// Rad Gal, Rad Gig: Animator

Hey! I'm Angel Szafranko and I'm an animator. I've been working in the industry for almost three years now and loving it! What's an animator? What do I actually do? No I'm not a voice actor... but that would be cool. I help bring the characters on cartoons to life. I make them move. I animate them.

Growing up I always really enjoyed arts and crafts, I was obsessed with Disney and shows like; Sailor Moon, Pokemon, Gundam Wing, Escaflowne... but it never occurred to me that animation could be a job. (I always thought I'd be one of those starving gallery artists or an art teacher.) That all changed once I hit high school. I got educated in the different types of 'art' jobs out there and realized that animation was totally for me. I ended up going to a school a couple hours from home, where I studied both 2D and 3D animation for three years. Those years in school, learning and practicing animation were probably some of the most fun I've had. Being surrounded by other people who love art and animation was really great.

After school I moved out to Toronto during a time where not many studios were hiring, (especially someone with almost no work experience.) After my saved funds ran out I had to suck it up and get a joe-job (any job to pay the bills) I was stuck at a sad call centre job for a little over a year until I got my first animation job. I was so excited and nervous for that first job. After getting my foot in the door I started noticing that studios were emailing me back more and more. I got other job offers and things just kept rolling along. Currently I'm working on a (toddler) show called Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. If you have kids or babysit then you've probably seen or heard of it. Some other (more teen - adult) shows I've worked on; Ugly Americans, Brickleberry, Sidekicks, Grojband and Total Drama Island.

One of my biggest successes was actually getting that first job. I had help, and there is nothing wrong with that! But that first job was just what I needed at the right time. (because I was about to give up) I needed to see what a studio was like. I needed to see what it was like to actually work and get paid for what I went to school for. It was amazing. I also love seeing my name in the end credits. It's something I always look forward to, even though I know not a lot of people watch credits... I still really like looking. In a lot of shows now I can find the names of people I've worked with before. And that is pretty cool too.

One of the obstacles I had to over come were other peoples criticism. Telling me that I'll never get hired because I'm not good enough, that animation isn't a 'real' job and I should go back to school. I'm not kidding, people told me this. I had a huge loan from going to school for three years and people were telling me to go back. That is crazy! A couple months after I graduated even my parents started asking me when I was going back to school. Luckily I didn't listen to them (Ha!) and I had support from my boyfriend (who is also an animator) and a bunch of good friends. They got me through those tough times. And in the end it worked out. My parents in their own way apologized and are happy (for now) that I am happy and working.

A typical day as an animator is different from job to job. Some jobs I get to work from home, so my day starts off with me being lazy and spending half the day in my pajamas. Working from home comes with its pros and cons like; I can do stuff during the day (banking or appointments) and make it up later. But you miss interacting with people face to face, and sometimes you get a little crazy never leaving your house. Haha. Other jobs require that you come into a studio to work. Sometimes you get a desk, sometimes it's a cubical. Every place is different. Right now I work in a studio. I come into work for 9 - 5, I get in. Check what shots need to be done and get to work. Some days I have to do revisions, like maybe something moves too fast and I have to slow it down or the boss wants me to change something in the shot. No matter how good you are you will always get revisions. Some weeks I will need to do a week's worth of work while doing last week's revisions. This is normal. 
Also an animators job is never steady. Sometimes you can go weeks or months between jobs. You can get contracted anywhere from a week to two years. I've had a couple jobs where my contract was only a few months. It's fun but also stressful sometimes. Its exciting to be working on a new job but then after a few weeks you start stressing about trying to find the next job. It's not always fun. Personally I like the jobs where I am contracted for about a year. That way I can get settled in, get comfortable with what I'm doing and maybe even save some money!

Are you interested in animation? Maybe animator isn't for you but you love cartoons... well, did you know there are a lot of other job titles that help make a cartoon? Maybe you'd be interested in being a; storyboard artist, character designer, background painter, layout artist or effects artist? Those are just a few that I could think of, off the top of my head. That doesn't include 3D cartoons. 3D cartoons also need; modellers, riggers, texture artists, lighting artists, scripters etc. There are a lot of jobs within animation that are still very unknown to the general public but it's getting better!

