Friday, April 08, 2011
Artist in animation V.S. Animation artist
I've recently been having great discussions with my pal Ben Balistreri about striving to be a better artist in storyboarding and in animation as a whole. We talked about staying hungry to learn more and more as we go on in our careers. As we spoke it really began to strike me that we need to believe that we are artists in animation not just animation artists.
As an artist you should always want to get better. We are on a constant road of evolution with our art. I believe that true artists aren't satisfied with where they are on that road of evolution. They are always searching for inspiring visuals, books, films, paintings, drawings, or anything to help them learn and get better. It's a double edged sword for artists who feel this way because you want to feel good about your current work and yet you should be self aware as to how you want to improve it. The day we stop striving to be better artists is the day we become stagnant and stop growing.
Psychologically believing that you are an artist who works in animation will benefit your animation career. Reason being you will not just be completing a trade on a daily basis but you will see the artistic facet of your trade whether it be animating, storyboarding, modeling, character design,,,etc. Realizing that artistic facet will help defeat mediocrity.
The opposite mind set is solely being an animation artist. this is someone who will not create outside the realm of their job description and will not create any art after they have left the building of employment. I respect everyone no matter how they feel, but that way of thinking means that that artist is a tradesman. Someone who is crafting a particular skill and that skill only. These artists or tradesman if you will do not create any art at home.
The psychological effect can turn into an animation artist who does not grow or doesn't care to grow in their career because they don't see themselves as artists first. Thus the career dictates the amount of art done and the hunger to improve is suppressed. Some may be totally fine with that or some may say they don't have time to create art outside of work. I've even heard many say that they draw enough all day and the last thing they want to do when they get home is draw. Sad.
My rant here is meant to give support to all and any who believe that they are artists working in animation and not just animation artists. It's for those people who want to learn and get better on their evolutionary road of artistic development. It's for those who love animation and apply their passion for art into what they do on the job. I believe animation is Art! But that art is part of the bigger picture (literally). Your personal art not only can support your daily grind on the job but it lives on it's own outside of the silver screen.
I guess I'm saying have fun being an artist first! Let that be in your heart and mind as you create the great films to come. It can be drawing, painting, sketching, sculpture, comics...anything! Believe you are an artists and never settle for mediocrity!
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Some artists have a lot of strength so after the job they have more energy left....that's a gift.Great post
Never really thought of it until I saw your post. Great thought there, to continually evolve and be an artist in animation :)
Love your works by the way! :D
Amen! That's a great way to think about it. Thanks for the inspiring word this fine Friday morning!
Great post, Dave. Very inspiring. Gotta keep that fire burning!
thank you thank you thank you!!!
I fully believe in this! Stay inspired, make art, have fun--all great advice. Thanks, Dave!
I totally agree with everything you wrote!!!!I know its hard finding time and not being tired after a whole day of work, but if you consider yourself a true artist, you will find that time! like they say "if there is a will, there's a way"! Thanks for this great post!
Inspiring post, Dave.
nuff said. Great post man!
Oh god, I wrote this huge long thousand-word comment to you, and it was totally lost in the abyss of the internet when I must have typed the word verification wrong! I don't know if I have the heart to re-type everything I said, but I just wanted you to know that I completely agree with you. The road to artistic "mastery" is a multi-directional road that is mostly subjective. Finding a "style" is both the hardest leap for an artist, and at the same time, one of the easiest. We all have a "style" starting out, but our experiences along the way are what help us refine it. It takes outside knowledge and a constant yearning for progress and improvement for an artist to hone their skills in a direction they find the most personal satisfaction.
There really is no objective way to judge "improvement". Even Picasso started off drawing normal anatomy, and only achieved his "improvement" after completely breaking the convention rules of perspective, composition, and form. And it really takes outside inspiration for someone to break free of their current mindset and try something new and daring with their artwork. At the very least, something new and daring that will -stick- with them, and is not just an experiment.
Evolution is something that takes time, years, experience, mistakes, and learning from mistakes. Without a constant input of knowledge from outside sources, the "evolution" of art would be entirely self-contained.
The good news though is that even a tradesman animation artist will always have peers and coworkers who have worldly opinions, advice, and critique, and can bring that to the table, but without the artist really taking the effort to expand upon their knowledge from outside sources, it's still (even though it's a larger box) self-contained. If -nobody- from even a large group of peers, did any research or found any inspiration outside of their circle, there would eventually come a day when the salad bowl ends up becoming a melting pot without any new variation of ingredients.
