Award-winning teenage animator says “YouTube played a large part” in his success (Online Report)

by Nadia Younes

When 18-year-old Graham Love began posting short stop motion animation clips on YouTube in 2008, he never expected that, just a few years later, he would have to drop out of his university course due to overwhelming demand from news companies requesting to use his animations.

After winning first place in the Dundee University IMD film competition in 2009, Graham’s success has gone from strength to strength. In August this year, he posted his “Lego Rugby World Cup” animation on his YouTube channel, where he recreated key moments from the history of the rugby world cup using simply Lego and blue tack.

Graham said: “I sent out emails with the link to the video to news sites and companies from around the world. I was amazed at the response. The video soared to almost a quarter of a million hits, and on the back of this I began to receive offers of work. Since then, I’ve completed a number of commissions for the New Zealand Herald (New Zealand’s largest daily selling newspaper) and have done some work for ITV.”

With jobs currently few and far between, the rise of social media sites have made it possible for people, like Graham, to build a career independently. These sites allow people the opportunity to turn hobbies into careers, as they can be used for self-promotion and to build contacts.

Graham added: “YouTube has been a great way for me to learn, and better my technique. It’s allowed me to get in contact with professionals from around the world and learn from the pros. At the moment I’m in fairly regular contact with Dutch animator Jelle Van Dun.”

However, it’s not just on YouTube that people can build a career: online blogs have also become increasingly more influential in journalism, especially in specialist forms. For example, Perez Hilton began his blog in 2004 and he has gone on to become one of the most well-known gossip writers and “web celebs” in the world, with his blog receiving over 300 million hits every month.

The success and popularity of online blogs has meant that many publications now turn to them for research, as it allows them to gather public opinion on certain topics. This is true of many fashion and music publications, who support and promote their favourite blogs, along with taking inspiration from them.

Fashion student and online blogger for She Wrote, Tatiana Cockburn said: “Not too long ago, I found out that Lara Lain, the Marketing Executive for LOOK magazine, follows my blog and twitter account. I couldn’t believe that someone in the industry – not to mention someone from one of my favourite fashion magazines – would be interested in reading my blog. Leading online fashion network, Chictopia, have also started following me on Twitter, thanks to my blog.”

Blogs are also considered to be a great way for people to communicate with like-minded people and, in turn, gain a sense of belonging. They allow people to share their passions with others and use social media in a positive and productive manner.

Tatiana added: “Since starting my blog, I feel like I have found my true area of interest and I know now that fashion is what I’m really passionate about. My blog has definitely enhanced my confidence in many different aspects – from writing to photography to web design. I also feel that it has strengthened my desire to work in the fashion industry, and I think myself fortunate to know exactly what career I want to pursue, which I don’t think would’ve been possible without the help of blogging.”

Over the years, the increasing accessibility of social media sites has allowed many people to promote themselves and build an online following or fan base. The success people can achieve online may then transcend into achieving success in reality, where the connections they develop can open doors for future employment in their desired industry. However, building a career online can be criticised, as it means people can now achieve success without completing a full degree. This raises concerns about whether social media sites are making it easier for those with few qualifications to become successful.

While this may be true of some, who become online sensations very quickly, many will say that it is a long and, often, difficult process to actually achieve any success through social media sites alone. To be truly successful, the individual has to use their initiative and pursue companies and organisations who may be interested in their work. However, without the use of these sites, they may not be able to build the same level of confidence in their work, through the positive feedback they may receive from subscribers or followers.

As social media sites continue to increase in popularity, the benefits of using them may as well be taken advantage of. If people have the opportunity to build a career centred on their own personal hobbies and interests, then why should they be denied of that liberty? Although there is a great deal of scepticism and negative criticism surrounding the misuse of social media sites, more and more people are starting to prove that these sites can be used positively and beneficially, with the possibility of a future career on the horizon.

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