If you're in high school and are interested in animation I suggest you talk to your guidance counselor and/or art teachers to get more information on the subject. If you are thinking of applying to an animation school they can help you make up a portfolio. Almost all animation schools, classes, courses will require you to submit a portfolio to get accepted. From what I remember, my portfolio had; some character designs, character rotations, character pose sheet, a couple of perspective drawings, some life drawings, hand and feet studies and some personal art. They shouldn't be asking you to submit any animation since that's what you're going to school for. But they will want to see your drawing ability. Even if you're going to specialize in 3D animation they still want to see some drawings from you.

If you're just interested in learning more on your own, (because you don't need to go to school to get a job in animation. I actually know a few people who never finished and got hired in their 2nd year in school.) and if you want more information I highly suggest getting the 'The Animator's Survival Kit' by Richard Williams. It's an amazing book that teaches you all about the basic principals of animation. It has all the lessons I learned in my first year too. This is a great book for animators of any level, I still look back at this book and take something away from it every time I open it up.

Some resources to check out: behind the scenes of Grojband - see how we work! // my final 2D film - my 3D film was so bad... no one will ever see it again! // a very cool site/blog with lots of pencil test animations, character sheets, etc. // a great blog that talks about some of the first animators and working for Disney // section of my blog where I post about each job with extra info and photos // and some of my older 2D assignments from when I first started my blog.

Rad Gal, Rad Gig is a new feature on The Clueless Girl's Guide where I invite really neat gals to share their really cool stories. Whether your gig is a full-time job or just a hobby, I want to hear from you! If you think you'd be perfect for Rad Gal, Rad Gig, feel free to get in touch or view the information on the Submissions page! Just submit a short description of what you do and why you think it's rad!

// Always Be A Unicorn - Maternity Style - 31 Weeks

Mike and I have this little Christmas tradition where we make something for the other person each year. Holiday shopping can get a little difficult when you're in a rush to shop for everyone else in your life, and it's hard to keep things secretive in our house. (Seriously, I just got his Father's Day gift in the mail and I fight the urge to give it to him every single day!) Anyway, for Christmas 2012 Mike made me a really adorable graphic poster. He's totally not handy when it comes to Adobe so the fact that he learned how to operate Illustrator (with the help of my dear friend Elle) to make the present, well, that was gift enough! The poster said:

Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. Then always be a unicorn.

And of course I loved it! Every time I see something unicorn-related, I instantly think of that sweet gift. It's something I'll totally cherish for as long as possible! When I saw this unicorn dress, I knew I had to have it. For some reason I wasn't expecting to be so "mystical" in person... like maybe slightly more tame or something. But there it is, in it's bright, sci-fi glory! I tried to dress it down a little with the saffron cardigan and brown accessories, but that thing is loud! I'm not totally sold on the length of it since it really sort of stumps my frame, but at 5'2" that's to be expected. This would for sure be the perfect length for someone more like 5'7" or so! It's a little "Labyrinth"-ish, isn't it?

This week has been super productive at our house. I've booked a boatload of new design clients (!!!) and I think I'm about ready to shut it down so I can focus on them and not overwhelm myself before the baby comes. We're just 3 weeks out from 2.5 weeks of solid travel that we have planned and I'm both excited and slightly overwhelmed. I've started planning out my hospital bag so I can stock up on stuff this weekend, and we're trying to do a few furniture things in the nursery. Toby's very last baseball game of the season is tonight so I'm hoping it stays clear for the festivities. Toby will be getting his very first trophy! I'm trying to plan out blog content for June since I'm sort of behind and need to gear up for our vacation to Florida. (If you have anything specific you'd like to see in June, let me know! I'm eagerly accepting suggestions... and I know how sad that sounds! haha)  

This weekend is one of our last "event free" weekends to enjoy before my due date. We were hoping to just be able to relax and enjoy it, but of course we have a huge list of errands to run and things to buy and things to build, etc. I'm hoping there will be a little bit of extra time to squeeze in a date with my sweet husband, and then possibly some pool time, too! Mike is planning on shooting some DIY maternity photos of me next weekend when we finish up with a client shoot, so I'd ideally like to have just a little bit of a tan by then! Otherwise I might look like a giant marshmallow in my white dress...

