Cartoon Brew Investigates: $400 a week in NY, $1055 a week in LA

Cartoon Brew uncovers some unsettling news about wage disparity at Titmouse LA and Titmouse NYC. An excerpt:

The question remains, however, about why there is a nearly $700 weekly gap between starting wages for Los Angeles and New York artists working on the same show. New York has the highest cost of living in the United States (Los Angeles, by comparison, is ranked ninth), yet the studio’s starting salary for workers in New York is only $20,800. That figure ranks below New York’s average starting wages for unskilled laborers like doormen ($25,680) and sanitation workers ($27,842).

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About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.


banoofee byeef

this happens because we as artist let it happen. 

Chris Franklin

Are you guys sure that isn’t $400 / $1100 a day?  How can that be weekly in either case?  At $400 a week, that’s $10 an hour on a 40 hour work week and you know they’re working anywhere from to 10 to 16 hour days and probably not getting paid for that overtime, so that would make their actual gross pay before taxes $5-$7 an hour, which means it would be about $3 – $5 an hour after taxes.  At that point, you’re making the same as or less in some cases, than undocumented workers, performing unskilled manual labor.  You can make more than that working retail with no education.  In fact people with no education, working in retail, do make more than that.

daniel savage

I guess it’s the price to pay to not have to work in advertising. I was shocked at this too, knowing starting freelance for motion designers is anywhere between 300-400 a day. There go my dreams of being a cartoon animator! haha.

mike luzzi

$400/ week for a character animator is very low.  Animators definitely make less on series work than on commercials but it’s really more like $1200 – $1500 per week.  That is why the $400 per week figure is so shocking. That and the disparity between the NY and LA pay base.

Jens Blank

taken from the comments section at cartoon brew posted by Amid. I think to be fair this should be included. I am not saying that it justifies the difference or that I agree but I feel both sides should be allowed their say

“For the record (and per Chris’s request), I wanted to share Chris Prynoski’s entire written statement that he shared with Cartoon Brew:Amid-I totally understand and respect your intention in looking into this matter. I’m sure you have the NY animation artists’ best interests in mind. I believe that your heart is in the right place.I also know that my heart is in the right place. I came up in New York. My intention is to help grow the NY animation community in any way possible. This is what Titmouse NY has set out to do, and I think we are taking steps in the right direction. Do I wish we could pay every artist more? Yes, of course. Always. Right now we are trying to keep work in America and New York specifically. As you suggested, we could ship some of this work overseas. But I really feel that giving young New York talent practical work experience is something that has long term benefits. As these artists learn and develop, they have opportunities within the studio for promotion. We encourage artists to pursue positions in which they have interest. We hope to help these artists develop into the next group of great animators, designers, and directors. Right now our NY studio is in its infancy. As it grows, the talent will grow with it. As the talent grows, the talent base grows not just for Titmouse, but for the New York animation community in general. I refuse to see this as a bad thing.I can’t talk in very specific terms about production details on shows we have been contracted to produce. What I can comment on is that there is room for advancement and longevity within the studio. We have kept many artists employed for long periods, rolling from one project to the next. We have promoted many artists very quickly within the studio. The rates we pay span a wide range – all based on merit and experience. Many of the experienced artists earn above the going rates. Everyone has an opportunity to advance if they have the drive and desire.I do not claim that our studio is perfect. We are far from it. (We are run by artists, after all!) As we try to walk, we fall down a few times and learn – but I think the artists are willing to grow and learn with us. I have a long term commitment to making this studio work. And the studio means the artists. I welcome any person to bring any issue they may have to my attention. That’s what helps us all grow stronger. All I want to do is create a comfortable atmosphere to make great cartoons. And I truly believe that’s what we’re doing.I encourage you to come by the studio and see the vibe of Titmouse NY for yourself. I don’t believe you will see an atmosphere of persecution or exploitation. I believe you’ll see a tight community of vibrant, enthusiastic, devoted artists that inspire me every single day.Thanks,Chris P


if the pay sucks work somewhere else.

brandon hamson

You think this is bad? check out some of these companies in portland. 

brandon hamson

Also take into consideration that sanitation workers do not have 70,000 dollar student loans to pay back like some illustrators and animators i know. So in reality they are making even less money. All we can do is not let it happen, if we do this industry will become another race to the bottom. 

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