My Work in Progress

A sketchblog where I post a few of my scribbles from a variety of works-in-progress, usually from my rather random personal creativity outside of the daily grind. I occasionally, but not always, post the final artwork.


Rough Moment

My fingers are a little sore from holding my pencil too tight while I was sketching, heh. But I feel I got a good bit accomplished for my roughs today. Next step is to take all of the rough sketches and clean them up for scanning and coloring in Photoshop.

This sketch here is one of the characters from the story. Obviously not finished, but then I consider it a rough version of a rough. ha.

Alright, think that's enough for the evening. Another lovely week starts tomorrow in toyland. Oh, joy. Funny, I think too much sometimes about that elf in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer that wanted to be a dentist. LOL

Moving Right Along

Plenty of stuff going usual. ha. And time is running away from me. Well, at least it feels like it. There's always something to do, goals to meet, people to see. Or not.

My Books
Well, the plan today is to finish the roughs for the first two chapters of my graphic novel. This particular project was started about three years ago when I first came up with a character that I thought would be perfect for an adventure series for girls. But, boys can read it if they want to. heh. So far, the reaction I've gotten from my target age group (girls 9-12 or "tweens"), has been really positive and they all wanted to see more of the story, so I'm determined to get sample chapters out this summer to a couple of art directors and editors from the children's book publishers that I met when I was working in New York and get their feedback. Then it's off to get me an NYC agent (Texas publishing and art agents don't do much for you AT ALL...and I say that from personal experience). Fortunately, I already have a couple of recommendations from people I've met through

Of course, that's not the only book I have on my creative project list. However, the others are in more of a pre-production stage, although I do know which one I'll be working on next. It's on my big "To-Do" list right in front of me on the big white board. :)

And part of my things-to-do includes getting ready for the San Diego Comic-Con. It's my first time to go, and I'm so glad that my friend SJ invited me along! She hasn't been before either, although we've both heard about it from various people we know. In fact, one of my co-workers got his first visual development job in 2D animation working on Spawn for HBO when he was living in California. Needless to say, I'm listening to everything he has to say about what to do (toys and comics!! woohoo!!) and what to bring with me so that I can do some good creative networking.

Speaking of creative jobs and networking opportunities, Walt Disney Feature Animation is still actively recruiting! Sounds good to me! I found another posting this time on the
HighEnd 2D Job Board from 6/23 for an upcoming recruiting event. This time more information was posted so I can follow-up on it ASAP. I'm kinda wondering if they're also going to be at the portfolio reviews at the Comic-Con and SIGGRAPH. Well, if so, I'll be happy to talk with them in San Diego. heh.

Animation Sketches
Part of my self-imposed work-at-home schedule includes at least three nights of sketching after work. When I'm not working on the Art Catalog for my job (almost done, yay!!) or the animation short or my graphic novel or updating my portfolio, I've been practicing my 2D animation skills. I love doing 2D animation as it requires a blend of my skills and knowledge in character design, drawing, understanding of motion and just a final touch of the computer when I composite it all. Unlike 3D animation. Well, at least with the 3D animation short we're working on, I'll get to work on aspects of all of that. I just don't find the 3D side of animating with curves and keys and a CG model as much fun or engaging. Although, I do know that other people seriously enjoy it. Yay for them! :)

So I've been working on a dragonfly animation based on the style and wing-timing developed by
Osamu Tezuka... I was going to post my latest WIP from the animation, but I think I'll wait till I'm happier with the result. Still tweeking some of the inbetweens. I'll post it later for sure.

Not doing as much 3D modeling as I'd like, but since I'm looking to get my first animation industry job as a visual development artist not as a 3D modeler, my 2D work has to be a top priority. I am also squeezing in an hour or so here and there to watch the Maquette sculpting DVD's. Soon as it's pay day, I'll be picking up a few things over at Home Depot so I can get my models going. And a pasta maker...amazing how much easier it makes Sculpey maleable rather than squooshing it between your hands for hours to soften it. And turns out there's a much better way to get the detail and poses that I'd like to have with my Sculpey models than with the aluminum foil base I've done in the past and that I started recently before I watched the DVD's. At least I haven't baked it yet...

Still Unpacking and Packing
I hate moving. I'm still unpacking my book and office/studio boxes from my move to this apartment last November. At least it also means that I'm doing some serious sorting with each box I unpack. In fact, I thought I'd killed my shredder last weekend, but I guess it just over-heated because it was working again yesterday. Thank goodness. Budget is too tight at the moment to buy another one and scissors just aren't as quick or easy.

Sorting also involves putting too many of my books into storage, but I just don't have the space for all of them in this apartment. Plus, looking on the positive side, it means I can quickly pack up and move when I get that job offer (soon, I hope!!).

