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Rank #149 in Visual Arts category

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Visual Arts

The Visual Storytelling Podcast

Updated 8 days ago

Rank #149 in Visual Arts category

Arts
TV & Film
Visual Arts
Read more

Disney Artist Chris Oatley helps you become a professional Visual Storyteller with Tutorials and Expert Interviews on Concept Art, Animation Visual Development, Character Design, Storyboarding, Comics, Illustration, Children's Books and Screenwriting.

Read more

Disney Artist Chris Oatley helps you become a professional Visual Storyteller with Tutorials and Expert Interviews on Concept Art, Animation Visual Development, Character Design, Storyboarding, Comics, Illustration, Children's Books and Screenwriting.

iTunes Ratings

341 Ratings
Average Ratings
326
7
1
3
4

For artists and enthusiasts alike! :)

By Walker85 - Nov 13 2019
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I started listening to these podcasts a few months ago, and though some of the lessons are a few years old, the content is still very much relevant. The latest lesson ("4 Ways Animation Artists Can Mentally Prepare For The Move To LA") gives such great insight from Natalie Nourigat; about how she approached her career in animation after feeling like she had nowhere to begin. If you're feeling at a stalemate with your career, I strongly recommend listening to this podcast.

Great!!!

By Aleksandro1Araujo - Aug 07 2014
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Thanks for the effort and great work man!

iTunes Ratings

341 Ratings
Average Ratings
326
7
1
3
4

For artists and enthusiasts alike! :)

By Walker85 - Nov 13 2019
Read more
I started listening to these podcasts a few months ago, and though some of the lessons are a few years old, the content is still very much relevant. The latest lesson ("4 Ways Animation Artists Can Mentally Prepare For The Move To LA") gives such great insight from Natalie Nourigat; about how she approached her career in animation after feeling like she had nowhere to begin. If you're feeling at a stalemate with your career, I strongly recommend listening to this podcast.

Great!!!

By Aleksandro1Araujo - Aug 07 2014
Read more
Thanks for the effort and great work man!

Listen to:

Cover image of The Visual Storytelling Podcast

The Visual Storytelling Podcast

Updated 8 days ago

Read more

Disney Artist Chris Oatley helps you become a professional Visual Storyteller with Tutorials and Expert Interviews on Concept Art, Animation Visual Development, Character Design, Storyboarding, Comics, Illustration, Children's Books and Screenwriting.

11 Social Media Habits That Hurt Your Art Career (And How To Break Them) :: ArtCast #115

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These days, whenever I ask my industry colleagues where they’re finding work, the answer is almost always one of two things:

Industry connections or Social Media.

…but, despite the proliferation of Social Media success stories within the Entertainment Industries, many of us are still afraid of Social Media.

…and if we’re not afraid, we’re often too familiar for our own good.

…but Social Media is just like drawing and painting.

It has a set of learnable skills and a professional approach.

I learned how to power my business with Social Media strategies that progress both the business and my personal art career. I also helped a number of my students and my Animation industry colleagues develop their own Social Media strategies.

We’re all Artists here.

If I can figure it out, you can too.

…and today’s lesson – 11 (BAD) Social Media Habits That Hurt Your Art Career (And How To Break Them) – is a great place to start!

Click through to watch the lesson and download the free resources…

Watch The Lesson:

[ download the mp3 ] [ download the pdf ]

Lesson Transcript:

The following is a transcript of the full lesson – with illustrations and links for the Artists and Resources!

NOTE: I made each Bad Social Media Habit into a Character. They do NOT represent real individuals. They are satirically simplistic, fictional Characters created to help us identify and externalize our own Artistic struggles.

Introduction:

Hello, my friends and welcome to The ArtCast by The Oatley Academy! 

I’m Chris Oatley – I’m an Illustrator and Visual Development Artist currently working for Disney.

…and here at ChrisOatley.com, I help Artists create dream careers in in Animation, Concept Art and Illustration.

We all know that Social Media is vital for a successful art career.

These days, whenever I ask my industry colleagues where they’re finding work, the answer is almost always one of two things:

Industry connections or Social Media.

…but, despite the proliferation of Social Media success stories within the Entertainment Industries, many of us are still afraid of Social Media.

…and if we’re not afraid, we’re often too familiar for our own good.

…but Social Media is just like drawing and painting.

It has a set of learnable skills and a professional approach.

I learned how to power my business with Social Media strategies that progress both the business and my personal art career. I also helped a number of my students and my Animation industry colleagues develop their own Social Media strategies.

We’re all Artists here.

If I can figure it out, you can too.

…and today’s lesson – 11 BAD Social Media Habits That Hurt Your Art Career (And How To Break Them) – is a great place to start!

Join The Interest List For “Dream Machine”

Before we begin, check out my new Social Media course!

It’s called: Dream Machine: Social Media Strategies To Upgrade Your Art Career!

Throughout the course, you’ll develop an effective, efficient and sustainable Social Media strategy that helps you rise above the chaos and competition.

My friends Loish (world-famous Illustrator and Concept Artist), Lauren Panepinto (Creative Director for the Sci-Fi/ Fantasy Publisher Orbit Books) and Alison Mann (Creative Talent Recruiter for Illumination and Disney) will also be there to support you with their own, specialized guidance.

Join the interest list and I’ll follow-up soon with the details!

#1: The Rando:

The Rando has no clear career goal.

…and without clear career goals, one has no idea what to post.

Like a desert island castaway tossing bottled messages into the ocean, The Rando posts anything and everything, hoping a stranger will, some day, send rescue.

The Rando’s bio might be confusing: “Coffee addict. Cat lover. Parent to three crazy kids. Cartoonist and occasional photographer.”

…or noncommittal: “I draw stuff.”

…so, The Rando shouldn’t be surprised when they get ignored in favor of Artists with clearer posts and profiles.

How To Break “The Rando” Habit:

Social Media is full of randomness and clarity is extremely scarce.

What studio or client out there is looking to acquire more randomness? What hiring manager puts “confusing” and “noncommittal” on a list of job requirements?

Clarify your career goals and you’ll have a much clearer idea about what to post.

Combine that clarity with excellence and you’ll earn the attention of those who will help to create your dream career.

#2: The Noisy Neighbor:

My good friend Justin Rodrigues was a guest instructor for an Animation VisDev course I taught at The Oatley Academy last year.

Though the focus of his talk was, as you might expect, Character Design for Animation, the topic of Social Media came up several times.

Justin talked about how it helps to think of your Social Media presence as an “Active Portfolio.”

Dynamic, interactive, evolving…

…but still professional.

Scroll The Noisy Neighbor’s feed and you’ll find it pulverized by irrelevant (and often incendiary) posts.

Maybe they can’t resist a political rant.

…or maybe they prefer the Internet hive-mind to a qualified psychologist.

…or maybe they think yet another photo of their sticky-faced kid will hook a successful Publisher or Producer.

Specifics aside, the “TMI” approach to Social Media is unprofessional.

How To Break “The Noisy Neighbor” Habit:

If you wouldn’t feel comfortable presenting it to the entire crew at your dream studio or ideal publishing house, don’t post it on Social Media.

…if you absolutely have to use Social Media for personal purposes, create a separate account for friends-and-family only.

#3: The Alice:

While researching a lesson on productivity, I asked my Instagram followers to share their main productivity killers.

“Social Media” was, of course, one of the most common responses.

Through conversations with many of the Artists who responded, the following pattern became apparent:

Step 1: The Artist opens a Social Media app. (We’ll use Instagram in this example.) They don’t really know why they’re opening the app, but they know that’s a thing professional Artists do.

Step 2: They check for new DMs and comments, hoping to find a life-changing inquiry from their dream Studio or Publisher but there’s just a cat video.

They type a quick reply: “So cute! *heart-eyes-emoji* Thanks, Mom!”

Now what…?

Step 3: They do what most Instagram users do: They begin to consume.

Step 4: Like Alice falling down the surreal, spacetime-warping rabbit hole, these Artists get sucked into the infinite network of hashtags and that irresistible “Endless Scroll” function.

Ten minutes disappears… Fifteen… Forty…

It’s understandable why The Alice might resent Social Media.

…because of how consumption replaces creation.

The more they consume, the less creative they feel. The less creative they feel, the harder it is to create. The harder it is to create, the easier it is to consume…

How To Break “The Alice” Habit:

Social Media, in the hands of a creator, is a tool that empowers and accelerates and connects.

In the hands of someone who is too complacent or afraid to create, it’s endless distraction.

Accept your own specialness as a creator. Commit to a specific career goal and develop a relevant project.

(More on that later.)

Don’t open a Social Media app unless you’re promoting your own work, supporting the work of your peers or connecting with industry pros.

If you begin to sense that mental shift from proactive to passive…

…from creator to consumer…

…exit the app.

Remember the words of The Cheshire Cat: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

#4: The Burnout:

I see Artists telling each other all the time that the key to success on Social Media is, simply: “Post every day.”

That’s it. No context. No conversation.

Post what? Where? Why?

…and for whom?

The Burnout prioritizes quantity over quality.

Maybe the demand for daily posts is too much or they’re trying to perform on too many different platforms.

…or maybe it’s both.

…regardless, they‘re overwhelmed and exhausted all the time.

The Burnout also prioritizes quantity over relevance.

They don’t really know why they’re working so hard.

…but they keep going for fear of losing the thing that they aren’t even sure they have.

How To Break “The Burnout” Habit:

I know you’ve been told a thousand times to “Post every day” and to “Be everywhere.”

How’s that working out for you?

Of course, consistency and frequency have their value. Of course, there’s a balance to be found.

But if you want to connect with Recruiters, Producers and Publishers, why would you commit to less-than-your-best?

How would things change if you gave more weight to the wisdom that was formed long before Social Media?

Wisdom like: “Quality over quantity.”

…and “Look before you leap.”

…and “Don’t burn the candle at both ends.”

…and “For everything there is a season.”

…and “Leave them wanting more.”

There’s a big difference between tips and wisdom.

#5: The Wanderer:

When The Wanderer is out exploring the vast landscape of Social Media, they feel right at home.

They find enough work to get by and meet many interesting folks along the way.

Then, suddenly, Facebook is blown away in a toxic storm, Twitter gets devoured by big, corporate monsters and in the land of Instagram, King Algorithm falls asleep on the throne…

The connections that The Wanderer takes for granted can be severed in an instant.

Even The Wanderer would be wise to buy some land and build a house.

How To Break “The Wanderer” Habit:

Social Media, though vital for a successful art career, is no substitute for a website and email database of your own.

Track the traffic from your Social Media platforms to your website and on to your email list. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Measure what works by the number of high-quality connections you can create and keep.

I recommend WP Engine for web hosting and ConvertKit for email.

Over the past ten years, I have worked with many of their competitors but these two are, in my opinion, the very best at what they do.

If you enroll through the links above, I will receive a generous commission.

#6: The Whale:

The Whale swims around open-mouthed, swallowing any follower they can find.

They talk about “building an audience” as if they were working with industrial materials and not individual, living human beings.

They shove their way into forums and Facebook Groups with one-way communication like: “New personal work. Crits welcome. Please follow.”

…and though they manage to trap some noobs, the more experienced Artists know enough to stay away.

…especially the pros.

How To Break “The Whale” Habit:

You’ll know you’re making high quality, share-worthy work when people begin to like and share it on their own.

…but you will never grow if you aren’t big enough to accept when they don’t.

Find a healthy creative community and grow with them. Focus on fundamentals while you develop meaningful, reciprocal relationships.

Faith is a follow but trust must be earned over the long-term.

#7: The Bean Counter:

The Bean Counter is obsessed with numbers.

They measure the quality of their own work by the number of likes but they have no idea how it really compares to the best in the business.

The Bean Counter is meticulous but extremely emotional.

Gaining a new follower makes their day and they completely freak out when someone leaves.

Sometimes they launch a full investigation: “Who unfollowed me? When? Why? Where are they now?! How can I get them back?!”

…and sometimes they keep score: “Why does Carl have 423 more followers than me? I work way harder than he does! …and Kevin?! How did his work get featured?! He posts nothing but furry versions of famous, British octogenarians!”

When the frustration gets too intense The Bean Counter might ragequit Social Media altogether.

…then come back six weeks later.

They might try to rally a group of share-swappers in an attempt to “Beat The Algorithm!”

…or complain about the apparent unfairness of automated curation, driving away the only people who are actually paying attention.

How To Break “The Bean Counter” Habit:

Don’t expect pro numbers until you’re consistently producing pro work.

If someone unfollows, let ‘em go.

It’s just not for them.

But you don’t actually need a big audience to succeed as a professional Artist.

You do, however, need a financially viable market and work that consistently meets the quality standards that inspire them to like and share and follow and hire and buy.

Honor the attention of the small group of people who do care, produce share-worthy work consistently and your numbers will grow on their own.

“The Algorithm” isn’t your problem.

Ambivalence is.

#8: The Nameless Networker:

The Nameless Networker has enough charisma to attract an audience but lacks the confidence to offer anything specific.

So they dodge responsibility with non-stop surveys: “What kind of art do you want to see from me this year?”

…and: “Should I focus my posts or do you prefer randomness?”

…and: “How’s my hair?”

But despite all the supportive feedback, The Nameless Networker never finds a clear identity and so the pros never follow-up.

How To Break “The Nameless Networker” Habit:

Maybe you haven’t been an Artist long enough to know your own strengths and weaknesses.

…or what your true creative passion is.

That’s okay.

Art is like love. It’s almost impossible to tell the difference between passion and infatuation until it has been tested over time. (But the fear of commitment won’t get you anywhere.)

Take time to unplug and visualize a medium-term goal that makes sense.

Not a short-term goal like: “I think I’ll draw Spider-man today!”

…but also not a super-long-term goal like: “In ten years I will win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature!”

In general, I recommend a three-to-six month timeline for medium-term goals.

It has to be highly specific.

…and it has to define a journey with both creative and professional components that like-minded people will support.

Share this goal with your audience and keep them posted with your progress.

Here are two examples:

“I always lose myself when I’m sketching Characters and Character Design is a viable career. So, over the next three months, I will create a Visual Development Portfolio project with an emphasis on Characters. I plan to devote eight pages to Characters, four pages to Props and four pages to Environments.”

…or:

“I am entranced by the hypnotic compositions of Wylie Beckert. Wylie works in an industry where Artists find sustainable careers. So, over the next three months, I will do precise copies of my six favorite Wylie Beckert illustrations – including her workflow. Not to post as my own, but to learn from her expertise.”

You’ll probably want to explain that you’re still figuring yourself out so you might have to make adjustments along the way.

…and though I recommend giving the goal the benefit of any doubts that arise, feel free to change your mind entirely.

It’s great to engage your audience in creative ways but it’s not their job to design your career.

#9: The Potty Mouth:

The Potty Mouth doesn’t have a profanity problem.

…they have a positivity problem.

The Potty Mouth’s bio works to lower expectations rather than engage potential followers: “Just another wannabe Artist.”

…or: “Here’s a bunch of useless crap. Enjoy.”

…but sometimes it’s more subtle: “Artist. Trying not to embarrass myself.”

When you do look past The Potty Mouth bio, you’ll notice that their updates and/or captions often lead with guilt or negative self-talk: “I haven’t been posting enough lately, so here’s a…”

…or: “I always avoid drawing hands because I’m lazy LOL so I decided to…”

…and yet The Potty Mouth complains about how hard it is to grow an audience…

How To Break “The Potty Mouth” Habit:

When you frame your work in shame and guilt, you agitate the shame and guilt in your audience.

…and nobody wants more of that.

…but when you frame your work in passion and positivity and professionalism, your career will, almost certainly, progress.

Though the topic of mental health goes beyond the scope of this lesson, I feel it’s necessary to make a quick aside:

If you discover that negative self-talk is more than just a bad habit, I highly recommend seeking the help of a mental health professional.

To fight RSI, we visit a wrist doctor, right?

Unbreakable negative self-talk might call for a visit a thought doctor.

#10: The Hermit:

The Hermit prefers to lurk and like and follow and subscribe in silent support of everyone else.

But they hide from their own excellence because they’re afraid of falling into the dark chasm between risk and reward.

How To Break “The Hermit” Habit:

The loyal support of your fellow creatives is much needed and, in most cases, deeply appreciated.

But there’s no growth without risk.

That’s not a dark chasm in front of you.

It’s a blank canvas.

#11: The Messy Roommate:

The Art School where I got my undergraduate degree was infamous for inundating its students with homework.

I lived in a shoddy condo with way too many roommates and every room (Yes. Even the bathroom…) became an ad hoc workspace.

Stacks of animated flour sacks, the dust of foam dinosaurs, sticky easels, overturned paint cups, open cans of turpentine (It’s a wonder we’re all still alive…), charcoal powder, pizza boxes, half-empty soda cans and socks (Why were there so many socks?!) culminated in an epic mess with a predictable-but-appropriate name: ARTPOCALYPSE!

On Social Media, The Messy Roommate seems to think their individual posts are as permanent as a published book – never to be discarded nor recycled.

The remnants of every creative experiment and trend create a mess of what could, with some focused de-cluttering, become a professional presentation.

Recruiters, Producers and Publishers lack the time and energy to navigate the chaos, so they scroll away quickly, completely missing the all the good stuff.

How To Break “The Messy Roommate” Habit:

Angry as you might (still) be at George Lucas for The Star Wars Special Editions and all their superfluous CGI, they hold a valuable lesson for us all:

If some of the most indelible films in the history of cinema can be reworked twenty years later, the posts on your professional Social Media feeds are definitely not permanent.

If you don’t declutter and curate your work, somebody else will declutter and curate for you.

…by unfollowing.

Do these three things today:

  1. Consider your ultimate career goal.
  2. Think like the folks who will help you achieve that goal.
  3. Imagining you’re them, scroll your own feeds, curate and de-clutter.

Repeat this every few months or every time you apply for a new gig.

Sign-Off:

If you struggle with any of the (bad) Social Media habits in this lesson and want help developing a sustainable, efficient and effective Social Media strategy that supports your career goals and helps you rise above the chaos and competition, then please consider joining my new course:

Dream Machine: Social Media Strategies To Upgrade Your Art Career!

Enrollment is currently scheduled to open at the end of March 2019 so go now and join the interest list and in the coming weeks, I’ll follow-up via email with the details!

…and if you haven’t done so yet, download the free, illustrated Companion PDF and the mp3 for this lesson!

Until next time, my friends, remember: You are creators, not consumers. Design your lives accordingly.

The post 11 Social Media Habits That Hurt Your Art Career (And How To Break Them) :: ArtCast #115 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Feb 19 2019

Play

4 Keys To A Long and Healthy Illustration Career :: ArtCast #114

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How long did it take you to learn the “Happy Birthday” song?

…and how long would it take you to learn to sing a pitch-perfect, note-for-note, Broadway power ballad?

Years, right?

Because style takes time.

…and how many wrong notes would you produce in private before you gained the confidence to perform live?

Millions.

Process and performance are different things.

Let’s pretend you have some real potential. Would you start chain smoking and take a day job in a coal mine to pay the bills?

Of course not.

You gotta take care of your moneymaker.

And when you’re a big hit on Broadway with crossover success in movies and pop music…

…did you make it without a mentor?

Probably not.

A good mentor is essential.

We can easily see the absurdity in the image of an aspiring Broadway star who expects instant results, performs without practice, neglects their throat and lungs and thinks they’ll somehow succeed without expert perspectives.

