A bad taste in their mouth for next month's rent

You go to a restaurant because they are known for having great food but half way through the meal you realize that your water has been empty for a while and every time the waitress/waiter comes by your table they don't make eye contact. That great food doesn't taste so well and when the check comes you are feeling even worst about your restaurant choice. Will you go back? Only if you have no other choices is my guess.

I recently had a friend hire an artist to produce some animation for one of his jobs and he was very pleased with the artist's work but the artist's rapport with my friend was very combative. My friend was fine with the work but I loved his comment to me that this artist was not interested in form a working relationship. The artist was only viewing this job as a paycheck and nothing more. That might work in the near future but will ultimately damage any further opportunities.

Are you damaging future opportunities only to pay next month's rent or are you building a relationship to provide many months of rent. It might require more work upfront but that is a small price to pay for future opportunities.

We get paid

For bringing value to the marketplace. Whatever that marketplace might be.

I got hired at Digital Kitchen because I was able to bring value. Not much value in the beginning, which is why I didn't get paid much. That changed over the course of 6ish years. Ultimately I was laid off because I had stop bringing as much value to the company as they were needing from me at the pay they were giving me.  It took me my first freelance job in NYC, 5 months later, to realize this. I did not stay humble at Digital Kitchen. I was not looking for ways to improve my skills and my thinking. I was too busy thinking that they owed me my pay purely based on how I improved during those first two to three years of my employment. So my growth had stagnated those last three to four years, while thankfully, my pay had not. That made my thinking shift from self improvement to self congratulatory. "DK is so lucky to have me. I helped them become the studio they are now." I might have played a small part in getting them from unknown to well known but it is actually, I was at the right place at the right time and I was DAMN, lucky.

For the later years I became more envious of my co-workers that were getting to work on all of the cooler jobs while I was stuck doing the bill paying jobs. I become a passive observer of my career trajectory, I blamed my falling stature in the company on everyone and everything except for myself. I became cynical bastard and my work most likely showed it. What I needed to do was speak up and ask questions of how I could be doing a better job, how I could be bringing more value to my position in the company. Of course I didn't. You can't grow from a place of anger. I was too scared of all the doomsday scenarios in my head coming true. That false fear kept me from progressing and ultimately lead to my failure.

Backyard zoo cage.

It still amazes me that some people would find being in a backyard patio cage enjoyable and actually a reasonable option. It seems that if you feel that you have to separate yourself from your surroundings you should probably find new surroundings. Just saying…

A new day from now

From this day forward things are different. My view point on things and choices laid out in front of me will be viewed in a new light. 

Much respect Richard, you can now be peacefully with Spice and Lady.

A trailer for a feature.

You like to think that you are creating the feature but you are only creating the trailer. That is fine for most but it is not ok for the artist, the true pioneer. Remember that when you perform that perfect dance for the masses.

Honey-do-lists

There has been quite a few things hanging out on my honey-do-list and after accomplishing a couple of them, I felt so empowered to get to the studio and start hammering out some stuff that I had been dragging my feet on. It is funny to think that by accomplishing stuff at my house would inspire me to finish or at least start stuff at my studio. I always viewed those lists as separate efforts. Whenever I was at home doing stuff I thought I should have been at the studio "grinding it out" and always felt guilty but after today I have a very different outlook.

This reminds me of David Allen's Getting Things Done. We all have lists rattling around in our head and he preaches the discipline of getting everything out of your head so you can concentrate on the immediate task at hand. Today was not exactly that but I did have one home to-do list rattling in my head and tackling a couple of the big items on that list definitely opened up more space in my head to think about other things and imparted some endorphins to make me feel empowered to finish more things and to take on bigger to-dos. I do write down lists but for some stupid reason I figured I was smart enough to keep all things at home to-do's inline. Dumb! Just write it all done and get to marking them off.

Happy 30th, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Oh man, I can't believe that Who Farmed Roger Rabbit is 30 years old. It is pretty interesting to think that after seeing Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the following Disney animated features did not catch my interest; Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, even though that period was considered the animated features' renaissance. All those didn't hold a candle to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Of course being 13 years old when Roger Rabbit came out, made it the perfect transition to showing me that animated features can be more than just kids movies.

It was so inspirational to me that when I did my first animated short I looked to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? for inspiration. The lustful women in the alley were a direct reference the crazy lustful toon women that appears near the end of the movie. My version obviously lacks the appeal of Roger Rabbit's but hey whatever.

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The alley ways at the end of my short were also inspired by the dark alleys in Toontown + some old New York lower east-side ghettos but mainly Toontown's alleys.

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Here is a great article on the Guardian website: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? at 30: the game-changer Hollywood couldn't top

and Hollywood still hasn't even come close to topping. Bravo, Robert Zemeckis and Richard Williams! A modern day classic.

Hello again and again and again and again, Peter Gabriel.

I just heard Peter Gabriel on the radio and it took me back.

