How to Win Awards and Boost Your Creative Portfolio: A Success Story by School of Visual Art Student Brooke Burnett

How to Win Awards and Boost Your Creative Portfolio: A Success Story by School of Visual Art Student Brooke Burnett

This article features Rookie Awards winner, Brooke Burnett, who talks about her experience entering the competition, career goals, staying motivated, and achieving success in the field of animation.

The transition from student life to the professional world can be exciting yet overwhelming. As you embark on this new journey, it's important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and how to navigate the challenges that may come your way. In this article, Rookie Awards winner, Brooke Burnett, talks about the Rookie Awards, career goals, staying motivated, and achieving success in your chosen field.

Entering the Rookie Awards

Once the waters had calmed with all my school responsibilities wrapped, I decided to seek out festivals and competitions to enter. My school, School of Visual Arts, heavily promoted The Rookie Awards to us as an available opportunity. Seeing many of my peers participating inspired me to join in as well!

When it came to the presentation of my entry, I honestly hadn’t put too much thought into it. I was excited to share my project with others, so hurriedly, I submitted my film according to the guidelines. I noticed that some other entrants included their production work in tandem with their film submissions, which is something I wish I’d taken into consideration before displaying my film by its lonesome. It just shows there’s always more learning to do and ideas to consider.

As a recent graduate, I’m excited to see where my efforts will take me. I get to continue animating and designing at my current studio, SpindleHorse Toons.

My drive and willingness to learn have allowed me to leap hurdles and grow substantially as an artist. I want to hold tightly to the mindset of continually learning past college so that I can acquire new positions to contribute my skills.

“The Spellening” is a worthy testament to my excitement and love for animation that will follow me well into the future. Check out the breakdown of my entry here.

With everything, I’m unfathomably proud of myself and those who lent me their talents and skills in completing this project. I found ways to execute my work diligently while elevating my learning skillset to a proficiency I didn’t realise I could acquire. It shows that the tall mountains are climbable, but you need to plan every step if you want to reach the summit!

Why did you enter this specific project?

For my major, we are tasked with creating an independent film in our second semester. Being that I toiled and tasked endless hours (though perhaps more enthused and excited over my project than the words imply) through making a film I could be confidently proud of, I felt that it was a fair competitor for “The Rookies”.

What advice would you give someone entering for the first time?

First and foremost, do not be afraid to enter! Don’t let fear hold you back from taking part in a great opportunity. Secondly, when you do submit, check your files, links, and all other submission information! Be sure you’re submitting the correct files and that any amount of text or writing is to your best liking. It's important to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward, not only with your art but with how you show your consideration of thought and organisation.

Have you noticed any benefits from being a winner this year?

I’d be lying if I said no! I feel that every artist/creative, at one point or another has bouts of time where they doubt their skill and the quality of their work. In a digital world, it’s easy to compare yourself to others in a negative way rather than a constructive one. The past year has been one of growth and mindfulness, both in creating my work and how I see it. Winning “The Rookies” not only reinstills me with the notion that I’m pretty darn good at what I do but also with the concept that my achievement can be one I can share with others. Humility is important, but celebration is not to be done idly! In short, I think I mean to say that a great benefit of this success is that I can share it with others and maybe even have the opportunity to impart some of the things I leaned along the way.

Scene from the Spellening

What has been the most challenging thing about learning your craft?

The dedication of time and willingness to problem solve is a great challenge to overcome. Making a film, or any large-scale project, involves extensive time and brainpower. 2D animation is particularly tedious and meticulous when tuning out the little details from roughs to clean-up, making operational decisions regarding the line weight of a single frame to colouring in individual components for multiple characters within a scene. It takes various little gears and cogs to make the machine run; to have a complete and successful film, you must be willing to attend to every detail.

Tell us more about the skills you have developed during your studies and why you think they'll be useful across the board moving forward?

In my final year at SVA, learned a bit more about different types of animation I hadn’t fully explored. I dabbled lightly with some 2D “FX” (effects) animation in “The Spellening” and found that I had gotten a taste for something I immensely enjoyed. I took a class on animating 2D effects, learning fundamentals, and experimenting with the physics of smoke, lightning, fire, and everything in between. Though often considered secondary to character animation, effects are the essence and life-brining counterparts to animation that add much-needed flare (pun intended) to a sequence. I focused heavily on fx animation in my thesis film, using the newfound and growing skillset I’m currently acquiring in my class.

Additionally, using what I learned from my team-management skills on “The Spellening,” I organised an even larger crew of artists and contributors for my thesis. Being that it’s longer than my previous film, I knew from the start that it would require more hands involved to complete within a timely manner per SVA’s thesis deadline. It’s vital that I actively learn to direct and lead my team, ensuring the final project is succinct and uniform in style. The consistent practice of communication and direction is crucial with large-scale projects, especially in professional production teams.

With my active practice of learning new forms of animation and expanding my guidance of teamed individuals, I know I will be well equipped as I continue my journey. The growth mindset it crucial in any career field, and my exercise of art and interpersonal communication will be immensely beneficial.

You can follow Brooke's journey via her website and LinkedIn, and learn more about School of Visual Arts here.