I graduated. I now have a BFA in Media Art and Animation and $102k in debt.
When I graduated, I was recruited onto a team that was producing a movie. It was a humble indi-film, a Sci-Fi place in an indeterminate time where everyone is deaf, so we were going to debut it at Cannes as a foreign-language film. I would produce the storyboards and some concept art. As a low-budget film, we estimated production could be accomplished on $75k but we really wanted $150 to do it right. Imagine out surprise when the producer called back with a large number of investors ready to fund the film for almost a cool Million. Turns out that there is a huge community of deaf people all trying to get into Hollywood and various acting roles, even a Hollywood organization for deaf workers. And there are a large number of wealthy people with deaf family members who have a high level of interest in that sort of project. I moved out to Utah where production would happen, we recruited a director who turned down a high-budget guild film for a major studio to come work on our movie (he is legally deaf), a wardrobe director who invested nearly $5k of her own money in 1940's style clothes for the shoot, a location scout who donated a huge portion of her time in preparation, and my friend who recruited me onto the project and was also the writer. My friend spent years refining his script and shopping it around before this magic producer came on-board to help out.
And then disappeared with a huge chunk of production funds to use it on another project.
The movie was dead in the water, and we all took huge hits to our careers. I'm sure that the producer will never be welcomed in deaf circles ever again, since that is a tight-knit community. I sure hope that is not the end of that story.
That left me stranded in Utah, less than 6 months after graduation without a job, without an income and without anything for my portfolio (the writer kept changing the script, so I kept drawing the same 2 scenes over and over). I moved back to Houston and into my parent's upstairs room again.
I shopped my degree around for a few years, taking on retail jobs that never really got the ends to meet, and never came close to my financial obligations to my student loans. Eventually I realized that without any industry experience after school I was simply not going to get the job I wanted. No Hollywood prospects and no game industry hope. I've even been turned down for countless QA positions.
I worked in IT for a few years, then last year I got the big idea to suck it up for a while and drive trucks, over the road, for a few years and save up cash, but that was the dumbest idea I've ever had. 6 months on the road constantly, less than a week -total- at home during the entire time, living from truck-stop to truck-stop. I saved up about $1000 and called it quits because I was just so sick, physically, all the time. I weighed 332lbs when I came home. No wonder I was sick all the time!
And I also discovered that truck driving really pays off - after you've done it for ten years. I wasn't going to spend my 40's driving a truck just so I could try to get back into game design in my 50's!
And back into my parent's upstairs room, again. At the end of last year, I finally landed a dream-job!
I was taken on by National Oilwell Varco (NOV) as a 3D Print specialist. I was hired into the development lab to run their 3D printer for prototypes and provide Engineering with 3D prints as well. Marketing also had a huge printer, and so I ended up running both machines, managing print queues and material, timing jobs so long ones ran overnight, and a large variety of other tasks related to that. I even learned a bit of Creo2 and SolidWorks, again. There are a lot of 3D printers in the global organization of NOV, but nearly all the others are Makerbots and Ultimakers with single material extrusion and small build volumes. I was the only person in the global organization running industrial 3D printers making show quality parts and full-size bit replicas. When the oil prices crashed and everyone started laying off, I was safe.
Until the third round when some upper management type saw me, paid out of the Research budget and doing 80% of my work for Marketing. That didn't jive, so the axe came down and I was let go. On unemployment, looking for another job, and back in my parent's upstairs room.
And for the whole of those experiences, I never once started a relationship. That's right, ladies, you could have all this! I'm still available!
I did go in a few dates in Utah with one lady. But that never really developed beyond a mutual enjoyment of animated movies and anime. Sometimes I wonder how I manage to have an ego that is still intact.
Last month I attended Comicpalooza. I took a handful of resumes and attended hours upon hours of panels and workshops related to voice acting and writing. There were even a few on drawing for comics. I'm more motivated now than ever before to bring back my web series, Looking for... Something? and to star another project I've been developing. I've held off on either of those projects because I always feel my writing ideas are too big for my art skills or my stories need a better writer than me. But you know what? I went back and re-read shclockmercenary.com from the beginning. That guy is not an artist. He wasn't a writer at first, either. Now Howard Taylor is an award winning sci-fi author, his web comic has won many awards and countless nominations. I can do this. And, you know what? I'm a better writer and artist than he was when he started. I can even 3D some things!
I'm calling this unemployment phase my "opportunity cycle". I am re-working my comics, doing a voice sample for voice-over work, building a 3D printer of my own (almost done, just have tuning and flashing the chipset left) and remembering to draw every day. Since I left Utah, I've been neglecting that last one.