I remembered seeing the video for Sledgehammer. That music video really blew me away and come to find out the Brothers Quay and Aardman Animation created the video. At the time I was living in Oregon and this was during the time of Will Vinton Studios being know for the California Raisins and their Christmas specials. The Sledgehammer music video was probably the first commercial stop-motion animation that felt like a work of art to me, even though I had no idea what those terms meant back then in 1986 at the age of 11, I just knew it was different.

Fast forward to a road trip that I took with my Dad when I was 16 years old. The road trip started in Seattle, driving to Las Vegas then Anaheim and going back to Seattle. The goal of the road trip was to see family in Las Vegas and go to Disneyland. At the time I thought Disney Animation was part of Disneyland. Yeah, that ended up being a disappointment. Anyhoo… Out of the music my Dad brought to listen he had Peter Gabriel's album So. That is one great soundtrack for road tripping, even though I didn't think so at the time.

Now lets skip forward to 12th grade, about 2 years after the road trip, and I was introduced to computer graphics in my art class. My high school had purchased 2 Macintosh Quadra 610s for the art room and my future best friend was the catalyst of making that happen. My friend was setting up school district wide networks and was hip to all the computer graphics programs. I was a simpleton that was about to get his ass schooled in all things computer graphics. Not only did my friend show me programs that could produce the cgi in one of Peter Gabriel's latest music videos but also to the fact Peter Gabriel was using computers to create his music. BOOM! My mind was double blown. This was the year (1992/1993) I was introduced to Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter, Bryce 3D, Strata 3D, Poser, Raydream 3D, Macromedia Director, Macromedia Extreme 3D, and Macromedia Freehand. Holy shit, I have never written all of them out and damn that is a lot of programs! I think there was a music composing program in the mix but I didn't mess around with that one at all.

And finally, 1998. In 1998 I had my first professional salary job, post college. It was at a online travel company. The sites the company owned were skito.com, mto.com and gto.com. The "to" was, obviously, for travel online. Their angle was selling travel packages centered around outdoor activities, golfing, skiing and maybe hiking. I think they made their money from the golfing and skiing packages. I don't remember what the mto.com was all about. I definitely think they were ahead of their time. This was right before Expedia and Travelocity. But there was a coworker at the company that introduced this newbie to the concept of "going out after work". The great concept that she taught me was to start drinking right after work and then by 9 o'clock you are drunk and stumbling home and then you order pizza and start watching movies and then after you eat as much pizza as your belly can handle you pass out watching movies. BOOM, mind blown! Of course this only happened on the Friday that you got paid. Haha! It was a fun concept to perfect. So to the Peter Gabriel part of the story. I and two other coworkers shared a small office room and we would trade off music playing duties and the for mentioned coworker brought in Peter Gabriel's soundtrack to Martin Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ. I loved the soundtrack and couldn't believe that this artist has been effecting me at various stages of my life. So far four times! Which is pretty crazy, considering that each of those points of my life was very different.

I wonder if that is how some people viewed Picasso or maybe even the Rolling Stones.

Legacy

Yesterday being Father's Day and after watching that talk on The Third Industrial Revolution last week, I really got to thinking about personal legacies and mankind legacies. Hell this blog is a sort of legacy, except when I stop paying for the URL and then "poof" the legacy will end, haha!

As of now I think my legacy with my kid will be, "he loved his work and he loved me". Notice the work being mentioned first. I feel that will be my legacy to my kid. Art first, family second. I go back and forth with being ok with that and not ok with that but hopefully I am showing up enough to impart a positive image of what a good human being should be. I think that is why I want my art to serve a bigger purpose than just providing a financial means for the family.  With my kid's allowance, they get $2.00 spend, $2.00 saving and $2.00 share. Once they get enough in the share jar they get to choose what organization they want to put that money towards. It is time I start doing that with my work. Time for me to start eating my own words.

The professional knows their limitations.

I was totally down for making my first mobile game only because my friend said that he was down for helping me out. I knew I didn't know good game mechanics and I definitely knew I didn't know how to code but I thought I could do the character designs. After struggling with just the ideas for competitors I knew I needed to at least look for some reference styles that I might want to work from. In that process, I of course went right to my friend, Dustin's Instagram feed and I instantly knew that I needed Dustin to do the designs. I never got around to asking Dustin if he would be cool with doing the character designs. But…the great thing after I committed to not doing the character designs and only handling the animation, I felt a great weight lift from my shoulders and a great calm came over me. Plus I felt energized about the project instead of dread.

The trick for me now is going to be able to bring that thinking to my PSA shorts. I know I can handle everything but I know it would best to illicit some help with these. I have plenty of people I can ask to help me out but I just don't have the guts to ask them since I know I could technical do everything. Except for audio. There is no way I am going to do the audio, I tried that on my Third Time's A Charm short and wow, it was horrible. I lucked out having a friend put my in contact with a sound designer that rocked it out for me. I think my biggest resistance is thinking that everyone will of course say "no thanks" which of course would not be the end of the world but man, it seems soul crushing from where I am right now.

