Victoria Stephen is a DJCAD Animation graduate, who left in 2016. She currently works as a full-time supervisor for Garage Shoes and co-runs Pop Dundee, a creative events company that hosts makers to sell their work. In her spare time she plays trumpet in a jazz band and is learning Japanese in her spare time. Take a look at our interview with her below:
Hi Victoria! What’s your main source of inspiration when approaching a new project?
I read art stuff and animation blogs daily to keep up with things. My favourite studio is Studio Gibly in Japan, they are the ones that inspired me to be an Animator! I like how their company started as a small thing and it’s just grown and grown to be big.
How quickly after uni did you manage to find work?
I took the summer to apply for jobs, residencies, internships and so on. Come September, I was working in Dundee, which was actually good, so that I could carry on doing my Pop Dundee project. Both Ashling and I are based in Dundee now so we can arrange Pop events often. We’ve got about 21 artists and designers for the upcoming Pop up shop, this Saturday (11th Feb). We initially started the Pop Dundee project as part of Design Enterprise but we’ve carried it on because we both enjoy it so much and it’s really popular!
Do you actively seek work? How do you go about it and what is most important – CV, portfolio, social media or blogs?
All are important. I currently apply to 2 animation jobs per week if I can. From my experience, everyone asks for a CV, and most places ask for examples of your work. Online folios are great because you can really represent yourself well online and it helps reach lots of people.
What resources and infrastructure do you miss now that you are away from uni? Do you feel connected to the people or networks that were available in uni? How do you manage to make new contacts?
I think… mainly the studio atmosphere. Having people around to motivate you is important. I miss the access to software, the resources and reliable creative routine. I keep in touch with people now through Facebook groups, it isn’t hard to network when such things are available.
Attending events is always good too, hosting Pop Dundee really draws people in. Updated LinkedIn profiles help you reach out to new people as well, and even job applications, people can pass on your name and things.
How do you overcome difficulties during projects such as lack of ideas, motivation etc?
Sitting down and just pushing past the block really helps… Draw anything, everything, so long as it helps break the stigma of your drawing ability. I’m animation obsessed, it always inspires me, almost no matter what! There’s always a programme on I can watch or things I can look at online that will inspire me to get drawing and animating. Luckily the animation in general is a really good one, although it’s competitive of course, there are lots of camaraderie.
How do you deal with clients and putting value in to your projects, cost per hour of your work, do you generally get a lot of negotiation in regards to hourly rate/selling rate?
I’ve sold things a couple of times. The thing is, clients who aren’t in the creative industry just value outcome. They don’t realise hours, creative exclusivity, resources and material and things. At Pop Dundee, we are often asking people to raise their prices – they undervalue themselves! I think that a raised price gives off a confidence in your work and belief in yourself as a designer or artist. Then, people will believe in you and your work more as well when they are looking to buy it. It is worth that.
Would you consider going back to education, do you have any plans for the future?
I would, definitely. Not in the near future though, overall I’m just really keen to break in to the animation industry, whether that be over here, or Japan – hence the Japanese night classes! It isn’t bad to come out of uni and take the time to apply to internships and things, get your life in a steady pace. Not everyone gets a job in their discipline right away, it just doesn’t work like that. I’m excited for when I do though.
Find Victoria on her social media accounts by clicking on the links below!