But it’s a lot harder to see – in ourselves – the illustrator who expects instant results, publishes without practice, neglects their body and brain and thinks they’ll somehow succeed without expert perspectives.

Today, Lauren Panepinto (Creative Director for the Sci-Fi/ Fantasy publisher Orbit Books) and Marc Scheff (Games-Illustrator-turned-Fine-Artist) join me to share 4 Keys To A Long And Healthy Illustration Career…

Watch The Lesson:

[ download the mp3 ] [ download the pdf ]

Lesson Transcript:

*The following is a transcript of the full lesson – with illustrations!

Here you’ll also find links to the artists and resources referenced in the lesson…

Introduction:

Hello, my friends and welcome to another episode of The ArtCast by The Oatley Academy! I’m Chris Oatley – I’m an Illustrator and Visual Development Artist currently working for Disney.

…and here at ChrisOatley.com, I help Artists create dream careers in the Animation Industry.

I’m delighted and honored to announce that today’s guest, my friend Lauren Panepinto will join Loish, Animation Recruiter Alison Mann and me in teaching my new course at The Oatley Academy!

It’s called Dream Machine: Social Media Strategies To Upgrade Your Art Career!

…and it is awesome.

If you’re interested in working with us to develop a sustainable, efficient and effective social media strategy, that aligns with your personal values, fits your specific career goals and helps you rise above the chaos and competition, join our interest list!

I’ll follow-up via email in a weeks with more information about the course (the curriculum, schedule, payment plans, etc.) and I’ll share all the details about how to join!

Now, grab a pen because you’ll definitely want to take notes on today’s lesson: 4 Keys To A Long And Healthy Illustration Career!

KEY #1: Style Takes Time

Every successful, Professional Artist is either a Peacock or a Chameleon.

(Some Professional Artists can actually switch back and forth.)

Most Illustrators, some Concept Artists and some Animation VisDev Artists are Peacocks. They build successful careers with a unique, personal and distinctive visual style.

Most Animation VisDev Artists, most Concept Artists and some Illustrators are Chameleons who work in project-specific styles inspired by the story they’re telling.

Whether you get hired for your personal style or to help develop a project-specific style, it takes time.

Here’s Lauren…

——–

[Lauren] People freak out about finding their style.

They know they’re supposed to have a style. They hear everyone saying: “You have to be unique you have to be the person that does that thing the only way that you know how to do.”

…and they freak out because they think: “I don’t know what my style is and maybe it’s like this and maybe it’s like this?!”

I’ve never seen the level of anxiety…

Just… Just make work.

[Marc] You don’t wait until “The Style” finds you and then make work. You know, Picasso said, ‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.’

[Chris] My good friend Zi Yan – He answers the style question with a parable.

Zi says: A student comes to a mentor…

The student says: “Mentor, can you please help me find my voice?”

The mentor says: “You’re speaking, aren’t you?”

The student says: “Yes.”

The mentor says: “Now go find something to say.”

[Lauren] Exactly.

[Chris] …and I’ll add to this a story about a friend of mine who had a child – a toddler. We went to dinner and there was a little play area for the kids. All of a sudden we hear their child screaming – the most shrill, intense scream – and it doesn’t stop. It just keeps going and going and going…

[Lauren] That’s alarming.

[Chris] Just “AAAAYH! AAAAYH!” over and over.

We all look up and see the child standing by himself in the play area. But there’s nothing wrong. No altercation. Nothing. He’s just standing there with clenched fists, screaming.

The child’s mom then explains that the baby has discovered…

…his voice.

[LAUGHTER]

And last week it was [motor sound] “BRRRR!” week. And it was “BRRRR! BRRRR! BRRRR!” all week long.

…and now – congratulations to me – it’s scream week.

I saw them a couple months later – and the child was experimenting with an entirely different sound.

I realized: This is what Illustrators and Animation Artists to need to understand. 

Finding your style is often just: “BRRRR! BRRRR!”

It’s like trying to hear your own voice and figure out all the different sounds you can make.

If you take time to really listen to yourself – to your own voice – You can find it by trying and discover it by doing. Move forward – make work – and your style will begin to reveal itself.

[Lauren] But people don’t let themselves play. They’re so determined that every piece they start is going to be a portfolio piece. They don’t play.

[Chris] Exactly. Yeah. That’s just bonkers.

[Lauren] So many times we’ve looked at people’s portfolios, and we’ve said: “I see you’re trying to do all this other stuff. But *this* thing, *this* is really cool. Have you ever tried doing *this* thing?”

Tawny Fritz was talking about being at IMC (which is a hotbed of people picking out what you should be doing – which is why people go) but she was trying so hard to be like an Oil Painter.

…and she had these – she was doing these black and white pen and ink Illustrations.

[Marc] Just in between painting sessions. Just screwin’ around.

[Lauren] Just to decompress. But everyone who came around was like: “Whatever.” (About the painting.) “…but [these pen and ink pieces are] great! You should be doing *this!*” 

…and she talks about going through this – almost a grieving process.

[Marc] We all go back to the IMC dorm where everyone’s staying and I walk in and she’s sitting there in a chair…

[Lauren] Like somebody died.

[Marc] …and I ask: “What’s going on?” 

She said something like: “I’m busting my ass on this painting and everyone’s coming by and they don’t even notice it – and they’re like: ‘Oh look at these ink drawings.'”

And so I asked: “Dooo you thiiink maybeee you should juuust… …do this?”

…and she’s like: “Okay, okay. I’ll think about it.”

…and now she’s making these beautiful…

[Lauren] Now that’s what she does.

[Marc] And she’s committed to it.

[Chris] And it’s not like she can’t ever try oil painting again…

[Lauren] It’s not like we choose something and then we’re stuck with it for all time.

[Marc] It’s not a future dystopia, where it’s like: “You are an ink person! Go to the ink people! Forever you will only eat ink and breathe ink!”

[LAUGHTER]

[Lauren] It’s true that people get really freaked out. I’ve [suggested a particular focus] to people and they burst into tears in the middle of a portfolio review because they think: “No that’s not me! That’s not what I want to do!”

…and I think: “Okay, well, that’s fine. You can paint like a third-rate Donato for the next ten years, but you could be getting work doing this while you figure it out.”

People get so wrapped up in their vision of their own identity: I am this kind of Artist, or I am this kind of person. I was talking to an artist up at IMC and they were talking about how they would never be the kind of person that does personal projects. They only want do commissions. They don’t want to do any personal projects.

…and I was like: “Wow, okay. Well that’s opposite of how most people feel but, okay. But why? Have you ever done a personal project?”

“No that’s just not who I am.”

“How do you know?”

[Chris] Wow.

[Marc] I’ve seen it happen over and over again where it’s like: “I appreciate you trying this here, but scrap it. Because this thing – this other thing – that you keep showing up with…”

[Lauren] Is great.

[Marc] “…is really where your heart is. So why don’t you try exploring it?”

How many people listening to this really wanted to be (I’m raising my hand) “that” kind of painter, gotten halfway to being good at it and realized: “I don’t want to be “that” kind of painter. I actually want to paint this other way. That’s not what’s coming out of me.”

[Chris] Yeah. Something I’ve been saying to my students a lot lately has been: “Try on different outfits.”

They completely buy-in prior to even having tried it on for size. It’s like window shopping for wedding dresses and then you go and you spend $5,000 on a dress before you’ve even tried it on.

[Lauren] It’s almost like absorbing people’s superpowers…

Try and do a piece of your own in the style of Escher. Try and do a piece of your own in the style of Mucha. It’s ok if your influences show. They will show and they should show. (But people stop at that point.)

We teach people to career stalk.

You should have for 5 or 10 Artists that – you think you want their career. (It changes every couple of years. Everybody coming out of school right now looks like Victo Ngai. A couple years ago it was Sam Weber.)

You should not just look at their website wistfully and wish that you could be as good as them.

Go back and look at their old art. See how they got there. See what their clients said they got. Did they work in-house?

A lot of people don’t know that Sam Weber worked for The New York Times and was pretty much a black-and-white/ pen-and-ink Illustrator.

Knowing that is critical to bridging that gap between where you are and where you want to be.

So we teach people to (politely) career stalk. (Don’t actually stalk them.)

Do your research. Pretend that these are your mentors – even if they don’t know – because cause they are. Don’t just look at the finished product. Figure out how they got there.

The Internet is an amazing place for that. Go back far enough in someone’s Facebook timeline and you can see a whole career.

KEY #2: Separate Process And Performance

Social Media almost forces Artists to conflate Process and Performance.

Process (which often includes practice) is, primarily, private.

Performance is, primarily, for the public…

——–

[Chris] Everybody at Disney has Frank and Ollie stories and though most of the people at Disney now didn’t know Frank and Ollie – but the stories are still circulating.

I can’t remember who told me this story. …or if the person who told me the story is even the protagonist of the story. I don’t remember.

But there’s this Storyboard Artist who is new and he has a pitch coming up. …and the Story Artist wants to impress Ollie Johnston who will be reviewing the Storyboards.

…and so he works night and day, making the most perfect, beautiful Story Sketches you’ve ever seen.

He’s shading everything, putting some color on there, drawing and redrawing and cleaning-up and he goes in and does the pitch.

Then Ollie stands up to share his opinion…

…and instead of really giving feedback on the pitch, he just picks up a pencil, walks up to one of the Storyboards and he just starts kinda – delicately doodling – nonsensically – over the drawing.

…and he looks at the Storyboard Artist and asks: “How does this make you feel?”

[LAUGHTER]

The whole point being: It’s a Storyboard. It’s not the final piece.

This is process.

…and there’s this amazing – sort of – disposability that folks in Animation approach their work with that I think a lot of Illustrators could really benefit from.

In that it’s all just steps along the way.

…even if you spent an entire week on a painting it’s still going to be in the rear-view mirror…

[Marc] Yeah, and I think that’s something that gets lost a little bit, especially…

Take sketchbooks as an example.

If you want to figure out the design for something, you don’t work on a giant canvas and try to figure it out there. You work in a sketchbook.

If you’re trying to figure out how you work with oil, you don’t do a giant – you don’t do a Waterhouse.

You have to make a lot of work. …and you have to be willing to make crap.

It’s also one of the things that desensitizes you to failure.

[Lauren] That’s the confidence thing. You don’t gain confidence by winning. You gain confidence by losing. You gain insecurity by winning, cause then you have a streak that you don’t want to screw up.

[Marc] Then when you’re sitting there and you’re making a piece of dung in your sketchbook, you’re not also beating yourself up about it.

…hopefully not.

When people post their sketches online, they’re not posting the fifty pages of stuff that just looks like nothing – not good – the light on the face is terrible and all that other stuff.

[Lauren] That’s social media in general. You only see ten percent of the best work.

[Marc] Well, we can go down that road if you want to…

[Lauren] That’s different.

[Marc] That’s part of the issue. The process is so opaque because people aren’t showing all that stuff.

KEY #3: Take Care Of Your Moneymaker

As Artists, we’re fortunate that most of us will be able to continue to do creatively fulfilling work well into our old age.

The problem is many of us work in ways that risk our long-term health.

Just recently, I heard an interview with a popular Instagram Artist who said she wrecked her stomach and injured her spine from overwork.

After that, I read an interview where an experienced Professional Artist was quoted saying that in order to make a living as an Artist, “you can’t ease up or relax at all – ever.”

…which simply isn’t true – let alone sustainable.

Most of the pros I know do work a lot, but they don’t wreck their bodies and relationships in the process.

Here’s Lauren…

——–

[Lauren] Pay as much attention to your mental strength as your artist strength.

What an Art Director gets to hear that a lot of Artists starting out don’t get to hear is that the Artists at the top of the chain have the same doubts and insecurities and mental head-game stuff as the guys on the bottom of the chain.

It’s just the level is different.

[Marc] I heard one Artist – I won’t name names – talking about this and saying: “Well, yeah. I am booked solid for the next two years.

…but what about after that?”

…and everyone else is like: “Two years, Geez…”

[Chris] That’s great, yeah!

[Lauren] But the anxiety doesn’t go away. It just gets bigger and bigger.

Really the questions that we get over and over and over again are not nitty-gritty business questions. They’re therapy questions.

Things like habit building, how to deal with anxiety, confidence and depression.

[Marc] Getting enough sleep.

[Lauren] Self-care…

…to the point that it has sent me on my own little side journey of reading Artists’ psychiatry. (To Chris) You and I have talked about this before, but I’m even thinking about doing a Master’s in Art Therapy to try and help.

I’m from New York.

So I am completely, a thousand percent transparent that I have a therapist.

[Marc] I love mine!

[Lauren] Yeah.

[Marc] I think when you get here they just give you one. Right when you get off the plane…

[Lauren] I wish they would…

[Marc] You have a temporary one assigned just for your trip, while you’re here, Chris.

[LAUGHTER]

[Lauren] Bringing down mental health stigma is a big thing right now.

Especially on social media and that’s important because we all like to pretend that everything is fine.

…and one of the dangers of social media is that we only see when it’s fine.

There’s a version of this talk – that’s taped now – I think it’s from The Society Of Illustrators – But Mike Mignola gives this talk at IMC whenever he’s there about his career.

…and there’s a chunk in it about how the years when he was just writing Hellboy – and he wasn’t drawing Hellboy – weren’t because he was too busy (which is what everybody assumed) or that he was working on other stuff but because he’d had, pretty much, a nervous breakdown and he couldn’t bring himself to draw and all he could do was write the stories.

It was a fight with himself even to get a cover drawing out.

…and that’s so important for people to hear.

…so they’re not blindsided by things that come up.

…and the shame of it.

You know, like: “Oh I should be better than this. I shouldn’t let this sideline me” or “I shouldn’t feel this way.”

I mean, if Mike Mignola can’t draw Hellboy…

You’re not alone.

So I think those issues are really, really, really important.

I see it all the time on Facebook. I see Artists that have the work down and have the contacts down and they just can’t get their head-game together.

I wanna reach through the Internet and say: “I’m not a Therapist. Can you please, please, please find one?”

[Marc] Definitely speak to friends and see what options are out there because there are public health options.

[Lauren] There are apps too. There are text-a-therapist apps that are affordable…

[Marc] Much more affordable, yeah…

[Lauren] Also, Mark and I wanted to have a blog on MakeYourArtWork.com but we wanted it to be different.

There are three sections on that blog.

One is “Book Notes.”

I read a lot of books – and they’re almost always self-help books.

…the ones that I make notes of.

They’re like Artist self-help. Things like habit building and confidence (like The Confidence Code) and I put a little review, but the summary I write in my sketchbook and I scan the pages so people know what I’m reading and where I’m getting this information from that I think is really valuable for Artists to read.

The second thing is “S.O.S.”

Which is: “I don’t know what to charge!”

…and then we give you bullet points.

Or “I can’t find my style.”

[Marc] “The Art Director is standing across the room! What do I do?!”

[Lauren] Yeah, those things.

…but the third one is “Artist Therapy.”

…and it’s just whatever I’ve learned from all of the books and all of the therapy.

I try and distill it into those posts – and it’s not tailored to individual people – I try to make it as general as possible.

[Marc] There are a lot of the same questions that come up that require that kind of conversation.

[Lauren] And again, I’m hearing these questions from people who are struggling with this stuff at the Iain McCaig level and Mike Mignola level and people are struggling with it at the entry level.

It doesn’t magically go away the more successful you are.

[Marc] “When does the pain stop?”

It doesn’t.

KEY #4: A Good Mentor Is Essential

Lots of Artists are introverted.

Most of us, I’d guess.

And introversion can be a beautiful thing. But even introverted Artists can’t succeed – at least not in a significant and lasting way – entirely on their own.

Here’s Marc…

——–

[Marc] Make sure you have one really good friend.

Don’t go at it alone.

A lot of us are introverts or shy or some combination of both.

And it’s not always easy to go have a crowd of people you hang out with.

…and maybe you don’t like to hang out with people. Maybe that’s just not your thing. Maybe you actually prefer to be by yourself.

…and that’s. That’s what you get.

But it’s very important to have that one person that you can share all the things with.

…and it’s not just valuable for mental health.

Take Rebecca as my example. I don’t see Rebecca all the time.

[Lauren] Rebecca Guay.

[Marc] We talk occasionally. (More these days, honestly.) But I can – anytime – send her something and say “I’m kinda stuck.”

(She calls it: “Rats in your head.”)

“I’ve got these rats running around my head and I’m feeling insecure. I don’t know what I’m doing with this piece. Should I apply to this thing? Which piece of should I send this thing?”

…all that career stuff on which I just want someone else’s perspective who – definitely – whose opinion I respect.

…but who will also give it to me in a completely realist way.

…and in a way that I can also hear.

Having that friend, that person that you trust in your life.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who’s doing the stuff in your world, but someone who…

[Lauren] Who just gets it.

[Marc] I can point to a number of turning points in my career where I showed somebody something and they gave me some real feedback and it changed everything.

Rebecca has been that person for me.

…and I can think of a few times when she’s done that.

…where she saw some Illustration work I was doing and said: “Why don’t you try doing a lot of that?”

…and that changed everything.

When I was working on building up my repertoire in the gallery world, I showed her some stuff and she helped me hone it down.

[Lauren] You need somebody to call you on your sh**t.

You need somebody to pat your back when you need it.

…and tell you it’s going to be okay.

[Marc] It’s very easy for creatives to be looking forward all the time.

…and you have to be. That’s important.

But if you’re not also measuring how far you’ve come, you completely lose sight of how great you’re doing.

…of all the stuff you’ve done.

[Lauren] It’s hard to tell yourself how good you’re doing.

You need your friends to be like: “Oh my god. Okay. This is not going so great. But do you remember when you did that amazing thing?”

Sign-Off:

Connect with Lauren and Marc at DrawnAndDrafted.com

And join the interest list for Dream Machine: Social Media Strategies To Upgrade Your Art Career!

Again, if you’re interested in working with Creative Director Lauren Panepinto, Feature Animation Recruiter Alison Mann, Loish and me to develop a sustainable, efficient and effective social media strategy, that aligns with your personal values, fits your specific career goals and helps you rise above the chaos and competition, then this is one epic opportunity that you will not want to miss!

Until next time, my friends, remember: You are creators, not consumers. Design your lives accordingly.

The post 4 Keys To A Long and Healthy Illustration Career :: ArtCast #114 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Jan 01 2019

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3 Lessons For Writing Timeless Stories :: “Toy Story” Edition

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What makes Toy Story a timeless classic?

In this short video tutorial, I share three lessons to help you create stories that resonate – to infinity and beyond.

[ download the video ] [ download the transcript ]

Lesson 1: The Premise Is Universal

Almost every child wonders, at some point, if their toys come to life when they leave the room.

When developing new story ideas, be careful not to overlook familiar subjects and situations.

Lesson 2: The Humor Is Universal

The humor is grounded in truth.

…but not the truth of our ephemeral pop culture.

The humor in Toy Story is grounded in the timeless truths that each character represents:

  • Woody’s Temper
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Hubris
  • Rex’s Insecurity
  • …and so on.

You can avoid shallow jokes when you infuse your story with humor that is vulnerable, personal and even embarrassingly honest.

Lesson 3: Woody’s Fear Is Universal

Woody helps us deal with our own darkest fears.

His primal motivation is the fear of being forgotten and replaced.

…a spiritual death of sorts.

When his relationship with Buzz evolves from resentment to mutual respect, we learn that true friendship is worth the struggle because it makes us a more present, vital and invested individual.

