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Why I Became a Voice Over Artist

Well, here I go, my first ever voice over blog. I’ve been meaning to get around to this for quite some time now, but as any freelancer knows the great procrastination monster always looms large with tempting whispers of “Ooh, maybe just one more episode of Judge Rinder…”

I’ve been a professional voice over artist for about 18 months now and wanted to start documenting my thoughts in these blogs mostly as a cathartic exercise for myself, to see how far I’ve come and if I’ve learned anything.

And given that a quick search on voice over might bring up about 1.5 billion results, I definitely get a “screaming into the void” vibe from these blogs, but hey, at least my parents will probably read these, which is nice, hello parents!

So, over the last 18 months of graft and research I’ve come across a lot of info telling folks how to become a voice over artist but not too many on why they started. Although I’ll be honest, working at home in my pyjamas definitely has an appeal to it, oh, and getting to do shopping on weekdays and chilling with the local pensioners in Aldi is fun.

For me though, it all started in 1998 when I was a wee bright-eyed lad of 13 and I played Metal Gear Solid for the first time. So, impressed by the gravelly, manly voice acting of Solid Snake (David Hayter), a seed was planted at the back of my mind that said, “Boy, I bet that would be a fun job to do!”

So, my first devastation came when my voice actually broke, and I sounded nothing like the deep, gruff everyman I was hoping and a bit more like late era Michael Jackson (I’m still holding out hope it might get deeper one day…)

Of course, another irony is I’ve gotten very little character work in my time as a voice over artist, turns out I don’t really have the voice for it, so there was a second devastating blow. (Although I did do a job once where the client asked if I could sound like Gazza, possible dream achieved there?)

Solid Snake there. I sound nothing like him but at least I'm better looking?

Turns out I had a voice that was much more suited to E-learning and the corporate world and getting the right voice for the right job was one of the very first things I learned, but more on these kind of lessons learned in future blogs.

Anyway, as with most child hood thoughts, these were quickly crushed by the education system and I was on the path of deciding what I wanted to do with my life. Which I’ve always thought is kind of a tough choice to give a teenager given most of them don’t even know what they want for dinner that that night, but I digress.

On going to university, I did that typically millennial thing and got a degree that would have absolutely no bearing on any job I would subsequently get (it was history and politics by the way if you’re interested)

This was followed by another wonderful millennial tradition of bumbling about from job to job in my twenties not really having a clue what I wanted to do, although my love of video games and voice over remained consistent.

To be honest though, that initial fascination with video games and voice over was just a useful excuse really because what all this aimlessness taught me was what I really wanted to do was work for myself. I’ve had a lot of different full-time jobs in the past, from call centres and bar tending to teaching in Japan and eventually ending up as an internal auditor.

However, I never really felt in control of my own life, kind of climbing up a ladder that never ends. With days I’m doing voice over though, the whole day is mine to choose what to do with and I love that little buzz of excitement I get when I remember that this whole day is on me, no-one is going to come in and save me if I mess up.

Honestly? Voice over was just a catalyst to get me into a job where I could have this level of freedom and control, I suppose if I’d been more interested in drawing as a kid I’d have gone for my own graphic design business, or if I’d been more mechanical I’d have gone down the engineering route.

Actually, scratch the art thing. I remember as a kid in art class my teacher threw a clay cat I made into the bin. Message received sir… (to be fair, he was right to do so, I’m terrible at art).

Working as a voice over artist has started to give me a strong sense of purpose that I’ve never really gotten with any other career to date. I suppose this is really why I do it, it gives me something to strive for each morning, it’s something that I’ve created myself.

The important thing is I’m doing something where the time is my own and I’m completely responsible for my own actions, where success or failure rests entirely on me (wow, now that I’ve actually written this down I realise I may be pretty screwed given how lazy I am!)

Well, there you have it, a very brief and rambling tale of why I do what I do, hopefully this makes sense and hopefully I’ll get steadily more coherent as these come along!

But if anyone comes across this blog and feels the same need to break free then at least they’ll know they’re not alone, and I’d heartily recommend taking the leap and do your own thing. We may not get rich and famous from it but at least we can scream into the void together.

I’m hoping to continue these blogs in a semi chronological order and write down some of the top stumbling blocks I hit when I first started out trying to be a professional voice over artist and how I overcame them. Again, this is mostly for me to document my own journey for myself, but you never know, some other beginners might chance upon it and it’ll help them out!

Anyway, must go for now, think another episode of Judge Rinder is about to come on…


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