Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Designs are Worn by the Children of America...

...Or at least these child models for the LAIKA store. In case some of you were wondering what my 'Buffalo Spaceman' and 'Moths' designs were for back in the June 4th entry, LAIKA's media department had asked me to submit some designs for their store. These are the results. Apparently, my whimsical sensibilities fit best with the 'little'nes.' I dig it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Random Page of Thumbnails...

Austin's giving me a hard time about too many words on my blog. Click to enlarge...you will see things you wouldn't see with the naked eye! (only because I don't draw clear enough - I'm a bad story artist :(

Monday, August 17, 2009

You Are Your Habits

I want to point out today a key value that animation students tend to overlook: the value of good habits. It's not just about getting into CalArts. It's not just about getting into the Producer's Show. And it's certainly not just about having the right friends. It's all and none of these things. What I learned from CalArts, the part before it, and the part after it (so far) is that you have a certain amount of time to show people what you're all about, and you do this by habituation. You consistently treat people fairly, you consistently put out good work, you consistently try to learn and help in a team, and so on. I think the biggest "in" to getting work is putting yourself in a position where you can be trusted, both as a person and as a producer of valuable creative work. Before CalArts, I went to Corny's life drawing workshops on Sundays. (Corny is a teacher at CalArts who was on the portfolio review board). Corny saw my work and recognized I had "what it took" and was definitely looking for my portfolio when the time came. This workshop is also where I found out about CSSSA, the summer program at CalArts that uses many of the same teachers. This is where I met some important friends (including the likes of Austin, Adrian Molina, Alex Hirsch and more) and learned what CalArts is all about. And this is also where I got a chance to initially show the potential of my work. I made a splash when I was there. And while I was actually at CalArts as a student, I did my homework to the best quality I could on a consistent basis, I went to life drawing class and also did good work there (and occasionally work that suprised myself - which you need to do from time to time), and essentially developed a good reputation for being both a hard worker and a talented draftsman. And the list goes on with this sort of thing. So it wasn't the end of the world that I didn't get the attention of companies at first, or didn't get into the Producer's Show. Enough people have gained trust in me, seen where I've been, where I am now, and where I'd probably go in the future. When you're in a four year program like CalArts, you have four years to make a splash, four tries to make an effective little film, several semesters to show your habits. And you are your habits. Just like people over time know what to expect from a trusted place to get, say, a good burger, and recommend a place like In-n-Out because they consistently had a good experience, you develop trust by being consistent. So students, for your sake and ours, consistently put your art out there, and consistently show what you're all about, all the time. -v

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Picture of My Blog on My Blog

What a mind freak!

Rejected...Over and Over Again

I've had my share of rejection when it comes to a career in animation. I got rejected once getting into CalArts, but tried again and got in. I never got a film in the Producer's Show - CalArt's annual showcase for industry execs. I didn't get any callbacks for any of my portfolios until my senior year. I got rejected for a story internship position at Pixar, before I tried again. And when I finally did the internship, I wasn't chosen to stay. Then I worked at Blue Sky and got fired. After that, I did a bunch of odd jobs that spanned from doing commercial work, moping around the house, chasing small children... until my current gig now as a story artist at LAIKA. If I look at the pattern, I should be worried, since every good thing has an end. But I should also not be too worried, since every bad thing also has an end. Like the universe, your career expands and contracts. I can jump into all kinds of theories on what I did right and what I did wrong. But right now, I just wanted to use that re-cap as an example of what one should expect. Just when the dead of winter seems like it would never end, a weed sprouts from the snow. -v

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm an Expert at Being a Newbie

What year is it? 2009. And I graduated and started working in the industry back iin...2006. So, I've been working for about three years now and I've already done a lot, from doing bitch work like cleaning up cels, to teaching in a Korean portfolio school, to doing story work for feature. But I am not "the shit" - I'll be the first to tell you that. I haven't accomplished anything. I'm far from mastering my craft, and my poor grandmother is still holding onto her dear life to finally see my name scroll up in the credits at the end of a movie. But I do think I am in a unique position, as far as knowledge of the industry goes. When we go to film school, we're either taught by our peers, who haven't really experienced enough, or veterans in the industry, who often times, like Yoda, speak in riddles. I am, on the other hand, right in the middle. I am a veteran at being new in the industry. I was asked by a friend to write about my experiences, because she refers my blog to some aspiring animators. My friend Austin is also making an effort on his blog to communicate to students. So I think it's only fitting to, how shall I say, "put out." With that said, this blog will be start to have some musings about my experiences from trying to get into CalArts, doing the rat race in school, playing survival with my internships, falling off the face of the earth after losing my job, moping around the house looking for work, having bouts of self-loathing, moving to New York and Portland, etc. etc. The difference between this and a book about a career in animation, is that it's going to be spoken in your language, from one friend to another. It's less "do this now, you will understand why someday" and more about "if you do this, these are the results." It's more near-future results, mind you, but sometimes it's good to be practical. That's why I think what I have to say is worthwhile, in addition to what peers and veterans in the industry have to say. Hopefully someone will get something out of it, but if not, I'd at least have gotten to practice my writing chops. So stay tuned! -v

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Trickster Cheshire

I'm part of the CHADES Character Design challenge this week (it was really last week, but I arrive fashionably late). Yes, there is a new 'Alice in Wonderland' movie coming out. No, this drawing theme is no coincidence, and no, it is not my idea to plug a Disney movie. This week we're suppose to design the (in)famous Cheshire Cat - who is among the great tricksters in literature and folklore, along with Puck and Brer Rabbit.
Smile for the Queen.
You light up my life.
Eventually he's gotta feed.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Where I Am with Movies

So I imagine Comic Con is wrapping up and it looks like the buzz coming from there is James Cameron's upcoming 'Avatar.' I don't know anything about 'Avatar,' but did anyone ever read 'Fathom' or 'Soulfire' from the late Michael Turner? The impression I get is that it's going to feel sorta like that...borderline the feeling of Lisa Frank art. But Cameron is one of the forefathers of computer and 3-D technology in cinema, so I'm always curious about what he's up to. On another note, some talk about some movie trailers have been buzzin' about, thanks to the likes of sites like Apple Trailers, and of course, office e-mail chatter. My friend Austin Madison, the biggest geek I can (barely) tolerate, is excited over 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'G.I. Joe.' My comments about that are 1) 'Alice' looks about on par with Burton's 'Willy Wonka' and 2) I hate Steven Sommers and never played with G.I. Joes, so that movie has no chance in my eyes. And there have been mixed reactions about the trailer for 'Fantastic Mr. Fox.' I think it certainly feels like a Wes Anderson movie, who favors PBS specials and the crude style of Rankin Bass (I'm guessing), so I tend to be more willing to look past the fact that, as Henry Selick puts it, the animation looks like 'Robot Chicken.' 'Moon,' directed by David Bowie's son, has been highly recommended to me, but I haven't gotten around to seeing it yet. The trailer looked kinda cool and creepy, but I was never a fan of Sam Rockwell - something about him always felt like a sleazy used car salesman to me. But buzz is about and the word "mind-fuck" came up, so I better make my way out to the theaters before it gets ruined for me, the same way 'Usual Suspects' was. As a final note, 'Where the Wild Things Are' also piqued my interest, and I recommend '500 Days of Summer' which stars the lovely Zooey Deschanel and the kid from 'Third Rock from the Sun.' It's a really fun movie - it reminded me of the level of feeling for the characters and having genuine fun when I first saw 'Little Miss Sunsine.' And the soundtrack is fantastic! -v