It is definitely crucial for someone who wants to strive to be a better artist, to reach out and search for inspiration in the world. -Even if the artist doesn't incorporate it- it's still there! One day when drawing, he or she may make a certain gesture that he/she normally may not have made, and think to himself/herself that it looks fine, because it looks familiar, when in actuality, they may have been inspired by the gesture of some artist in some book they glanced at months previously. But even still, it's all the same. It's inspiration. It's a constant growth.
Where an artist is now in his or her abilities, I like to think of it as a "reference point". The artist has a solid base to stand on, the foundation that they've built. But it's never too late to look up to the sky and continue to be inspired to build.
Thank you everyone! I just want you to be inspired and get out there and create!
Wow! You're awesome! Nice BIG comment! I love it! I want to read more of your work. I may just read about the history of animation. Great!
Oh haha! I actually use Livejournal instead of Blogger! That History of Animation blog was a requirement for a final. We could either make a blog, or write a paper for the assignment XD But thanks for your reply!! If you really wanted to see more of my work, I have a website, but gosh I feel so embarrassed plugging it. I applied to the Story Initiative program so perhaps you might see my work/portfolio on the table there : )
I really have such strong feelings about branching out and expanding not just because it's a rule of thumb for aspiring artists, but from a personal anecdote as well. I actually have two bachelor's degrees. I got my BA from the University of Michigan in English/Creative Writing, Linguistics, and Music. I went on to pursue an MFA at Northwestern speech-language pathology and it was only there that I realized that I was unhappy with my career path. I needed something more creative and artistic, and I would often moonlight into wee hours of the night drawing and painting, as a sort of art therapy for myself. It was only from that, that I realized I wanted to pursue a career in art, which by the way, was totally out of the blue and it took a year to convince my parents I wanted to go into animation, where I could combine all my interests, of story, art, and music. So I ended up going to art school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It's funny how I ended up there, because all I did was try to go there for an assessment of my artwork one day to see if I, as an amateur without any official training, would be wasting my time to drop out of my graduate program at Northwestern to instead pursue a career in art and animation, and they saw my portfolio at the time, including my music and writing, and they accepted me on the spot. And it's really because of them that I was able to get the opportunity to pursue art, and ended up at USC for my MFA in animation.
I originally had started out doing the run-of-the-mill anime artwork, fan art. And, admittedly, I still have a hobby of drawing it. But it's really because I was able to branch out, and learn from amazing teachers, and I was exposed to so many new ways of thinking, and even history of art, and history of animation, and all that education that I never would have received otherwise, that I've been able to expand upon myself. And from that, I appreciate more than -anything- continuing to branch out and learn from outside sources. Without that, and without the advice and influences of others, we never would expand as people. And, more than that, we'd never discover new passions or trends that we can incorporate into our work and lifestyle. I am a big believer in the ripple effect, and how one person can influence another, who can influence another... and having that outreach, and yearning for new knowledge, -that- is what keeps us growing as artists, and even more, as well-rounded and cultured people. We all source from what we know and from our inspirations around us. I know that for the rest of my life I'll definitely be the "artist in animation" and continue to be proud of it : )
I can also see how it affects your own artwork as well, and even your personal doodles, they are all incredibly inspiring. I'm so glad that I came across your blog : )
I was just thinking about these sort of things lately. When I hear these sort of discussions from professionals, it makes me feel a lot better about myself.
I highly agree. Being insatiable means more motivation in oneself, especially as an artist :)
Hi Dave, thanks for the post! Also, I just bought your book last week. It's on my bookshelf next to my Drawn to Life books :) I've found it to be very encouraging and motivational.
And thank you for sharing your story, Laura :) It's always nice to know there are other people who went through multiple degrees as well. I have a BA in Philosophy, an MS in Counseling and just started back at Fullerton Community College for a certificate in Illustration. I like to think of myself as a storyteller as well as an artist and am excited about combining my understanding of philosophy and psychology with my developing artistic skills.