Yigal Azrouel tote
Target flats

PS; I know, more "bump cradling" shots... Sorry! I just feel so huge so it's like if I acknowledge the bump, then I feel less awkward? I don't know. I'm probably lacking logic here haha!

// Things I Love Thursday v.186

this cat disco sweatshirt ♥
this tattoo is gorgeous ♥
these cuties! ♥
these are so fantastic! ♥
♥ the photos from this shoot are stunning. ♥
this! "hanging outside the passenger side of his best friend's ride, tryin' to holler at me" ♥
these natural gradient photos shot by eric cahan ♥
this! so much power behind these posters. ♥
this piece by Aya Haidar ♥
this! classic romance scenes improved by a chipotle burrito! ♥

♥ mike sent me this video and i really enjoyed it ♥

// Loved this post on how Roxy and Daniel spent their Memorial Day weekend. Despite it raining, it looked so quaint and enjoyable.

// It happened to me: I'm raising a vegan child. While I normally say "Don't read the comments!," I actually enjoyed many of the points brought up in the (800+) below the article. What do you think?

// I love me some Dolly Parton, and I love her even more when she sings "Jolene."

// Here's a hilarious list of random facts, just in case you're in the mood!

// Joelle's blog is seriously such a wonderful little dose of charm. Some of her latest posts have been so spot on. Loved reading about the "Try The World" subscription box (!!!) and seeing her all dolled up in her outfit post.

// More links to tickle your fancy this week! (And I love reading about Carrie Anne's adjustment to being the mom of 2)

// Don't forget! You've still got just a couple of days to enter to win $100 to PinUp Darling! Just pop over HERE and enter away!

What are you loving this week?

// Wanted: The Perfect Baby Registry

I'm on a mission... and that mission is to create the perfect baby registry. There's just one little problem: I know squat about babies. Awesome place to start, right? We've had friends and family ask us for our registry information the past couple of weeks, and our current registry is a little bit of a mess. It's looking better than it was, but truth be told: it's been a catch-all for junk that we kind-of, sort-of, maybe liked, wanted to research, or just needed a reminder to buy. For a while our crib and stroller sat on the registry, mainly so I could keep track of them and see if they ever went on sale. Then I made those big purchases and trimmed the list to suit. There was one point where I looked on there and I had something like 3 breast pumps, 2 rockers, 4 strollers and goodness knows what else. (I really hope no one had the link at that time haha... it was sad!) Still, every few days I'll pop over and be like "This is ridiculous... *delete* *add fifteen more things I know nothing about*" haha

Now that we're in the home stretch and I have showers on the horizon (!!!), I'm really needing to figure out what is going to go on there. That's where I need your help! Some of y'all are wonder moms... You've birthed babies, tried the products, tossed the crap ones and (hopefully) found a list of things that have been a heaven-send for you and baby! I know every mom and baby will be different, but right now I'm just trying to make as educated of a guess as I can on what will and won't work. While this is a "registry," I'm also planning on using it as my own little shopping list so I can finalize purchases when Baby Flynn gets here. (I think there might even be some nursing pads and nipple cream on my list still... HA! Those need to get move to a more, uh, private list...)

Some of these items are sort of "novelty" bits that happen to be practical and fun (I'm looking at you, whale spout cover!), but some of them are really meant to help a work-at-home-mama out (MamaRoo!) Let me know if you've used any of these or if you have a better alternative to suggest, or if you just outright hated a product/brand! (As much as I appreciate the in-depth emails re: pregnancy/baby items, I'd love to keep the conversation in the comments if possible, that way others can read your thoughts, too! Maybe a mom-to-be will stumble on this and it can help her!) I honestly just have no clue where to start or what to include... This is hard!


