We had the good fortune of connecting with Travis Marks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Travis, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
Here are some habits that have really helped me, and hopefully they can help you too!
1. Practice drawing fundamentals (film studies, life drawing, anatomy studies, master copies etc) everyday for 30 minutes. BE CONSISTENT. You can’t learn what you think you already know, and with art, you can’t get good at it simply by understanding it conceptually. You have to do it to learn it.
2. Journal for 30 minutes everyday for processing emotions, learning about myself and others, and taking the time to note what I’m grateful for.
3. Make an effort everyday to learn about people who do not share the same experience as me and have different points of view. Empathy is a superpower!
4. Be humble, ALWAYS. I believe that our ego is not our friend and stands in the way of what we could be. It controls us more than we realize.
5. Focus on what I can control. Forget the rest.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a storyboard artist working in the animation industry here in LA! I’m currently working at Disney Television Animation, and I’ve also done work for Bento Box Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation Television. Honestly, I really enjoy boarding everything, from action sequences to physical comedy to more intimate sequences between characters (I love drawing acting and bringing characters to life!) but I would say that the work I’m proudest of are the song sequences I’ve done for Disney TVA’s new show The Ghost and Molly McGee. I absolutely cannot wait for those episodes to air!
I grew up in a town called Midland, TX, which is called that because it’s exactly mid-way between Dallas and El Paso! Go figure. I think most kids draw in some way or another, and I was definitely no different! I LOVED to draw. I would draw little four panel comics, illustrations for school English papers, and just silly little drawings to get a laugh or an “ooooh ahhhh.” I’ve also always LOVED animation. There is something so compelling about it that just has a certain effect that live action doesn’t have for me. It was (and still is) the greatest magic trick I have ever seen in my life! However, where I grew up, there weren’t a whole lot of resources for people wanting to study animation specifically, and although I maintained my love for animation, it remained just a hobby. As I got older, I got heavily involved in my high school band program and decided to go to college to major in music. My goal was to become a university music professor and professional orchestral musician.
I received my Bachelor of Music Education degree from West Texas A&M University in 2012, and my Masters of Music degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2016. While attending UT, I came to a realization that maybe music was not the right career for me, and I found myself at a crossroads: What do I do now? Then I remembered being that little kid who loved to draw comics and make silly drawings and decided it was time to make good on my unrealized childhood dream! While I was finishing my degree at UT, I took a few animation classes just to try it out, and I fell in love instantly. This is what I had been missing! After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles in the Summer of 2016 and spent the next three years taking storyboarding classes at Concept Design Academy and The Animation Union. Meanwhile, I worked on my storyboarding portfolio at night and worked a full-time job during the day to support myself. In May of 2019, I finally got my break and began my career in the animation industry as a Storyboard Revisionist at DreamWorks Animation Television!
I think my biggest struggles starting out were with self-doubt and having unrealistic expectations of myself. Because I had already gone to school for something else, I couldn’t afford to attend a four-year art school and get another degree, and not having that experience made me doubt myself and my abilities. What helped with my self-doubt was that in this industry, you don’t necessarily need an animation degree to have an animation job. The most important things are your portfolio and, even more importantly, that you are great to work with! I also had to learn to be patient. I had wildly unrealistic expectations of myself and needed to let myself learn and grow at a more realistic pace. As long as I drew every day, practiced both consistently and mindfully to improve my craft, and remembered to love the process of learning, then it was simply one step at a time.
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?
Depends on the friend and what their interests are! There’s something for everyone here in LA. But here are some of my faves:
Personally, I think the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens is so gorgeous. Perfect place to relax and just take a stroll! I also really like El Matador State Beach in Malibu or Laguna Beach to smell the ocean and let the waves wash away your troubles for a bit. I also can’t recommend enough the recently opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures! A mind-blowing treasure trove for any fan of cinema. But in my heart, my favorite place in LA is the La Brea Tar Pits. My parents took me there when I was 6 when we were visiting (I was doing speech therapy at UCLA), and it’s held a special place in my heart ever since. Little did I know then that I’d end up living here one day!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would have to thank my girlfriend Amanda, who has been nothing more than an amazing partner to share life with. She’s been there for me since the very beginning of my journey into animation, cheering me on when things went great, as well as to be a shoulder to cry on when I felt hopeless. It just simply would not have been possible without her love and support and she deserves all of the credit and recognition in the world! She is AMANDAMAZING!!
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