Without Walls – Shantelle’s Blog

Hi! I’m Shantelle and I’m part of the Mighty Creatives Board. This is my blog post takeover following up from our Without Walls event where I’ll be sharing my story and why the theme was important to me!

I currently work full time as a designer and animator in social media marketing however I have been creative for as long as I remember. I first began by making stop motion animations with Lego figures when I was just 10 years old! Spending hours taking hundreds of photos and editing them all together on an old laptop. And from this, I knew I wanted to work in a creative career for the rest of my life.

So the next few years, I taught myself as much as I could about graphic design, animation and video editing- achieving high grades in my GCSEs… but I was then faced with the next steps, now what do I do? Well, I decided on doing A-Levels as that seemed like the right path? But to be honest, I really didn’t enjoy it and I knew it wasn’t for me, so after just a few weeks I
dropped out.

So then, I went on to do a Level 3 BTEC course for Art and design and surely that’s perfect, right?

Not quite. I wanted to be an animator. And after teaching myself and building a small portfolio, I knew I was pretty good at it. I just needed help to get into something practical. So, I went to my tutor and I explained to how this is what I want to do, I showed her my passion for it and how I just so badly wanted to get in there and work as a professional animator!

And I’ll never forget this, she turned around and told me “You won’t be a professional animator with that low standard of work and the only way would be by going to uni’’

I went to an education professional with so much enthusiasm and I was told ‘No’.

For a lot of young people, 17 year olds, that would’ve been it.. being told you’ve got to stick around in uni for another 4, 5 years. But.. not for me.

That night, fired on with a new determination to prove a point, I went home and searched for jobs working in animation. I came across a company hiring for a senior animator and I sent them an email with a link to my work. I asked for literally anything from them- unpaid work experience, an internship, anything just to give me a chance.

That was on the Friday night, by the following Wednesday, I’d been for an interview and secured the job working full time whilst being trained through an apprenticeship.

I think you can imagine the satisfaction I had going back to my teacher and telling her the news? I then worked my way through the apprenticeship for around 18 months, progressing to be the lead animator for their production team at just 18 years old.

After, I was told ‘No’.

I’ve since moved jobs and developed into a more varied role however, the journey I had to take to get here- wasn’t easy. At multiple points along the way I had to really go against the tide and push to get into a creative career.

And so I’m very aware that, It was down to my own confidence and the support network at home from my family, that I made it. But for a lot of young people coming up to the age of finding a career – it wouldn’t have been the same. I faced so many roadblocks and there really wasn’t any help or support out there.

But hopefully, after my day on career pathways, through not only showcasing my own experience, but also through the conversations we had – we might just be able to make a change of perspectives and together, take some practical steps for the future of employing young people.