8 Inspiring Letters from Creative Minds

In the hopes of boosting your spirits and infusing your wonderful minds with our own brand of chicken soup, we’d like to share lessons learned from eight gleefully inspiring letters. Several are part of the Animator Letters Project, a collection of encouraging letters for aspiring animators.

The intention of the project is to publish the collection as a book and use the proceeds to fund a scholarship for an aspiring animator to attend animation school.

The other letters are courtesy of Letters of Note.

1. Disregard the odds

Here’s an excerpt from the letter by Pixar animator Aaron Hartline that inspired Animator Letters Project founder Willie Downs to start his noble effort. Aaron most recently worked on Cars 2 and Toy Story 3.

[cquote]When I took a tour of Disney right out of high school, I showed the tour guide/animator my work. She said, ‘It’s easier to get a job as a professional basketball player than getting an animator position at Walt Disney Studios…I knew that if I worked hard then one day…someday…I could do it! Took me 14 years of trying but it happened.”[/cquote]

2. Listen to your inner desires


[cquote]The desire to play an instrument must come from within you. You should not wait for a letter or an approval from anyone else to decide that you should play. Either you don’t want to or you have no choice because your heart compels you to.”[/cquote]

From Steve Vai, a professional guitarist who has toured with Frank Zappa and David Lee Roth. See it here.

3. Don’t lose sight of the future

[cquote]Fall in love with the Future! I did just that. And after that never listened to one damnfool idiot classmate who doubted me! What did I learn? To be myself and never let others, prejudiced, interfer with my life. Kids, do the same. Be your own self. Love what YOU love.”[/cquote]

From a letter by Farenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury to schoolteacher William Stanhope dated October 28, 1991. Read it in its entirety here.

4. Persistence pays off

[cquote]Work through that 97% of murky abyssmal mediocrity to get to that 3% which everyone will remember you for!”[/cquote]

Austin Madison, Pixar animator who worked on Up and Ratatouille. See the rest here.

5. Determination is your best weapon

[cquote]I am not going to preach to you that you should stay in school. I do want to tell you that you can do ANYTHING you want in this life if you have the determination and drive to make it happen.”[/cquote]

From former Superman actor Christopher Reeve, addressed to a class of middle schoolers on June 2, 1999. View here.

6. Create for yourself

Pixar animator Daniel Gonzales in a letter addressed October 1, 2011: [cquote]As long as you take your desire and never stop improving your technique, you will never be less than what you want. It’s not about where you end up, what studio you work at, how much money you make. It’s whether or not you are happy with what you are creating.”[/cquote]

7. Don’t let fear hold you back

In a letter to her 16-year-old self, Debbie Harry, better known as the lead singer of Blondie, had the following words of inspiration:

8. Trust your instincts

From Jeff Joe, a Dreamworks animator who is currently at work on Madagascar 3. The letter can be seen here.
[cquote]Having talked with my fellow co-workers, I realize that each one had a different way of breaking into the industry. I came to the conclusion that there is no cookie cutter way of doing it- the only thing is to follow your gut and never let go of that which really makes you happy.”[/cquote]

We hope these words inspire you to draw from the experiences of their authors and create something great!

Do you have any special mementos that you look to for inspiration in times of doubt? We encourage you to share them!

Photo credit: Phil Hifiker