Here's what our situation is looking like once Baby Flynn arrives: I'll be a full-time work at home mom, also juggling a 5 year old until he starts Kindergarten in mid-August. Ideally I'd love to breastfeed (fingers crossed I'm able to!) and we are planning on cloth diapering once he's big enough to wear the one-size diapers. I'll be spending every day alone with the baby (almost immediately!) while Mike is at school, so really the most important thing for me is to be able to balance it all and make it work. I also plan on baby-wearing as much as possible when outside of the house (and I personally prefer knit wraps... Moby? Solly? Sakura Bloom? Ahh!And here's what I'm thinking so far:

1. Medela Breast Pump: I've tried comparing both the Pump In Style and the FreeStyle breast pumps. (I know about insurance and breast pumps, but for the sake of this conversation I'm choosing to overlook that for now) I don't really know how often a breastfeeding mom may need to pump, and where, so that's why I'm totally oblivious on this decision. Is it worth it to pay for an electric pump? What about hands free? I definitely plan on storing/bottling some milk so Mike can help with feedings. I'd love y'all's wisdom!

2. Skip Hop Bath Spout Cover: I love the novelty aspect of this, but also the functionality. It's not cumbersome or gaudy, and that's good enough for me!

3. Flip Hybrids + BumGenius FreeTime Cloth Diapers: We plan on cloth diapering after he's big enough to fit, but holy moly this has been a hard decision! After reading loads of articles, forums, emails, etc, I think we have decided to pair together some Flip Hybrids and BumGenius FreeTime All-In-Ones. I've heard great things about both of them, but if you have any tips and tricks on maintaining the perfect stash/rotation, I'm all ears! (Also I'd love to know how many cloth diapers you have in your stash! I've read you should have at least 24, but 30 is ideal. I'd like to do laundry every other day if possible! - Also, if you use Flip covers, do you prefer the prefold inserts or...? - And finally, best place to buy them? Amazon seems to be so finicky with their stock!) I might need to do a whole post on just cloth diapers because there are so many options to consider!

4. Motorola Baby Monitor: A lot of this decision was based on how the monitor looked and the price tag. It was in line with many of the other models, but we liked the way it looked more than the others. Some people say that video monitors aren't even a necessity, and while I agree, I like the peace of mind that I'd have to look in whenever I needed. Have a monitor you love that you want to suggest? Let's hear it!

5. Grooming Kit: Yay or nay? I liked this kit because it was super comprehensive without having a hefty price tag. It includes so much, but is it all needed?

6. Aden + Anais Swaddling Blankets: I've had everyone and their mother recommend these swaddling blankets to me, so that's a good sign right? But I've also read a bunch of moms swear that regular ol' muslin swaddling blankets are best. Thoughts?

7. Medela Breastmilk Feeding Gift Set: Okay, this is another area where I've been all "What?!" - How many bottles are needed for a breastfed baby? Right now our registry is packed with these and some from Dr. Brown's (They seem to be a popular choice), but I don't know how many we'll actually need, and if one is better than the other. I also have a "natural" breastfeeding bottle or two on there. Help!

8. Summer Infant Pacifier Thermometer: Part of me thinks this would be an easy way to take the baby's temperature, but then another part of me is like "Well you're definitely going to lose that the first time you use it.." Have any of you ever tried it?

9. Crane Cool Mist Humidifier: I love the shape, and it's practical, but is it necessary?

10. FEED Diaper Bag: This is totally a mom-choice on the registry but I love the new FEED diaper bags. It would be a bit of a luxury purchase so it'll probably come last, if at all. But I couldn't help but throw it on there. I remember what diaper bags looked like when I was little... and they were ugly! Bonus: FEED provides a full year of micronutrients to a mama and baby with each purchase.

