Washington DC Art Scene
The Washington DC art scene is one of the most progressive in the nation. Although small in comparison to other cities—DC is home to less than 700,000 people, the District is home to around 28,140 salaried professionals working in the art, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations. Washington DC is also home to some of the country’s most celebrated art museums including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and Corcoran Gallery of Art at Corcoran College of Art + Design.
With an ample amount of activity in the world of entertainment here, the demand for animators with experience in the film and television industry is greater than ever before. In fact, Pigmental Studios, which plans to relocate its headquarters from Los Angeles to DC, will bring 50 full-time jobs to the area by 2016, with plans to work with the DC Department of Employment Services to hire local animators. The digital animation studio will also “launch an apprenticeship training program for individuals interested in animation in the District of Columbia, which will focus on specific career tracks within the animated media industry as well as provide apprentice’s access to mentors.”
The demand for animators in the advertising, web design, graphic design, and game design industries is high as well. DC and nearby areas such as Arlington, Virginia, and Bethesda and Silver Spring, Maryland are home to a number of game studios, creative agencies and other major companies such as ZeniMax Media, Bethesda Softworks, Discovery Communications, National Geographic, and the Travel Channel.
Washington DC Animation Schools and Programs
If you want to become an animator in Washington DC, you’ll need talent and a degree. Fortunately, the District is home to a number of schools that offer a variety of animation programs. Just a few include:
- American University
- Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts, DC Campus
- Corcoran College of Art + Design
- Georgetown University
- Howard University
- The Art Institute of Washington, VA
Programs run the gamut and include (but are not limited to):
- Advertising (Animation or Multimedia focus)
- Animation & Visual Effects
- Film (Animation focus)
- Fine Art (Animation focus)
- Media Arts and Animation
- Multimedia Art
A number of other degree programs have become popular over the years for animators wishing to enhance their skill set. Just a few include Television, Film & Media (Animation option), Computer Science with a focus in Computer Animation, Computer Animation and Game Development, Graphic Communications (Animation option), and Visual Communications (Illustration/Animation option).
More Animation related programs to consider:
- San Francisco & Online
- Winter Park, FL & Online
Aspiring advertising and technology animators can enroll in a computer science with a focus in animation program or advertising with a focus in animation. Check the school’s engineering, communications, computer science or media studies department for offerings.
Washington DC Animation Employers
Washington DC animators work film and video production, advertising, game design, education, and more. As mentioned, animators may find employment at companies such as Fathom Creative, MDB Communications, Discovery Communications, ZeniMax Media, The Ad Agency, Bethesda Softworks, National Geographic, and Travel Channel. The region is also home to a number of studios and production companies such as:
- Aloe Design Studios, Leesburg, VA
- D2 Productions Marlborough, MD
- Flipbook Productions, DC
- O’Keefe Communications, DC
- PCM Animation Studios, Silver Spring MD
- Pigmental Studios, DC
- Pixeldust Studios, Bethesda MD
- Screenscope, DC
- Vogt Productions, DC
To locate more animation studios in Washington DC, visit the Office of Motion Picture and Television Development or ProductionHUB.
Animation Careers at a Glance
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the District of Columbia is home to around 28,140 salaried individuals working in the art, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations. Nearly 100 of these salaried professionals work in the multimedia and animation industry. Because many DC animators are self-employed, the population of artists working in this field is likely much higher. Across the nation, employment in the multimedia and animation industry is expected to increase by six percent for the 2012-2022 decade.
Projected employment growth for animators and multimedia artists will be the result of increased demand for animation and more realistic visual effects in video games, films, and television. However, job growth may be slowed by companies hiring artists and animators who work overseas for lower wages. The increasing demand for computer graphics for mobile devices may counter slow growth by creating more job opportunities in the massive mobile industry.
Despite slow job growth, competition for job opportunities in animation will remain strong. The Bureau says, “Opportunities should be best for those who have a wide range of skills or who specialize in a highly specific type of animation or effect.” Still, as of January 2014, the U.S. was home to an impressive population of 68,900 multimedia artists and animators, making it the third largest career field in the world of Art and Design.
Job opportunities for animators and multimedia artists can be found all over the U.S. However, five states have the highest employment levels. California has the highest, followed by New York, Washington (State), Texas, and Illinois. For more information about the animation industry in the U.S., visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Awesome Animation Fact: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) took almost three years to make. A team consisting of dozens of artists, animators, producers, engineers, and more worked night and day and with well over 200 puppets to complete the 76 minute film. And guess what? All of this hard work resulted in just one minute of film—a week!