Whether you’re writing a gritty indie comic or family-friendly animation, confront your own darkest fears.

Use the story teach yourself a lesson and you’ll be more likely to inspire lasting, meaningful connections with and among your audience.

To learn more, join my Storytelling Course at ChrisOatley.com/Timeless/

Comment & Share!

To which Toy Story character do you most closely relate?

Share your response in the comments below and I’ll be sure to do the same!

The post 3 Lessons For Writing Timeless Stories :: “Toy Story” Edition appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Oct 16 2018

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How To Promote Your Picture Book with Jake Parker :: Stories Unbound #20

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In today’s conversation with Jake Parker (Author/ Illustrator of Little Bot and Sparrow, Creator of Inktober) we discuss different ideas for promoting your picture book:

  • When should you start growing an audience? (Sooner than you think!)
  • Why trust is essential for growing an audience.
  • Should your project have its own website?
  • The importance of school visits.
  • …and Shawna shares her personal tip to avoid overwhelm!

Listen to ‘Stories Unbound’ 20:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/oatley/SU020-JakeParker-BookPromotion.mp3

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Awesome Links:

Jake’s Website

LittleBotAndSparrow.com

Brunhilda’s Backwards Day

Jake’s Little Bot Tour

Interview with Jake Parker :: Stories Unbound #8

Music By Ryan Keith and Wes Cepin

How About You?

Most artists have a love/ hate relationship with social media…

…but Jake Parker loves it.

What stops you from posting? Did any of Jake’s advice help? If so, which part?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below…

The post How To Promote Your Picture Book with Jake Parker :: Stories Unbound #20 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Jul 13 2017

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Creative Bravery: Why Animation Pros Sarah Marino and Jenn Ely Thrive In A Challenging Industry :: ArtCast #102

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This month, Sarah Marino (Color Supervisor at Nickelodeon)Jenn Ely (Production Designer for House Special, Visual Development Artist for Dreamworks) and I are teaching a new online workshop called First Flight: How To Create Your New Career In Visual Development.

I invited them both to join me here on The ArtCast to promote First Flight and talk about how they achieved such significant success in their animation careers…

Episode Highlights include:

  • Turning fear into faith.
  • Becoming more professional by de-emotionalizing your creative process.
  • Why we stopped caring about job titles.
  • How fear cost Jenn a a big opportunity (and why she’ll never make that mistake again).
  • Why Sarah had to climb through a human hamster wheel. (That’s not a metaphor.)
  • Inspiring gumball machines and the healing power of ice cream.
  • Is a successful animation career worth the cost?

Listen To ‘Creative Bravery’:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Connect With Sarah:

Sarah Marino

Follow Sarah on Instagram

Listen to Sarah on The ArtCast

Sarah on The Rising Stars Of Animation

Connect With Jenn:

Jenn Ely

Follow Jenn on Instagram

Listen to Jenn on The ArtCast

Claire Keane, Jenn Ely and Brian McDonald on Art, Fear & Finding Your Calling

Music Credits:

Theme Music by Storybook Steve

Recurring Musical Segments by Kangaralien

Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

In this episode, Jenn and I talked about how fear of failure cost each of us a big career opportunity.

We both survived, but we regret the moments when we let fear keep us from taking positive action…

What is a big fear you know you need to confront right now?

Don’t repeat our mistakes. Commit to taking action by sharing about it in the comments below!

The post Creative Bravery: Why Animation Pros Sarah Marino and Jenn Ely Thrive In A Challenging Industry :: ArtCast #102 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Jul 12 2017

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Interview with Creature Designer & Fantasy Illustrator Brynn Metheney (Part 1) :: ArtCast #96

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Brynn Metheney puts the “dragons” in Dungeons & Dragons.

While many of her animals come from imaginary worlds, they look like they could exist in this one…

In part one of our interview, we talk about Brynn’s childhood in the desert, how her father’s job as an engineer helped her understand creature design, and how she makes her animals feel so real…

Spoiler alert: it does not involve sitting still.

Ejiwa Ebenebe – now a producer on The ArtCast – joins me as co-host.

Listen To Part 1 Of Our Interview With Brynn Metheney:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Awesome Links:

BrynnArt.com

Brynn on Facebook

Brynn on Twitter

Robert Hunt

Dugald Stermer

Music by Storybook Steve and Kangaralien

Please Share Your Thoughts…

Today Brynn talked about finding the similarities in animals and using those “blueprints” to engineer imaginary creatures.

Have you ever found a new idea by closely observing reality?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Interview with Creature Designer & Fantasy Illustrator Brynn Metheney (Part 1) :: ArtCast #96 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Mar 28 2017

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How To Fail Like A Professional Artist (…and Find Inspiration In The Process) :: ArtCast #109

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So you trashed your last project and started over… …and then again. …and then again.

…is that because you just aren’t meant to be an artist?

…or is it simply because you’re ambitious?

So you spent your weekend sleeping instead of drawing… Is that lazy? …or healthy?

Are you blocked? …or just solving the wrong problem?

Is failure useful for you? …or destructive?

Today on The Oatley Academy ArtCast, we share five “Failure Flip Tips” to help you turn failure into a tool that’s just as useful as your favorite pencil…

Listen To The Episode:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Join Us For Our 10th Anniversary Celebration!

2018, marks the ten-year anniversary of The ArtCast!

If The ArtCast has a special place in your heart, please join us for our 10th Anniversary Celebration where you’ll get a sneak peek at our new album art, hear our new theme song and receive an invitation to our Birthday Party…

Learn More >>

Awesome Links:

Ânia Marcos | Ejiwa (Edge) Ebenebe | Sarah Mills | Maike Venhofen | Chris Oatley

Harding’s Lessons on Drawing: A Classic Approach by J. D. Harding

Kazu Kibuishi

Don’t Fear Placebos by Seth Godin

Music by Storybook Steve and Kangaralien

Share Your Thoughts…

Whose “Failure Flip Tip” resonated with you most strongly and why?

Please tell us in the comments below!

The post How To Fail Like A Professional Artist (…and Find Inspiration In The Process) :: ArtCast #109 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

May 23 2018

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Interview with Animation Layout & Visual Development Artist, John Nevarez (Part 1) :: ArtCast #98

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John Nevarez approaches his art and his relationships the same way. Whether he encounters a new, blank page or a new person, John sees the opportunity to freely explore new and inspiring ideas.

The whimsical energy in his sketches combined with his delightful personality has made him one of the most reputable professionals in the animation industry.

His stellar career spans from storyboard revisionist to visual development artist, with stops along the way at every major animation studio, including Disney, Sony, Illumination, and Pixar.

Today we discuss:

  • John’s iconic, visceral drawing style…
  • Just saying no to your eraser…
  • And what two dozen rejection letters gets you.

Listen To Part 1 Of Our Interview With John Nevarez:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Next: John Talks About:

  • What that first day at Pixar is really like,
  • Sneaky ways to get your work noticed,
  • And the secret to staying sane in this crazy business…

Awesome Links:

John Nevarez

Music by Storybook Steve and Kangaralien

When Did You Realize…?

Growing up, John didn’t consider art to be a career path. He just knew that it made him happy.

…until The Lion King.

He was so inspired by the Disney film that he made it his mission to become part of the animation world.

Who or what in your life first introduced you to art as a career?

…and if you’re a professional, what steps did you take to go from passionate to professional?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Interview with Animation Layout & Visual Development Artist, John Nevarez (Part 1) :: ArtCast #98 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Apr 25 2017

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The Lost HERstory Of Disney Animation :: ArtCast #113

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When author Mindy Johnson set out to write a book about of the history (or as Mindy says, the “HERstory”) of Walt Disney‘s definitively female “Ink & Paint” Department, she began her research in the most obvious place: The Disney Archives.

I’ve been to the Disney Archives several times. It’s the epicenter of animation history – an enormous, state-of-the-art research library and storage facility filled, wall-to-wall with art from the past century of Disney animated productions.

Mindy visited, requested everything they had on Ink & Paint, and they brought her a folder holding five pieces of paper.

That’s all they had.

Composing the comprehensive history of any Disney division would be difficult even with the help of the Disney Archives.

Mindy had to start from scratch.

Today, she’ll share stories from the creation of her epic work Ink & Paint: The Women Of Walt Disney’s Animation and introduce us to inspiring artists from Animation HERstory…

Listen To The Episode:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Links Mentioned:

Ink & Paint: The Women Of Walt Disney’s Animation by Mindy Johnson

Join The ArtCast Tenth Anniversary Celebration

Who Is Your Unsung Hero?

Mindy has made HERstory by introducing these unsung heroes of Disney Animation to the world.

Who is an unsung hero that inspires you as an artist?

Please tell me about it in the comments below!

The post The Lost HERstory Of Disney Animation :: ArtCast #113 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Sep 26 2018

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Interview with Creature Designer & Fantasy Illustrator Brynn Metheney (Part 2) :: ArtCast #97

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In part one of our interview with Brynn Metheney, we talked about her childhood in the desert, how her father’s job as an engineer helped her understand creature design, and how she makes her animals feel so real…

In part two, Brynn shares some nitty gritty drawing tips and practical ways to improve when your artistic growth seems slow.

She traces her path from obsessive animal doodler, to official creature teacher and talks about the benefits of specialization.

Ejiwa Ebenebe – now a producer on The ArtCast – joins me as co-host.

Listen To Part 2 Of Our Interview With Brynn Metheney:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Awesome Links:

BrynnArt.com

Brynn on Facebook

Brynn on Twitter

Robert Hunt

Dugald Stermer

Music by Storybook Steve and Kangaralien

How Do You Keep Your Art Lively?

Brynn talked about how we often start a drawing with too much detail.

…and the result can be lifeless.

Have you ever encountered this problem? If so, how did you solve it?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Interview with Creature Designer & Fantasy Illustrator Brynn Metheney (Part 2) :: ArtCast #97 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Apr 11 2017

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[Announcement] The Return Of ‘Painting Drama’ & CTNX 2019!

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In this short audio announcement, Chris Oatley shares updates on the return of his Composition & Color Theory course called Painting Drama and his appearances at CTN-X 2019!

Click through to hear the announcement…

http://traffic.libsyn.com/oatley/VSP03b-Announcement-PD2020-CTNX2019.mp3

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe ]

*The gorgeous illustration at the top of this post is by Alex Burke a.k.a. “WhiteTreeFox” and was created for one of the homework assignments in ‘Painting Drama.’

Hey, everyone!

Chris Oatley here with two quick announcements:

FIRST: The long-awaited return of my course Painting Drama: Composition & Color For Visual Storytellers is coming very soon!

Many Oatley Academy alumni who have gone on to create successful careers in the entertainment industry credit Painting Drama as a major turning point.

Subscribe to my notification list at ChrisOatley.com/pdemail and I’ll follow-up with more information about the course, the important dates and directions about how to apply.

Due to the significant demand, I’m currently planning to offer Painting Drama twice in 2020. Once with a start date in January and once with a start date in June.

Pascal Campion – world famous Visual Development Artist and master of emotional color and Chris Bradley – my good friend and theme parks concept artist who recently worked on several marquis projects for Walt Disney Imagineering and Universal Studios are both set to join as guest instructors in the January session.

…along with one more guest instructor with whom we’re still working out schedules.

So, to get all the details as they develop, subscribe at ChrisOatley.com/pdemail

——

…and SECOND:

I’ll be at CTNX 2019 this coming weekend – November 23rd and 24th.

I decided not to manage a booth this year so I could focus more on spending time with my students and other friends from the industry – especially those who don’t live in SoCal…

BUT – I will be giving two different talks.

One is on Saturday the 23rd and one is on Sunday the 24th. Both talks are at 10:30am

My Saturday talk is titled: Don’t Be A Disco Yeti: How To Troubleshoot A Struggling Animation Career and my Sunday talk is sort of a remix of a few different lessons from my free, online mini-course called You’re A Better Artist Than You Think You Are: How To Improve Quickly Without Ever Picking Up A Pencil.

I was sad to miss Lightbox Expo this year because of a preexisting family commitment, but I’m really looking forward to meeting some of you again or for the first time.

So yes, at 10:30am on both Saturday and Sunday morning, you can find me in Theater 3.

And please, come say “Hi!.”

I’m not scary. I promise.

I always get these emails and tweets after a presentation where listeners tell me they couldn’t get up the courage to come talk to me and I understand that. I’ve been there before but I promise – I’m happy to meet you and make a connection. So please, if you feel like you need an ice breaker, just use this podcast as an excuse: “Hey, Chris, so you said on your podcast to be brave and come say hi. So here I am – being brave.”

..and we’ll take it from there!

——

I mentioned that one of my CTNX talks is sort of a remix of my free mini-course called You’re A Better Artist Than You Think You Are: How To Improve Quickly Without Ever Picking Up A Pencil.

If you’d like to sign up for the free, online course, just go to ChrisOatley.com/think

…and I’ll follow-up via email when the next session opens.

—-

Our next episode of The Visual Storytelling Podcast will help you fill out your wishlist for the upcoming holiday season, so stay tuned for that fun episode.

…and, until then, remember: Most human interactions are SOME kind of awkward. But on the other side of the awkwardness, there is SOME kind of reward.

The post [Announcement] The Return Of ‘Painting Drama’ & CTNX 2019! appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Nov 20 2019

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4 Ways Animation Artists Can Mentally Prepare For The Move To Los Angeles: With Natalie Nourigat :: VSP #3

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Disney Storyboard Artist and Director Natalie Nourigat describes her book I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation as “part Autobio Comic and part ‘How-To’ guide.’”

It’s hilarious, emotional, beautifully illustrated and I now consider it required reading for every aspiring Animation professional.

Today, Natalie joins me for a lesson inspired by her book: 4 Ways Animation Artists Can Mentally Prepare For The Move To Los Angeles!

Click through to start the lesson…

Watch The Lesson:

[download the mp3] [download the bonus segment]

Lesson Transcript:

The following is a transcript of the full lesson (with links to each resource mentioned).

Introduction:

Hello, my friends and welcome to The Visual Storytelling Podcast – where I help Artists and Writers find healthy, fulfilling careers in Animation, Games, Comics, Film and Illustration.

I’m your host Chris Oatley. I’m a Visual Development Artist and Illustrator – most notably for Disney – and if you want to become a professional Visual Storyteller like the guests on this show or many of my students, check out my courses and resources here at ChrisOatley.com!

Join the notification list for my free mini-course: You’re A Better Artist Than You Think You Are: How To Improve Quickly Without Ever Picking Up A Pencil

…and I’ll follow-up via email when the next session opens!

Tip #1: Step Up To The Mic

In the following segment, Natalie tells a version of her origin story that focuses on a single, significant decision:

The decision to confront her own fear of failure and actually tell people about her dream of working in Animation.

Is it finally time to share your dream with people you love and trust?

…or if you’re lucky enough to have realized one dream already, maybe it’s time to share something even more ambitious.

The point is: Speak up.

Whether it’s time to invite help or offer it, speak up.

Here’s Natalie…

——–

[Natalie] I grew up in Portland. It’s a great city. Lots of artists there… There are art jobs there…

…and I had the dream of working in Animation when I was younger.

…but I gave up on it because I didn’t know anybody who did that. I didn’t go to a school for art or Animation and once I found out what the good schools were and where you were “supposed” to go, I felt like it was too late for me.

I’d already spent three years at a state school. I had no funds left for further art school, and I was like: “Oh, okay. Well, that’s it. It’s over. You don’t need a degree to do Comics, so I’ll do that.

I love Comics. …and still love Comics. I miss Comics sometimes. I was a Comic Book Artist for about five years after college.

…but I saw a lot of Comic Artists that I knew (in their late twenties/ early thirties) taking jobs down in LA and reporting back that life was pretty great there.

[LAUGHTER]

They had health insurance and salaries and they were buying houses and they knew they were going to be employed six months later…

[LAUGHTER]

…and this desire to work in Animation reignited itself when I thought maybe it actually could be possible.

Then I was like: “Oh wait. Is that still an option?

Well, I hid that desire for a long time because I was sure I was going to fail.

..and I didn’t want anybody to know that I was trying to do something that I would probably fail at.

So I didn’t tell anybody that I wanted to work in Animation.

…not for a long time.

…and that was a big mistake.

…because once I admitted it – once I said it out loud – and told people that that mattered to me – that it was something I was trying to do, they were like: “Oh, well, I can help with that.

You know…

…connecting me with people and resources.

…and giving me more relevant critiques to my work.

…and it actually ended up happening pretty quickly after I admitted it out loud.

Like: “I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know if it’s possible. I’ll probably fail a lot. …but I want to work in Animation.

…and a few months after saying that, I got my first freelance gig on Bee And PuppyCat.

…and a few months after that I was doing story tests.

…and I submitted to LoopdeLoop.

…and I finally got a training position at Disney Feature in Storyboarding.

…and that was what convinced me to take the leap and move down here.

Even though it was a three month contract, I bought a car and rented an apartment, and I was like: “Well I’m in it now. I’d better make it work.

Tip #2: Keep Track Of Multiple Storylines

While there is no “right way” to plan a move to Los Angeles, it’s amazing to me how many people move out here with no plan at all.

One of the most effective planning strategies is one you can implement right now: Collect stories.

Collect stories from the successful, creative professionals who made the move and made it work.

Natalie’s book and the decade-long archive for this podcast are great places to start.

…but wherever you search, keep in mind that stories can do more than inspire.

They inform and support and apply.

——–

[Natalie] As I was going through that first year in LA that was really difficult, I was taking notes on everything, just kind of in the back of my mind.

…what was happening, how I felt about it and: “How would I turn this into a comic?

…maybe this is nothing. Maybe this is something…

I self-published at first. I put it online as a PDF.

…and I feel like that was the biggest response to any comic I’ve ever done, at a publisher or independently or online.

…because I think the topic interests people.

…and it picked up steam in press, which was really nice.

I reached out about print options, and Boom! was interested.

…and I’ve worked with them before. Shannon Watters – over there – is awesome.

…and she pitched me a couple of her ideas for ways to improve the book …from the PDF version to the print version.

…and I just thought she had great ideas.

…and I joined them as a partner for the print version.

[Chris] What were some of the changes that you worked on with Shannon?

[Natalie] She said she really liked the book, but one pitfall – that I couldn’t fix alone – is that it’s just one person’s perspective.

…and that’s not a great way to tell somebody what the whole reality is, right?

…and I say that up front. It’s one person’s perspective.

…but she said: “Why not interview other people for the back of the book? …add a new chapter. Get those other perspectives.

…and she was right on the money. She was so right.

[Chris] Yeah, that whole section is just a treasure trove.

[Natalie] Aww.

[Chris] Your caricatures of everybody… It’s so good.

[Natalie] I would like to say: If you have read the book and you think: “I have a different experience.“

…or: “I have something to add to this.“

…or: “I am international and you don’t talk about coming to the US at all.

(…which is true, because I’m not an expert on that.)

I want to read your book.

I’m not being sassy. I’m being sincere. I really want to read your book.

…so if you think that there’s more to add to this story (which I 100% believe there is) do your own “I moved to LA.” Tell your story and get it out there, because it can help people.

We need so many more data points than one in order to know what to expect in coming here.

Tip #3: Buy Some Rose-Colored Sunglasses

Los Angeles is still the most viable location for launching a career in Animation.

…so you might land here whether you like it or not.

I’ve grown to love it, but it’s not always easy to love.

