We had the good fortune of connecting with Emma Nebeker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emma, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
A common misconception about art as a whole is that it is not a lucrative business. While I cannot represent art forms outside of animation, I can confidently say that that is a myth. Right now, I am working what many Americans would consider to be “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps”. I’m a full time college student working 3 part time jobs over the summer, and during the school year I work on classwork anywhere from 40-70 hours a week. What’s amazing about pursuing animation is that should I land an entry level job as a storyboard revisionist or storyboard editor, I will be making anywhere from 11 to 14 times the salary I am currently making, and almost double what both my parents make in one year. Animation is perhaps one of the most rewarding industries to enter, because you’re being paid close to six figures annually, and working in super fun environments where there’s cereal dispensers at many studios, where everybody dresses up for Halloween, and where everyone is openly nerdy. Seriously—I don’t think I’ve ever toured an animation studio where at least one person didn’t have a collection of anime figurines or Gundam Fighters. Of course, animation isn’t all sunshine and peaches, because people working at a producer and above level will often be working overtime, around the same number of hours as your average surgeon, and animation students often have to worry about developing early onset arthritis or carpel tunnel. But, should you treat your body right, and continue to grow as an artist, animation is definitely an industry that will financially support you for how much you’re worth.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Something that I’ve always noticed myself to be different from other people and other artists would be my crazy ideas. For example, in my Concept 2 class in college, we all worked on concept art for our individual parodies on Jack and the Bean Stalk. Most of my classmates set their stories in Western Europe, and changed the bean stalk to some other flower, root, or tree. I set my story on the other side of the world in rural Vietnam, and changed the bean stalk to a meat stalk that was formed by sucking an entire village’s pets and livestock into the ground, that proceeded to sprout one gross and fleshy meat stalk. I’m not afraid to tackle gross concepts or even base entire stories around one pun! Storytelling is something I’ve always been proud of, because all it takes me is just a few long hot showers or restless nights in bed. Because I tend to come up with wild ideas, I’ve actually been told that they can be “too ambitious”, and that I should tone down the complexity of my characters. To an extent, I do have to tone down some concepts, so that I’m not jumping the gun on too many technical discontinuities or holes in logistics, but for the most part my time management skills are something that better allow me to pursue the idea I originally come up with. Growing up I practiced over 20 hours of piano each week, on top of attending high school and managing my grades. Now, time management comes easy! I never have to pull all nighters in college, and since I was familiar with long work days beforehand, I can generally tackle the ambitious and crazy ideas I come up with.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is actually a really good question, because I only moved to California a few months ago! So most of these things are places I would like to visit for the first time as well.
Eat: Pillow Talk, Din Tai Fung, Millie’s Cafe (amazing breakfast food!), Yi Mei, Chris Korean BBQ
Drink: Oinkmoo Tea, Motto Tea Cafe
Hang out: Storrier Sterns Japanese Gardens, Enchanted: Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens, Whispering Pine Tea House, The Broad Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would definitely like to give a shoutout to my high school art teachers, Mr. Baker and Mrs. Johnson. These people taught me for 3 years and always did an amazing job of supporting my artistic endeavors. Whether that meant letting me come into their classroom during almost any hour of the school day, mounting and framing my illustrations, taking me to art competitions, or even coming to see my film festival screenings out of state, these people were always there to let me know that I’m doing a great job. And I felt it—at home, it was hard to receive the same kind of support or the same crazy supply of computers and paint brushes—because my parents didn’t always understand my art. But Mr. Baker and Mrs. Johnson were always great teachers and supporters, and I couldn’t ask for two better people to have kickstarted my career as an animator.