maxresdefaultThe Creative Talent Network (CTN) Expo takes place every year in the Burbank Marriot. As always, this year’s conference features some of the Animation Industry’s most talented artists, directors and producers and the incredible opportunity to meet them. Zerply founders James Bennett and Christofer Karltorp will also be in attendance, so make sure to catch up with them! CTNExpo can be a bit overwhelming, so here are the top things you should make sure to do.

1. Talk to your favorite artist – then buy their sketchbook and/or print

Did you know that artists are human beings? I know, crazy right? Most of them love the opportunity to talk with fans and fellow professionals, so make sure to stop by their table and strike up a conversation. These are the expert artists whose work is featured in all those fancy “Art of” books, and this is your chance to not only find out what makes them tick, but also potentially directly support their art. Pick up a sketchbook or print. Not only will the artist be grateful, but they’re usually very limited in number.

2. Get your portfolio/reel reviewed

While there are portfolio/reel reviews organized by the CTN conference itself, they often turn into a bit of a cattle call. While you can certainly gain plenty of helpful notes to improve your work in these reviews, there’s always someone behind you waiting their turn. So what to do? Remember those artists you were just chatting with at their table? Why not ask them? As professionals who have successfully navigated the gauntlet, they are perfectly primed to provide feedback and insight on your work. The Oatley Academy is even offering reviews for free!

ctnx11M sean3. Network with major studio recruiters

The top animation studios in the world send their recruiters to CTN looking for young talent. Recruiters from Blue Sky Studios, Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Nickelodeon, Reel FX and Sony Picture Animation will be on hand. But, like artists, recruiters are people too. Students and junior artists – take some time to introduce yourself and do your best to make a solid first impression. Be professional and respectful of their time. It goes a long way if the recruiters can connect a positive interaction with a great portfolio.

4. Visit Stuart Ng books

Your wallet will regret the day you ever discovered Stuart Ng’s books. Stuart is one of the foremost experts on Animation related books and has an expansive library of rare and imported books from all over the world. Two things is guaranteed: every item he’s got for sale is top shelf quality and you’ll have a hard time walking away from his booth with just one thing.

6. Attend a panel by your favorite creators and Animation legends

This year’s special guests include Brad Bird, John Musker, Henry Selick, Mark Osborne, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Peter Lord, Andreas Deja, Brenda Chapman, Carlos Baena, Dean DeBlois, Eric Goldberg, Floyd Norman, Iain McCaig, Terryl Whitlach, Kim Jung-Gi, Tomm Moore, William Joyce and so many more! If you recognize any of the names on this list, you owe it to yourself to try to catch their inspirational panels.

7. Learn more about learning

Many of the resources we pointed you to in our article on best education resources will have booths at CTN. Chat with representatives from Schoolism, CGMA, AnimSchool, and Gnomon (to name but a few) to find out the best way to gain the creative edge and make your portfolio or reel shine.


ctnx11 billp8. Have a drink at the bar – say hello to Zerply folks.

If you’re 21+ years old (of course), it’s a well known “secret” that most of the trademark LA-style schmoozing at CTN happens at the hotel bar & restaurant, The Daily Grill. Frankly, the area surrounding the Burbank Airport isn’t exactly renowned for its hoppin’ night life, so people flock to the run-of-the-mill hotel restaurant out of sheer lack of options. That said, you will not find a better place to casually chat with artists, directors and producers and hear the uncensored behind-the-scenes stories of your favorite animated productions. Come meet up with us, we may have a story or two to share!

Images from Stuart Ng Books Blog