In the following segment, Natalie shares some balanced perspective for those who find LA overwhelming…

——–

[Natalie] I think LA feels out of reach for a lot of people. If you grew up around LA or around entertainment or in California, maybe that sounds weird.

…but if you grew up far away from it, it can seem like this mystical, far-off land.

…and really unreachable.

I think people responded to seeing: What’s the reality? What’s the everyday life? What are some of the mundane details about living here? What were your expectations? …and then, in reality, how did it differ?

…because I think the move is scarier than the industry – for a lot of people.

[Chris] Yeah, that’s so true. Isn’t it?

[Natalie] I think so.

[Chris] What do you say to these folks who are intimidated by the “city in the clouds” that is Los Angeles?

[LAUGHTER]

[Natalie] It’s growing on me.

…but I try to be honest and talk about things I like and things I don’t like.

…because I’d hate for somebody to get the sugarcoated version and then show up here and be like: “Natalie, you said it was nice! I’m miserable!”

[LAUGHTER]

[Chris] “It’s so hot!”

[Natalie] Yeah, it’s hot. There’s not as much nature as I’m used to.

[Chris Oatley] Oh… Trees.

[Natalie] Exactly!

There’s a ton of concrete, barbed wire, broken streets…

[LAUGHTER]

You have to drive everywhere. There’s traffic and smog.

but there’s also a beautiful coast, a beautiful desert, mountains, national parks within driving distance, weekend getaways, the entertainment capital of the world….

You can go out and see A-list comedians for five dollars on a Friday night.

Any food from any culture you could possibly want – you can find it here.

…and it’s good!

So there’s good and bad, and I try to listen to what they’re worried about and what matters to them and then be honest with them. So it’s ultimately up to them.

But I hope people don’t write it off just because it seems difficult or far away…

I hope they give it a serious chance.

Tip #4: Aaaaand ACTION!

There’s a specific combination of decisiveness and focus that I call “boldness.”

Boldness isn’t self-destructive. It’s neither impulsive nor pretentious.

…nor is it passive.

…and it is essential to a long, successful career in the LA Animation scene.

——–

[Chris] When I first moved to LA, I worked at coffee shops all the time.

…like everyone in Los Angeles does.

[LAUGHTER]

…which is why it’s so hard to get a table!

…and you walk into the coffee shop and there are all these laptops out and they all have Final Draft open.

[LAUGHTER]

…and everyone’s working on a screenplay.

[Natalie] Yes! It’s surreal. You think you’re being punked or something.

[LAUGHTER]

[Chris] It doesn’t seem real, but it is real.

…and I was really inspired by that. I loved that. I was like: “Oh my God! This is what I do back in the Midwest! …but I’m the only one!”

I remember sharing this with somebody. (I don’t remember who it was.)

…but they were like: “How are you liking Los Angeles?”

“Oh, it’s great. I was at the coffee shop the other day. I came in, everybody’s on their laptops with ‘Final Draft…’ It made me feel sane! …like I’d found a place where I belong…”

…and they were like: “Oh yeah, you’ll get over that. It’s just a bunch of amateurs and wannabes and blah-blah-blah…”

[Natalie] Aww…

[Chris]…and I was just like: “Here’s the thing. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. Depending on the individual…

…but people move to Los Angeles because they’re pursuing a dream.”

Right? Oftentimes – some people move for different reasons.

…but all of those people with Final Draft open in the coffee shop?

They made a decision in their lives to change the status quo and go try to be creative for a living.

…and most people don’t do that.

Most people just abide the job they hate.

They abide the town that feels like a soul-sucking, unfulfilling experience.

I hear from people all the time who are in that environment, and they’re trying to make the leap.

…and I don’t know how you don’t applaud and admire that.

…because you gotta try.

You gotta try.

I’m not prescribing recklessness. I’m not prescribing thoughtlessness. It would always be assumed that your actions have consequences or that your actions affect the people who love you.

[Natalie] Yeah. I’ve met a lot of people who are married with kids.

…and they’re like: “I think it’s just going to take a little bit longer for me because I have all these other considerations.”

…but I’m so inspired by them being able to handle all of that responsibility and pursue this dream. That’s so incredible. I can’t imagine…

[Chris] Damon Lindelof, I heard him say, one time: ‘That’s the thing about a career in entertainment. You have to be willing to make bold moves when you see an opportunity.’

[Natalie] It’s scary!

[Chris] Yeah, it is. It can be terrifying.

…and I think it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. I understand why people don’t do it.

…but, that said, people in Animation generally want you to win. They want you to do well – and you, Natalie, even talk about that in the book. People want to promote you and want to see you succeed.

I didn’t have negative suspicions about working in Animation, but I certainly was overwhelmed by how helpful everyone seemed.

[Natalie] Same here. I hear that 100%. I was like: “Well, I wasn’t expecting back-stabbing, but I wasn’t expecting them to be this nice and supportive of other artists.”

[Chris] …and people make it happen, right?

When you work in Animation, you learn that people break in all the time.

…and here I was – out in the Midwest – thinking they hire four people a year.

…and it’s like: “No no!”

[LAUGHTER]

Especially right now, it’s a great time to be breaking into Animation.

[Natalie] Oh gosh… It is.

[Chris] …with streaming and everything.

[Natalie] Apply to everything! Apply to everything. There are not enough artists right now for the jobs. It’s nuts.

[Chris] Yeah, it is. It is absolutely bonkers. I haven’t seen – in my entire career – I don’t think I’ve seen a hiring frenzy like this.

I’ve seen ones that were similar, but this is massive.

…and so, yeah, people do it. That’s the thing. People do it.

[Natalie] If this is your dream, and you feel like you’re too old or you didn’t go to the right school or it’s just too hard, I just want to say that I believe in you and I hope that you keep pursuing it.

…and only you know what’s right for you.

…but if this is your dream, don’t count yourself out of it.

However long it takes, it’s just a matter of time.

Sign-Off:

Natalie is @TallyChyck on Instagram and I’m @ChrisOatley.

Download the bonus clip where Natalie talks about the differences between Comics and Animation Storyboards.

If you liked today’s lesson, please share a high star rating (and, if you have time, a positive review) on our iTunes page at: ChrisOatley.com/iTunes

Join the notification list for my free mini-course: You’re A Better Artist Than You Think You Are: How To Improve Quickly Without Ever Picking Up A Pencil

…and I’ll follow-up via email when the next session opens!

Our Theme Music was composed by Seth Earnest, produced by Seth Earnest and Chris Oatley and performed by Seth Earnest with guitar work by Storybook Steve.

Our Album Art was designed by Maike Oatley with Chris Oatley.

Until next time, my friends, remember: There are no bold results without bold decisions.

The post 4 Ways Animation Artists Can Mentally Prepare For The Move To Los Angeles: With Natalie Nourigat :: VSP #3 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Nov 13 2019

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Character Design and The Illusion Of Life: With James Woods :: VSP #2

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Is there more to you than what other people see?

Character Design is a fundamental aspect of Visual Storytelling.

…but there’s much more to Character Design than the visual aspects.

Disney Visual Development Artist James Woods – best known for his Animation Character Design work on Mary Poppins Returns – joins me for today’s lesson:

Character Design And The Illusion Of Life.

Click through to start the lesson…

Watch The Lesson:

[ download the mp3 ] [ download the pdf ] [ download the bonus clip ]

Lesson Transcript:

The following is a transcript of the full lesson (with links to each resource mentioned).

Introduction:

Hello, my friends and welcome to The Visual Storytelling Podcast – where I help Artists and Writers find healthy, fulfilling careers in Animation, Games, Comics, Film and Illustration.

I’m your host Chris Oatley. I’m a Visual Development Artist and Illustrator – most notably for Disney – and if you want to become a professional Visual Storyteller like the guests on this show or many of my students, check out the courses and resources here at ChrisOatley.com!

Before we begin, download the PDF Guide and the mp3 for this lesson.

You can also download a deleted scene where James talks about the difference between working alone as a student and working in the studio environment at Disney.

…and if you like today’s lesson, please share a high star rating (and, if you have time, a positive review) on our iTunes page at: ChrisOatley.com/iTunes

Tip #1: Think Like An Animator

Before James became a Character Design wunderkind, he struggled with Animation studies that didn’t quite fit.

As you listen to James’ origin story, consider how his training as an Animator informs his current profession as a Character Designer.

(Oh, and if you don’t understand how Animators think, don’t worry. At the end of the lesson, I’ll share a link to my resource list so you can keep learning…)

——–

[James] Growing up, I would watch all of these Disney films. My parents would hand me and my siblings a stack of paper to keep us occupied.

[LAUGHTER]

We would all sit around and have our box of felt-tips and crayons and draw as we were watching the film.

I would have the VHS covers kind of lined up in front of me – The Little Mermaid and whatever – and I would start drawing from there…

[Chris] Yeah, I liked the covers. And The Little Mermaid cover was one of those that I also drew.

[James] Covers are all of these characters in their “hero moment.”

…where it’s them at their greatest.

[Chris] Yeah, right.

[James] And from the age of four, I’d said – watching The Little Mermaid, or something: “I want to do this.”

My parents, luckily, kept all of these drawings, which I did as a kid.

…and I had this really big back catalog of all of these terrible trace-overs, or weird, egg-shaped Ariels, and whatever…

[LAUGHTER]

…which, for some reason, going from Egg-Ariel, my parents thought that there was some promise in this.

[LAUGHTER]

…and so they bought me all of these color-by-numbers, like an undersea coral reef scene or something…

My teachers could see that I was easily distracted or wasn’t engaged in, maybe, the more academic side of schooling.

…but I was very keen to be drawing posters for the classroom. So from there on, I guess, I was always known as “the kid that drew.” But I had no idea about anatomy, or really what it was to be a free-thinking artist.

…but, I think, when I was fifteen, in art class, my art teacher knew that I had an interest in Animation. I was very keen on becoming a traditional, 2D Animator.

So she brought this local Animator in, who went to the same school, but had gone into Stop-Motion Animation. He was an Animator on Corpse Bride, and all of these kind of things.

And that was my first encounter with a professional who put the whole thing into context for me: “Oh, this is actually… It’s a job. It’s a lifestyle.”

…and so that really inspired and kick-started me into wanting to take Animation seriously. At this point, I went home and was like: “I’m going to make my first short film!”

The film never got made, but I spent my weekends trying to figure out how to animate – terribly. I was not really grasping it.

[Chris] But you were obviously searching. You were exploring Animation and, perhaps, even exploring Character Design a bit.

…but what did you know you were looking for?

What were you conscious of?

[James] It was always a keen interest in character.

I don’t think I ever crossed over into painting or drawing environments. But to me, it was just really interesting to – it sounds so cheesy…

…but creating that kind of life on a paper where you felt like there was something existing inside of this drawing, like a backstory, or whatever it could be…

[Chris] The Illusion Of Life! Yeah!

[James] Yeah, exactly.

[Chris] That’s what brought us all here.

[James] A university in the UK called The Arts University Bournemouth, has an Animation program.

So I went there for three years, learnt all of the basics: Ball-bounce tests, flour sack and whatever…

If we had these assignments like “the yawn,” I would put together a really simple character to animate.

…but it was just just a stock baby yawning.

…or a stock kid doing a baseball pitch.

…but on the side of it, I eventually found Character Design to keep my traditional side alive and interested.

So I was dabbling with Character Design whilst doing these 2D tests.

…not really thinking that I could become a Character Designer because I didn’t really know what it meant to have a voice as a Character Designer.

Eventually, I picked up some steam with that and saw that I was really enjoying Character Design.

I was able to experiment and broaden my design vocabulary to a point where I thought: “Oh, maybe I could pursue this…”

So I went through school here in the UK. Graduated in 2013. Then, in summer of 2013 (after a couple of years of applying) I got accepted into the Disney Summer Internship at the studio here in Burbank.

I came out here for eight weeks in summer 2013. I had, I think, probably to date, the best summer I’ve ever had. [giggle]

Just learning, being immersed in the environment…

I guess, coming from the UK, where we don’t really have a big Animation scene, it was my first time really being exposed to, not just one Animator in a building, but a whole bunch of Animators, and a whole bunch of people in the Art Department, and it being this fully-functioning Disney entity…

I spent eight weeks as a Character Design mentee.

…which was great. I super-encourage everybody to apply for that. And don’t be discouraged as well… It took me a couple of years to get accepted.

I then returned to school. I went to CalArts for a year, before having to discontinue the school for personal reasons.

Then I, luckily, landed my first freelance job in my last year of school, doing four weeks on Moana, which was my first feature.

That was really cool. Especially since, as a kid, The Little Mermaid was my favorite film. I would watch it every day. So it felt like I was coming around full-circle, getting to work underneath Ron and John. I really lucked out with that freelance gig.

So I was here for four weeks. Then I went back to the UK for about two years while freelancing for Paramount Animation Studios.

…until coming back out here in 2016 to work on the Mary Poppins sequel.

In May of 2017 I was offered the role at Disney Animation as a full-time Character Designer.

Tip #2: There’s A Lot More To Character Design Than Drawing

A drawing of a character is not the same thing as a Character Design.

…a drawing of a character represents one, small moment.

…while a Character Design is an aggregate.

Of course, there are visual aspects of Character Design: Proportion, poses, clothing, color…

…but it’s the invisible aspects: Experiences, opinions and energy. Motion and emotion…

…that combine to create The Illusion Of Life.

——–

[Chris] Some of the best Character Designers I know have some sort of Animation background. They have moved a character around in space.

How did learning The Principles Of Animation – the flour sack and whatnot – change the way you designed characters?

[James] I think it’s really important for Designers, or students coming up, to have a grounding in Animation, because, to me, a design really comes to life when you’re thinking about a character in motion – as if you’re animating.

In my cube at work, I have keyframes and in-betweens pinned up on my walls because I want to be reminded of the character’s thought process from A to B.

…and try to install that in my drawings.

Having that Animation background definitely forces you to think about the particular quirks and nuances they might have in their pose or expression.

…because nobody moves back and forth in the same way. They have a specific way of going from A to B. Not in a pantomime sense where it’s an over-exaggerated kind of: “I’m feeling sad today, so I’m putting my fists to my eyes. …and I trace the tear down my cheek with my index finger.”

[LAUGHTER]

…but it’s just figuring out how that character, in their mindset, would go about that in their unique manner.

…and I think a design, to me, is successful when you can look at it and imagine how that drawing or character would sound when they’re breathing.

If you were to run up to this design and push them, would they fall over?

…or would the design just bend around your hands because there’s no physicality or solidity to them that feels real?

[Chris] Yeah. We’re talking about a character who is alive.

…and has a life outside of that rectangle – that window of the paper – that you’re looking through to see their life, right?

…or the screen – if you’re watching a movie.

[James] Exactly.

So much of it is posing and emotion which, I think, makes up the design.

…and then the actual aesthetic of them is the “icing on top.”

[Chris] Yeah, that’s awesome.

In my Character Design class – the students are always sort of shocked and disoriented by this – but in the first assignment, I give them the designed character.

Literally, I give them a model sheet and say: “Use this character.”

…and then they act out – they draw the character in different poses – and act out a Shakespearean soliloquy without any direction. So they get to decide how melodramatic, or how tragic, or how comedic their performance is going to be.

…but everybody uses the same character.

…and they’re going: “Why the heck am I doing the same character in a Character Design class? I’m supposed to be designing characters…”

…and that’s when I say: “Because there’s more to the design than the visual aspects.”

And that’s the first assignment. You identify the spirit of this character.

As a Character Designer, the thing that is going to separate you from the rest of the people just making pretty character drawings, is that soul.

No matter what you’re designing, you have to put that soul into the design.

Tip #3: Design Characters From Observation

If you want to make your characters seem more alive, draw from life.

James and I both learned more about Character Design from quick-sketching random strangers in coffee shops than we did in our art classes.

Here’s how you can make the most of this essential practice…

——–

[James] I think, as a student, I grew the most when I would take days and days at a time just sitting and drawing people in cafés.

It’s like drawing gym.

You’re working out your drawing muscles.

Having to get the idea of that person, get that pose, get that action down immediately…

…with no fuss around your line.

You only get that “snapshot chance” to get them down. So, obviously, you have to use artistic license for a lot of the rest of it.

[Chris] Right.

[James] There was an element of caricature if that person was sat down for a long time and I was able to play with their features, or exaggerate aspects of them, or whatever…

Maybe, without even knowing it, that was me (I guess it was) Character Designing at that time, too.

But, a lot of the time, when you’re character sketching, the person is in and out…

[giggle] Bish bash bosh! Get it done!

[LAUGHTER]

I can’t stress that enough. I think a lot of people, when they want tips about drawing for Animation, think that there’s a secret shortcut.

They’re going: “How did you do it, specifically?”

There’s no shortcut.

It doesn’t matter if you have a Moleskine Sketchbook…

[LAUGHTER]

…or a cheap whatever…

A Moleskine feels great to draw on, but it isn’t going to suddenly amplify your drawings by whatever account.

But sit down with whatever you have. I used to sit down with a little – almost like receipt paper – pad and had a cheap ballpoint pen or whatever…

Just draw, and draw, and draw, and draw.

[Chris] Lined notebook paper! I would draw on spiral notebooks because the nice sketchbook put mental friction in there.

[James] Right. There’s that pressure to get it nice. And then if you do a crap drawing, you have to tear that piece of paper out!

[Chris] Right!

[James] Lo and behold, anybody should [giggle] go through your fancy Moleskine and find [giggle] a crap drawing!

[Chris] Yeah, right!

[LAUGHTER]

[James] So I mean, it’s about losing ego.

It’s just about making as many crap drawings as you can. So, [giggle] eventually – two-hundred crap drawings down – you’re going to have one cool one, and then it will become more frequent.

You’ll start to get a grasp of people, behaviors, all of that kind of stuff…

…which then informs your Character Design later on.

[Chris] Oh yeah.

[James] Because you’re observing all of these people around you, and drawing from those experiences, and injecting that into the experiences of the fictional characters you’re creating somewhere down the line.

[Chris] Yeah.

[James] But, at the heart of it, it’s all drawing. Whether you’re drawing in a café for the sake of figuring out posing for Animation, or Story, it all just comes down to drawing.

…and really tightening-up the connections between your fingers, and your eyes, and your brain.

…and it all pays off across the board.

So yeah, to every student, I just say: “If you can’t get to a figure drawing class, just get a sketchbook.

…and don’t be afraid to sit down in whatever coffee shop, or whatever shopping mall, and just sketch.”

All day. Every day.

…for years, and years, and years.

[giggle]

[Chris] Yeah, right!

Sign-Off:

James is @JamWoodser on Instagram and I’m @ChrisOatley.

…and if you haven’t done so yet, download the PDF Guide and the mp3 for this lesson.

The PDF Guide contains a full transcript of this lesson, images, links and, a resource list for those of you who want to design or develop characters that seem more alive, but don’t (yet) have any Animation training.

You can also download a deleted scene where James talks about the difference between working alone as a student and working in the studio environment at Disney. The scene didn’t fit within the focus of this episode, which is why it didn’t make the final cut, but it’s really inspiring and insightful nonetheless.

…and if you liked today’s lesson, please share a high star rating (and, if you have time, a positive review) on our iTunes page at: ChrisOatley.com/iTunes

Our Theme Music was composed by Seth Earnest, produced by Seth Earnest and Chris Oatley and performed by Seth Earnest with guitar work by Storybook Steve.

