Art Schools and Creativity

First of all, my friend Yezi, Ringling grad like me, wrote a blog post about choosing art schools. It’s full of great insight on selecting an art school, Ringling, and the animation industry. If you’re looking at going to school for animation, it’s worth a read.

Secondly, I was thinking of writing an update post, but I’m probably not in the best mindset for it, so instead here’s a video of John Cleese talking about creativity. It cheered me up a bit today and maybe it will do the same for you.

Formation of an Artist

Thesis Render

So lighting critique is over, and the beat goes on.

I’m a notoriously light sleeper (thanks to an incident at my first college). Thus, just a tiny bit of sound at 3:30 in the morning has me awake and unable to fall back asleep.

I’m taking a Creative Writing class this semester, in which we’re reading Stephen King’s On Writing. He starts the book in an unconventional way; not with his thoughts on how to become a writer, but with a short memoir of the events that led to him being a writer. At 3:30 in the morning, I found myself thinking about some of the moments I remember when I think about my path to art. Continue reading

Can I Borrow a Feeling?

Beowulf Tuesday night! Not quite sure what to expect – I generally enter a movie theater with no expectations. But I’m stoked to be seeing another film.

So I bounced over to Chris Nabholz‘s blog earlier and saw the films eligible for Oscar nomination. I can’t remember correctly, but isn’t this number up from last year’s? Twelve features? When was the last time that happened?

I’m especially pleased to see how many of those are 2D… even if one of them’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force WTF….

This makes for a good segue into a topic I wanted to talk about but just haven’t had time for lately. Lately our instructors and various speakers have discussed the importance of finding a niche. The animation industry is so specialized that, while Ringling prepares us for all facets of animation production, it’s a good idea to find one aspect that you enjoy.

(Mom, are you reading this?)

Here are just a few of the departments that help produce an animated film (particularly 3D): story, visual development, layout, modeling, texturing, rigging, lighting, effects… and of course, animation. All those choices are open to me when I graduate – well except rigging, there’s no way I’m touching that.

At the moment – and I haven’t done much, mind you – I think I enjoy animating most. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do: make things move. So far I’ve loved every minute of it.

…And so far I’ve loved traditional more than 3D. That’s a little disconcerting since my major is computer animation.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like computer animation too. Despite the absolute nightmare of the penguin model and rigging in primitive theater, I didn’t hate it. I surprise myself with how willing I am to sit in front of a computer screen and tinker around in Maya. Going by the history of my terribly short attention span, I was afraid I wouldn’t have the patience for animation. In fact, I expected I’d sooner tire of sitting bent over a lightboard drawing hundreds of sheets’ worth of art just to achieve a few seconds of motion and realize that I hate animation after all.

But oh, God, the thrill of it! The thrill of flipping through stacks of animation paper, of plotting out the timing and spacing of the drawings, the soreness in your arm as you’re shooting each individual sheet on the pencil test, of numbering all the pages and writing out an X-sheet……. okay that stuff gets pretty annoying actually. But it’s all worth it, just to see your art move.

And sure, I get that thrill in computer animation too. But the characters, even when I’ve modeled them myself, they just don’t feel real to me. They don’t feel like me. But in traditional… that’s me in every fraction of a movement. In every line. I’ll watch my pencil tests over and over until I start to hate them because I know I can do better.

…But this is a computer animation school. Jeff Katzenberg said 2D animation is dead (paraphrasing here… but not really). When I was applying to Ringling and CalArts two years ago, the CA students told me to come to Ringling because I’d never get a job in 2D.

In some ways I find myself back in the position that led me here: of not following my heart. 2D animation has always been my first love. It’s what ultimately led me here. I figured I’d be okay: animation is animation. The medium didn’t matter. But I don’t think a 3D environment will never excite me as much as hand-painted backgrounds and hand-drawn characters.

I was telling my mom all this on the phone and she said, “You’re spending thousands of dollars on this school and you don’t know what you want to do??” It’s not that simple. And it’s still early – I don’t know what I want to do yet. There’s still visual development if I love drawing so much. And the suggestion was made to switch to Illustration. I’ve thought about it… but I’m not so great at visual development, and I don’t think illustrating would hold my interest.

It’s early. We’ll see, we’ll see.

Now to head to the labs.