Animation career path

Animation Career: Studio or Freelance or Studio Founder

For an animator, the decision is never an easy one...

Deciding which career path to take in the animation industry is tricky. Whether to offer your animation services as a freelance animator, to work in a studio or dive in a try and start your own studio can leave you feeling pulled in different directions. Taking the solo freelance route offers freedom, flexibility, and the chance to be your own boss, but studio positions give you a job security and peace of mind which are hard to find for many freelance animators.

This article breaks down the pros and cons of studio and freelance work and explores how starting a studio of your own allows you to combine the desire for freedom with the need for future security.

Video from our Youtube Channel sharing an overview of the pros and cons of working as a freelance animator, in a studio role and starting a studio of your own.

*The article below is an easy reading streamlined version of this video.

What are the benefits of working as a freelance animator?

Freelance animator role
  • Earnings

As a freelance animator, you can set your own rates without being limited by a studio rate based on experience. Often, this can enable you to take on higher-paid projects than would be assigned to you in a studio position.

  • Freedom

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of freelance to a lot of animators is the freedom it offers. As a freelancer, you can decide which projects to take on, as well as the hours you want to work, although this can lead to…

  • Work stress

You alone are responsible for all aspects of a project that might otherwise be delegated to a studio team. The pressure to deliver, the absence of a guaranteed pay-check, and the lack of clear work/life boundaries can all lead to the stress many freelancers experience.

What are the benefits of working in an animation studio?

  • Job security

Unlike freelance work, a position in a studio offers the security and routine of regular hours and a guaranteed income. This leads to less daily stress, as projects are handled by a team and time off work is set and defined.

  • Getting paid to learn

Working in a studio allows you to learn from peers with more animation experience than you. In addition, some studios will offer to pay for you to complete short courses, further improving your skillset whilst earning money.

  • Reduced income

Unlike the self-determined rates of a freelance animator,  studio roles are often paid an industry-standard wage based on experience. Successful freelance animators may experience a drop in income when they work as part of a studio or feel frustration at the experience-based restrictions on their earnings.


Finding a balance, and starting your own animation studio…

Start An Animation Studio

Starting your own studio takes time and might seem intimidating, but in practice making the leap can allow you to experience the benefits of both freelance and studio positions. Despite the time it takes to develop (which can be 3 years and up), starting your own studio can allow you to:

  • Build for the future

Starting an animation studio is a leap which often comes with increased overhead costs. Eventually, however, a successful animation studio can become a source of hands-off income, with the option to sell your studio to new owners in the future.

  • Build freedom

Managing a team can come with its own kind of stress, but successfully starting an animation studio will allow you to choose the projects that work best for you and your team’s skillset.

  • Pitch for larger projects

You can not only choose the type of projects that you want to take on, but can choose more projects, or projects that are on a larger scale. The increased scale of running your own studio will allow you to earn exponentially more than either a studio job or a freelance position can offer you.

Aniamtion career, studio or freelance

Simba it is time!

If you think you’re ready to start planning your own animation studio today to invest in your stability and income in the future, check out our award-winning animation studio start-up course here.