Our Album Art was designed by Maike Oatley with Chris Oatley.

To learn more about Character Design, check out Good Character Design Goes Deep and my Tips For A Competitive Visual Development Portfolio!

Until next time, my friends, remember: A good Character Design has a life of its own.

Recommended Resources for Character Design & Development (With An Animation Focus):

BOOKS:

The Illusion Of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston

The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams

Acting For Animators by Ed Hooks

Invisible Ink by Brian McDonald

The Hidden Tools Of Comedy by Steve Kaplan

VIDEO:

Disney’s Tarzan (2001, 2-Disc Collector’s Edition, Glen Keane Sketch Cover)

Lilo & Stitch (2009, 2-Disc “Big Wave” Edition)

The Emperor’s New Groove (2001, 2-Disc “Ultimate Groove” Collector’s Edition, Gold Box)

The Sweatbox (“Banned” documentary about the making of The Emperor’s New Groove)

The Incredibles (2005, 2-Disc Collectors Edition)

The Making Of ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ (Originally a “BD Live” exclusive)

The post Character Design and The Illusion Of Life: With James Woods :: VSP #2 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Sep 25 2019

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The Power Of Pictures: 4 Ways To Make Your Stories More Emotional :: VSP #1

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“Show, don’t tell.”

It’s every Visual Storyteller’s mantra.

…but it’s easier said than done.

In today’s lesson, you’ll learn four ways to write – with pictures!

…a practice that will help you solve existing Story problems, make a Story more powerful or get started on a new project!

Brian McDonald – Visual Storytelling consultant for Pixar, Disney, Sony and ILM – one of my closest friends and my most trusted mentor – joins me for:

The Power Of Pictures: 4 Ways To Make Your Stories More Emotional.

Click through to start the lesson…

Watch The Lesson:

[ download the mp3 ] [ download the pdf guide ]

Lesson Transcript:

The following is a transcript of the full lesson (with links to each resource mentioned).

Introduction:

Hello, my friends, welcome to the first episode of The Visual Storytelling Podcast!

I’m your host Chris Oatley.

I’m a Visual Development Artist and Illustrator currently working for Disney.

…and here at ChrisOatley.com, I help Artists create dream careers in the Entertainment Industry.

Before we begin, download the PDF Guide and the mp3 for this lesson.

…and if you like today’s lesson, please share a high star rating (and, if you have time, a positive review) on our iTunes page at: ChrisOatley.com/iTunes

Tip #1: Write The Silent Version First

Words often get in the way of a good Story.

I know that might sound heretical.

…but even if you’re a passionate worshipper of words, one cannot deny the common belief that a picture, as they say, is worth a thousand.

…or more.

When you need to troubleshoot a Story problem or get a strong start on a new project, try applying the advice in this next clip.

Here’s Brian…

——–

[Brian] When you’re working in a visual medium like film or comics.

…particularly with film (but with any visual medium), there might be words, but the words are, essentially, secondary.

…and people don’t really understand that.

…and I’m actually kind of surprised, when it comes to film, how many people don’t understand that this is “Motion PICTURES.”

[LAUGHTER]

Early screenplays were called “photoplays.”

It’s about the picture.

…and when I talk with people and they talk about how “well” something is written, they always mean dialogue.

They never mean the Visual Storytelling – which is also a kind of writing.

They always mean dialogue.

…and they often mean the dialogue calls attention to itself in some way.

…and if it calls attention to itself they go: “Wow! Really well written!”

…but I’ll just see a bunch of talking and nothing will be reinforced visually and I’ll think it’s – probably – pretty poor writing.

I’m not going to mention any names but there’s a particular Screenwriter who always draws attention to his dialogue in a way that is – I think – distracting.

…but it makes everybody think: “What a great writer [this person] is!”

…but I find the work really distracting.

The characters are basically the same character…

[Chris] Well, that’s the irony of it, right?

We praise the dialogue but, even using dialogue as the metric for quality, it’s actually not great Storytelling because all of the characters are the same character!

…so, even if it was a radio play and we had nothing but sound effects and dialogue, it would not be good.

[Brian] Well, they used to say that in the radio days, when they wrote radio.

…because the way the radio scripts were written is: On the left side you’d have the characters’ names and on the right side you’d have the dialogue.

…and they would fold it in half so you can only see the dialogue.

…and they’d say: “If I can’t tell who’s talking by just reading the dialogue, then what you’re writing is crap.”

…but this particular writer (and a lot of writers now), you couldn’t do that with…

[Chris] Dialogue often breaks the spell.

[Brian] I think that’s true.

[Chris] Audiences want an immersive experience and yet we’re constantly reminding them: “Hey! Here I am behind the curtain pulling all the levers!”

[Brian] Yeah. I’ve said this before: Directors do it. Writers do it.

…where they’re very interested in calling attention to their work: “Look what I’m doing.”

There are Directors who say: “Look at me direct.”

…so it’s all “cool” shots.

…not effective.

Not about Storytelling.

…but about calling attention to: “Look at how cool this shot is.”

“Look at me direct. Look at me write. Look-at-me-look-at-me-look-at-me. Don’t look at the thing that I’m presenting to you…”

[Chris] …or yourself.

[Brian] Right.

“…but look at me and look how good I am at what I am doing.”

It’s a sort of self-centered way to work and it doesn’t actually make good Stories or immerse yourself in any real way.

[Chris] Right. It just gets people talking about you.

[Brian] Right! I guess if that’s your goal…

[Chris] …mission accomplished, I suppose.

[Brian] Yeah!

Mary Pickford – an old, silent movie star – one of the first movie stars – said something really interesting…

She said art usually goes from being complicated to being more simplified and being more refined.

…that it would have made more sense to go from talking movies to silent films.

[Chris] Yeah that’s amazing.

[Brian] Isn’t it?

[Chris] Something that has helped me tremendously has been: Write the “silent” version.

[Brian] Right. Yeah, when I, personally, write a screenplay or even a graphic novel, I’m trying to write a silent movie or a silent graphic novel.

When I have to write dialogue, it’s like: “Oh. This the limit of my ability to do this visually. I don’t know how to do this visually. Maybe in a year or two or ten, I’ll be better at it and I’ll know how to do this with pictures. …but right now I don’t.”

…so then I use dialogue.

[Chris] So dialogue is the last tool you reach for.

[Brian] It is.

[Chris] Why does the craft of Visual Storytelling – using pictures to tell stories – why is that such a richer experience for us?

[Brian] I think it’s probably more natural.

If you move from one country to another and you don’t speak the language, you have no idea what’s going on.

…and, quickly, you move into sign language.

…you move into visuals, right?

…because I think it’s much more natural.

Dogs will even indicate what they want in a kind of sign language:

“I want that thing right there!”

“I want out the door! *scratch scratch*”

…even though we’re not speaking the same verbal language.

…so I think that’s why.

I think it’s just more primal.

[Chris] Right. It’s deeper. It’s inherently more emotional…

[Brian] Yeah. And it’s gotta be older – in our evolution as a species – than language.

Tip #2: Create Space Between Your Words and Pictures

Though, for the Visual Storyteller, words are secondary, you can combine them with pictures to create dramatic effects that neither one is capable of on its own.

When words and pictures work together in complementary or contradictory relationships, the results can be hilarious, heartwarming and compelling.

Here’s an example from New York Times bestselling Author/ Illustrator Jon Klassen

——–

[Chris] I’ll start with a children’s book called I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen.

Many people listening to this podcast are big fans of Jon.

…and here’s why.

Here’s why we love him so much.

…because he really is brilliant.

He has this bear who establishes (on page one) that his hat is missing.

…and that he wants it back.

…and then he proceeds with this sequence of meeting other animals.

…and he does this through the whole Story but I’ll just focus on the first, major, emotional moment.

The bear goes to see a fox and he asks: “Have you seen my hat?”

…and the fox says no.

…and then he visits a frog and asks: “Have you seen my hat?”

…and the frog says no.

In both of these images – with the fox and the frog – the images are designed to be as uniform as possible.

…and the only thing that changes is the animal that the bear is talking to.

The fox and the frog look like a fox and a frog but the design is very…

They’re still very similar in the way that they’re designed.

The color palettes are very neutral.

Nothing about the bear changes.

Turn the page and you have the exact same composition, the bear in the exact same pose with the exact same facial expression. Everything’s in a very neutral palette…

…and then there’s a little rabbit (in the exact same position on the page as the fox and the frog were) and the rabbit is wearing this bright red, pointy hat.

[LAUGHTER]

It’s just a red triangle, basically.

…but it just jumps off the page.

…and, already, we’re laughing.

…and it’s so impactful – I would say that the dramatic impact of this Story moment is maximized – I think it’s fully optimized – because of the discipline of those first two shots.

[Brian] Sure, yeah. I think that’s true.

[Chris] So much of the comedy in this moment is what you’re – the audience – is what you’re doing.

[Brian] Right.

[Chris] I mean – Jon Klassen – not to diminish his accomplishment at all. It’s amazing to be that simple and to be able to create a moment that emotionally impactful…

…but the fun and the punchline is happening with us.

[Brian] Of course it is.

With Visual Storytelling, you often connect dots. You’re putting A and B together and going: “Oh…”

[Chris] Right. We’re never told that this is the bear’s hat.

No one says this but we know.

So then, the bear asks the rabbit the same thing he asks the fox and the frog: “Have you seen my hat?”

…but now the rabbit has kind of a…

…almost a monologue.

[LAUGHTER]

…where he’s clearly overcompensating.

He’s clearly guilty.

…and so he goes on and on about how he hasn’t seen any hats at all.

…and: “Please stop asking.”

…and: “Of course, I would never steal a hat.”

[LAUGHTER]

He offers the word – the “stealing” part.

…and then the bear says ‘Ok. Thank you’ and moves on.

But now we know.

You’ll have to read the book to get the rest of the Story.

…and I highly recommend it.

But I just think that’s an amazing example because both things – the image and the words – work better.

[Brian] Yeah. The dialogue says: “I didn’t steal your hat. I don’t know anything about a hat. I’ve never seen a hat.”

[LAUGHTER]

…but the picture tells us that’s not true.

There’s space for the audience to participate.

We’re participating in this Story because we’re like: “But that’s the hat! He’s got your hat!”

So we’re participating.

If you do all the work, the audience can’t participate.

Tip #3: Don’t Forget To Use The Costumes, Props and Sets

Whether digital or handwritten, many Visual Storytellers begin their work in a text-based format.

…and, sometimes, words are the only thing a Storyteller has to work with.

…so it makes sense that our Stories often get too wordy.

When you get stuck in the process or have trouble getting started, look for inspiration in the physical – that is to say: “visual” – elements that exist within the world of your Story.

…like the costumes, props and sets.

While listening to this example from an obscure, 1985 western, try to keep track of all the ways legendary screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan used costumes, props and sets to create a funny, suspenseful (and almost entirely visual) sequence…

——–

[Chris] I’ve never seen Silverado.

[Brian] When it came out, I loved it because it was written by Lawrence Kasdan.

…and Lawrence Kasdan had written Raiders Of The Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back so whatever that guy was doing, I was following it.

I read every interview with him and then, later, I realized it didn’t have a very strong first act and so I think that’s why it hasn’t really stood the test of time.

It’s got too many focuses and it doesn’t really know what it’s about and it’s not simple enough.

…but I can still tell it’s the guy who wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders Of The Lost Ark because there’s stuff in there that is as good as in those two movies.

This is a western.

Kevin Kline plays a guy who’s been robbed of all his stuff.

…so he’s in those red long johns that they used to wear and that’s all he has – these long johns.

A guy finds him in the desert and helps him and takes him to a town.

…and the guy says: ‘I’m gonna go take care of something. Go buy some clothes.’

…and he gives him a coin to buy some clothes.

So he’s all by himself. He’s in his underwear and somebody responds: ‘Oh my god!’

…because otherwise we don’t know that wearing those red long johns is like walking around naked in this world. So we need that cue.

…and then you see him spot somebody.

…and he has described the people who robbed him, so…

So you see him spot somebody.

He quickly moves his hand like he has a gun. He quickly slaps his thigh and holds it like he has a gun: “Oh. Dammit. I don’t have a gun!”

[Chris] Wow.

[Brian] It’s really nicely done.

So you go: “Okay, so this guy’s used to having a gun.”

So you know that about him.

So then he runs into a gun shop.

…and he picks up a gun and does all these fancy gun tricks.

…and he’s looking out the window – making sure that guy is still there.

…and he does all these gun tricks and you know: “Oh my god. He’s good with a gun.”

…and so he plops the coin on the counter and says: “I’ll take this one.”

…to the clerk.

The clerk has a pair of scissors which he puts in Kevin Kline’s chest and says: “No. This one is twenty dollars.”

So he can’t take that gun.

…and he keeps looking out the window like: “Oh my god, he’s going to get away!”

He wants to get out there with a gun so he says: “What can I get for this?”

…for the coin.

And what the clerk hands him is a rusty, old gun.

He hands him a rusty, old gun!

…and Kevin Kline’s looking at it and – as he turns it to the side – the barrel falls out in his hand.

[LAUGHTER]

…and, so, that’s the gun he buys!

He buys the gun and he’s loading it with bullets and he’s racing outside to try to get the guy who robbed him.

…and the guy sees him.

Kevin Kline’s still trying to load his gun and the guy shoots at Kevin Kline.

…and you see a hole underneath his crotch, in his red underwear.

[LAUGHTER]

…but he’s still calm and he’s still loading the gun.

…and then he loads it: BAM!

…shoots the guy dead in one shot.

[Chris] Wow.

[Brian] So you know he’s really good at what he does.

You know he’s a really good gunfighter.

You know that and nobody said a word.

Tip #4: Make Your Theme Visual In Every Way Possible

Storytelling evolved to become the most effective way of communicating information about how to survive and/ or thrive in life.

A good Storyteller makes it artful, elegant, and emotionally powerful.

But how do we design Stories that are both artful and focused?

How do we unify form and function?

Theme.

Theme is the lesson that your Story communicates about how to survive and/ or thrive in life.

Theme is a filter. Theme is focus. Theme is fractal.

Theme is both form and function.

Here’s what I mean…

——–

[Chris] How would you state the Theme of The Wizard Of Oz?

[Brian] I always word it: “You may already have what you’re looking for.”

…because it’s not always true, right?

…but you may already have what you’re looking for and so maybe you don’t need to go very far to find it.

[Chris] That’s good. That’s very succinct.

[Brian] Yeah, well, I’ve thought about it a lot.

[LAUGHTER]

[Chris] Dorothy – our protagonist – learns this lesson throughout the Story.

The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion are also all manifestations of the Theme.

Scarecrow is looking for a brain.

We see throughout the Story that he already has a brain.

Tin Man is looking for a heart.

We see throughout the Story that he already has a heart.

The Lion already has courage…

[Brian] They demonstrate it throughout the whole piece.

…again, it’s visuals.

They demonstrate over and over again.

No matter what they say.

[Chris] No matter what they say. Right.

So you could do this example with Scarecrow or The Lion but Tin Man – I think – is the best example of the Theme made visual…

When we first meet the Tin Man he is rusted and stuck.

He can’t move. He can’t talk.

Dorothy and Scarecrow are coming down the yellow brick road they discover The Tin Man.

He’s able to sort of mumble.

…and they’re able to make out the words: “Oil can.”

…and so they grab the oil can and start greasing the joints.

He’s freed up piece by piece and he’s able to talk and move.

He says: “Go on. Bang on my chest.”

…and then Dorothy bangs on his chest and we hear the echoing sound inside his chest.

Then, later, he says: “The guy who built me forgot to put a heart in there.”

So we establish this idea that he doesn’t have a heart.

Tin Man has his song and dance.

…and then: “We’re going to go to the Wizard. He’s going to give you a heart.”

…and then we go to The Lion.

…and then there’s an encounter with The Witch.

…and then we see The Witch in her tower. She’s got a looking glass. She’s spying on the characters and she decides that she’s going to create the poison poppy field outside of The Emerald City.

…and when the characters run through, the flowers are going to poison them.

The characters arrive at the poppy field and they’re all excited: ‘Here’s The Emerald City!’

…out on the horizon – and they start running toward it.

…and Dorothy is the first to succumb to the poison poppies.

She starts getting lightheaded and needs to take a minute to rest.

…and now the characters are starting to get a little nervous. …starting to get agitated.

Dorothy passes out.

…falls down into the flowers.

Lion goes down.

…and then Scarecrow looks up at Tin Man and Tin Man is crying.

The Scarecrow says to him: “Don’t cry or you’ll rust.”

…so Tin Man’s first response – the picture we see…

…his first response to Dorothy and Lion – his friends – being in danger…

…is to cry.

…so we’re seeing empathy.

We’re seeing empathy displayed. We’re seeing how sensitive he is and that he does, in fact, have a heart.

…and then we see an image of Glinda superimposed and she creates this snow which, apparently, subdues the effects of the poppies.

So all this snow comes down and Dorothy wakes up.

…and Scarecrow is excited: “Oh, Dorothy! You’re waking up!”

…and he pats her on the shoulder.

The Lion is yawning.

[LAUGHTER]

It’s just so great.

Dorothy looks over and sees…

“Oh no!”

…and the camera pans to reveal The Tin Man just like he was in the first shot – except he’s not holding the axe up – but it’s a very similar pose.

So, now, we’ve charged this with emotion. We’ve charged this actual image of him frozen there – with emotion.

…and that image is not just proving that he does, in fact, have a heart.

…but it, also, is this icon of the Story.

[Brian] Yeah, it’s amazing.

Yeah. The movie’s full of that.

I don’t know why people don’t talk about it more.

[Chris] About The Wizard Of Oz?

[Brian] No. Nobody talks about this.

Nobody talks about the power of visuals.

Often when you talk to people about visuals, they talk about how beautiful they are.

People say this about cinematography a lot: “It was beautiful!”

…and I’m like: “Was it appropriate?”

should it be beautiful?

Were they the shots that the Story needed?

Was it the lighting that the Story needed?

…or was it just beautiful?

They go: “I just watch this for the cinematography.”

…or: “I just watch this for the [this or that].”

…and I’m like: “Oh, that’s interesting. Why didn’t they put out a movie that’s just cinematography?”

[LAUGHTER]

“Oh, well, that would be boring? Oh, so they did try to make a Story. Well, they failed at that part.”

It’s like: “Well, if they just put out a movie with just fashion, let’s see how many people go.”

[Chris] Well, yeah. They already have that. It’s a fashion show.

[LAUGHTER]

[Brian] Right! Exactly!

[Chris] That’s why we do fashion shows.

…because we just want to go and experience the spectacle.

…and that’s fine.

I think that’s the other thing, too. …is that’s fine.

Let’s just – if we’re going to make a movie – let’s make a movie.

[Brian] Right. Or if you’re going to do a graphic novel, do that.

…but whatever it is, do that thing and honor its strengths.

[Chris] Yeah, right.

[Brian] It has certain strengths and you should honor those strengths.

…and honoring weaknesses is also a way to honor strengths.

…but you have to do that or you’re not using your medium to the best of its…

Um… You know what I’m saying?

[Chris] Maximizing the potential of the medium.

[Brian] There you go. Thank you. Thanks for using words I couldn’t find.

[Chris] Well, I owed you one.

[LAUGHTER]

[Brian] You did. You did.

Yeah, I don’t know how to evaluate anything if it’s not in service of the Story.

