As a child, Selick took up drawing as a hobby. He became fascinated with animation at a young age, after viewing two specific films. One was the silhouette animation feature film "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" (1926) by Lotte Reiniger. It was one of the earliest animated feature films (the first had been released in 1917), the first produced in Europe, and the earliest one that has been preserved. The other film was the live-action film "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" (1958), which featured stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen.
In the 1970s, after completing his college studies, Selick was hired by Walt Disney Productions, (the animation studio of the Disney corporation). He started his career there as an in-betweener, generating intermediate images for key frames in animated works. This is typically a low-level position at the animation department and the work goes uncredited.
The young animators of the studio, Selick among them, completed a single film, the drama film "The Fox and the Hound" (1981). Then many of them left the studio to pursue careers elsewhere. Selick spend most of the 1980s as a freelancer. He directed animation for television commercials, for products such as the Pillsbury Doughboy, and Ritz Crackers. He also worked as a sequence director or storyboard artist for a number of films, such as "Twice Upon a Time" (1983), "Return to Oz" (1985), "Nutcracker: The Motion Picture" (1986). His television work also included some animation work for a television channel called "MTV".
Selick's big break in the animation world came when he was approached by an old acquaintance, director Tim Burton. Burton was producing a stop-motion animation feature film for Disney, but did not have the time to direct it himself, and needed someone to direct and to supervise the developing process. Selick was hired as the director for "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993), the first full-length, stop-motion feature from a major American studio.
"Nightmare" was a relatively low-budget film, but became a minor box office hit, earning about 76 million dollars at the worldwide box office. It also earned critical acclaim, particularly praise for then-revolutionary visual effects. It earned a number of awards and nominations, including a Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film and an Annie Award. It was no surprise that Selick would be asked to direct again.
His next film was the novel adaptation "James and the Giant Peach" (1996), based on a work by Roald Dahl. The film combined live-action with stop-motion animation. It was another critical success, but a box office flop. It was overshadowed in the Annie Awards (for animation) by two competitors: "Toy Story" (1995) and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1996).
In 2004, Selick was hired as a supervising director by Will Vinton Studios, a minor animation studio that focused on stop-motion animation. In 2005, Will Vinton Studios was replaced by a new studio called "Laika". Selick retained his position. For Laika, Selick developed and directed his first computer-animated short film: "Moongirl" (2005). The premise is that a young boy is transported to the Moon, where he helps a Moongirl repair the Moon. "Moongirl" turned out to be a critically acclaimed short film and won a number of awards, including an award by the Ottawa International Film Festival. Selick was next hired to write a children's book based on the film, which was released in 2006.
Laika next started work on its first feature film, an adaptation of a novel by Neil Gaiman. Selick was assigned as the director of the film. Selick was reportedly necessary for the company to secure the rights to the novel, because Gaiman happened to be a fan of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and trusted him to adapt his work for film. The film was dark fantasy "Coraline" (2009). It earned about 125 million dollars at the worldwide box office, becoming the most commercially successful film in Selick's career.
"Coraline" was critically acclaimed winning or receiving nominations for several major awards. It even received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
According to imdb.com