Do This ONE THING: How To Be SUCCESSFUL as an Artist

The secret to getting success in your VFX and design industry is through a simple concept I apply to every part of my career. Probably the biggest roadblock for creatives is that we’re so focused on landing our first job, getting our first feature, building a name or getting status in our industry, that we never put ourselves in the shoes of others.

And this is what’s stopping us.

Most of the time we’re so caught up on what we want, that we never take a step back and see how what we’re doing is actually going to play out. What the needs of the other party are, or whether what we’re doing is what thousands of others are doing too – drowning our efforts in the noise of others.

I want to talk about empathy, a topic which gets neglected severely – yet is the secret to getting the success you want in your career and in all parts of your life. By understanding the needs of others, you can get what you want. By looking at how others might react to your efforts, you can get a better understanding of yourself and whether your efforts actually will have any impact.

Whether it’s day to day work, or the process of finding work, negotiating money or any part of your career. This is the one thing I owe all my success to, in every part of my life. It’s also what I don’t see every single day from artists applying for work, who if they for one second thought about empathy, could have all the success in the world.


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Federico Sibella
Guys I wanna give a big shout-out to Allan.. being able to establish good relationship is the key to land your next job and for an introverted person like me it is not easy, but still doable! And yeah, the frustration of "not being good enough" is still lingering somewhere in my mind, but probably I should get used to that and talking with other artists seems to help me put things into perspective... Thanks Allan for sharing this insights! Realizing "I am not special, I am not the only one" ism such a relief :D
Thank You, Allan! Unfortunately, that's what I've gathered as well. Many professional fields do not seem to run as much on any kind of "being good", but on connections between people. This might very well be a sign of going to a more class-based society (or perhaps we have been there for some time, and the merit-based functioning of the world has been a fable, a religion not based in actual reality or fact, for some time). People can't even change their class status if they work hard to get good, they have to know the right people (often this means "having been born into the right social class"). That creatives are in a more difficult place, is also understandable. Creative people are in a similar situation with the academic fields in that they are a big threat to any social order. They are about bringing some new truths to the surface. The thing is, new truths are a threat to existing social hierarchies, so that is a probable reason why creative people are often being put through hell. They are a threat, a possible vehicle of societal and scientific evolution, something that the people in comfortable situation usually do not want, so artistic people are chewed enough that they end up not being so big a threat, because they are originally from a well off class and do not connect with the inequalities as emotionally, or have been turned into instruments against artistic and technological innovation. In music this has sometimes resulted in the "sell-out effect". Musicians get to some popularity on connecting to some actual issues, but then get thrown a lot of money and women their way, so they become supporters of the system instead, become advocates of copyright laws, that mostly benefit big corporations, and so on, become symbols of "anyone can make it" by betraying the societal wants, needs and emotions that carried them on the way there. Probably often a pressure hard to deal with and would explain many of the artists killing themselves with drugs, alcohol, or by actual suicide while being in a position of unimaginable success in some people's eyes. Obviously this is just a theory, but a few things seem to indicate that this might be how the world works, to a degree. Anyway, I don't know if in the bigger picture I agree with the advice of learning to see things from the perspective of people who are there to keep down artistic and scientific progress and societal evolution, but this tendency on my part might have something to do with my more (some would say "artistic") personality, and I definitely value the insider-knowledge and Your good intent!
Gerald Ballesteros
Much love Allan. Thank you for always encouraging us unconditionally.
ilyas muhammadi
You deserve over than success
palash chowdhury
I like your all video.. Your showreel are too awsome. I am Fresher in Houdini destruction.But some time face the problem in Houdini vex/programming.Please give me some tips of Houdini programming. One another question is this very important to know programming languages in production an Fx Artists...
dradi bossa
elias diaz
Thank you for share with us this great advice is like more life philosophy to me.
Krishnakumar _kk