[Chris] Oh yeah. Well, sure. Then, otherwise, what is your measure?

Sign-Off:

Check out Brian’s books on Visual Storytelling and also his new graphic novel from First Second Publishing. It’s called “Old Souls” and it’s awesome.

…and if you haven’t done so yet, download the PDF Guide and the mp3 for this lesson!

…and if you find this podcast helpful or inspiring, please share a high star rating (and, if you have time, a positive review) on our iTunes page at: ChrisOatley.com/iTunes

If you have a Story that you know you have to tell, but you’re struggling with the process, please consider joining our Visual Storytelling course at ChrisOatley.com/TellMyStory

Until next time, my friends, remember: In a visual medium, words are secondary.

The post The Power Of Pictures: 4 Ways To Make Your Stories More Emotional :: VSP #1 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Jul 10 2019

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[Announcement] The Future Of The ArtCast, Artistacon & Dream Machine!

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Hello, my friends!

Chris Oatley here with a few time-sensitive ArtCast Announcements!

In this recording, I’ll provide updates on:

  • Dream Machine my new Social Media course for Artists.
  • My upcoming presentation at Artistacon 2019 (plus a discount code).
  • …and what to expect as we begin re-branding The ArtCast!

Here we go!

Listen To The Announcement:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/oatley/ArtCastAnnouncement-March2019.mp3

[ download the mp3 ]

Read The Transcript:

What follows is a complete transcript of the audio announcement linked above.

I also provided links to the resources mentioned.

Apply for ‘Dream Machine’

Applications for Dream Machine are now open!

If you are interested in working with me, Loish, Orbit Books Creative Director Lauren Panepinto and Alison Mann, VP of Talent at Illumination, to develop a focused and effective Social Media strategy to upgrade your art career, sign up for the Interest List and follow the directions that will arrive via email.

You’ll get an invitation to our upcoming Interest Meetings where I’ll share all of the details about the course and answer your questions.

You’ll also get a link to our application form. Applications are due before 11:59pm on March 31st. Class starts on the first week of April.

Let’s Connect At ‘Artistacon’

Speaking of Lauren Panepinto, she and I will be Guests Of Honor at Artistacon 2019!

The conference will be at Moore College in the inspiration-rich city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania March 22nd-24th.

Lauren will give a talk about the business aspects of a successful art career. Jon Schindehette will be there to talk about self-publishing and Jake Parker will close the conference via livestream with an interactive Q&A.

On Saturday night, I’ll host a Q&A panel with Lauren and Jon that I call: “If You’re Gonna Be My Artist: We’ll Tell You What We Want (What Your A.D. Really Wants)”

…and immediately before our panel, I’ll do a solo presentation called: “You’re A Better Artist Than You Think You Are.”

Here’s the blurb:

In this deeply emotional and inspiring presentation, you’ll learn:

  • How Chris almost destroyed his own animation career before it even got started (and what to do if the same thing ever happens to you).
  • The best way to harvest oranges in Southern California (and what that has to do with maintaining a successful art career).
  • What a great mentor can do for you that you probably can’t do for yourself.

…and the one, major mindset shift that will improve your art instantaneously.

If you’re in or around the American Northeast, it would be great to share this experience with you!

Go to Artistacon.net to learn more and register.

Use the discount code OATLEY11 to save $11 on the price of admission!

The Future Of ‘The ArtCast’

Before I go, here’s an update on the upcoming ArtCast re-brand!

Last year, as the 10 year anniversary of The ArtCast drew closer, and after much consideration and conversation with my team and students, I decided to refocus and re-brand the show with a more accurate name, logo and soundtrack.

The show began in 2008, during the dawn of podcasting, as Chris Oatley’s ArtCast.

It was basically a stream-of-consciousness audio journal. Sometimes I talked about working at Disney. Sometimes I talked about breaking into Animation. Sometimes I shared video tutorials.

…and sometimes I had no idea what I was talking about…

As it evolved into The Oatley Academy ArtCast, a more consistent style evolved along with it.

Throughout that decade, we tried producing multiple podcasts concurrently: The Paper Wings Show, Stories Unbound, The DIY Animation Show and several other shows that never got past the pilot stage.

Of course, each project has its own story, but my point right now is that we got completely overwhelmed and had to simplify.

The Paper Wings topics could be covered on The ArtCast, the hosts of (Lauren and Jess) took total ownership of that project (which you can still find at DIYAnimation.show), and we decided, along with host Shawna Tenney, to put Stories Unbound on hold while she focused on her art career and family. In the meantime, it made sense to merge the Stories Unbound archives with The ArtCast archives.

Fortunately, all that struggle brought unprecedented clarity and focus. One of our many revelations was that all of the shows had a common theme: Visual Storytelling.

…when I decided to refocus and re-brand The ArtCast, the new title seemed obvious: The Visual Storytelling Podcast.

I’ll talk about the new logo and album art on a future episode because that’s an entire lesson in itself.

After deciding on the title, I reached out to Seth Earnest who composed the scores for several of our courses: The Storytellers’ Summit, First Flight and the new Magic Box.

(In case you’re wondering, the new Magic Box is not open yet. Join my email list for updates on that.)

Because it didn’t seem right to create a new score for The Visual Storytelling Podcast without the help of Storybook Steve – the musician who composed and plays The ArtCast theme, I invited him to collaborate. Steve generously agreed to perform the guitar parts and assist Seth with the composition.

You’ll begin to see changes in the podcast feed very soon.

The album art and show title should update automatically within your podcasts app and new episodes should continue to appear just like they always have.

Many aspects of the show will remain relatively unchanged. For example: The format will continue to develop as it always has. The content and editing style will remain consistent and I’ll continue to host the show.

I’ll close this announcement by playing, for you, our gorgeous new score by Seth Earnest with Storybook Steve!

[ THEME FROM ‘THE VISUAL STORYTELLING PODCAST’ PLAYS]

The post [Announcement] The Future Of The ArtCast, Artistacon & Dream Machine! appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Mar 13 2019

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11 Social Media Habits That Hurt Your Art Career (And How To Break Them) :: ArtCast #115

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These days, whenever I ask my industry colleagues where they’re finding work, the answer is almost always one of two things:

Industry connections or Social Media.

…but, despite the proliferation of Social Media success stories within the Entertainment Industries, many of us are still afraid of Social Media.

…and if we’re not afraid, we’re often too familiar for our own good.

…but Social Media is just like drawing and painting.

It has a set of learnable skills and a professional approach.

I learned how to power my business with Social Media strategies that progress both the business and my personal art career. I also helped a number of my students and my Animation industry colleagues develop their own Social Media strategies.

We’re all Artists here.

If I can figure it out, you can too.

…and today’s lesson – 11 (BAD) Social Media Habits That Hurt Your Art Career (And How To Break Them) – is a great place to start!

Click through to watch the lesson and download the free resources…

Watch The Lesson:

[ download the mp3 ] [ download the pdf ]

Lesson Transcript:

The following is a transcript of the full lesson – with illustrations and links for the Artists and Resources!

NOTE: I made each Bad Social Media Habit into a Character. They do NOT represent real individuals. They are satirically simplistic, fictional Characters created to help us identify and externalize our own Artistic struggles.

Introduction:

Hello, my friends and welcome to The ArtCast by The Oatley Academy! 

I’m Chris Oatley – I’m an Illustrator and Visual Development Artist currently working for Disney.

…and here at ChrisOatley.com, I help Artists create dream careers in in Animation, Concept Art and Illustration.

We all know that Social Media is vital for a successful art career.

These days, whenever I ask my industry colleagues where they’re finding work, the answer is almost always one of two things:

Industry connections or Social Media.

…but, despite the proliferation of Social Media success stories within the Entertainment Industries, many of us are still afraid of Social Media.

…and if we’re not afraid, we’re often too familiar for our own good.

…but Social Media is just like drawing and painting.

It has a set of learnable skills and a professional approach.

I learned how to power my business with Social Media strategies that progress both the business and my personal art career. I also helped a number of my students and my Animation industry colleagues develop their own Social Media strategies.

We’re all Artists here.

If I can figure it out, you can too.

…and today’s lesson – 11 BAD Social Media Habits That Hurt Your Art Career (And How To Break Them) – is a great place to start!

Join The Interest List For “Dream Machine”

Before we begin, check out my new Social Media course!

It’s called: Dream Machine: Social Media Strategies To Upgrade Your Art Career!

Throughout the course, you’ll develop an effective, efficient and sustainable Social Media strategy that helps you rise above the chaos and competition.

My friends Loish (world-famous Illustrator and Concept Artist), Lauren Panepinto (Creative Director for the Sci-Fi/ Fantasy Publisher Orbit Books) and Alison Mann (Creative Talent Recruiter for Illumination and Disney) will also be there to support you with their own, specialized guidance.

Join the interest list and I’ll follow-up soon with the details!

#1: The Rando:

The Rando has no clear career goal.

…and without clear career goals, one has no idea what to post.

Like a desert island castaway tossing bottled messages into the ocean, The Rando posts anything and everything, hoping a stranger will, some day, send rescue.

The Rando’s bio might be confusing: “Coffee addict. Cat lover. Parent to three crazy kids. Cartoonist and occasional photographer.”

…or noncommittal: “I draw stuff.”

…so, The Rando shouldn’t be surprised when they get ignored in favor of Artists with clearer posts and profiles.

How To Break “The Rando” Habit:

Social Media is full of randomness and clarity is extremely scarce.

What studio or client out there is looking to acquire more randomness? What hiring manager puts “confusing” and “noncommittal” on a list of job requirements?

Clarify your career goals and you’ll have a much clearer idea about what to post.

Combine that clarity with excellence and you’ll earn the attention of those who will help to create your dream career.

#2: The Noisy Neighbor:

My good friend Justin Rodrigues was a guest instructor for an Animation VisDev course I taught at The Oatley Academy last year.

Though the focus of his talk was, as you might expect, Character Design for Animation, the topic of Social Media came up several times.

Justin talked about how it helps to think of your Social Media presence as an “Active Portfolio.”

Dynamic, interactive, evolving…

…but still professional.

Scroll The Noisy Neighbor’s feed and you’ll find it pulverized by irrelevant (and often incendiary) posts.

Maybe they can’t resist a political rant.

…or maybe they prefer the Internet hive-mind to a qualified psychologist.

…or maybe they think yet another photo of their sticky-faced kid will hook a successful Publisher or Producer.

Specifics aside, the “TMI” approach to Social Media is unprofessional.

How To Break “The Noisy Neighbor” Habit:

If you wouldn’t feel comfortable presenting it to the entire crew at your dream studio or ideal publishing house, don’t post it on Social Media.

…if you absolutely have to use Social Media for personal purposes, create a separate account for friends-and-family only.

#3: The Alice:

While researching a lesson on productivity, I asked my Instagram followers to share their main productivity killers.

“Social Media” was, of course, one of the most common responses.

Through conversations with many of the Artists who responded, the following pattern became apparent:

Step 1: The Artist opens a Social Media app. (We’ll use Instagram in this example.) They don’t really know why they’re opening the app, but they know that’s a thing professional Artists do.

Step 2: They check for new DMs and comments, hoping to find a life-changing inquiry from their dream Studio or Publisher but there’s just a cat video.

They type a quick reply: “So cute! *heart-eyes-emoji* Thanks, Mom!”

Now what…?

Step 3: They do what most Instagram users do: They begin to consume.

Step 4: Like Alice falling down the surreal, spacetime-warping rabbit hole, these Artists get sucked into the infinite network of hashtags and that irresistible “Endless Scroll” function.

Ten minutes disappears… Fifteen… Forty…

It’s understandable why The Alice might resent Social Media.

…because of how consumption replaces creation.

The more they consume, the less creative they feel. The less creative they feel, the harder it is to create. The harder it is to create, the easier it is to consume…

How To Break “The Alice” Habit:

Social Media, in the hands of a creator, is a tool that empowers and accelerates and connects.

In the hands of someone who is too complacent or afraid to create, it’s endless distraction.

Accept your own specialness as a creator. Commit to a specific career goal and develop a relevant project.

(More on that later.)

Don’t open a Social Media app unless you’re promoting your own work, supporting the work of your peers or connecting with industry pros.

If you begin to sense that mental shift from proactive to passive…

…from creator to consumer…

…exit the app.

Remember the words of The Cheshire Cat: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

#4: The Burnout:

I see Artists telling each other all the time that the key to success on Social Media is, simply: “Post every day.”

That’s it. No context. No conversation.

Post what? Where? Why?

…and for whom?

The Burnout prioritizes quantity over quality.

Maybe the demand for daily posts is too much or they’re trying to perform on too many different platforms.

…or maybe it’s both.

…regardless, they‘re overwhelmed and exhausted all the time.

The Burnout also prioritizes quantity over relevance.

They don’t really know why they’re working so hard.

…but they keep going for fear of losing the thing that they aren’t even sure they have.

How To Break “The Burnout” Habit:

I know you’ve been told a thousand times to “Post every day” and to “Be everywhere.”

How’s that working out for you?

Of course, consistency and frequency have their value. Of course, there’s a balance to be found.

But if you want to connect with Recruiters, Producers and Publishers, why would you commit to less-than-your-best?

How would things change if you gave more weight to the wisdom that was formed long before Social Media?

Wisdom like: “Quality over quantity.”

…and “Look before you leap.”

…and “Don’t burn the candle at both ends.”

…and “For everything there is a season.”

…and “Leave them wanting more.”

There’s a big difference between tips and wisdom.

#5: The Wanderer:

When The Wanderer is out exploring the vast landscape of Social Media, they feel right at home.

They find enough work to get by and meet many interesting folks along the way.

Then, suddenly, Facebook is blown away in a toxic storm, Twitter gets devoured by big, corporate monsters and in the land of Instagram, King Algorithm falls asleep on the throne…

The connections that The Wanderer takes for granted can be severed in an instant.

Even The Wanderer would be wise to buy some land and build a house.

How To Break “The Wanderer” Habit:

Social Media, though vital for a successful art career, is no substitute for a website and email database of your own.

Track the traffic from your Social Media platforms to your website and on to your email list. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Measure what works by the number of high-quality connections you can create and keep.

I recommend WP Engine for web hosting and ConvertKit for email.

Over the past ten years, I have worked with many of their competitors but these two are, in my opinion, the very best at what they do.

If you enroll through the links above, I will receive a generous commission.

#6: The Whale:

The Whale swims around open-mouthed, swallowing any follower they can find.

They talk about “building an audience” as if they were working with industrial materials and not individual, living human beings.

They shove their way into forums and Facebook Groups with one-way communication like: “New personal work. Crits welcome. Please follow.”

…and though they manage to trap some noobs, the more experienced Artists know enough to stay away.

…especially the pros.

How To Break “The Whale” Habit:

You’ll know you’re making high quality, share-worthy work when people begin to like and share it on their own.

…but you will never grow if you aren’t big enough to accept when they don’t.

Find a healthy creative community and grow with them. Focus on fundamentals while you develop meaningful, reciprocal relationships.

Faith is a follow but trust must be earned over the long-term.

#7: The Bean Counter:

The Bean Counter is obsessed with numbers.

They measure the quality of their own work by the number of likes but they have no idea how it really compares to the best in the business.

The Bean Counter is meticulous but extremely emotional.

Gaining a new follower makes their day and they completely freak out when someone leaves.

Sometimes they launch a full investigation: “Who unfollowed me? When? Why? Where are they now?! How can I get them back?!”

…and sometimes they keep score: “Why does Carl have 423 more followers than me? I work way harder than he does! …and Kevin?! How did his work get featured?! He posts nothing but furry versions of famous, British octogenarians!”

When the frustration gets too intense The Bean Counter might ragequit Social Media altogether.

…then come back six weeks later.

They might try to rally a group of share-swappers in an attempt to “Beat The Algorithm!”

…or complain about the apparent unfairness of automated curation, driving away the only people who are actually paying attention.

How To Break “The Bean Counter” Habit:

Don’t expect pro numbers until you’re consistently producing pro work.

If someone unfollows, let ‘em go.

It’s just not for them.

But you don’t actually need a big audience to succeed as a professional Artist.

You do, however, need a financially viable market and work that consistently meets the quality standards that inspire them to like and share and follow and hire and buy.

Honor the attention of the small group of people who do care, produce share-worthy work consistently and your numbers will grow on their own.

“The Algorithm” isn’t your problem.

Ambivalence is.

#8: The Nameless Networker:

The Nameless Networker has enough charisma to attract an audience but lacks the confidence to offer anything specific.

So they dodge responsibility with non-stop surveys: “What kind of art do you want to see from me this year?”

…and: “Should I focus my posts or do you prefer randomness?”

…and: “How’s my hair?”

But despite all the supportive feedback, The Nameless Networker never finds a clear identity and so the pros never follow-up.

How To Break “The Nameless Networker” Habit:

Maybe you haven’t been an Artist long enough to know your own strengths and weaknesses.

…or what your true creative passion is.

That’s okay.

Art is like love. It’s almost impossible to tell the difference between passion and infatuation until it has been tested over time. (But the fear of commitment won’t get you anywhere.)

Take time to unplug and visualize a medium-term goal that makes sense.

Not a short-term goal like: “I think I’ll draw Spider-man today!”

…but also not a super-long-term goal like: “In ten years I will win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature!”

In general, I recommend a three-to-six month timeline for medium-term goals.

It has to be highly specific.

…and it has to define a journey with both creative and professional components that like-minded people will support.

Share this goal with your audience and keep them posted with your progress.

Here are two examples:

“I always lose myself when I’m sketching Characters and Character Design is a viable career. So, over the next three months, I will create a Visual Development Portfolio project with an emphasis on Characters. I plan to devote eight pages to Characters, four pages to Props and four pages to Environments.”

…or:

“I am entranced by the hypnotic compositions of Wylie Beckert. Wylie works in an industry where Artists find sustainable careers. So, over the next three months, I will do precise copies of my six favorite Wylie Beckert illustrations – including her workflow. Not to post as my own, but to learn from her expertise.”

You’ll probably want to explain that you’re still figuring yourself out so you might have to make adjustments along the way.

…and though I recommend giving the goal the benefit of any doubts that arise, feel free to change your mind entirely.

It’s great to engage your audience in creative ways but it’s not their job to design your career.

#9: The Potty Mouth:

The Potty Mouth doesn’t have a profanity problem.

…they have a positivity problem.

The Potty Mouth’s bio works to lower expectations rather than engage potential followers: “Just another wannabe Artist.”

…or: “Here’s a bunch of useless crap. Enjoy.”

…but sometimes it’s more subtle: “Artist. Trying not to embarrass myself.”

When you do look past The Potty Mouth bio, you’ll notice that their updates and/or captions often lead with guilt or negative self-talk: “I haven’t been posting enough lately, so here’s a…”

…or: “I always avoid drawing hands because I’m lazy LOL so I decided to…”

…and yet The Potty Mouth complains about how hard it is to grow an audience…

How To Break “The Potty Mouth” Habit:

When you frame your work in shame and guilt, you agitate the shame and guilt in your audience.

…and nobody wants more of that.

…but when you frame your work in passion and positivity and professionalism, your career will, almost certainly, progress.

Though the topic of mental health goes beyond the scope of this lesson, I feel it’s necessary to make a quick aside:

If you discover that negative self-talk is more than just a bad habit, I highly recommend seeking the help of a mental health professional.

To fight RSI, we visit a wrist doctor, right?

