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Case Study

Ross Phillips

Gateshead, UK

BA (Hons) Animation and Games Art


Ross Phillips had always wanted to pursue a career in animation. He chose to study the subject at Sunderland because of the broad range of animation techniques available to learn. He graduated during the 2008 recession which meant finding a graduate job was hard, but after a short time in a digital media role, he began animation freelance work full-time. Ross is now a designer at Studio AKA, working on the BAFTA and Emmy award-winning animated series, ‘Hey Duggee’.

I was set on pursuing animation from a young age and went to university straight after finishing sixth form. I chose to study animation at the University of Sunderland because the course they offered covered a broad range of animation techniques, plus I found learning about the history of design appealing.

My favourite part of the course was getting the opportunity to try my hand at all sorts of animation techniques, mostly traditional, which was a great learning experience. Having access to all of the facilities and equipment available was brilliant; I’d borrow cameras and computers and make little films with my friends in between coursework – it was a lot of fun!

I graduated in 2008 during the recession and finding a foot in the door felt impossible. I ended up drifting into an apprentice digital media role, which had nothing to do with animation. But I still made my own animated projects in my spare time, posting them online. I eventually started getting asked to make, or work on, small, animated adverts, building up a portfolio and some regular clients. I decided then to go freelance full-time. I did this for about five years, doing a mix of paid roles and personal work, before being asked to come on board and work as a designer at Studio AKA, which was a dream come true for me. I mostly work on the animated series ‘Hey Duggee’, and we’re about to start production on series four – so that’ll keep me busy for a while! Duggee has gone on to win several BAFTAs and an International Emmy, so I'm immensely proud to work on it.

I think I learned the importance of self-motivation from my time at the University of Sunderland. I always try and have a few personal projects on the go, so if I get bored with one thing, I can switch to another.

My time studying at Sunderland was a lot of fun and it gave me a good grounding in animation. My tutors were great, and I’m still in touch with them today. I feel like I could have worked harder, but the social aspect of life at university is just as important, so I'm not going to beat myself up too much about that! My advice to future animation students? Turn up to class! And make the most of what is on offer – you'll never get the time to focus on creativity this solidly again!”

Published 25 January 2021

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