Specialized dating websites come and go all the time. Now, the brainchild of two former animators, IOnlyDateAnimators.com, has reached a milestone, claiming to have signed up its 45th subscriber after only 6 months online.
Bruce Packer and Gerald Fitzpatrick, both former animators, founded the site in 2011 after a pointed discussion at Comic-Con several years ago with animator friends who complained about having tremendous difficulty finding like-minded people they could date. Especially those that liked to dress up as comic book superheroes or anime action stars. According to Bruce, the common complaint was, “I’ve already asked out every single person at the studio and they won’t go out with me,” or, “HR has asked me effectively immediately to stop asking any company employees out on a date.” Bruce and Gerald then spent two years researching single people who work in animation, visual effects and gaming. They kept hearing the same thing – ‘I go on the big dating websites and people just don’t understand my lifestyle. And they always ask me to submit a fingerprint scan.”
Sporting the tagline, “Normal People Just Don’t Get Us, “IOnlyDateAnimators.com launched with 5 members but grew to more than 25 by the end of last year.
“You don’t have to be an animator to join the site,” explained Gerald. “You could work at a toy company, or a store that sells lots of games, or a comic book store. But in every case, no matter where you work, you’re looking for someone who has values like an animator.”
Subscribers pay a monthly fee of $12.95 to be matched up with other like-minded candidates. A 2010 collaborative MPAA-IGDA-VES-ASIFA study claimed 1 out of every 1 unmarried animator/game developer/vfx professionals used a dating service in 2009, none successfully.
The site has done some traditional marketing, including web ads on industry sites as well as distributing pamphlets outside Planned Parenthood locations. However, they attribute the steady membership rise primarily to word of mouth.
Members are required to provide information quite dissimilar from traditional dating sites. For example, instead of asking about hobbies or an astrological sign, the site asks how many different action figure toy collections you have and what type of rendering software you use on your home production system.
The site boasts numerous success stories, including a couple who work at competing Southern California vfx houses who on a recent date, sat and looked at each other for an hour from opposite sides of a Starbucks in Santa Monica. Bruce summed up their site’s appeal. “You walk around an animation studio, there are 100 people in a room designed to hold 10. There’s barely any light. There’s tremendous pressure to decorate your cubicle and get more tattoos. Nothing is secret anymore. Everybody knows how weird everyone else is. But people in the industry get lonely and they’re looking for a place online that’s not so crowded, to find people who really understand the animator lifestyle and won’t run away when contacted.”