Unbreakable negative self-talk might call for a visit a thought doctor.

#10: The Hermit:

The Hermit prefers to lurk and like and follow and subscribe in silent support of everyone else.

But they hide from their own excellence because they’re afraid of falling into the dark chasm between risk and reward.

How To Break “The Hermit” Habit:

The loyal support of your fellow creatives is much needed and, in most cases, deeply appreciated.

But there’s no growth without risk.

That’s not a dark chasm in front of you.

It’s a blank canvas.

#11: The Messy Roommate:

The Art School where I got my undergraduate degree was infamous for inundating its students with homework.

I lived in a shoddy condo with way too many roommates and every room (Yes. Even the bathroom…) became an ad hoc workspace.

Stacks of animated flour sacks, the dust of foam dinosaurs, sticky easels, overturned paint cups, open cans of turpentine (It’s a wonder we’re all still alive…), charcoal powder, pizza boxes, half-empty soda cans and socks (Why were there so many socks?!) culminated in an epic mess with a predictable-but-appropriate name: ARTPOCALYPSE!

On Social Media, The Messy Roommate seems to think their individual posts are as permanent as a published book – never to be discarded nor recycled.

The remnants of every creative experiment and trend create a mess of what could, with some focused de-cluttering, become a professional presentation.

Recruiters, Producers and Publishers lack the time and energy to navigate the chaos, so they scroll away quickly, completely missing the all the good stuff.

How To Break “The Messy Roommate” Habit:

Angry as you might (still) be at George Lucas for The Star Wars Special Editions and all their superfluous CGI, they hold a valuable lesson for us all:

If some of the most indelible films in the history of cinema can be reworked twenty years later, the posts on your professional Social Media feeds are definitely not permanent.

If you don’t declutter and curate your work, somebody else will declutter and curate for you.

…by unfollowing.

Do these three things today:

  1. Consider your ultimate career goal.
  2. Think like the folks who will help you achieve that goal.
  3. Imagining you’re them, scroll your own feeds, curate and de-clutter.

Repeat this every few months or every time you apply for a new gig.

Sign-Off:

If you struggle with any of the (bad) Social Media habits in this lesson and want help developing a sustainable, efficient and effective Social Media strategy that supports your career goals and helps you rise above the chaos and competition, then please consider joining my new course:

Dream Machine: Social Media Strategies To Upgrade Your Art Career!

Enrollment is currently scheduled to open at the end of March 2019 so go now and join the interest list and in the coming weeks, I’ll follow-up via email with the details!

…and if you haven’t done so yet, download the free, illustrated Companion PDF and the mp3 for this lesson!

Until next time, my friends, remember: You are creators, not consumers. Design your lives accordingly.

The post 11 Social Media Habits That Hurt Your Art Career (And How To Break Them) :: ArtCast #115 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Feb 19 2019

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4 Keys To A Long and Healthy Illustration Career :: ArtCast #114

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How long did it take you to learn the “Happy Birthday” song?

…and how long would it take you to learn to sing a pitch-perfect, note-for-note, Broadway power ballad?

Years, right?

Because style takes time.

…and how many wrong notes would you produce in private before you gained the confidence to perform live?

Millions.

Process and performance are different things.

Let’s pretend you have some real potential. Would you start chain smoking and take a day job in a coal mine to pay the bills?

Of course not.

You gotta take care of your moneymaker.

And when you’re a big hit on Broadway with crossover success in movies and pop music…

…did you make it without a mentor?

Probably not.

A good mentor is essential.

We can easily see the absurdity in the image of an aspiring Broadway star who expects instant results, performs without practice, neglects their throat and lungs and thinks they’ll somehow succeed without expert perspectives.

But it’s a lot harder to see – in ourselves – the illustrator who expects instant results, publishes without practice, neglects their body and brain and thinks they’ll somehow succeed without expert perspectives.

Today, Lauren Panepinto (Creative Director for the Sci-Fi/ Fantasy publisher Orbit Books) and Marc Scheff (Games-Illustrator-turned-Fine-Artist) join me to share 4 Keys To A Long And Healthy Illustration Career…

Watch The Lesson:

[ download the mp3 ] [ download the pdf ]

Lesson Transcript:

*The following is a transcript of the full lesson – with illustrations!

Here you’ll also find links to the artists and resources referenced in the lesson…

Introduction:

Hello, my friends and welcome to another episode of The ArtCast by The Oatley Academy! I’m Chris Oatley – I’m an Illustrator and Visual Development Artist currently working for Disney.

…and here at ChrisOatley.com, I help Artists create dream careers in the Animation Industry.

I’m delighted and honored to announce that today’s guest, my friend Lauren Panepinto will join Loish, Animation Recruiter Alison Mann and me in teaching my new course at The Oatley Academy!

It’s called Dream Machine: Social Media Strategies To Upgrade Your Art Career!

…and it is awesome.

If you’re interested in working with us to develop a sustainable, efficient and effective social media strategy, that aligns with your personal values, fits your specific career goals and helps you rise above the chaos and competition, join our interest list!

I’ll follow-up via email in a weeks with more information about the course (the curriculum, schedule, payment plans, etc.) and I’ll share all the details about how to join!

Now, grab a pen because you’ll definitely want to take notes on today’s lesson: 4 Keys To A Long And Healthy Illustration Career!

KEY #1: Style Takes Time

Every successful, Professional Artist is either a Peacock or a Chameleon.

(Some Professional Artists can actually switch back and forth.)

Most Illustrators, some Concept Artists and some Animation VisDev Artists are Peacocks. They build successful careers with a unique, personal and distinctive visual style.

Most Animation VisDev Artists, most Concept Artists and some Illustrators are Chameleons who work in project-specific styles inspired by the story they’re telling.

Whether you get hired for your personal style or to help develop a project-specific style, it takes time.

Here’s Lauren…

——–

[Lauren] People freak out about finding their style.

They know they’re supposed to have a style. They hear everyone saying: “You have to be unique you have to be the person that does that thing the only way that you know how to do.”

…and they freak out because they think: “I don’t know what my style is and maybe it’s like this and maybe it’s like this?!”

I’ve never seen the level of anxiety…

Just… Just make work.

[Marc] You don’t wait until “The Style” finds you and then make work. You know, Picasso said, ‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.’

[Chris] My good friend Zi Yan – He answers the style question with a parable.

Zi says: A student comes to a mentor…

The student says: “Mentor, can you please help me find my voice?”

The mentor says: “You’re speaking, aren’t you?”

The student says: “Yes.”

The mentor says: “Now go find something to say.”

[Lauren] Exactly.

[Chris] …and I’ll add to this a story about a friend of mine who had a child – a toddler. We went to dinner and there was a little play area for the kids. All of a sudden we hear their child screaming – the most shrill, intense scream – and it doesn’t stop. It just keeps going and going and going…

[Lauren] That’s alarming.

[Chris] Just “AAAAYH! AAAAYH!” over and over.

We all look up and see the child standing by himself in the play area. But there’s nothing wrong. No altercation. Nothing. He’s just standing there with clenched fists, screaming.

The child’s mom then explains that the baby has discovered…

…his voice.

[LAUGHTER]

And last week it was [motor sound] “BRRRR!” week. And it was “BRRRR! BRRRR! BRRRR!” all week long.

…and now – congratulations to me – it’s scream week.

I saw them a couple months later – and the child was experimenting with an entirely different sound.

I realized: This is what Illustrators and Animation Artists to need to understand. 

Finding your style is often just: “BRRRR! BRRRR!”

It’s like trying to hear your own voice and figure out all the different sounds you can make.

If you take time to really listen to yourself – to your own voice – You can find it by trying and discover it by doing. Move forward – make work – and your style will begin to reveal itself.

[Lauren] But people don’t let themselves play. They’re so determined that every piece they start is going to be a portfolio piece. They don’t play.

[Chris] Exactly. Yeah. That’s just bonkers.

[Lauren] So many times we’ve looked at people’s portfolios, and we’ve said: “I see you’re trying to do all this other stuff. But *this* thing, *this* is really cool. Have you ever tried doing *this* thing?”

Tawny Fritz was talking about being at IMC (which is a hotbed of people picking out what you should be doing – which is why people go) but she was trying so hard to be like an Oil Painter.

…and she had these – she was doing these black and white pen and ink Illustrations.

[Marc] Just in between painting sessions. Just screwin’ around.

[Lauren] Just to decompress. But everyone who came around was like: “Whatever.” (About the painting.) “…but [these pen and ink pieces are] great! You should be doing *this!*” 

…and she talks about going through this – almost a grieving process.

[Marc] We all go back to the IMC dorm where everyone’s staying and I walk in and she’s sitting there in a chair…

[Lauren] Like somebody died.

[Marc] …and I ask: “What’s going on?” 

She said something like: “I’m busting my ass on this painting and everyone’s coming by and they don’t even notice it – and they’re like: ‘Oh look at these ink drawings.'”

And so I asked: “Dooo you thiiink maybeee you should juuust… …do this?”

…and she’s like: “Okay, okay. I’ll think about it.”

…and now she’s making these beautiful…

[Lauren] Now that’s what she does.

[Marc] And she’s committed to it.

[Chris] And it’s not like she can’t ever try oil painting again…

[Lauren] It’s not like we choose something and then we’re stuck with it for all time.

[Marc] It’s not a future dystopia, where it’s like: “You are an ink person! Go to the ink people! Forever you will only eat ink and breathe ink!”

[LAUGHTER]

[Lauren] It’s true that people get really freaked out. I’ve [suggested a particular focus] to people and they burst into tears in the middle of a portfolio review because they think: “No that’s not me! That’s not what I want to do!”

…and I think: “Okay, well, that’s fine. You can paint like a third-rate Donato for the next ten years, but you could be getting work doing this while you figure it out.”

People get so wrapped up in their vision of their own identity: I am this kind of Artist, or I am this kind of person. I was talking to an artist up at IMC and they were talking about how they would never be the kind of person that does personal projects. They only want do commissions. They don’t want to do any personal projects.

…and I was like: “Wow, okay. Well that’s opposite of how most people feel but, okay. But why? Have you ever done a personal project?”

“No that’s just not who I am.”

“How do you know?”

[Chris] Wow.

[Marc] I’ve seen it happen over and over again where it’s like: “I appreciate you trying this here, but scrap it. Because this thing – this other thing – that you keep showing up with…”

[Lauren] Is great.

[Marc] “…is really where your heart is. So why don’t you try exploring it?”

How many people listening to this really wanted to be (I’m raising my hand) “that” kind of painter, gotten halfway to being good at it and realized: “I don’t want to be “that” kind of painter. I actually want to paint this other way. That’s not what’s coming out of me.”

[Chris] Yeah. Something I’ve been saying to my students a lot lately has been: “Try on different outfits.”

They completely buy-in prior to even having tried it on for size. It’s like window shopping for wedding dresses and then you go and you spend $5,000 on a dress before you’ve even tried it on.

[Lauren] It’s almost like absorbing people’s superpowers…

Try and do a piece of your own in the style of Escher. Try and do a piece of your own in the style of Mucha. It’s ok if your influences show. They will show and they should show. (But people stop at that point.)

We teach people to career stalk.

You should have for 5 or 10 Artists that – you think you want their career. (It changes every couple of years. Everybody coming out of school right now looks like Victo Ngai. A couple years ago it was Sam Weber.)

You should not just look at their website wistfully and wish that you could be as good as them.

Go back and look at their old art. See how they got there. See what their clients said they got. Did they work in-house?

A lot of people don’t know that Sam Weber worked for The New York Times and was pretty much a black-and-white/ pen-and-ink Illustrator.

Knowing that is critical to bridging that gap between where you are and where you want to be.

So we teach people to (politely) career stalk. (Don’t actually stalk them.)

Do your research. Pretend that these are your mentors – even if they don’t know – because cause they are. Don’t just look at the finished product. Figure out how they got there.

The Internet is an amazing place for that. Go back far enough in someone’s Facebook timeline and you can see a whole career.

KEY #2: Separate Process And Performance

Social Media almost forces Artists to conflate Process and Performance.

Process (which often includes practice) is, primarily, private.

Performance is, primarily, for the public…

——–

[Chris] Everybody at Disney has Frank and Ollie stories and though most of the people at Disney now didn’t know Frank and Ollie – but the stories are still circulating.

I can’t remember who told me this story. …or if the person who told me the story is even the protagonist of the story. I don’t remember.

But there’s this Storyboard Artist who is new and he has a pitch coming up. …and the Story Artist wants to impress Ollie Johnston who will be reviewing the Storyboards.

…and so he works night and day, making the most perfect, beautiful Story Sketches you’ve ever seen.

He’s shading everything, putting some color on there, drawing and redrawing and cleaning-up and he goes in and does the pitch.

Then Ollie stands up to share his opinion…

…and instead of really giving feedback on the pitch, he just picks up a pencil, walks up to one of the Storyboards and he just starts kinda – delicately doodling – nonsensically – over the drawing.

…and he looks at the Storyboard Artist and asks: “How does this make you feel?”

[LAUGHTER]

The whole point being: It’s a Storyboard. It’s not the final piece.

This is process.

…and there’s this amazing – sort of – disposability that folks in Animation approach their work with that I think a lot of Illustrators could really benefit from.

In that it’s all just steps along the way.

…even if you spent an entire week on a painting it’s still going to be in the rear-view mirror…

[Marc] Yeah, and I think that’s something that gets lost a little bit, especially…

Take sketchbooks as an example.

If you want to figure out the design for something, you don’t work on a giant canvas and try to figure it out there. You work in a sketchbook.

If you’re trying to figure out how you work with oil, you don’t do a giant – you don’t do a Waterhouse.

You have to make a lot of work. …and you have to be willing to make crap.

It’s also one of the things that desensitizes you to failure.

[Lauren] That’s the confidence thing. You don’t gain confidence by winning. You gain confidence by losing. You gain insecurity by winning, cause then you have a streak that you don’t want to screw up.

[Marc] Then when you’re sitting there and you’re making a piece of dung in your sketchbook, you’re not also beating yourself up about it.

…hopefully not.

When people post their sketches online, they’re not posting the fifty pages of stuff that just looks like nothing – not good – the light on the face is terrible and all that other stuff.

[Lauren] That’s social media in general. You only see ten percent of the best work.

[Marc] Well, we can go down that road if you want to…

[Lauren] That’s different.

[Marc] That’s part of the issue. The process is so opaque because people aren’t showing all that stuff.

KEY #3: Take Care Of Your Moneymaker

As Artists, we’re fortunate that most of us will be able to continue to do creatively fulfilling work well into our old age.

The problem is many of us work in ways that risk our long-term health.

Just recently, I heard an interview with a popular Instagram Artist who said she wrecked her stomach and injured her spine from overwork.

After that, I read an interview where an experienced Professional Artist was quoted saying that in order to make a living as an Artist, “you can’t ease up or relax at all – ever.”

…which simply isn’t true – let alone sustainable.

Most of the pros I know do work a lot, but they don’t wreck their bodies and relationships in the process.

Here’s Lauren…

——–

[Lauren] Pay as much attention to your mental strength as your artist strength.

What an Art Director gets to hear that a lot of Artists starting out don’t get to hear is that the Artists at the top of the chain have the same doubts and insecurities and mental head-game stuff as the guys on the bottom of the chain.

It’s just the level is different.

[Marc] I heard one Artist – I won’t name names – talking about this and saying: “Well, yeah. I am booked solid for the next two years.

…but what about after that?”

…and everyone else is like: “Two years, Geez…”

[Chris] That’s great, yeah!

[Lauren] But the anxiety doesn’t go away. It just gets bigger and bigger.

Really the questions that we get over and over and over again are not nitty-gritty business questions. They’re therapy questions.

Things like habit building, how to deal with anxiety, confidence and depression.

[Marc] Getting enough sleep.

[Lauren] Self-care…

…to the point that it has sent me on my own little side journey of reading Artists’ psychiatry. (To Chris) You and I have talked about this before, but I’m even thinking about doing a Master’s in Art Therapy to try and help.

I’m from New York.

So I am completely, a thousand percent transparent that I have a therapist.

[Marc] I love mine!

[Lauren] Yeah.

[Marc] I think when you get here they just give you one. Right when you get off the plane…

[Lauren] I wish they would…

[Marc] You have a temporary one assigned just for your trip, while you’re here, Chris.

[LAUGHTER]

[Lauren] Bringing down mental health stigma is a big thing right now.

Especially on social media and that’s important because we all like to pretend that everything is fine.

…and one of the dangers of social media is that we only see when it’s fine.

There’s a version of this talk – that’s taped now – I think it’s from The Society Of Illustrators – But Mike Mignola gives this talk at IMC whenever he’s there about his career.

…and there’s a chunk in it about how the years when he was just writing Hellboy – and he wasn’t drawing Hellboy – weren’t because he was too busy (which is what everybody assumed) or that he was working on other stuff but because he’d had, pretty much, a nervous breakdown and he couldn’t bring himself to draw and all he could do was write the stories.

It was a fight with himself even to get a cover drawing out.

…and that’s so important for people to hear.

…so they’re not blindsided by things that come up.

…and the shame of it.

You know, like: “Oh I should be better than this. I shouldn’t let this sideline me” or “I shouldn’t feel this way.”

I mean, if Mike Mignola can’t draw Hellboy…

You’re not alone.

So I think those issues are really, really, really important.

I see it all the time on Facebook. I see Artists that have the work down and have the contacts down and they just can’t get their head-game together.

I wanna reach through the Internet and say: “I’m not a Therapist. Can you please, please, please find one?”

[Marc] Definitely speak to friends and see what options are out there because there are public health options.

[Lauren] There are apps too. There are text-a-therapist apps that are affordable…

[Marc] Much more affordable, yeah…

[Lauren] Also, Mark and I wanted to have a blog on MakeYourArtWork.com but we wanted it to be different.

There are three sections on that blog.

One is “Book Notes.”

I read a lot of books – and they’re almost always self-help books.

…the ones that I make notes of.

They’re like Artist self-help. Things like habit building and confidence (like The Confidence Code) and I put a little review, but the summary I write in my sketchbook and I scan the pages so people know what I’m reading and where I’m getting this information from that I think is really valuable for Artists to read.

The second thing is “S.O.S.”

Which is: “I don’t know what to charge!”

…and then we give you bullet points.

Or “I can’t find my style.”

[Marc] “The Art Director is standing across the room! What do I do?!”

[Lauren] Yeah, those things.

…but the third one is “Artist Therapy.”

…and it’s just whatever I’ve learned from all of the books and all of the therapy.

I try and distill it into those posts – and it’s not tailored to individual people – I try to make it as general as possible.

[Marc] There are a lot of the same questions that come up that require that kind of conversation.

[Lauren] And again, I’m hearing these questions from people who are struggling with this stuff at the Iain McCaig level and Mike Mignola level and people are struggling with it at the entry level.

It doesn’t magically go away the more successful you are.

[Marc] “When does the pain stop?”

It doesn’t.

KEY #4: A Good Mentor Is Essential

Lots of Artists are introverted.

Most of us, I’d guess.

And introversion can be a beautiful thing. But even introverted Artists can’t succeed – at least not in a significant and lasting way – entirely on their own.

Here’s Marc…

——–

[Marc] Make sure you have one really good friend.

Don’t go at it alone.

A lot of us are introverts or shy or some combination of both.

And it’s not always easy to go have a crowd of people you hang out with.