11. Baby Trend Pack n Play: Pack n Plays are one thing that moms seem to be torn on. They either swear by them or they say they never touched them. We spend quite a bit of time at our parents' houses, so I think it'd be a reasonable purchase. I also spend a lot of time outside with Toby, tending to the garden, etc. That's reason enough, right?

12. 4Moms MamaRoo Swing: I can't decide if the MamaRoo or the RockARoo would be a better purchase, but I'd love to hear your thoughts! We bought a little bouncy bassinet recliner for the baby, but it's not as fluid as I had hoped. I'd love to have something that was self-moving so I could sneak a shower or squeeze in some work here and there. Is it worth all of the hype?!

Other items I'm curious about: The 4Moms tub, Baby Bullet food prep system, anything you think I've missed or could benefit from knowing about, and basically whatever else is on this ridiculous catch-all list! Educate me! This mama needs some help!


Another thing that didn't occur to me until recently: I did most of our registry online (via Amazon, etc, all synched up on MyRegistyr.com), but I'd venture to guess the majority of our friends and family prefer to shop in-store... We did a Target in-store registry (and synched it with the online one) but I'm wondering if I made a major "uh-oh" by not being more mindful of that in the beginning. Thoughts?

Even if we don't receive anything from our online-only registry, it can at least serve as a "Hey! Buy this!" list for us when the need arises, so I guess it's not a total loss! It's been a while since I've done any registry stuff so I tried being mindful of varied price points and items, but I don't feel the least bit confident in it. I'd love to hear what y'all chose to put on your own registries (or what you decided to purchase!) if you don't care to share!

Edited to add: If you want to be OVERLOADED with (great!) advice and comments, my Instagram post of this entry BLEW UP! So many helpful mamas sharing their wisdom right HERE!

// Agadir Argan Oil Hair Products

So here's the deal... I haven't dyed my hair since September 2012, and I have neither the desire, nor plan, to dye it any time in the near future. After being a bottle redhead for several years, my hair was in a not so great state pre-wedding. I opted to try and balance it out with some ashe brunette dye before the wedding, and then I vowed to let my natural color grow out. This of course has left me with some ombre (I know, it's ~soo 2011!), and I probably should chop off the ends, but luckily a year and a half later, my hair is healthier than it has been in quite some time. I'm so glad my natural color is finally mostly in, even though it brought along with it a plethora of grays (How old am I?!). The only drawback to having really dark, naturally oily hair? It looks greasy 24/7. I've used argan oil products in the past to help with the "dryness" of my dyeing routine, but stopped after a while because I felt like they just weighed my hair down more after going back dark. I would feel like I was a bucket of grease as soon as my hair dried post-shower, then I'd try and neutralize that with dry shampoo... but that left my hair feeling dry and "flat" in color. It's like I couldn't win. Agadir sent over a big ol' box of goodies for me to play with, and even though I'm not obligated to post about them in any way (and I was not compensated), I thought I'd share my experience with some of the products. I'm always on the hunt for new things to work into my routine so I figured it couldn't hurt! Maybe you'll find something you like, too. (Was this giant paragraph as "all over the place" for you as it was for me? Sorry...)

I'm not normally a hair product kind of girl. I feel like I may have single-handedly put a hole in the ozone layer with the amount of hairspray I used to use. I haven't touched the stuff in nearly a year and a half, and I hate feeling like any of my routines are too time-consuming. That being said, I love me some good conditioners and hair masques. Since I wear my hair curly, I get some super fun dreads going after a couple of days. And by super fun I obviously mean annoying and sometimes painful. The items that make it onto my shower rack get put through the wringer realllll good. Here are my personal experiences with some of these items:

1. Volumizing Hair Spray: Again, I'm not a hairspray user. However, I did get a chance to use this on my little cousin's hair when I did her hair and makeup for her dance photos a couple of weekends ago. I used the hair spray when teasing her hair into a pompadour and it held up really well. I also used it to sort of "seal in" the curl from some hot sticks (Hello 1992!). It was nice and light, which was nice since I used to use cheap, heavy hair spray myself. Even after a few hours of dancing around for photos in the heat and humidity, she didn't have any fly-aways or frizz, so I guess that means good things!

