Must Read: A Pixar Animator's Inspirational Letter About Persistence

July 5, 2011
Source: Movieline

Pixar Letter

When it comes to careers in Hollywood, while many will say it's a dream come true to work in this town, it's very hard work and a lot of it. Breaking into the animation world, where artists thrive, is even harder, but if there is one key to success - it's persistence. There's a blog called Animator Letters Project with the mission of collecting inspirational letters from animators, and thanks to a tip from Movieline, we caught wind of this fantastic letter from a Pixar animator named Austin Madison that focuses on the word "persist" and how that has helped him stay creative in his career. I highly suggest taking a moment to read this letter (below).

There is a transcription available here, but it doesn't compare to reading the full letter as handwritten and sent into Animator Letters Project. It's a quick read, but worth it. You can also find Austin's blog right here.

Pixar Animator Inspirational Letter

Pixar Animator Inspirational Letter

I've met and come to know a lot of animators in this industry and I'm often inspired just by meeting them. Willie Downs, the animation student behind the Animator Letters Project blog, is working on making a book of all the letters he's received. From Austin's blog: "I wasn't going to post the letter until Willie published his book, but Letters of Note put it up on their site, and I've been getting the most awesome and uplifting feedback from people." If anything, I hope this letter has some sort of impact in a young animator's life, or anyone, not even just animators. Take that paragraph about "persist on telling your story" and it could be applied to anyone doing creative work in any industry. That message alone is the most inspiring about this.

It may be hard work, but to live out your dreams, persistence is a key to success. I wish we could spend more time on animation, as I love the people and the studios and all of the passion that goes into every last frame.

Find more posts: Cool Stuff, Discuss, Feat, Pixar



Though not that much of a revelation, it feels the same can be said for pretty much any career or vision people have for themselves. This is very timely for me Alex, I am in a very hard point in my life, thank you for posting this.

Cody W. on Jul 6, 2011


.....doh, didnt read your bottom paragraph you basically said just that.

Cody W. on Jul 6, 2011


No worries. 🙂 At least you gained something from this letter! Even if it's a tiny imprint, that still counts.

Alex Billington on Jul 6, 2011


now my two second diminish of faith in Pixar came back seven fold....baller.....

Jericho on Jul 6, 2011


I love this. I just watched the Pixar documentary on Netflix last night, too. Great stuff.

Ben Nesvig on Jul 6, 2011


As a fellow artist, I can truly appreciate that. I thought I was the only one that felt the 97% - 3% madness! lol

Big Boss on Jul 6, 2011


well said..

mochonko on Jul 6, 2011


Why does the header of the letter says Poxar?

Bass1L on Jul 6, 2011


With Nemo from Finding Nemo?! I think when that movie came out, the studio made all of their current paper/letterheads with various Pixar characters for the "i" in their name. Their business cards are all the same (I took one while I was there years ago, it had Mr. Incredible as the "i"). It's official letterhead that you can only get at Pixar.

Alex Billington on Jul 6, 2011


Thanks Alex, hope its okay if I put this on my tumblr, I want to keep it to remember it forever, thanks so much for the great reporting.

Anonymous on Jul 6, 2011


Great said! I loved this letter! 

whatafy on Jul 6, 2011


hahaha...yea, Im in that 97% right now!! my machine crashed last week, I almost missed a deadline and a lot of the time I just want a straight job from 9 to 5 with a biweekly paycheck...but he's right! that 3% is well worth it! back to the cintiq table!

lando on Jul 6, 2011


only 3% creativity, hahaha weak little human

Anonymous on Jul 7, 2011


For a long time I'd been playing around with animation making silly tests and playing around to create small scenes, they were pretty rubbish. This year I got a couple of small intro graphics sequence jobs, to be created in 3d software that I'd never properly used before. The learning curve was sharp and my eyes felt like they were on fire through lack of sleep. On top of that all the tutorials I was watching seemed to be done by children, so that made me feel like a dinosaur. But making your creations move is an amazing feeling, no matter how crude they look, just to see a character walk is a great feeling. Persisting is the only way you will learn, I remember years ago asking some flash animators to give me some tips or help, but they made it seem like some sort of alchemy that involved some Jedi training. I ended up building flash websites from scratch and doing simple animations just from trial and error, it was at the time when you could charge £5000 for a spinning flash logo at the time so maybe they were protecting their speedboat money. But really if you want to animate things and get bummed out because you don't get into a major animation company, just make your own shorts. You can have a small animation studio on your home computer, it might not look like Wall E and take 4 hours to render 10 seconds but at least it is happening! I'll post a link to a Ralph Bakshi interview from ComicCon where he covers what I'm waffling about. 'You try to get a job for some asshole studio'.

Crapola on Jul 7, 2011

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