A family friend asked Tom : "Catriona wants to be an anime artist. How does one go about doing that?"
Tom's answer was pretty insightful. Hopefully it wasn't too overwhelming for Catriona, a girl in middle school aspiring to be an anime artist.... Here it is:
To a degree you don't. Japan is the only country that makes anime and it's very rare for anyone who isn't Japanese to get a job with those companies (move there, learn the language, and be an awesome artist to boot). On the American side, there are very few, if any anime inspired projects.
Overall the best path for a 'cartoonist/animation artist' these days is the internet. Build a website / facebook page / deviantArt page / YouTube channel- You need to get you work out to the public and let them know you exist. Second, never stop taking art classes. Lots and lots of life drawing- that is what most animation companies want to see. Perspective too. There are lots on fairly cheap online classes, plus free stuff on Youtube. Any book by Glen Vilppu or Richard Willaims is great (mind you these are non-anime, but they teach the solid / universal skills that an artist can use to make any style look better).
Lastly, when going out to find a job, your school doesn't really help too much- except for building connections. Everything is about you portfolio (self-taught, Art Center- they don't care). If your not as good or better than stuff currently being made, chances won't be good for finding a job.
Making a living as an artist is tough, I really haven't been too successful at it, my wife Sandra on the other hand has been. So it's possible.
Hope that helps.
P.S.- If you doesn't know already,
http://www.antarctic-press.com/html/version_01/index.php Is the biggest American company for anime inspired art