Super interesting talk

I just got done watching this talk today and it really shook me. It really made me take stock in what I have been doing with my free time and what would be the legacy I would be leaving behind and also what example am I being for my daughter.

Previously, like a couple of weeks ago, I was jazzed about making my first video game which is going to take me about 4 years and I just found myself thinking if that is the best use of my skills and time after listening to this talk. The pursuit of making the video game, is ultimately a rather selfish endeavor, even if I believe people would get some laughs and enjoyment out of it.

I feel that my skills of being an animator and designer would be put to better use in the service of educating the masses of organizations or movements I want to align with on a moral level. There are already plenty of awesome video games to entertainment us, distract us from the world around us. I am much more interested in helping to disrupt and educate people of all the meaningful endeavors going on as we speak.

Of course I still might make that video game but for now it is on the back burner.

The Herbaliser

So I guess I deleted my previous post on the band The Herbaliser. The short synopsis was that I fell in love with their first album Blow Your Headphones. I liked their follow ups, ok'ish. The other night a friend was playing they latest release Bring Out the Sound and I was seriously liking it. It has some vibes to it, very trip-hoppy funk. I am liking it so much that I am recommending you, whoever you might be to check it out.

Animation history through interviews.

I was clearing out some of my inbox and I came across this great link in one those emails that you email yourself.

It is a stack of interviews of animators that have been in the industry for quite a few decades. I just listened to Randy Cartwright's interview because the name looked familiar and it turns out that his last name was familiar because his daughter (Mariel Cartwright) is the lead animator for the video game Skull Girls and Indivisible.

It is great to hear stories of the 9 Old Men and the fact that an animation career has always been like a career nowadays. There is no guarantee of lifelong employment under one company banner. It is all about making connections with fellow workers and doing good work and those two things are what lead to career longevity.

THE INTERVIEWS

The Resistance

I am in the middle of listening to Stephen Pressfield's The War of Art. It is a great book so far. I can see why Seth Godin earmarked it as a life changing book. It is going to take a couple of listens and some note taking it extract and absorb all the information and lessons. I would highly recommend it to anyone. It is written in a fun voice and the audiobook is only two and half hours long. So not that demanding.

I think I can safely say I am a disciple of The Resistance. I have had a couple of memories that I clearly quieted The Resistance. Going to Japan for a year when I truly had no idea what to expect.  Changing careers from web design to motion graphics when I had no idea if there was going to be any future in motion graphics. Those are a couple profound moments. Now I need to work on the day-to-day silencing of The Resistance. That is the truly difficult thing to do.

TVPaint to PyxelEdit

I think I have a workflow for animating pixel art and still use TVPaint for the animation.

I have TVPAINT 11 Pro and one of the options on exporting your animation is a sprite spreadsheet. The great thing about that is that PyxelEdit has a tile setup option, which is essentially a sprite spreadsheet. The tile setup can be used for making backgrounds or animations. All I have to do is import the TVPAINT sprite spreadsheet and I do the final artwork in PyxelEdit. BOOM, I am hopefully off to the races with creating this mobile game.

You have to celebrate these very small victories, I tell you. 

Dave Cooper-land

It's like I am looking into a miniature Dave Cooper land.

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I got this succulent last year. This particular succulent is planted in a shoe and it was touch-and-go last year but it seems to be doing quite well this year.

Coffee cart at E. Houston St. and Broadway

Located at the corner of Broadway and E Houston St. on the island of Manhattan there was a tiny coffee cart that had a couple working as fast as they could to get coffee and breakfast items to the bustling public. I didn’t recognize it at the time but the wife in cart was an artist. She didn’t paint or sculpt or anything like that. What she did was a lot harder. In her work she invested emotional stock in what she did, even if that things was slinging coffee and ok pastries. I had not been going there for 2 weeks or so when I went up to give my order—the same I always get— and she handed me a bag that already had my 16oz coffee with cream and a toasted bagel with a healthy load of cream cheese on it. In that moment I knew I was never going to go to another coffee cart even if there was one better just around the corner. Hell, I even felt bad on the mornings that I didn’t go to the cart to get breakfast. That is an artist at work and my hat off to you lady.

¡Color Fheory!

The vain of my artistic existence has been color theory. It isn't the fact that I don't understand it because I do. It has more to do with have the knowledge to confidently wield and bend colors to do my bidding. A step in the right direction is purchasing James Gurney's Color and Light book. The biggest "ah ha" moment I have had is the concept of Gamut Masking. In short gamut masking is when you apply a mask of over your color wheel and you limit your color choices to just that area of the color wheel. Obviously you can shift the lightness and darkness but you only chose hues that are visible in the map. I am just starting to experiment with this concept but it seems really powerful for creating some visually striking images. There is also a third party color picker (Coolorus) for Photoshop that can get you started with this concept.

Plus Coolorus has another nice feature called Luminosity Lock. It ables you to use different hues while keeping the luminosity between the hues the same. So if you are shading something you can pepper in different hues in the shaded area to give that area some more life. Hopefully that sense, if not, head over to Coolorus and download the 14 day trial and give it a go!