Artist Tip of the Day: The only way to do great work is to love what you do. - Steve Jobs
Only a month has passed, and yet so much has happened. I've completed my garage sale which spanned over three months, donated lots of valuable art supplies to my old college's illustration department (was nicknamed "Christmas in July"), moved to my new home with the help of friends, was treated by my best friend Alvin Geno to see Pixar's "Inside Out", attended Schoolism's San Francisco Workshop and Pixar's "Inside Out" Panel held at ILM where I got to meet and befriend many amazing artists, and so much more. There's just so much energy in me I can't keep it all in!!
Schoolism's San Francisco Workshop
Though I've been to Schoolism workshops in the past, and many art events and gatherings, this one felt particularly unique and special. To not only have talented artists like Iain McCaig, Ryan Lang, Mingjue Helen Chen, Wes Burt, Karla Ortiz, Nathan Fowkes, Bobby Chiu, and Kei Acedera hold insightful and inspiring panels, but hold great conversations, receive surprise hugs, and be welcomed to "the family".. I was overwhelmed. It was a duffel bag of emotions: heart-warming, inspired, motivated, blessed, excited, happy, accepted, invincible, determined, hopeful, joyful, optimistic, special, and all them feels. I'll continue to work hard, and not let them down in putting faith in me.
It's difficult to say what the best information I've learned from those two days are, but it's likely this: no one is perfect. When I say that I mean it with the utmost respect. I say perfect with the sense that their first idea is the best, that first brush stroke is true masterpiece, and that none of these artists make any mistakes or struggle. Sure you'll hear these artists say "I'm not perfect, and I don't think I'm where I should be yet." but it's hard to really believe that when you see them dish out amazing artwork. The internet has especially made this overwhelming with sites like ArtStation where you can't help but get a constant library of fantastic artwork pushed in your face. The feeling of "I'll never be good enough" is normal, and common among all artists (possibly other fields of interests as well). However, getting a live demo from Chen, Lang, and Ortiz and hearing their honest emotions (be them joyous or frustration despite however we the audience viewed their work) made it really sink in that these legends are human and someone we can relate with on a level. Having McCaig's finale workshop with him and the audience collaborating on an art piece was possibly the best way to end it all because it proved that not only is no one perfect, but it is actually better that way. Without failure, you would have never discovered some of the amazing possibilities or ideas that came from your imagination.
Note there was no talk whatsoever of visual development. However, that doesn't mean I didn't learn. There were two people specially who touched my imagination and stretched my understandings and knowledge behind "design"; from Pixar's "Inside Out", Patrick Lin (Director of Photography - Camera) and Victor Navone (Supervising Animator). When I used to think camera, I thought it was primarily considering composition, and the speed of which the camera moves. It is so much more. What types of lens affects a shot, how the camera is handled are very important, and possibly most important is how to make every shot matter. Are there key elements in a shot that hint to an audience a character's mood, where our attention should be directed, or something we're not supposed to be entirely aware of yet but can be foreseen? In short, make your shots count. As for animation, the best I learned was to truly find your character. Who are they, how do they move, how do other characters interact with this character, how does the character play with their environment, and so forth are very important questions to ask yourself. If you want to learn from Navone or any other talented animator, he holds classes at The Animation Collaborative.
Passionate People Make Change
Earlier this past week I had lunch with my former college instructor and great friend Steven Kloepfer. Like usual, there was lots of geekery about art, business, stories, and company news. Out of everything we discussed, these words of his particularly stood out, "Passionate people make change." Let me explain this as he did for me. A business man can run a movie company and make millions, yes. However, a passionate man is more likely to run a successful movie company and make millions because they care and are willing to make sacrifices and take risks for the sake of making movies. If you're a storyteller, there's a high chance you can relate to this. Taking risks for the sake of a great story, that is. It's in our blood, and we thrive to be a part of a great story. Practically every storyteller I've encounter has said on similar wording "I wish I could have worked on that project".
This isn't to say business is what kills movies. On the contrary, you need business in order to have a movie, and realistically anything can kill a movie. Poor screen writing, art, distribution and advertising, anything. Anyone who knows me knows I love business, and love helping people understand the business side of art. It's a scary word "business' and I know it's easy to point fingers and say "it's their fault" when a great concept falls apart or is never completed. I know I'd rather see all amazing stories witness the light of day than put "back on the shelf", but the question becomes is it the right decision.
That is why I look up to leaders like John Lasseter and Hayao Miyazaki. They are business men, but they are first and foremost artists and animators. It is why so many of their company films have touched our hearts, and why they continue to prosper. If you can understand and learn to appreciate both sides of the same coin, and work the sides to your advantage then you're in a much better position than most. Let me ask you, what works business-wise for Pixar and Studio Ghibli? It's not just the movie tickets or blu-ray/dvd buys, though really they're successful enough they likely could stand on their own with that income. Toys. Again, it's not the only factor, but toys are big selling points for movies. Kids want toys, parents want kids to be happy, then there are forever-kids (adults who can't let go of toys... like me), collectors, and the list goes on. I'll be honest, I'd like to start a Disney Infinity collection, or have a row of Kodamas (Princess Mononoke; もののけ姫) all over my desk and window sills. But that's just one example of business. Many people believe business to be contracts, terms of service, non-disclosure agreements, and all sorts of fun-sucker party-pooper paper works, but that's not the whole picture at all. It's very much based on perspective.
Pursue your passion, but embrace all the challenges that encompass it as well and be willing to learn.