In The Knoxville Weekly, Coury Turczyn wrote an excellent article about up-and-coming animator Joel Trussell, who is a great example of how a creative person who isn't based in a big city can still have a major impact. Trussell live in Knollwood, Tennessee. Here's what he's doing:
“From the bedroom of his suburban house, Trussell has managed to create a small, quirky animation empire of music videos and TV commercials. His videos have been shown at the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Platform International Animation Festival in Portland, and the Ottawa Animation Film Festival (among many others), winning first-place awards and earning him invites to festivals in Spain, England, Scotland, Australia, Austria, and Korea. He gets friendly phone calls from executives at Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network who want to see what he’s up to or to hire him for character design work. He’s even done illustration for companies on the opposite ends of the hipness spectrum: American Greetings and Gama-Go.”
How did he get to this point? The article says he did animation for a Seattle company, then was a victim of the Internet bubble pop, moved back home, and did mail shots to everybody he could think of, sending samples of his work with links to his website. He did a series of low-pay music videos, then had a YouTube hit with a video called “War Photographer,” a battle of Viking bands, which was the start of his winning streak. That includes films for the offbeat kids’ series, “Yo Gabba Gabba!” and a video for the band Moorcheeba.
Now he's doing great, but he has an interesting take on what success feels like: “At one point, at least for me when I was a kid, I felt like, ‘Hey, if you hit that one big break, it just gets easier from there. People know you and you just sit back and let the work come in.’ But the pressure gets to be more and more as you go along: ‘I’ve really got to stay in the game.’ And is this as good as it gets? Have I already reached the top? This isn’t the top, is it? I need to keep going up! So you have to keep working harder and harder at it.”