Back to Work...
I had a friend tell me the other day that I'm working too much, that I need to have some fun. His suggestion was something like a margarita machine, a bunch of friends, and my own personal cabana boy. ha. Well, it's not that I don't want to have a bit of that kind of creative fun now and then, it's just not in the financial or time budget right now. I have two big goals that I need to focus on: getting my first creative job in the animation industry and paying off my student and other personal loans that got me through school. This job I have now as an entry-level toy designer isn't even as much money as I was making as a mid-level graphic designer over 10 years ago. I guess Dallas salaries just aren't has inflated as NYC ones.

The way things are going, I need to get a second job starting in August in order to meet all of my obligations. That means no time or funds for that kind of extra-curricular creativity. And I won't have much time for sketching or 3D work once that gets going.

On the other hand, I enjoy the art that I'm creating after my daily routine as toy designer. Most of the artwork I actually do at work isn't anything that I want in my portfolio to show propective employers. Surprise.

This week one of the guys and his wife are putting together a "Germanfest" for our art team at their house - cooking a variety of traditional German food along with some tasty German beer he brought back from China. ha! I'm looking forward to that. I'm also curious to taste their variations of the potato salad and saurkraut as even my mom and her sister cook different versions and they are both very German still for all that they immigrated to the US in their twenties. And there's most definitely a long weekend to look forward to and maybe some sushi if I can talk my two friends into adding that to our Saturday wine tasting....I looooooooove sushi. Expensive habit I got from my consulting days.

Talked with my mom this morning about going for a visit to Austria and Germany again in the next year or so, when my job situation is more stable (I hope). That will be alot of fun. And so inspirational for a visual development artist! ;) We're going to try and go traveling along the Amalfi Coast as well. Or at least a week up in Scotland since neither of us has been and we both had a great time together in London last time. It's at least nice to dream about.

So, while for the moment, my work is my life, I'm enjoying it (mostly). And have plenty of fun goals for the dating, traveling, and a Ducati Monster 620 in red if you please!


Generally Speaking

Ran across an interesting blog by David Brin, the guy who wrote a couple of my favorite SF books, "Sundiver" and "Startide Rising," both part of the Uplift series. His commentary on SWIII ROTS is pretty much on target. :)

Here's a quote:
"...Hrm. With so many bad reports, what to do? Despite my longstanding criticism of the Lucasian zeitgeist, and its lengthy, high-budget toy commercials, I never kept my kids from playing with Lego X-Wings and such. When Eps I & II came around I was very mild mannered. I urged people to go to a half price matinee after waiting 2 weeks... but otherwise enjoy the crap because it's GORGEOUS crap. Lucas subsidizes 10% of the best artists on the planet."


They call themselves, "A Bunch of Short Guys"
From what I understand, ABOSG was originally created to bring together those guys interested in discussing animation and independent short productions. Mostly animation. However, take a look at the speakers and the last couple of Industry Giants events, and you get the idea that they are interested in more than that. Specifically, the animation and film industry, and the parts that help develop those productions (storyboarding, modeling, software, rigging, character animation, VFX, etc.). So lately there's been a nice variety of presenters talking about their specialties and projects in a way that isn't over my head (mostly), in particular since I went back to school to learn about those things and have kept studying in my free time.

Today's presenter was Will Nicholson, the Senior VFX Supervisor of Lucid Dreams IA. Turns out he was also a founding member of ABOSG. He's worked on projects for Robert Rodriguez' Troublemaker Studios including "Spy Kids" (with ReelFX) and "Sin City" and "Flight of The Phoenix." (both with Cafe FX). His presentation primarily covered some of the production experiences he had with "Sin City" and "Flight of The Phoenix". It was rather interesting to see the raw footage of the "Sin City" film before all of the CG enhancements, because you realized how much work was really involved in making that movie. And for all that I knew that the actors were all filmed in green screen, there was much more 3D than I had realized. That is definitely one DVD that I'll be buying as soon as it's released.

Other bits that he mentioned and/or demonstrated:
- the rigging for the 3D cars used in the car chase scene
- the shader techniques they used for the ground and streets
- the particle fx used for the rain for "Sin City" and the sandstorm in "Flight of The Phoenix"
- being a Maya production pipeline guinea pig (Cafe FX is primarily a Lightwave studio)
- how things can go wrong because of lack of communication (experience gained on "Flight of The Phoenix")
- how bad Broccoli smells when it's growing (the small California community of Santa Maria has two main farming crops: strawberries and lots and lots of broccoli)

There was one other comment he made during his presentation that really stuck in my mind. He felt that people in California think in a very different way about working with CG. That most of the larger production studios in California rely heavily on their CG artists focusing on one skill or talent and developing it to the best of their ability.

So basically, if you're a character animator, that's all you do. If you're an organic modeler, than that's all you do. You become a specialist of your CG craft.