I think that's really awesome, Jonathan : ) Wow, both psychology -and- philosophy! I think that that's an incredible combination if you do put it to good use!! : D
You have to push to keep growing. But it's deeper than art. Growth is about being invested in life and staying alert and responsive to it. To stay engaged in art, I feel you must be engaged in every aspect of your own life and the life surrounding you. Keeping a child-like mindset, in that you must always be investigating and open. It is also important to have people around you to share these observations with. Sounds like you may have just that, which is fantastic!
Awesome post, and wonderful comments to boot.
Also, what you have all stated is completely true for any field. Definitely true for video game artists in animation, concept, modeling, etc.
Jonathan said thanks!
I accidentally deleted his comment. Sorry Jonathan
Lots of great responses btw.
No worries, thanks :) (doesn't need to be posted)
hey Dave, my name is Zachary and I have been following your blog for a little over a year now, your lessons have been extremely helpful, and if i can be honest, your work has been constantly inspiring me, i have many of your drawing printed out and taped to my wall above my work desk,(right next to keane's drawings) but i cant tell you how long i have wanted to be an animator, (board artist specifically) and i recently had a similar epiphany, i appreciate this post so much because i totally connect to it. thanks again dave. I really appreciate it.
Thanks man! I'm a little nervous being next to the great Glen Keane.
Well the i think the principle is not so much your work being next to the great glen keane, but you and glen keane are great enough to me to be up there in the first place! you know? I mean it when I said have come you your blog and your drawings OVER AND OVER and your work constantly inspires me. And if I can be honest it was a lot of your work, that kinda has shaped the way I draw. if you are interested take a look at my portfolio and tell me what you think. I would truly appreciate it.
thanks for the words,
especially on a monday morning (when I read it)
could not agree more. An artist who doesn't see themselves as an artist is a wasteful thing indeed..
Amen to that.
Terrific advice, just forwarded around the studio for the artists to read... :D
Great post! I agree!
Awesome post. Completely see where you're coming from on this. Towards the end of university I got a little lost because I found myself only doing animation - no other art. It didn't feel like I was going anywhere with it. But, thankfully in the last year things have changed for the better! Being an artist first is so important. By doing so, it has definitely helped me get back into the swing of things, grow artistically and WANT to develop ideas/work and further improve. Anyhow I will stop babbling. Nice blog
I love this text! I agree all words!
from Sao Paulo
Hi Dave! My name is Zachary Shore I wrote you a comment not too long ago on this post. I taped your drawings to my wall, next to Glen Keane's, you inspire me yadda yadda yadda hahaha Anyway I am aware that you know Jenny Lerew of the Blackwing Sketchbook and Diaries. Well she hasnt posted in a long time and I wrote her a comment I think you might be interested in, and I was hoping I could share with you. Its a bit of a long story so I will have to send it over two comments, I am sorry but I believe you will find it inspirational. Here is what I wrote to Jenny:
"Hey Jenny! My name is ZM Shore, I will first start out by saying I love your drawings (I hope you find the time to post more in the future!) and I especially love this blog! It has taught me a lot about this industry, I am fresh out of high school, this is my first summer on my own and I am trying to figure out how I will make it in this industry! Inspiration is all over the place and you have provided much of that! The stories you have provided and told are a constant reminder of why I want to be in this industry and inspire me to keep going. So as a form of thank you, I was hoping I could tell you a little story, one regarding the Blackwing Pencil! I will try my best to keep it short. Ever since I wanted to be an animator, I found it hard to express my love for the art form, I would compensate for that by reading the blogs of my favorite artists, you are one of them. This blog is one I have come to for over a year for constant inspiration! Ever since I read your first post about the Blackwing Pencil I have been obsessed with having one of these unique pencils! I wanted to know what it was like to draw with the precision, power, and grace of the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602. I always wanted one, just one! and I always said if I ever got one I would not use it until the day that I deserved to use the pencil! A project that deserved it, drawn by an artist (whom I hope I will become) that deserved to use it. But life outside animation was exciting too, I just met this girl, and within a few short months we started dating. Our first week of dating I told her about my plan for the Blackwing, I have never met a girl who has understood me like she has (and God I hope I dont sound like a braty little teenager in punch drunk love) but she was at this point one of the only people I could sit down and talk about WHY I love animation! Not even my parents completely understand yet. Months before my graduation my girlfriend was ranting and raving about what a great gift she got me and how it would be the best gift I ever got! I was quick to assume that it was the Blackwings and when I confronted her on my suspitions (for about the 80th time) she was seriously offened. She explained that she could not afford the Blackwings and she did not want me to get excited about a present she could not get me, and that I would not recieve. I apologized sincerely for being so selfish, and luckily she forgave me.
