I think about this one quite a bit. Not necessarily for myself. I'm very aware of all, well, most of the reasons why I got into and still love being an animator. I've always been curious why other people get into it.
When I was growing up movies, especially animated movies, were not "made." They were magic things that just showed up at the drive in (yeah, drive in.) I knew there were people involved somehow...the actors of course and the whole list of people in the credits had all kinds of bits and pieces to do with the movies creation. But, when I was 10, the idea of how these people actually made this wonderful story that I was watching that was sooo much bigger than life (especially my life in a small, southern town) was just as much a mystery as fission and girls. Add to that how something as wonderful as "The Secret of N.I.H.M." or "The Rescuers Down Under" or any of the "Warner Bros Shorts" was "made" and you just completely blew my mind.
It wasn't until I saw Jurassic Park (I wonder how many people tie that movie to their start in animation) that I knew I had to try. Not because of what I saw, as incredible as it was, but because of who did it. When I heard that Phil Tippet was key to making those beautiful dinosaurs come to life I was hooked. See, I enjoyed the classic Disney flicks but I loved, LOVED the stop motion films. King Kong, Mighty Joe Young, Jason and the Argonauts and the Sinbad series were the end all, be all. In the years leading up to Jurassic Park stop motion was being used less and less in film and there really were no large scale stories being told with it. The idea that one of my animation heroes was able to make the transition to this new (at the time) medium and help create this fantastic world...well, I knew I'd regret not at least trying to have my dream career. I haven't regretted it since.
Now, back to the original question. Why are YOU an animator? This is a somewhat rhetorical question of course. I don't expect anyone to post on here why they did (but I would love it if you do....feel free!) I ask because I'm curious as to how many people currently trying to get into the industry really know why. I actually had someone tell me because "it seems to be a growth industry."
You don't become an animator so you can be rich or famous. You don't do it because you want stability in your life. You don't do it because you want to work "bankers" hours and like your weekends to yourself. Animators are an odd crew by nature and we do this for any number of reasons. We want to make someone believe in a performance or we want to make dinosaurs walk or we want to have the "cool job" at the dinner party. Whatever it is, know your "reason." Know why you want to do this because when you have a director tell you your shots, that you spent countless hours of your life and brain cells over, are getting scrapped or you're working weekends for 7 months straight during crunch or your picking up and moving your family to start at a new studio, well, that "reason" is one of the only things you're gonna have to help push you through those times. Make sure it's a good one.
So, what's your reason? Why the hell are YOU an animator?