The Joy of In­de­pen­dence

A vet­eran of the in­die scene ex­plains why it’s worth it to go your own way in the first of a new se­ries of col­umns. By Martin Gre­bing.

Animation Magazine - - Features - Martin Gre­bing

I’ve never been a big fan of col­or­ing in­side the lines. Well, maybe a lit­tle at first, but once I fig­ured out the game, cre­at­ing my own lines be­came para­mount.

I’m here to tell you how great be­ing in­de­pen­dent is, but I’m also here to tell you it’s not all roses. Go­ing out on your own can be a har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. At the be­gin­ning, you will more than likely fail more than you suc­ceed. There’s a good chance you will be late with rent, your car pay­ments, stu­dent loans and a host of other bills more than a few times. You may not know when or where your next meal will ap­pear. You may have to beg and bor­row from ev­ery­one you know.

The strug­gle to be­come in­de­pen­dent is more than just a collection of harsh learn­ing lessons; it’s a rite of pas­sage. How­ever, if this is your true call­ing and you can per­sist against a world that seems hell-bent on the demise of any­one who dares buck the sys­tem, the re­wards can be ex­po­nen­tially sweeter. But be warned: Once this level is achieved, there is no turn­ing back. Once you’ve tasted the inde-

The strug­gle to be­come in­de­pen­dent is a rite of pas­sage.

How­ever, if you can per­sist against a world that seems hell-

bent on the demise of any­one who dares buck the sys­tem, the

re­wards can be ex­po­nen­tially sweeter.

pen­dent life­style, the mere thought of re­turn­ing to the 9-to-5 grind will forever­more send nau­se­at­ing shiv­ers down your spine.

Defin­ing In­de­pen­dence

Be­fore dig­ging too deep, let’s take a look at ex­actly what be­ing in­de­pen­dent means from a dic­tio­nary per­spec­tive: 1) Not re­ly­ing on oth­ers for aid or sup­port. 2) Not be­ing un­der the rule or con­trol of an­other.

These def­i­ni­tions could ap­ply to those that are in­de­pen­dently wealthy and don’t need or want to work. They could also loosely ap­ply to the un­em­ployed or even a wan­der­ing monk who trav­els through the Old West armed only with his spir­i­tual train­ing and skill in mar­tial arts. But for the sake of this ar­ti­cle, let’s fo­cus on the suc­cess­ful in­de­pen­dent an­i­ma­tor, artist, or cre­ative small busi­ness owner-op­er­a­tor who is not tied down by the con­fines of a stan­dard 9-to-5 job.

Be­ing in­de­pen­dent means hav­ing the power to choose life­style first. How much money do you want to make? How many hours per week do you want to work? Want to take off this Tues­day? How about next month? Want to sleep un­til noon be­cause you were up late last night check­ing out a DJ with­out need­ing to call into work, pre­tend­ing to be sick? Not a prob­lem as long as you have all your re­spon­si­bil­i­ties taken care of in ad­vance so ev­ery­thing runs smoothly while you’re on siesta.

Be­ing in­de­pen­dent means you can work any- where you want. How would you like to make $1,000 in a day from your home stu­dio, never need­ing to change out of your pa­ja­mas while a movie marathon of your fa­vorite films plays in the back­ground? I don’t know about you, but for me that sounds a lot like heaven. What about tak­ing your lap­top and um­brella to the beach, sip­ping on fruity drinks un­der the sun, hear­ing the waves crash against the sand and seag­ulls caw while an­i­mat­ing a char­ac­ter for a lo­cal ad­ver­tis­ing agency? With to­day’s tech­nol­ogy, you can work al­most any­where in the world and deliver your con­tent to al­most any other place in the world and your clients might not even know the dif­fer­ence.

The Abil­ity to Stretch

Be­ing in­de­pen­dent makes your cal­en­dar elas­tic. Days of the week tend to lose their mean­ing in a tra­di­tional sense. Highs and lows are not dic­tated by the day of the week but rather what goals are ac­com­plished, how much fun you have be­ing your own boss, and how many times you thank the stars for not be­ing a mem­ber of the Mis­er­able Mon­day Club.

Be­ing in­de­pen­dent means un­lim­ited earn­ings po­ten­tial. This one de­serves re­peat­ing: un­lim­ited earn­ings po­ten­tial! Chances are, you’re al­ready an over­achiever and make no qualms about work­ing 80-plus hours in a week, so why not do it for yourself and your own dreams? Want to make $10,000 this week? There’s noth­ing hold­ing you back, it’s all up to you to find the clients and projects to make it hap­pen.

Be­ing in­de­pen­dent cer­tainly has its chal­lenges and is def­i­nitely not for ev­ery­one, but for those that dare the re­wards can be phenom­e­nal. It’s more than do­ing your own thing, more than hav­ing un­lim­ited earn­ings po­ten­tial, more than be­ing able to call your own shots. Be­ing in­de­pen­dent is, in a word, free­dom. Martin Gre­bing is an award-win­ning an­i­ma­tion di­rec­tor and pro­ducer who has fo­cused his ca­reer on smaller stu­dios and al­ter­na­tive mar­kets. To­day, he pro­vides cre­ative con­sult­ing and is the owner­op­er­a­tor of Fun­ny­bone An­i­ma­tion, a bou­tique stu­dio that pro­duces an­i­ma­tion for a wide range of clients and in­dus­tries. He can be reached at www.fun­ny­bonean­i­ma­tion.com.

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