The Inbetweener
I said I’d tell you about my career as an inbetweener, but I’m going to have to make it brief. It’s 4:30 in the morning and I can’t sleep because I’ve got nasty work things piling up. I’m going to try to get in early and catch up a bit.
I was trained as a fine artist. “Commercial art” (no one calls it that anymore) was looked down on by the arteests. My plan when I got out of college was to work seasonal jobs and devote my off time to my art. Instead I devoted my off time to working on my jump shot. Either way my chances of making into the MOMA or the NBA were about equal. One of my first jobs in the applied arts was in an animation studio. Ever since I was a kid who never stopped drawing, I’d wanted to do animation, I wanted to work for Disney. We did short spots for advertising. Those of you from the midwest who are old enough might remember the Old Dutch Potato Chip commercials that were film parodies. I got the job by taking a test. They told me they had never seen anyone do as well on the test. They hired about six or eight aspiring young animators. I was 28, all the rest were in their early 20’s.
When I’m at parties telling stories, I say that I was an animator. It sounds so much more impressive and people know what I’m talking about. I never was an animator. I was an inbetweener. The animator would lay out the drawings for, say, frames 1-5-8-10-13-19 and so on and our job was to do the drawings inbetween. There are some artists that can do whatever they want, they can draw in any style they choose and mimic the style of anyone they care to. And there are others who are have their own unique style and can’t really switch gears very well. I am more of a stylist. Needless to say, doing inbetweens it’s neccessary to draw just like the guy who did the extremes. I sucked at it. For example one of the animators, who happened to be one of the owners of the company, had a style that required quick whips of the pencil to mimic his line quality. I found it impossible to move the pencil fast enough to get the line right and still be accurate. I was bored. I became depressed. I became the office ping-pong champ. I drank.
After about a year of hell, one morning I called my wife, sobbing that I had to get out of the job, I couldn’t take it anymore. Are you starting to see a pattern here? That afternoon I was called into the bosses’ office and told that they were sorry, but business was down and they were going to have to let me go. I went into the men’s room to rejoice, to find one of my compatriots weeping in the stall. This was no union environment, so the layoffs were not by seniority. You knew you were considered a weak link. But just to show you what they knew about talent, they also canned the guy sitting next to me. He went on to gain some fame in the very competitive world of super hero comic books and is now employed at Disney. That was the beginning of my freelance career that lasted 12 years.
So much for brevity.

I’ve been experimenting with colors for link text. I’m trying to find something that stands out enough for people to recognize it as a link, but doesn’t completely clash with the pukey pea soup background color that I’m too lazy to change. And I’m supposed to care about this stuff.

6 thoughts on “

  1. First of all, you post very early.  That is either a cause, or a symptom of your work-related woes.  Now, I can’t draw for shit, so I’ll just say that I found your story very interesting.  And so now you’re a mid-level HR manager?  In an art-related environment or not?  Perhaps you already indicated this and I missed it, but I’m sure you’re happy to repeat yourself . . .

  2. I had a hard time fitting into the art world.  Probably because I wasn’t good enough.  I tried being an art teacher.  Except I hated that art teachers get a group of kids for 45 minutes and then another group and then another.  Not much time to develop a relationship with your students. 

    So I changed my thrust to a elementary teacher with artistic style.  I don’t think I could ever have anyone tell me how to make my stuff be exactly like someone elses.

  3. for somebody who can’t draw worth shit, i used to draw all the time.  i have a folder filled with my pencil drawings.  mostly i’d write, but sometimes my brain would need a rest, so i’d draw.  when i was a kid, i could hide in my bedroom and nobody knew.  now, if i tried drawing, my family would find me.  they’d probably laugh at me because i’m so bad at it. 

  4. i can draw.  like, stick people, and lots and lots and lots of tiny lines all around the edges of my papers.  i don’t know what you found so difficult, sheesh.

    also, i’m glad you explained this job.  i thought inbetweener was going to be like, fluffer.  at an orgy.  woo.

  5. You could make your links bold, or underlined, instead of a different color. Sadly, I worked on the link color thing for far too long myself.

  6. The book that I bought about Flash when first learning Flash which I never actually used to learn Flash but read anyways taught me about the tweening business, that dark seedy underside of animation’s bright fuzzy face. I’m sorry it drove you to such sadness. I’m a person who might be getting a journalism degree who doesn’t really want to. I’d imagine tweening is to the art world what copy editing would be to journalism. Necessary and skill-requiring, but not much fun. Graphic design is the cool new name for ‘Commercial Art’, huh? I never really thought about that.

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