Willie Downs


The Animator Letters Project is a book for aspiring animators that dream of working at a major studio but don’t know how to get there, it’s encouragement for those that feel lost and discouraged in their creative journey, and inspiration for those trying to make their big break into the animation industry. The nearly one hundred handwritten letters by some of the most creative animators and directors in the animation industry tell their own unique story, along with words of wisdom for the next generation of artists. In an age of technology, where texts, tweets, blogs, chats and emails are the norm, this book's handwritten element offers a personal connection to those in the industry. Get ready to be inspired by the likes of Pete Docter, Don Hahn, Byron Howard, Gary Trousdale, Roger Allers, Gary Goldman, Brenda Chapman, John Musker, Ron Clements, and Rob Minkoff, among many others. Their voices will awaken that creativity inside of you, if you are willing to listen.


Willie Downs is the creator of The Animator Letters Project, which has been featured by Cartoon Brew, Animation Magazine, Letters of Note, and KCRW's The Business. Downs is a former student of Animation Mentor Online Animation School, and is a graduate of The University of Texas at Arlington, with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management. He proudly serves his country in the Texas Air National Guard with prior service in the Texas Army National Guard, during which he was awarded The Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service. Downs, his wife and two children reside in the suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas where they enjoy spending time outdoors.

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For someone fascinated by animation but unsure how to proceed, the future can seem daunting and scary. Where’s a potential animator to turn? Why, to other unsure, daunted animators, of course! The Animator Letters Project allows experienced artists to write about how they got their start, as well as about what they find important in their field — and in life.
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For a young person contemplating how to land the coveted “dream job,” the road to the future can seem bleak, long and downright scary. That’s one of the many reasons mentors are so important. An experienced voice of reason can make all the difference in helping someone get a start in an industry, which is why I am such a fan of The Animator Letters Project.
— Brenda Chapman, Director of Come Away, Pixar’s Brave and The Prince of Egypt
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Ever feel like you’re alone and the path to your creative dream seems confusing and nearly impossible? We’ve all been there. Animation is one of the world’s most rewarding creative professions, combining art, acting, design, music and storytelling. But how do you get in? And once you’re there, how do you keep the creativity going? The Animator Letters Project gives you a direct line into the personal experiences of your fellow animators and storytellers. It’s a great resource not only for animators but also for any individual who is determined to live a creative life.
— Byron Howard, Director of Zootopia, Tangled & Bolt at Walt Disney Animation Studios
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