Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Bloggiversary! And Easter.

It's Easter Sunday and also a bloggiversary for me. I began this blog in September of last year, six months ago. It was a place I could get stuff out. Just write things about... whatever. Just things that affect me I guess. We all have to conduct ourselves in certain ways out in the real world and I go every day without saying certain things or saying other things that I don't mean.

That's just what we have to do to go about our business.

So my big thing was my depression, which is something I have to battle since it was diagnosed some years ago. Most times, I'm fine but I have to be aware of it. That's not something you can really say to potential employers - "Hey, by the way, I know we're supposed to make funny cartoons for young children but I tend to get crippled by bouts of depression every now and again and can't deal with the fact that the world is full of horrors, killings, torture, greed resulting in profit being more important than the welfare of people and, um, I wish things were better."

That's not really what people want in children's cartoons.

I also can't say, when asked about animation, "I hate the business, despise how it is run by people who have no love for the craft, absolutely no interest in the welfare of children, are more than happy to rip-off stuff and churn it out on the cheap regardless of quality, eat up public money and yet make sure all your contracts are complete buyouts so the creative people who invent, design, write and make your shows won't see a penny afterwards and, besides, I'm actually bored of the whole making things a frame at a time craziness, hate some of the psychos who seem to be drawn to this business and, in general, don't actually watch cartoons any more and haven't drawn for pleasure in, hmmm, about eight years."

Not a good idea.

We all have things we keep to ourselves. Every single one of us. That's what being professional is all about. Keeping that sort of stuff deep inside, plastering on a smile and delivering the best work we can on time. And that's what I do. But, man, the shit has to come out somewhere.

So I chose here.

As it turned out, a few months later, I think it's been really good for me. I've got a lot of stuff out of my system and I know I have an outlet for more. I started drawing those crappy little cartoons as a way of illustrating what was going on and, with those, it was the first time I drew straight in with a Wacom tablet and dropped the pencil, simply because I had no time to actually do them properly. I didn't care how they looked - they were a means of communication. This isn't an art blog. But, in doing those, I've actually got much more used to using the Wacom and that's been good for work.

More than that, I've actually enjoyed drawing many of these as crappy as they are. I coloured my spambots for no other reason than I wanted to. It has been years since I've really just wanted to do something like that. It has to be a good thing. I've had regrets about not nurturing what little talent I may once have had but, man, I'm just enjoying the Wacom-doodling.

And also, as a result of this blog, I have found many more blogs. Read many insightful posts and comments. And seen some work that inspires me. Me who, artistically, was almost dead inside. I'm inspired by work I'm seeing. I'm also getting lots of points of views on blogs that I just never would have seen before.

So, overall, this has been a really good thing for me. In the next couple of days, I'll post up some of the other blogs I've been reading but, for now, I'd just like to say thanks for putting up with my rambles. I'm enjoying the conversation.
And if Easter is something you do, have a happy one.


Andy Latham said...

An excellent post for your 6 month anniversary. Or should that be bi-anniversary? Anyway, I'm glad you are getting more out of your blog than you expected, I feel the same way about mine. I'm particularly glad it has given you back some enjoyment of drawing.

You mentioned how the animation industry is run b people who don't care about the artform. I'm always curious how so many animators seem to share that opinion and yet the situation never changes. If it was any other industry, there would be strikes and the bosses would be forced to listen to their employees. I guess that's the problem with there being cheap alternatives in poorer parts of the world. I assume the same problem is seen in the call centre business!

Ron said...

I enjoy your rants very much.
You have no idea how much they parallel my own thoughts and experiences in the cartoon industry I've been a part of for the alst 8 years.

I'm constantly blown away every weekend when i visit your blog and see how your opinions and moods evolve into the same insight and revelations as the ones I've seen or felt.

When I started 'blogging' 2 years ago, i was astounded at how many artists and animators used it as their digital portfolio, and when I graduated animation school 8 years ago I would have never guessed that demo reel and portfolios would be entirely online and free, thanks to blogger and youtube, students need not spend dozens of hours transferring a show reel to VHS or CD or figure out how to print and bind their own book of sample poses, models, and layouts.

It's a shame the industry is run by clueless producers with no passion, with power-trips with miss-guided views of children's television and how careless they are about the back-breaking work made by under-paid artists to produce the quality of work that is made.

In a way the animation artists is the most under-appreciated professional around. What other profession can say that by the time a student of the animation arts graduates from the 1,2,3 or 4 year program s/he come out with 15 years experience! At only 20 or 22 years old? Yes, because animators that are very serious about their career have most likely been drawing since the age of 3 or 4 or 5.

Sure the art may not have started to look appealing or have reasonable structure until the age of 15, but doodling every day since the age of 5 DOES count, watching cartoons obsessively all that time, DOES count for something, thousands of hours of self-taught training accumulating to the animators who enter animation/art school knowing this is what they wanted to do, and literally have their whole life of experience to help them be successful illustrators, animators, cartoonists.

To think some make less than $500/wk for such a highly specialized skill set is mind-boggling.

It depresss me. And to hear the stories from countless animators as to how they were taken advantage of by some producers when all most of them ask for is a job to pay rent with, a job to be involved in a project that even slightly resembles the cartoons they might have grown up with is not much to ask for. They work long hours and invest much energy and emotion in their work.

Somethingmany non-artists fail to understand. To achieve the work we do requires emotional attachment, emotional investment. You can't NOT think about your work, you must pour your heart into it for it to look any good, and to have it riped apart and handled poorly simply devastates many, it's human nature, anything you feel strongly about or put alot of work into to create to see it revised to death and crumbled down to nothing from poor mangement would hurt anyone.

Too many animators have quit the industry simply because it's too difficult to continue re-builiding once a non-artist producer continually dismantles what is done due to being uneducated or careless about the work.

I'm currently dealing with broadcasters who are considering taking work away from the studios in my town to ship it out to China, because they can produce it for 4% cheaper.... 4% !!!!!????

Is it it really worth it? The time difference, the language barriers, the lack of control over editing and refining, the long waiting periods, the factory-style slave labour are all nothing compared to the idea of having saved 4%, raw p[rofit in the producer's pocket, who cares how it looks, how it's made, as long as they find a cheaper way.

Constant source of frustration.

Bitter Animator said...

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Ron, I totally understand your frustration. And you're completely right about the experience. That's something I hadn't even considered. Though I did know people who spent 7 or more years in animation college (people doing both 2D and 3D). They could have been lawyers or surgeons in that time and, as you say, lawyers and surgeons wouldn't have been lawyering or surgeoning since they were five, unlike most animators or artists.

Sucks, doesn't it?