@Allan McKay, Love all your videos,and I really appreciate the effort you are putting in all your videos and tutorials to make it more interesting and informative ,thanks a lot for that, & keep up the good work!!. I’ve been working in the animation and vfx field around 16+ years. Iam a self taught vfx artist, and I have worked as studio vfx supervisor for some movies and tv shows while working at my previous studio ( Toonz animation india pvt ltd) Now iam in a different studio . CGI &VFX is my passion,& I would do anything to learn and achieve more. So iam in the process of setting up CGI & VFX reels , & iam really happy to say that your videos and tutorials really influenced and motivated me. Is it possible for you to analyse ,comment and do a case study ( more like) on one of my latest Vfx video I did ??. what’s looking cool and what’s awkward ?? And what I could’ve done to make it look more real and convincing? I would really appreciate it. Please find the video here: one more thing.. I really loved those words you said at the end of this video, “Whatever creepy thing you might’ve to do,It’s all about figuring out how to stand out from everybody else “
mostafa elgammal
that was really amazing to share Allan i wonder how your old Demo-reel that you sent look like Thanks bro for your support
Cebas Visual Technology
....maybe we need to hesitate thinking that our life is a 'career'...
Mark Palcko
I agree here Allan, especially in today's world. It's very hard to stand out, I also believe in being the absolute best and you'll be noticed but that will take a very long time and you'll also need a lot of resources. I think it can happen but is rare for most of us. I failed in getting my dream job because of this. There is way too much noise today and you'll learn an grow so much faster if you know the right people and also land that job you want. You can pursue being the best after you get the job of course, I think that's hard for most artists to do because we don't like hand outs and we want to be able to earn it by our own skill sets but that's just not enough to get noticed in an ocean of so many talented individuals.
Travis McCallum
Allan! It was so nice to receive a facebook message from you today. I was beyond ecstatic to shake your hand at Industry Giants. You are such a wonderful mentor to me and I'm grateful everyday for having you in my life. :)
Rishabh Laheja
Happy to subscribe to your channel, lot of knowledge and experience sharing, lots of great content and tutorials, thanks alot!
Great advice! I reckon this one of your best videos yet. So true about seeing past the obvious and learning to understand the real motives behind feedback; it is an invaluable thing to master. I was just discussing with my partner yesterday about this exact topic, only doing the obvious is something that's very typical with juniors until they learn to critically think and not just rush out the next revision. It can definitely be tricky to read between the lines of feedback though.... this awesome special ability comes in handy not just with superiors but also clients who are often not sure exactly what they want but they always seem to know what they don't want! Thus making it our job to figure / and extract what is they see in their mind.
akintomiwa pelumi
How can some dumb people dislike a legend... SMH
Boban Krsmanovic
Not sure that I'd like to work in Hollywood at all. I mean, most of the time you'd be just a small piece in big machinery, and for what price? I like freelancing, and the fact I can organize my time whatever I want. Also, making a small studio with direct access to clients, could be much more financially feasible. But anyway, here is the topic I would really like to discuss in the future: "Why are the vfx studios in Hollywood underbidding their prices"? I mean, look at the example: Gravity movie. Sandra Bullock took 70-80 million on that movie, and on 2/3 of that movie, it isn't her at all, but her 3D double. How much studios (with hundreds of peoples employed) took? 2 millions? 5 millions? 10 millions? Why there is no vfx like syndicate, or why studios don't collaborate (on establishing fixed prices), and stop being cheap puppets to producers? I am not saying famous actors should take as an average Joe in vfx, but this difference makes my head explode, because it seems that vfx is having a huge lack of self-respect.
What you said about building relationships/networking is absolutely true! There was a point a few month ago, when I was absolutely stuck. Got fed up with the stalemate, I met up with a new art community. The end result was - after a month or two - is that I knew a lot more about some inner workings of the industry and even got some freelance work! I think a lot of new artists downplay the importance of networking. I got recommended to a few spots because they know I do good work in good time and they can trust me. The more of the right people know you, the higher chance you get an opportunity!
Martin Bech
Great video quality with the background, lighting, dof and sound quality - But do something about that annoying white pixel in the middle of your face :D Guess it comes with the territory that we look for all the small details that could be improved on LOL :D
Third Wave
Thanks Allan, your videos are always inspiring
arunckraj kumar
Great Advice!!! Thanks Allan