2. Heat Protectant: I don't use this often, but I have worked it into my hair a couple of times when I knew I'd be curling my hair on the same day. Normally I wash my hair at least a full day before I want to curl it because my hair prefers to be slightly dirty to hold shape. I noticed that this stuff helped "dirty" it up just enough to hold some curl, but one day I made the mistake of doing it too close to curl time and it just made it limp and wet. No bueno!

3. Styling Spritz: I used a little bit of this on Kaylie while doing her hair. I didn't notice much difference in it and the hairspray, except of course the application. I couldn't say whether or not it made a huge difference honestly.

4. Styling Gel: I never got around to using this stuff, sorry!

5. Daily Shampoo: I really liked this shampoo. It smells amazing and never left any greasy residue behind. Like the other Agadir products, I appreciated that it was sulfate free.

6. Daily Conditioner: I feel like the conditioner took the silver medal in this whole batch. My hair felt super soft after using it. The only qualm I had with it: It claims to be a great detangler and I just didn't find that to be true on my hair. Like I said before, I wear my hair curly and it tangles fast... It takes a really great product to help me comb it out (and you know, not have bald spots at the end of my shower...) I tried on multiple occasions to use the conditioner as my only detangling agent and I was left frustrated and tender-headed. (Biolage detangling conditioner all the way!) Despite it not being the best for my almost-dreads, my hair felt great after each shower. And like the shampoo, the conditioner smelled amazing!

7. Moisture Masque: This was hands down my favorite product in this whole batch! The masque feels sort of weird on your fingers, but it makes a world of difference. I can't say for sure if the super soft, buttery hair came from just the conditioner or the masque, or if it was the combination of the two, but boy oh boy, I'm a fan! Not only did my hair feel super smooth at the end of my shower, but I noticed that I had way less frizz after using this combo a couple of times. I don't use the masque every time, but the benefits definitely last several washes. Now I'll be honest and say my hair did feel a bit "heavier" when I would style it (heavy, but not "wet" or "greasy," if that makes sense). My curls just managed to feel more dense overall. Normally I'm battling a bit of frizz at the top of my curls regardless of what I do or how often I wash my hair, so this was a pleasant surprise. The trade off was worth it to me. The frizz-free period lasted a full 3 days after washing with this combination and that's unheard of with my hair.

8. Spray Treatment: Agadir claims this spray is great for using for extra "shine" during the day, or as a heat protectant with your blow dryer or flat iron. The only heating tool I ever use on my hair is my curling iron, but I did give this a whirl before one curling session. I noticed that it was a lighter coverage than the heat protectant in the pump bottle, and I greatly preferred it. It didn't feel like it weighed my curls down as much. I probably wouldn't buy it myself since my hair seems to hold up just fine on it's own, but I'll definitely use the rest of what's in here.

9. Styling Mousse: Mousse totally evades me... I just don't get it. Maybe I've just never had the right hair style to make the most of a mousse, who knows? I used this on Kaylie's hair at one point and never really noticed any great benefit.

Overall there were several "take it or leave it" type products that I'll probably use up and enjoy (or give to a friend), but not necessarily purchase again. However the total stars are my usual favorites: the shampoo, conditioner and hair masque combo. I really do believe they are the reason I'm currently able to wear curly hair without an insane amount of frizz up top. I also loved that they didn't weigh my hair down with extra grease or oil.

Normally I keep it simple with my hair routine in the shower, but I've always sworn by It's a 10 Keratin deep conditioner and Biolage detangling conditioner. If you've got any favorite hair products that will aide in naturally oily + frizzy hair, I'm all ears!

* I was provided these products free of charge and for promotional consideration, but was not compensated or obligated to post a "review." All opinions are 100% my own!