We had the good fortune of connecting with Jen Van Horn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jen, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
Without realizing it back then, the non-creative jobs I took just to “pay the bills” (sales, cold calling phone bank, design assistant, product shelf stocking, etc) ended up building my multitasking, organization, and communication skills, which are all a direct contributor to my success! Your career path may not be a straight line -lean into the adventure and learn from the “plot twists”!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In 2007 I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in animation, and I didn’t animate again until 8 years later. After moving to Los Angeles, I worked in post production for a few years, then became a research project manager for a stock footage company, then coordinated for a VFX company, then I earned my license to sell life insurance, then I had to work 3 retail jobs at once, to pay the rent. I never once was fired, but it seemed like every time I would get comfortable with a job, it wouldn’t work out! It was so frustrating and stressful! I was diagnosed with an ulcer and Generalized Anxiety disorder, and I was dragging around a mountain of debt at the age of 28. I needed to make a change! In 2015 I turned 30, I moved up to Portland, Oregon, and I started animating again! I made my mental health a priority and took steps to repair a lot of the damage that was done from years of negative inner dialog, lack of sleep, and constant worry. I continued to improve my animation skills by taking classes, I networked like crazy, and I became really involved in my online alumni groups -helping new animators with their projects, answering questions about freelancing, and critiquing reels and portfolios. Over 5 years later I have animated over 120 corporate character explainer videos, I’m a teaching assistant for the incredible motion design school, School of Motion, I have a healthy and positive relationship with my inner self, and I’m officially debt free! Life happens. Obstacles happen. You CAN grow from it and carve out your space in your industry to thrive. Never give up!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When I lived in Pasadena, there was no cooler place than Huntington Gardens! Art Museum, Botanical Garden, Tea House -it’s the best place for a first date, or if you have family visiting from out of town! My friends and I would always meet up at Golden Road Brewery in Glendale for a beer and a burger. The GRB Burger is still my favorite burger in LA, and trust me, I put in the legwork before making that decision! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
“The Freelance Manifesto” book by Joey Korenman, Franklin Covey’s “The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity” workshop (now a webinar), and my dad -who always reminds me to be “coachable and teachable”, as well as flexible, so I could more easily pivot and take on new challenges with a positive attitude!
Jen Van Horn