Step 2: Set Goals that are Right for You
Hannah Field is a stop motion artist working in Los Angeles, California. She has a background in illustration and the fine arts but decided to focus on filmmaking while in graduate school. Today, Field works at a California studio while continuing to pursue independent projects.
When Hannah entered the graduate program for stop motion animation and production a few years ago, she was intimidated by the many proficiencies she’d have to acquire to succeed professionally.
Good stop motion films demand that one or several artists conceive a story and write the screenplay, construct puppets and props, design and light sets for them, shoot scenes and edit the resulting footage, and make sure the final product gets seen by the right people.
This time-consuming and unfamiliar process overwhelmed Hannah at first, but she soon regained her enthusiasm and found her creative groove by setting a specific goal for herself: “I decided if I could make one good film in my entire life, I would be happy.”
Hannah says this goal is strategic in several ways: it’s a good fit for her diligent habits, personal level of experience, and individual creative aspirations.
Hannah defined clear but expansive parameters for herself about what constitutes a good stop motion film. It doesn’t have to be long—maybe only two minutes’ duration—but its overall quality should be recognized by film festivals, critics, and fellow artists.
Hannah’s goal also sets a trajectory for her career: a vision for her future work which is inspiring yet attainable. “In order to make one good film, I’d need to make many films over the years,” Field says. “Continual, consistent production is an achievement in and of itself, and a satisfying one for me.”
This allows Hannah to enjoy the process of creating art while working toward her vision. She accepts the possibility that new interests, family responsibilities, or lack of time or resources may prevent her from reaching some ambitions she articulates in her career, but she’s not discouraged by this.
“The process of art-making is exciting enough to me that if the product doesn’t really work out I don’t consider it wasted time,” she says. Regardless of the results, she jokes, “It’s not going to kill me to enjoy art for the next couple of decades.”
This article is the second of a 5-step series of artist interviews, dedicated to helping you find your artistic groove. Get the rest of the steps here.
The feature photo is a still from Hannah’s film “My Brother’s Stocking”