The State of Kansas has fairly active film, game, and multimedia arts and animation scenes. First, the state is home to the Film Commission of Greater Kansas City, which has attracted productions such as Friday Night Lights (2004), Nurse Betty (2000), Mars Attacks (1996), Truman (1995), and Dances with Wolves (1990). And who could forget in Cold Blood (1967)? Next, the state is home to nearly 50 animation, visual effects, and production studios, hundreds of creative agencies, and more than 65 technology firms.
Finally, Kansas is home to a variety of schools that offer programs for aspiring artists of all kinds, including animators. Just a few include Kansas State Polytechnic (K-State Polytechnic), Washburn University, and Emporia State University. Continue reading to learn more about the best program options for aspiring animators in Kansas, and find out what to expect in the areas of employment and salary trends, and job opportunities.
Employment and Salary Trends for Kansas Animators
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its latest state occupational employment and wage estimates on March 30, 2016. According to the report, Kansas is home to 17,110 professionals working in Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media (ADESM) occupations, up from 16,580 in 2010. Around 120 Kansas-based ADESM professionals are salaried multimedia artists and animators averaging $46,980 per year, up from 80 in 2010 averaging $41,190 per year.
Nationwide, the median annual wage for animators and multimedia artists was $63,970 as of March 30, 2016 and overall employment for this group is expected to increase by six percent for the 2014-2024 decade. This is as fast as average for all occupations. It is important to note that many animators and multimedia artists are self-employed. In fact, according to the Bureau, "Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers” has the second highest concentration of employment (not highest employment level) in the nation for animators and multimedia artists. This means it’s safe to assume that Kansas has an even larger population of animators and multimedia artists. Further, "Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers” typically earn more than their salaried counterparts. According to the BLS, they average $70,080 per year.
The top five highest paying states for animators and multimedia artists are:
- California ($82,810)
- Washington ($80,460)
- Connecticut ($77,860)
- Massachusetts ($74,440)
- District of Columbia ($74,230)
The industries with the highest concentration of employment for animators and multimedia artists are:
- Motion Picture and Video industries
- Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
- Software Publishers
- Cable and Other Subscription Programming
- Specialized Design Services
The industries with the highest levels of employment are:
- Motion Picture and Video industries
- Computer Systems Design and Related Services
- Software Publishers
- Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services
- Other Information Services
The top paying industries for animators and multimedia artists are:
- Travel Arrangement and Reservation Services ($85,750)
- Other Information Services ($82,940)
- Software Publishers ($76,920)
- Professional Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers ($75,540)
- Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers ($74,960)
The states with the highest employment levels for animators and multimedia artists are California, Georgia, New York, Texas, and Washington.
Animation Career Opportunities in Kansas
Kansas is home to a variety of creative agencies, PR firms, production studios, technology companies, academic institutions, and other places that may hire animators. Just a few options include:
- 360ideas, Wichita
- Associated Integrated Marketing Inc., Wichita
- Baseline Creative, Wichita
- Big Corner Creative, Wichita
- Cinema1 Film & FX, Wichita
- Gizmo Pictures, Topeka
- Howerton + White, Wichita
- Intake Studios, Kansas City, Wichita
- Jajo Agency, Wichita, KS; Ballwin, MO
- On the Z, Inc., Olathe
- Real Media Digital Production, Overland Park
- Squid Ink Creative, Wichita
- Sullivan Higdon & Sink Inc., Wichita
- Trinity Animation, Lee’s Summit
- Wombat Studios, Olathe
While Wichita offers a wider range of opportunities than other cities, Overland Park, Kansas City, Olathe, Topeka, Lawrence, Shawnee, and Manhattan are also worth exploring. In fact, of the top ten metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for ADESM professionals, Lawrence has the seventh highest on the list.
Kansas Animation Training Programs
As mentioned, some of Kansas’s best schools for aspiring artists are K-State Polytechnic, University of Kansas, and Fort Hays State University. K-State Polytechnic, College of Technology and Aviation offers associate and bachelor’s degrees in Digital Media Technology. The curriculum will enable students to develop expertise needed in animation, video, audio, photography, and computer graphics. Kansas State University’s, Department of Art also BFA and MFA degrees with a Concentration in Digital/Experimental (DX) Media (also Digital/New Media), which explores a variety of crafts. Just a few include experimental animation, digital video, digital mapping, moving image, web, 3D prototyping, sound, interactive programming, electronics/physical computing, and information visualization.
The Department of Design at the University of Kansas (KU) offers a BFA in Design with a Concentration in Illustration and Animation, and an MA in Interaction Design. The Department of Informatics and the Virtual College at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) offer several unique offerings for animators including a BS in Information Networking and Telecommunications Web Development and a BS or BA in Information Networking and Telecommunications, Concentration: Media Studies. The BS Web Development program allows students to seek video and animation, “web development, coding, database, and/or artistic design skills in an interdisciplinary environment,” according to FHSU. The BS or BA Media Studies program, provides opportunities in animation and motion picture production.
Another option is Bethany College (Lindsborg, Kansas). The BA in 3D Computer Animation or Digital Filmmaking and Cinema VFX is offered through the “Bethany College at MindFire is a 2+2 Program.” The program allows students to enter with Junior status, as long as the student has acquired a minimum of 62 transferable credit hours, or has the Associate of Arts or Associate of Science Degree in-hand.
More Animation related programs to consider:
Awesome Animation Fact: Following the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Walt Disney produced a series of animated films, now regarded as classics that secured his reputation. Among them are: Fantasia (1940), Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941), Bambi (1942), Song of the South (1946), Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953), Lady and the Tramp (1955), and Sleeping Beauty (1959). –Encyclopedia.com