English 22


In high school math, David James doodled on his notebook during class, nobody paid him1 much attention. While his math skills will never land him a plumb job in the banking world, his drawing ability has earned him the title of Art Director in arguably the worlds’2 most prestigious animation studio.

The Glendale California ‘campus’ that houses Dreamworks Animation, looks more like a Mexican villa than a place where people are in the process of working.3 Fountains shoot water, and the atmosphere is calmly and friendly.4 At lunchtime, employees of the studio discuss their latest project during their midday breaks. The scene betrays what really goes on inside the studio. Feature length animation is being made here, and it is big business. [5]

David says he broke into the business thanks to: a combination of dogged refusal to take no for an answer and6 blind luck. But that hardly describes the thousands of hours of drawing he did in order to hone his current skills. After college, David packed up and drove to Hollywood. Where he knew7 he would be able to ply his trade. David caught the attention of creative executives at Columbia Tristar/Sony and started working in children’s TV animation. Then,Dreamworks came knocking.

“There is great appeal in working on feature animation,” says David, “You are given time to truly get into a project. Three years to develop the design from concept through execution. You are purely9 working in the world of the imagination.” At Dreamworks, David has found the perfect environment to use his creative talents. But the studio has its needs, additionally.10 That’s why David and his team meet regularly with Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg to talk about whether projects are going well or not.11

According to David, many young drawers hide their skills because of their fearing12 that other young people will not relate to the things they do. [13] To young artists and aspiring animators, he emphasizes, there is14 opportunity cost to everything: “Even if you are genius, be prepared to work for twenty years to make people realize it.” [15]