Heres part 2:
Well 5 and a half months later I found myself in a green cap and gown standing in my bathroom preparing to accept my diploma for high school graduation. That morning my girlfriend showed up to drive me to the graduation, She asked me if I wanted my graduation gift now, and I said yes! So she handed me a copy of "Tangled" ...Not that I dont love that movie (and not that I didnt love the gift) but I thought for sure that she had gotten me a Blackwing. The family stood around me and congratulated the dvd, and I looked at her to say thank you and she whispered... "flip it over..." so I did slowly... and taped to the back of the dvd, I saw the golden words "Half the pressure, Twice the Speed" across the crisp charcoal colored barrell of the legendary pencil itself! I took it out and examined the instrument with poise and precision. I looked at her and I am sure that she understood my feelings for her and what she had done for me. After I had finished thanking her for what she had done, she pulled a worn chest about the size of a loaf of bread from behind her with a lock on it, She opened the box, and when I looked inside... ELEVEN more pencils were found. She left the box open for me to oogle at. Right before I walked at the ceramony, my student councilor asked me "Why do you have that pencil in your hand?" and I said "Because its not just any pencil! Its more than that! Its the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602." And she said "But WHY do you have it?" and all I said was "You know what? ...I just cant explain it to you." So I walked across the stage with the pencil in my hand! A week later the pencil was returned with it's brothers and have been locked away safe and tight. Hopefully I will see them again, sooner rather than later. But heres the catch 22, my beautiful, thoughtful, and most amazing girlfriend has decided to keep the key to the boxes lock, so that she may see the artist who earned the use of the Blackwing Pencil! Whether we are still simply dating, married, or seperated she wants to share that day with me! I have never met a person who has shown so much faith in me. And at times when I do a bad drawing and I feel like I wont be able to make it, She has given me the strength to move forward!
Anyway Jenny there is my story! I hope you have found some inspiration too! And I hope you keep doing what you do best! Cause your work, your blog has left a MASSIVE impact on my life, (obviously) and I have so many thanks to give to you! So thank you! ESPECIALLY a big thank you to my girlfriend who did such a selfless thing for me! Thank you to all of you who have inspired me, and thank you to all of those who are inspired!
I hope you have found this story inspirational, because I think whether we be amazing artists such as yourself Dave, or just a young kid who has A LOT to learn like myself we both have a lot to say and offer! Here is my little contribution for now!
Oh and here is the one piece of information that still blows my mind! The first night I told my girlfriend about the Blackwings was the first week we officially began dating, and that week she bought the first one. The only way I can repay her is by earning them! And I promise all of you here and now that I will! I want to work harder for them than anything else I have ever worked for! Anyway thanks for letting me share! Good luck all!
I love to keep my own projects running afterwork.
But as an animator, I try not to keep animating when I get home. Instead, I try to drive my artistic energy to other focus in the big wall of art. For the last year I decided to improve my storytelling skills, not with drawings, but with words. So I wrote a 160 pages book. And it helped me so much to understand my daily craft.
Music, singing, dancing, writting, acting... and any kind of extra artistic approach can help you to improove as a professional artist.
an AWESOME rant - thank you so much for it, dave! "-)
STRAIGHTS ANNNNNND CURVES! "-)
Too True Dave!
Thanks for posting this rant! I recall when i got my first animation job how there were two camps of artists working at the studio. Those who "hung up their artist smock" after they got "in" and those who kept their "artist smock on" at the studio and outside it. Those artist folks went on to greater artistic development and continue to be an inspiration. Hard work, diligence, continued study, and perseverance are the ingredients behind the "magic" we admire in others work.
For what it's worth.
This article really opened my eyes as to what it means to be an artist. I've just finished college (Multimedia Arts course) and am waiting for my graduation to come, and lately I've been confused as to what I want to do. I'm currently really interested in animation, but I know I can never settle on doing just one thing all the time, and I was afraid that when I get a job, I would be limited to do just one thing day in and day out.
I love this article so much! Thank you thank you for this and for your blog :) I'm so glad I chanced upon it
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