…and maybe you don’t like to hang out with people. Maybe that’s just not your thing. Maybe you actually prefer to be by yourself.

…and that’s. That’s what you get.

But it’s very important to have that one person that you can share all the things with.

…and it’s not just valuable for mental health.

Take Rebecca as my example. I don’t see Rebecca all the time.

[Lauren] Rebecca Guay.

[Marc] We talk occasionally. (More these days, honestly.) But I can – anytime – send her something and say “I’m kinda stuck.”

(She calls it: “Rats in your head.”)

“I’ve got these rats running around my head and I’m feeling insecure. I don’t know what I’m doing with this piece. Should I apply to this thing? Which piece of should I send this thing?”

…all that career stuff on which I just want someone else’s perspective who – definitely – whose opinion I respect.

…but who will also give it to me in a completely realist way.

…and in a way that I can also hear.

Having that friend, that person that you trust in your life.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who’s doing the stuff in your world, but someone who…

[Lauren] Who just gets it.

[Marc] I can point to a number of turning points in my career where I showed somebody something and they gave me some real feedback and it changed everything.

Rebecca has been that person for me.

…and I can think of a few times when she’s done that.

…where she saw some Illustration work I was doing and said: “Why don’t you try doing a lot of that?”

…and that changed everything.

When I was working on building up my repertoire in the gallery world, I showed her some stuff and she helped me hone it down.

[Lauren] You need somebody to call you on your sh**t.

You need somebody to pat your back when you need it.

…and tell you it’s going to be okay.

[Marc] It’s very easy for creatives to be looking forward all the time.

…and you have to be. That’s important.

But if you’re not also measuring how far you’ve come, you completely lose sight of how great you’re doing.

…of all the stuff you’ve done.

[Lauren] It’s hard to tell yourself how good you’re doing.

You need your friends to be like: “Oh my god. Okay. This is not going so great. But do you remember when you did that amazing thing?”

Sign-Off:

Connect with Lauren and Marc at DrawnAndDrafted.com

And join the interest list for Dream Machine: Social Media Strategies To Upgrade Your Art Career!

Again, if you’re interested in working with Creative Director Lauren Panepinto, Feature Animation Recruiter Alison Mann, Loish and me to develop a sustainable, efficient and effective social media strategy, that aligns with your personal values, fits your specific career goals and helps you rise above the chaos and competition, then this is one epic opportunity that you will not want to miss!

Until next time, my friends, remember: You are creators, not consumers. Design your lives accordingly.

The post 4 Keys To A Long and Healthy Illustration Career :: ArtCast #114 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Jan 01 2019

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3 Lessons For Writing Timeless Stories :: “Toy Story” Edition

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What makes Toy Story a timeless classic?

In this short video tutorial, I share three lessons to help you create stories that resonate – to infinity and beyond.

[ download the video ] [ download the transcript ]

Lesson 1: The Premise Is Universal

Almost every child wonders, at some point, if their toys come to life when they leave the room.

When developing new story ideas, be careful not to overlook familiar subjects and situations.

Lesson 2: The Humor Is Universal

The humor is grounded in truth.

…but not the truth of our ephemeral pop culture.

The humor in Toy Story is grounded in the timeless truths that each character represents:

  • Woody’s Temper
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Hubris
  • Rex’s Insecurity
  • …and so on.

You can avoid shallow jokes when you infuse your story with humor that is vulnerable, personal and even embarrassingly honest.

Lesson 3: Woody’s Fear Is Universal

Woody helps us deal with our own darkest fears.

His primal motivation is the fear of being forgotten and replaced.

…a spiritual death of sorts.

When his relationship with Buzz evolves from resentment to mutual respect, we learn that true friendship is worth the struggle because it makes us a more present, vital and invested individual.

Whether you’re writing a gritty indie comic or family-friendly animation, confront your own darkest fears.

Use the story teach yourself a lesson and you’ll be more likely to inspire lasting, meaningful connections with and among your audience.

To learn more, join my Storytelling Course at ChrisOatley.com/Timeless/

Comment & Share!

To which Toy Story character do you most closely relate?

Share your response in the comments below and I’ll be sure to do the same!

The post 3 Lessons For Writing Timeless Stories :: “Toy Story” Edition appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Oct 16 2018

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The Lost HERstory Of Disney Animation :: ArtCast #113

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When author Mindy Johnson set out to write a book about of the history (or as Mindy says, the “HERstory”) of Walt Disney‘s definitively female “Ink & Paint” Department, she began her research in the most obvious place: The Disney Archives.

I’ve been to the Disney Archives several times. It’s the epicenter of animation history – an enormous, state-of-the-art research library and storage facility filled, wall-to-wall with art from the past century of Disney animated productions.

Mindy visited, requested everything they had on Ink & Paint, and they brought her a folder holding five pieces of paper.

That’s all they had.

Composing the comprehensive history of any Disney division would be difficult even with the help of the Disney Archives.

Mindy had to start from scratch.

Today, she’ll share stories from the creation of her epic work Ink & Paint: The Women Of Walt Disney’s Animation and introduce us to inspiring artists from Animation HERstory…

Listen To The Episode:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Links Mentioned:

Ink & Paint: The Women Of Walt Disney’s Animation by Mindy Johnson

Join The ArtCast Tenth Anniversary Celebration

Who Is Your Unsung Hero?

Mindy has made HERstory by introducing these unsung heroes of Disney Animation to the world.

Who is an unsung hero that inspires you as an artist?

Please tell me about it in the comments below!

The post The Lost HERstory Of Disney Animation :: ArtCast #113 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Sep 26 2018

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Theme Parks Concept Artist Chris Bradley On Building A Dream Career :: ArtCast #112

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How would you prepare for a career in a mysterious industry like Theme Park Design where information about job requirements and current projects are almost impossible to find?

…and what would you do if you were stuck in a desert (literal and creative) with little more than a stack of comics, a Disney Imagineering book and a school trip to Disneyland to guide you?

Concept Artist Chris Bradley is here to share how he went from working construction to designing Theme Park attractions for Disney Imagineering, 20th Century Fox and Hasbro!

You’ll also get to hear how Chris thinks when he visits a Theme Park and learn about his favorite attractions.

…and at the end of the interview, he shares some challenging advice for aspiring Theme Park Concept Artists…

Listen To The Episode:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Links Mentioned:

Chris Bradley

Painting Drama

Walt Disney: An American Experience

Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real

One Little Spark by Marty Sklar

The Hettema Group

What’s Your Favorite Theme Park Attraction?

…and why?

Please tell me about it in the comments below!

The post Theme Parks Concept Artist Chris Bradley On Building A Dream Career :: ArtCast #112 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Sep 19 2018

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Disney Toy Designer Zach Gracia On Why You Probably Haven’t Failed Enough (Part 2) :: ArtCast #111

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Disney Toy Designer Zach Gracia continues his story today on The Oatley Academy ArtCast!

In part one of this series, Zach told the story of how he challenged his family’s expectations to pursue an artistic career, struggled through art school and avoided debt by working multiple jobs (including some uncomfortable internships).

…and when he finally got a chance at an interview with Disney Animation, he completely blew it.

Now, in Part 2, Zach tells us:

  • How he finally broke in at Disney.
  • Why all the struggle was all worth it.
  • Why Mentorship is so crucial for success in the entertainment industry…

Listen To The Episode:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Join Us For Our 10th Anniversary Celebration!

2018, marks the ten-year anniversary of The ArtCast!

If The ArtCast has a special place in your heart, please join us for our 10th Anniversary Celebration where you’ll get a sneak peek at our new album art, hear our new theme song and receive an invitation to our Birthday Party…

Learn More >>

Awesome Links:

Zach Gracia’s website

Zach Gracia on Instagram

Music by Storybook Steve and Kangaralien

Share Your Thoughts…

What did you feel when you heard about the moment when Zach finally got his dream job at Disney…?

SaveSave

SaveSave

The post Disney Toy Designer Zach Gracia On Why You Probably Haven’t Failed Enough (Part 2) :: ArtCast #111 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Jul 24 2018

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Disney Toy Designer Zach Gracia On Why You Probably Haven’t Failed Enough :: ArtCast #110

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What would you do if you struggled for seven years to finally get an interview for your dream job at Disney…

…and then completely blew it?

Would you give up?

…create a “Plan B”?

What if you had already tried “Plan B”?

…or would you hold onto hope for a second chance, humble yourself and double your efforts?

Disney Toy Designer Zach Gracia shares the first part of his story today on The Oatley Academy ArtCast!

Episode Highlights:

  • Redefining hard work.
  • Challenging your family’s expectations by pursuing an artistic career.
  • The struggle of getting through art school without going into debt.
  • The unglamorous life of a Disney Theme Park intern.

…and what happens when you go into an interview at Disney Animation unprepared…

Listen To The Episode:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Join Us For Our 10th Anniversary Celebration!

2018, marks the ten-year anniversary of The ArtCast!

If The ArtCast has a special place in your heart, please join us for our 10th Anniversary Celebration where you’ll get a sneak peek at our new album art, hear our new theme song and receive an invitation to our Birthday Party…

Learn More >>

Awesome Links:

Zach Gracia’s website
Zach Gracia on Instagram
Music by Storybook Steve and Kangaralien

Share Your Thoughts…

Post in the comments below and tell me about an epic failure for which you’re grateful…

…if we get fifteen stories or more, I’ll post mine!

The post Disney Toy Designer Zach Gracia On Why You Probably Haven’t Failed Enough :: ArtCast #110 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Jun 27 2018

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How To Fail Like A Professional Artist (…and Find Inspiration In The Process) :: ArtCast #109

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So you trashed your last project and started over… …and then again. …and then again.

…is that because you just aren’t meant to be an artist?

…or is it simply because you’re ambitious?

So you spent your weekend sleeping instead of drawing… Is that lazy? …or healthy?

Are you blocked? …or just solving the wrong problem?

Is failure useful for you? …or destructive?

Today on The Oatley Academy ArtCast, we share five “Failure Flip Tips” to help you turn failure into a tool that’s just as useful as your favorite pencil…

Listen To The Episode:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Join Us For Our 10th Anniversary Celebration!

2018, marks the ten-year anniversary of The ArtCast!

If The ArtCast has a special place in your heart, please join us for our 10th Anniversary Celebration where you’ll get a sneak peek at our new album art, hear our new theme song and receive an invitation to our Birthday Party…

Learn More >>

Awesome Links:

Ânia Marcos | Ejiwa (Edge) Ebenebe | Sarah Mills | Maike Venhofen | Chris Oatley

Harding’s Lessons on Drawing: A Classic Approach by J. D. Harding

Kazu Kibuishi

Don’t Fear Placebos by Seth Godin

Music by Storybook Steve and Kangaralien

Share Your Thoughts…

Whose “Failure Flip Tip” resonated with you most strongly and why?

Please tell us in the comments below!

The post How To Fail Like A Professional Artist (…and Find Inspiration In The Process) :: ArtCast #109 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

May 23 2018

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Visual Development Mythbusting :: ArtCast #108

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What is the difference between drawing and design?

When working for a studio, does your personal aesthetic matter?

Are you thoroughly exploring your story ideas or are you stopping too soon?

What do Pixar’s Coco and The Shining have in common?

And how can you get out of your own head and bring more freedom to your creative process?

Today, Mentees from First Flight, our most recent Master Class at The Oatley Academy, join me for some Visual Development MYTHBUSTING…

Listen To The Episode:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Connect With The Students:

Dooz

Zach Clarkson

Amie Farrell

Natalie Skerlong

Matthew Cook

Say Hi!

As you can imagine, it takes a lot of guts to get on the mic in front of tens of thousands of artists from all over the world and share your heart like our students did in these interviews…

So I welcome you to post an encouraging comment or question for them and we’ll be here to engage throughout the week!

The post Visual Development Mythbusting :: ArtCast #108 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Feb 14 2018

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How Distractions Help You Become A More Focused Artist (With Life Drawing Expert Stan Prokopenko) :: ArtCast #107

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Can distractions help you become a more focused artist?

Why does speed seem like such a waste of time?

Do you draw in “The Beginner Style?”

…and how can you avoid the most common drawing mistakes?

Life Drawing Expert Stan Prokopenko joins me today on The Oatley Academy ArtCast…

Listen To The Episode:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Awesome Links:

Proko.com

Watch our Playlist of Recommended Proko Videos

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin

Music composed and performed by Storybook Steve

Share Your Most Productive Distractions!

Stan shared how vital “cross-training” can be for artists.

…blending ideas and techniques from other fields of study to help you become a more unique and focused artist.

What is one non-art practice that has made you a better artist or storyteller?

Tell us about it in the comments below!

The post How Distractions Help You Become A More Focused Artist (With Life Drawing Expert Stan Prokopenko) :: ArtCast #107 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Jan 16 2018

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Books That Will Change Your Creative Process (Best Of 2017) :: ArtCast #106

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The term “Concept Art,” brings to mind a specific kind of imagery. …but isn’t that a problem…?

What if the struggle of learning Perspective Drawing simply isn’t worth it…?

How can an animated TV show be deeply autobiographical for it’s creator and still have huge, mainstream appeal?

Maybe what other people think of your art matters less than you think…

Today, in celebration of a New Year, The Oatley Academy Team shares their favorite books of 2017. …books that will almost certainly change your creative process.

Click through to listen…

Listen Here:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Our Favorite Books Of 2017:

They Drew As They Pleased: The Hidden Art Of Disney’s Golden Age

The Noble Approach

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck

The Lines On Nana’s Face

Steven Universe: Art & Origins

Awesome Links:

Sarah Mills | Maike Venhofen | Ejiwa (Edge) Ebenebe | Ânia Marcos | Chris Oatley

Music by Storybook Steve and Kangaralien

How About You?

Can you recommend a book that changed your creative process?

Tell us about it in the comments below!

The post Books That Will Change Your Creative Process (Best Of 2017) :: ArtCast #106 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Dec 20 2017

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How To Promote Your Picture Book with Jake Parker :: Stories Unbound #20

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In today’s conversation with Jake Parker (Author/ Illustrator of Little Bot and Sparrow, Creator of Inktober) we discuss different ideas for promoting your picture book:

  • When should you start growing an audience? (Sooner than you think!)
  • Why trust is essential for growing an audience.
  • Should your project have its own website?
  • The importance of school visits.
  • …and Shawna shares her personal tip to avoid overwhelm!

Listen to ‘Stories Unbound’ 20:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/oatley/SU020-JakeParker-BookPromotion.mp3

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Awesome Links:

Jake’s Website

LittleBotAndSparrow.com

Brunhilda’s Backwards Day

Jake’s Little Bot Tour

Interview with Jake Parker :: Stories Unbound #8

Music By Ryan Keith and Wes Cepin

How About You?

Most artists have a love/ hate relationship with social media…

…but Jake Parker loves it.

What stops you from posting? Did any of Jake’s advice help? If so, which part?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below…

The post How To Promote Your Picture Book with Jake Parker :: Stories Unbound #20 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Jul 13 2017

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Creative Bravery: Why Animation Pros Sarah Marino and Jenn Ely Thrive In A Challenging Industry :: ArtCast #102

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This month, Sarah Marino (Color Supervisor at Nickelodeon)Jenn Ely (Production Designer for House Special, Visual Development Artist for Dreamworks) and I are teaching a new online workshop called First Flight: How To Create Your New Career In Visual Development.

I invited them both to join me here on The ArtCast to promote First Flight and talk about how they achieved such significant success in their animation careers…

Episode Highlights include:

  • Turning fear into faith.
  • Becoming more professional by de-emotionalizing your creative process.
  • Why we stopped caring about job titles.
  • How fear cost Jenn a a big opportunity (and why she’ll never make that mistake again).
  • Why Sarah had to climb through a human hamster wheel. (That’s not a metaphor.)
  • Inspiring gumball machines and the healing power of ice cream.
  • Is a successful animation career worth the cost?

Listen To ‘Creative Bravery’:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Connect With Sarah:

Sarah Marino

Follow Sarah on Instagram

Listen to Sarah on The ArtCast

Sarah on The Rising Stars Of Animation

Connect With Jenn:

Jenn Ely

Follow Jenn on Instagram

Listen to Jenn on The ArtCast

Claire Keane, Jenn Ely and Brian McDonald on Art, Fear & Finding Your Calling

Music Credits:

Theme Music by Storybook Steve

Recurring Musical Segments by Kangaralien

Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

In this episode, Jenn and I talked about how fear of failure cost each of us a big career opportunity.

We both survived, but we regret the moments when we let fear keep us from taking positive action…

What is a big fear you know you need to confront right now?

Don’t repeat our mistakes. Commit to taking action by sharing about it in the comments below!

The post Creative Bravery: Why Animation Pros Sarah Marino and Jenn Ely Thrive In A Challenging Industry :: ArtCast #102 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Jul 12 2017

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Interview with Animation Art Director Ryan Carlson (Part 2) :: ArtCast #101

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In the previous episode, we met Ryan Carlson – my Disney mentor and the person without whom The Oatley Academy may never have happened…

Now in part two, Ryan talks about:

  • Working on The Iron Giant and what he learned from Brad Bird.
  • His advancement from Assistant Effects Animator to Art Director.
  • How to lead a team of creative professionals well.
  • The greatest gift an aspiring animation professional can offer an Art Director…

PLUS: The ArtCast: Behind The Scenes with the OA Team!

Listen to part 2 of our interview with Ryan Carlson:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

Awesome Links:

Ryan Carlson

Ânia Marcos

Ejiwa (Edge) Ebenebe

Jessie Kate Patterson

Kevan Chandler

Zijian (Zi) Yan

Music by Storybook Steve and Kangaralien

What Did You Learn?

Whether from the interview with Ryan or from the panel discussion with the OA Team, what concept from this episode resonated with you the most? …and why?

Please comment below!

The post Interview with Animation Art Director Ryan Carlson (Part 2) :: ArtCast #101 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

Jun 07 2017

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Interview with Animation Art Director Ryan Carlson (Part 1) :: ArtCast #100

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In many ways, I owe my career to  Ryan Carlson.

He played a key role in giving me my first break at Disney, taught me more about painting than any other individual and he, more than anyone for whom I’ve worked, has intentionally helped to advance my career.

…and considering that The ArtCast probably wouldn’t exist without my time at Disney, and The Oatley Academy only exists because of The ArtCast, The Oatley Academy might not exist without Ryan…

In this episode we discuss:

  • Why failure is a necessary part of the creative process.
  • What makes a good Art Director?
  • Ryan’s process for creating a Color Script for an animated feature film…

Listen To Part 1 Of Our Interview With Ryan Carlson:

[ download the mp3 ] [ subscribe in iTunes ]

In Part 2, Ryan Talks About:

  • Working on The Iron Giant and what he learned from Brad Bird.
  • His advancement from Assistant Effects Animator to Art Director.
  • How to lead a team of creative professionals well…

Awesome Links:

Ryan Carlson

Dance Around The Fire: Performance by Chris Oatley, Song by Slaid Cleaves

Lyrics to Dance Around The Fire by Slaid Cleaves

Music by Storybook Steve and Kangaralien

It’s An ArtCast Party!

Please join the Episode 100 celebration here in the comments section!

Post your reactions to anything in this episode that you liked and it would also be fun if you could share one of your favorite moments from the past 100 episodes of The ArtCast…

The post Interview with Animation Art Director Ryan Carlson (Part 1) :: ArtCast #100 appeared first on ChrisOatley.com.

May 31 2017

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