15 Years: Celebrating with Mentors Paul Allen and David Vallone

In honor of our 15th anniversary, we spoke with animators Paul Allen and David Vallone, two of our longest-serving mentors, about the changes they've seen in the student body and what they love about teaching.

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We’re continuing to celebrate our 15th birthday this year by sharing interviews with members of the Animation Mentor community! Today we checked in with animators Paul Allen and David Vallone, two of our longest-serving mentors. Read on to find out what new animation is inspiring these pros!


Films from David Vallone's IMdB page
Films from David’s IMDb page

The Mentor Experience

What do you love about teaching at AM?

Paul Allen: The top thing I love about teaching at AM is getting to pass on my knowledge, feedback, and experience to those interested in coming into the animation industry. Animation is such a collaborative field and I have been lucky enough to split my career between TV, film, and gaming. Each area has different challenges so I like to help inform students about what to expect from each.

David Vallone: I think for me, having always wanted to teach while still being active in the industry, AM has allowed that reality to happen for me. I’ve been teaching here at AM almost since it opened. During this time I’ve gotten to meet and know many of the students who have come through the classes I have taught. I love learning about different cultures from many of my students. It’s been an extremely enriching experience.

The most rewarding aspect of this journey for me is witnessing many of my students going on to do very well in the industry. – David Vallone

The most rewarding aspect of this journey for me is witnessing many of my students going on to do very well in the industry; some have even become colleagues whom I worked side by side with. I’m thankful that I could be a part of alumni students’ success, along with many other contributing mentors. I’m grateful that AM has allowed me to be a part of this amazing school.

Trends in Animation

In your time as a mentor, what’s one positive trend you’ve seen?

DV: The thing that most impresses me during my time as a mentor here at AM is the school’s commitment to the students and mentors to provide the best possible learning and teaching environment. AM was the first school online school out the gate with a lot of successes. As AM established themselves in the industry as the top school and while others came to be, they didn’t rest on their laurels. I love the way AM continues to find ways to improve the product. They take feedback from both students and mentors alike to integrate and upgrade their experience. AM continues to push forward in this area which I truly enjoy.

Students have become more sophisticated with all the different opportunities to learn online. – Paul Allen

PA: Students have become more sophisticated with all the different opportunities to learn online. Also having the ability to work with more international students has increased, and that is always fun to get a view into their goals for the industries in their countries.

A few films on Paul Allen's IMdB page
A few films on Paul’s IMDb page

Advice from the Pros

What advice would you give to an animator who’s just starting out?

PA: Be patient and study and practice as much as possible! Time management tends to be the biggest hurdle for student success in doing online coursework. Make sure you have ample time to do lots of repetition and gain a full understanding of each lesson.

Learning how to work harmoniously alongside someone is a skill all its own and an important one that will help to extend the life of your career. – David Vallone

DV: I would tell an animator who is just getting going in the industry that it’s a cottage industry. You will meet and work with many people over the course of your career. Learn to get along with everyone you work with and DON’T BURN BRIDGES!!! Having a strong, positive reputation is key to your success. Artists are a different breed, so to speak. Learning how to work harmoniously alongside someone is a skill all its own and an important one that will help to extend the life of your career.


Celebrate 15 Years of Animation Mentor:
Happy 15th Birthday Animation Mentor!
Alumni Q&A: Meet Spider-Verse Animator Alex Olea
15 Years: Celebrating with Mentors Greg Kyle & Dave Burgess


Want to be mentored by professional animators?

Start your animation journey today by learning from animators at studios like Pixar, Blue Sky, and ILM! Get more information about Animation Mentor’s Character Animation Program.


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