Drawing on Opportunities

If you don’t have the key, draw the door.


Everyone I knew growing up seemed to have a deep love for Disney movies. I myself was no expection, but I loved Disney movies for a more personal reason. With each new Disney movie I saw, I always was so excited to discover whether or not my Uncle Philip had anything to do with it.

In retrospect, it was silly for me to think that my uncle the animator would have a hand in every Disney movie out there — but despite growing out of that immature notion, my childlike wonder with his work has always remained the same.

Although I’ve always heard about how he got into the business, talking to him about it brought a valuable new perspective into light.


Surprisingly, he never went to art school, and was never planning on it either. By the age of 23, he had been working several years at a Hollywood preschool. He channeled his love for drawing by sketching the kids their favorite characters.

That is — until one day, while on a field trip, a parent who just so happened to be a professional illustrator encouraged my uncle to go into animation.

“…What matters most are your abilities.”
Early concept art from my uncle’s begining years.

“He [the illustrator] offered to help me learn the basics and introduced me to some very helpful local workshops.”

In a year’s time, my Uncle Philip had landed his first job at Disney Feature Animation, and since then has worked with multiple studios on films such as Tarzan, The Emperor’s New Groove (one of my personal favorites), Looney Toons: Back in Action, The Simpson’s Movie, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, etc; as well as directing two tv-series: Ultimate Spider-man, and Avengers Assemble.

“If a person works hard enough and follows good advice they can change their life for the better.”

Now, through the eyes of a college student, my uncle’s story may seem like a special case; however, we often forget that new opportunities arise for us each and every day — all we need to do is to make the choice to embrace them.

Because we have submerged ourselves in a education system that puts tremendous pressure on us to have high GPAs and enroll in prestigeous institutions, it is easy to become discouraged. However, when we’ve graduated, and its time for us to get a job and step foot out in the real world, what matters most are your abilities.

So put yourself out there! Open yourself up to those new opportunities — We ourselves only have a limited way of looking at the world. Not to get all cliché, but we are our own worst critics. We make mistakes, but we also learn from them, and what we learn from those mistakes adds to our abilities.

“Good advice and the ability and readiness to take it is the key to success. I’m always looking to learn from good advice. I’m sort of addicted to it.”

This doesn’t mean to shift into Yes Man mode, but rather, be open to embracing new opportunities around you. Just because we may not believe in ourselves, does not mean that when other’s believe in us that they are wrong. In fact, they are probably on to something, something that we ourselves cannot yet percieve.

You’ll be plesantly surprised with just how much you can really do!

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