Justin Lawrence is the perfect example of passion; for what you do and for the personal milestones in life. Justin is currently working as an animator at Construct Education, a company providing online courses for universities around the world. The first of two boys, Justin appreciates the way he was raised, describing his childhood as normal and stable.
“I grew up in Heathfield, Cape Town. It was a fairly safe quiet area where the neighbours knew one another. I have a younger brother and lived with both of my parents. They supported us in everything from sports days to my passion for art. We grew up playing sports like soccer and cricket and I ran in various events for school athletics.”
Justin was raised in the church and from a young age was always very artistically-inclined.
“I’ve always been involved in church and learned to play guitar in high school and I’m currently still playing in the band at church. As long as I can remember, I enjoyed drawing and always had an interest in it. I continued with art throughout high school and picked up graffiti along the way to matric.”
Though he didn’t grow up with a tough upbringing Lawrence says that he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His family didn’t have a lot but what they had was enough for them, which Lawrence says it made him a resourceful adult.
“I didn’t have the most difficult time growing up. Never had name brands or anything crazy expensive but our parents made sure that we had everything we needed and that we appreciated what we had. I’m grateful that we learned this lesson early in life. It also made me very resourceful with what I had and taught me that you don’t need much, use what you have.”
He also applauds the school he went to as he felt accepted there; he didn’t feel the need to be anything but himself.
“Fortunately, the friends I had and the schools we went to were very inclusive and the kids accepted you for who you were and not based on what you look like or how much money you had. We always wished we had more or had what other people had but by having enough, we learned to appreciate this and not look at what we didn’t have.”
Justin studied animation at False Bay College and there he discovered that it could be a potential career.
“I always enjoyed art and drawing but never knew what I could do with it. In high school I learned graffiti and kept going with art and ended up job shadowing a graphic designer. I only discovered that animation was a career when I applied for a bursary to study. My late lecturer Mr. Gary Kachelhoffer really inspired me to become an animator and take this career path seriously. Most of my work ethic in the industry today comes from the lessons he taught us.”
Justin has been married for three years now but he has been with his wife for 11 years.
“My greatest achievement would be having our baby girl. She represents everything we have worked for and is my greatest creation as an artist. When I see how she learns new things every day, it reminds me of how I started my journey and where it led me.”
“A notable work-related achievement would be completing my final project while studying. This was during protests at campus and we had to take our work home. Some context, I studied 2D Animation and we did everything on paper, hand drawn. They threatened to burn our work if we didn’t protest. I think only three of us managed to complete this project and I came out top of the class. I learned a lot by this and it helped me push myself to where I am today.”
Justin encourages young people to put in the work when you are dedicating your time on a career.
“God first. Without Him, we can’t do anything, work on your craft every day. See what other people are doing and grow your online presence. Learn as much as you can and don’t only rely on your studies. YouTube or do online courses and read books about animation.”
Justin Lawrence is an example of how putting in the work will always get you wherever you aim to go in life. Live and work hard for your dreams. In the end, it will all be worth it.
Read about the media student who triumphed over hardships here
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