Niamh Herrity is smiling into the camera in front of a wall showcasing animations.
Niamh Herrity. Image: Pink Kong Studios

Why attitude is critical when it comes to a job in animation

25 May 2020

Co-founder and CEO of Pink Kong Studios, Niamh Herrity, discusses her pivot from event management to animation production.

Having started her career in business and event management, Niamh Herrity decided to take a leap of faith when her wife – who has a background in animation – suggested they set up a studio together. Combining their skills, they co-founded Dublin-based Pink Kong Studios in 2014.

Here, Herrity, who is CEO of the company, talks about transferring her business skills to the field of animation and why it’s important to “keep moving forward”.

‘You can upskill on a craft and practise to get better, but having a good attitude is something that cannot be taught’

Did you study animation before setting up Pink Kong Studios?

I started my further education with a degree in marketing, then went on to do a postgraduate in PR and event management, and I finished my studies with a master’s in international business.

Although I do not have any formal training in animation, my business background set us up for the business side of the studio, something that is important even in a creative industry. I believe it is something that has helped us propel the studio at a good pace.

What has been the biggest thing you’ve learned in the animation industry?

Development takes time! Our first original TV series Urban Tails was in development for a number of years before we got the green light for production. It’s not as simple as coming up with a good idea and then it’s sold.

You must spend time shopping it around at different international markets looking for the right partners, all while you continue to develop the stories and characters. So that is something that has been a learning curve.

What have been your biggest challenges?

One of the biggest challenges is balancing your development work with client work. You constantly have ideas in your head, but you also need to spend time working on paid projects to keep the wheels in motion. So that is often a challenge. But we are happy with how we have been doing so far with that, we have found a nice balance that makes sense to the growth of the company.

Is it challenging to achieve a healthy work-life balance?

Animation is one of those industries that people who work in it do it because of the love for the craft. So yes, it can be challenging finding that work-life balance.

As a company owner you are always switched on to what is happening in the company, what the next trends are, the next project that is in development or the current production you are working on.

We do try to find periods of the year where we switch off completely, and that is usually around Christmas time. It’s a down time for most people so we make sure to take two weeks off and put the ‘out of office’ on.

What are the most important skills and attributes to succeed?

Of course a raw talent in the craft, be it drawing, animation or writing, is key if you are in the industry. But the most important one is simply having a good attitude and being someone that can work with people. You can upskill on a craft and practise to get better, but having a good attitude is something that cannot be taught.

Is a career in animation rewarding?

It is extremely rewarding when you see all your years of hard work on screen, be that for a short film, a TV series, a feature and so forth. Seeing your name on the credits of something gives you an incredible boost. It can be a tough slog to get there but yes, it is also very rewarding.

Animation of a man sitting with his back to the viewer while playing a piano in an old-fashioned building.

The Dead Hands of Dublin animation. Image: Pink Kong Studios

What do you wish you could tell your younger self, just about to set out on your career journey?

Don’t sweat the small things and to persevere. There are going to be setbacks and rejections but don’t worry about them. Your idea will find a home if it is meant to be made – and if it doesn’t, there is always the next idea. Just keep moving forward.

Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in animation?

Make sure you go do some formal study and work as hard as you possibly can in college. Watch tutorials online and make sure you draw every day to sharpen you tools. And be sound!

Do you have any resources that you’d recommend?

I’d recommend The Nine Old Men: Lessons, Techniques and Inspiration from Disney’s Great Animators, and the Skwigly podcast.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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