Power to the People: Artist Anneke Camstra Shows What’s Possible at Any Age

Most of us associate learning with younger people—kids in school and college or recent grads early in their careers.

But at Udemy, we’re champions of lifelong learning, and by that we really mean throughout your entire life. Amsterdam-based artist Anneke Camstra gets what this means on both the learning and teaching sides. At 67 years young, she loves the experience of gaining new knowledge and also loves sharing it with others.

“I’m retired, but an artist never retires,” Anneke explains. “The last few years on the internet have been a great joy for me. My brain has come back to life. I’ve taken so many Udemy courses, and it’s such a great feeling to get my brain working again.” She finds just as much satisfaction in being a Udemy instructor too, now boasting 14 courses and more than 8,500 enrolled students.

Leveraging the lessons of the ‘60s & ‘70s

Anneke’s worldview was shaped back in her university days, a time of student revolution in Amsterdam and the second feminist wave. She was very active in those movements, and one of her motivations for teaching animation on Udemy is “to get the tools to the people.” When she was a student, the innovative technology of the time was the mimeograph, which allowed young people to control and distribute their messages; she sees what she’s doing on Udemy in the same light.

After university, Anneke taught at a school for social workers, who were tasked with helping people in prison and troubled neighborhoods. Even with her high ideals, she eventually got burned out. “You want to change what’s wrong,” but your impact can only go so far.

“Now I know you can’t change the world that much, not like I used to think, but that doesn’t change my attitude toward life,” Anneke declares. Today, of course, she can reach countless people around the world with her online courses.

Though she’s been an artist for 30 years, Anneke says she, like most of her peers, can’t live off her art. But with her Udemy courses, she feels like she finally can make money by combining it with teaching: “It’s an awesome feeling when you’re 67!”

Helping people discover their potential

Earning income is only one of Anneke’s goals. She really wants to expose more people to what they can accomplish on their own using very inexpensive animation software, such as GoAnimate and PowToon, rather than hiring an expensive expert to do the work. “You can go such a long way to make things that look professional but still have your own voice,” she explains.

Anneke’s target students are “solopreneurs” and other teachers who are starting to work online but don’t have the money to outsource everything that entails. Most start out thinking they’re not creative and can’t draw, “but then I get them so far in my five-day challenge courses, and they send me messages about how they didn’t think they could do it and I’ve helped them get over the fear.” Anneke understands how fear can get in the way of so many things we dream of doing in our lives.

While her monthly revenue fluctuates, the additional income from Udemy helps her pay the rent and take care of her labradoodle, Pekka. Mostly, she’s loving the impact she has on her students and the platform Udemy gives her to be an inspiration to other women. “I have little to lose, and I can be honest. That’s the way you learn,” she says. “I have good contact with students who tell me I’ve changed their lives because I’ve helped them go from their first animation to offering their own services and making products. I’m totally proud of them.”

She encourages people of all ages, but especially older people, to cultivate their curiosity and zest for life. Grandparents, for example, can learn something like PowToon and make animations together with their grandkids.

“I’m an older woman, teaching and having fun learning again,” Anneke says, and she wants others later in their lives to join her on this journey. “For people over 50, Udemy is an excellent opportunity to learn and maybe make a little money with it. The possibilities are so totally different from the past. You don’t even need a university.”