Digital Animation graduate Daniel Sanders shares his story

Hello my name is Daniel Sanders, I am 24-years-old, I studied Digital Animation at the University Centre South Essex from 2017-2019 and this is my story.

Before coming to the university centre, I studied Digital Animation at South Essex College on a level 3 BTEC course. I enjoyed the course so much that I pursued the course to a degree level continuing my passion for creating stories.

After graduating from the course I found it difficult to get an industry job straight away so I got a part time job at the Anchor as a kitchen porter to get an income as I pursued my dream job as an animator.

Struggling to find a job as an animator,  I realised my passion for telling stories wasn’t actually in creating animations but creating character designs and illustrations. So using the portfolio I created as part of the course, I decided to develop it and make it stronger.

Soon after I got a part-time job as a concept artist for a charity organisation in London called Humanitarian Operations. I was tasked with creating character  designs and concept art for educational virtual reality games to help children in other countries who are struggling to get education. Later on I was promoted to lead concept artist on a project to design and create a website to help children learn from home during the covid-19 pandemic.

After working for six months at the company for unpaid work experience, I chose to move on to find some paid work on a full-time basis. Due to lockdown for most of 2020-2021, I found it difficult to find full-time employment because companies were  struggling with the pandemic. I decided to take a self-employment role doing commissions for clients. Using the brand name I created from the course I updated my website and social media pages with the tag @sanderssketches. To this day I am still uploading new art to help get noticed.
Luckily in the summer of 2021, I was approached by media tutor Andy Moore at the university to illustrate his children’s book for his Master’s degree, which I immediately said yes to. Two months later, I finished the book for him and  he got a 1st for his hard work.

After that I continued with commissions, when I took the decision to go back to studying. With the number of online courses I collected over the years from Aaron Blaise (Disney Animator) and many other talented tutors. I created my own master’s style degree for me to study which I called MA Visual Storytelling. In this course I am studying how to successfully tell stories through four main topics; character design, digital painting, concept art and illustration.

To this day I am still studying through my course, adding to my portfolio as I go and applying to every job available to me.

Without a doubt my favourite memory at the university was getting the chance to meet so many inspirational animators and artists including my biggest inspiration, Aaron Blaise, where I had the chance to talk to him and get some feedback on how to improve my work.

This course gave me the confidence to push my boundaries, talk to more people and feel more confident about myself. Throughout this course and still in my  life, I have learned to continue to follow my passion for telling stories, remembering the lessons I have learned, the skills I have gained and also learning how to take a step back, have some fun and make everyday a memory.

My ambition for the future is to work hard to push my character design and illustration career further, but my biggest ambition for the future is to still work in the animation and entertainment industry as a character designer/ illustrator. I am still focusing on the goal I had when I started university, of course the job role may have changed, but I am still putting my passion into my work, continuing to tell stories.

My advice to anyone looking to go into higher education is if you want to follow a dream, you go for it. There will be bumps along the way but you will get there.
If you are interested in seeing my work head over to www.sanderssketches.com or you can find me on Instagram, Facebook or ArtStation with the tag @sanderssketches.

For more information on the Digital Animation course, visit: www.southessex.ac.uk/course/digital-animation-ba-hons