industry.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been pretty tough since day one. I can not wrap my head round 3-dimensional art such as sculpting or jewelry crafting and I am terrible at traditional painting and coloring. You know, the staple fundamentals for any good artist. That and my late start in art compared to my contemporaries made me feel like I had a huge disadvantage. So many of them entered college with their talents polished and refined while I was five years older than most of them still trying to figure out what made me stand out. I don’t compete with anyone in particular but it feels like I am always trying to play catch up.

Please tell us more about your art.
So far I am only six months into animating independently. It has been a rough start learning about how to handle contracts, fair pay rates, time management, and communicating to my client how much time their demands require in order to be met. It has all been a learning experience that has only made me a better businessman. Knowing your worth is very important and defining a line you refuse to cross early is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, clients will try to take advantage of your kindness and try to milk out as much free labor as possible.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
The greater LA area is the heart of the animation industry in regards to the United States. It has been that way for decades. There are other opportunities all over the country but they are nowhere near as abundant as they are here. Luckily there are studios and companies that hire employees remotely so that even if one does not live within driving distance they can still find gainful employment here. Especially since Covid-19 hit the film industry incredibly hard, more studios are moving towards working remotely just to adapt. If you can move to the greater LA area, I highly recommend it, but if finances are preventing you from doing so there’s still hope. Just gotta keep your eyes open for who is hiring and keep that portfolio in tip-top shape.

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