Seattle Art Scene
Seattle is the cultural center of the Northwest. Ballet, opera, theater, visual art, and music are as much a part of Seattle as coffee—and everyone loves to indulge. The art scene here is different from other cities mainly because Seattle truly embraces experimental and other alternative forms art. Sure, the city has its fair share of purists, but according to the Seattle Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, for every traditionalist, there’s a non-traditionalist. What this means is—anything goes here, and that’s good news for animators.
Once you get to know Seattle’s quirky art scene, you’ll discover that public art is a huge part of the landscape, and numerous public art programs described as “outstanding” are open to all. Local artists help design the city by creating everything from “building components to manhole covers.” The city’s art centers, museums, and galleries display modern art, animated pieces, film, and everything in between, so there are plenty of opportunities for aspiring artists and animators to get noticed.
Small-scale experimental shows called “fringe theater” are popular here as well as the now “hip” Seattle Symphony Orchestra. The artsy Fremont neighborhood, the University District, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Seattle Opera, Intiman Theater, and the famous Seattle Art Museum (SAM) are also major highlights.
Seattle artists are talented, quirky, and eager to embrace newcomers to the scene. While a welcoming atmosphere and talent can certainly get you far in certain areas of art, when it comes to art forms such as animation and film, training and education are essential. Fortunately, Seattle has more to offer than an amazing art scene. The city’s art schools and traditional colleges offer a number of top-tier animation programs that help artists all kinds hone their craft and get a foot in the door at some of the best studios in the country.
Seattle Animation Schools and Programs
If you're serious about becoming an animator in Seattle, consider choosing a specialty. Are you interested in animated film? How about advertising? Mobile games and entertainment? This will help you decide which program to choose. Just a few options include:
- Advertising with a focus in animation
- Computer art
- Computer science with a focus in animation or multi-media art
- Design and Technology
- Electronic Studio
- Fine art with a focus in animation
- Multimedia art
- Visual Arts
Once you have decided on a program, you can begin searching for a school. Some of the best programs are available at the following Seattle (and surrounding area) schools:
- Academy of Interactive Entertainment, Seattle
- Bellevue College, Bellevue (10 miles from Seattle)
- DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond (16 miles)
- Lake Washington Technical College, Kirkland (12 miles)
- The Art Institute of Seattle, Seattle
More Animation related programs to consider:
- San Francisco & Online
- Winter Park, FL & Online
Once you have a list of potential schools in hand, check to make sure the school is accredited by a recognized agency. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) is the largest accrediting agency for art and design schools. Visit the U.S. Department of Education website for an official list of other agencies.
Seattle Animation Employers
Seattle animation artists work at animation production studios, game design firms, technology firms, in education and at advertising and other creative agencies. Animators interested in advertising have a long list of Seattle agencies to choose from such as DNA Seattle, Creature Seattle, Jones Advertising, and Heckler Associates. Interested in creating animated films? Seattle is home to a number of animation studios—big and small. Take your pick:
- A&J Studios, Seattle
- Arkitek Studios, Seattle
- Pixar Animation Studios, Seattle
- Starfire Animation and VFX, Seattle
- Time Warner, Kirkland
In addition to a wide variety of animation studios and creative firms, Seattle and the surrounding areas are home to hundreds of technology firms. During your search, browse the offerings in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, and Bellevue first.
Animation Careers at a Glance
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow six percent for the 2012-2022 decade and salaries are on the rise. In 2006, animators averaged $51,350. Today, the average salary for multimedia artists and animators is $61,370 per year. The highest earners work in film and video (average $72,680 per year), software publishing ($62,310), advertising & public relations ($60,220), and computer systems design ($58,950). Washington-based multimedia artists and animators average $76,900 per year—the second highest average salary for animators in the U.S.
Washington has the third highest employment level for multimedia artists and animators (after California and New York). The Seattle-Bellevue-Everett Metropolitan area offers the third highest employment level of all U.S. metro areas, and at an average salary of $77,210, it is also one of the highest paying metro areas in the country.
Awesome Animation Fact: Consuming Spirits (2012)—a much admired film in the animation industry, has a running time of 136 minutes and more than 230,000 individual frames. Tom Huddleston of TimeOut Magazine says, “this epic achievement combines cutout, stop-frame and pencil sketches and a beautiful soundtrack steeped in mountain folk.” If you can score a download or get your hands on a copy, this animated masterpiece is well worth it.