However, Nicholson feels the smaller CG production shops have a different understanding and because of that an advantage: their CG artists need to be generalists so that there's never any down time in production unlike the larger studios. And that's how the smaller shops will get the work out faster and cheaper, and will be involved in more and more in CG animation and film production. Nicholson himself worked as modeler, rigger, texture/shader artist, Vfx artist and compositer on "Sin City". He feels that this generalization will be the only way the larger studios will be able to bring their production cost down and compete with the smaller production studios who tend to use off-the-shelf software and have CG generalist artists.

But, to me, the very fact that he used the term "generalist" makes me feel that most of that kind of studio production work follows the old design formula: you have three variables where you can only pick two: Good, Fast or Cheap. If it's Fast and's definitely not Good.

Although I don't have the production experience that Nicholson has in CG and Film development, I have about 20 years of professional experience in graphic design, illustration, and multimedia development which also uses a wide variety of creative talent and production roles to create projects for clients and their various audiences. In my experience, being a generalist as a senior artist frequently lowers the quality of the end result because they're trying to do everything...although it can be an advantage when the creative director or manager has a broad understanding of the various roles and their tasks needed to develop a project.

As a junior artist, knowing a little bit about everything in order to develop an independent project or get that first CG job is what being an entry-level artist is all about. You haven't had the time or experience yet to develop a focus for your craft or skillset. That doesn't mean they can or should do everything in order to become an excellent CG artist. Jack of All Trades....Master of None.

And that's how I feel about being a Generalist.


New Developments

Some interesting news that I read today on CGTalk, one of the forums I visit at least once daily, and Yahoo News...

Evidently Walt Disney Feature Animation is doing some major recruiting. I also happened to catch a mention of that earlier this week through a letter sent to one of the colleges up in Toronto (amazing the things you can run across when you do some random surfing, heh).

Hmm...maybe that's why one of my former instructors at
AID (Pashley, my figure drawing professor) was suggesting I send out some samples to Disney. Hmmm...

Other Possibilities
I may have the opportunity to get involved in a small 3D medical animation project. No pay, but I'll have the chance to learn and hopefully gain some practical production experience. And keep my day job. Don't know what the schedule will be like, but I'm sure it will be crazy. I'm looking forward to it. :)

Animation Short Progress
I've scanned the artwork that SJ left with me from our last meeting. I need to be able to reference it as I further develop concepts for our sets. We're also using the overviews to plan camera placement, so when I clean-up the storyboards I've already created they'll be more accurate. And if there are any potential issues, we can get that cleared up early.

SJ also planned to spend a bit of time sketching her ideas for the storyboards. If she has time while she's out of town. Heh, I know how that goes. In any case, our next meeting isn't scheduled for a few weeks in part because of her trip, but also because we wanted to get some additional work completed before our next meeting. I also want to post my boards on our project website and get some additional feedback before we do any finalizing of any of the storyboards.

This weekend I'm planning on reviewing the Gnomon Maquette DVD's that Joey lent me. I want to do some maquettes of a few of our characters, and get the first one started this weekend. Maquettes have really helped me quite a bit on other projects when I was doing character turns and storyboard artwork, so I thought it would be helpful in this case as well. Should be fun! I'm looking forward to working with Sculpey again.

OK...enough with the blog. I need to do some more work on my catalog project for "da company". Ashley saved me some files so I can do some testing tonight at home. Think I need to do some more research on this application, too...I know I'm not yet pushing it to do all it could be for us.



Per my project calendar, I have 3D work tonight. Then sketching Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; a review day on Friday, and more 3D and computer time on Saturday and Sunday. However, because I do have a job and have the occasional networking I want to do (Saturday is another ABOSG meeting), I'm keeping it all flexible.

For example, tonight I need to work on a small project for my real job. Eh, sometimes you have to take work home to get it going. This is more along the line of figuring out a better way to catalog our past and current artwork and production art, while still being able to access the art (search, view, etc.) in a better format than what is currently provided for our product managers. Particularly since by that point, the actual concept and sample art is no longer referenced, just the actual product. Us artists need more information than that and better images than a 50 x 50 pixel square. Which can sometimes be the only reference that their application provides. So, our art team administrative assistant and myself are taking this week to come up with a working solution that we can present to our creative manager upon his return.

Information request
Also, this morning I got an email from one of the guys in the Sketchgroup in reply to an email I'd sent out last Winter...heh, he finally found the email. Anyways, it was a request to the professional artists and students in the group for ideas on how to help keep my art team inspired at work:

"To learn more about your craft or grow creatively? What are the things that your company does to keep their artists happy? ....Besides working on fun games. Or have you heard stuff from other artists that you wish you all could do at work? I've heard about figure drawing sessions, trips to the zoo or to the nearby mall, having visiting artists come in and do workshops...are there other things that you do or wished your company did for their art department? Like maybe company sponsorship to conferences, etc."

He replied with the following bits of advice which I'll add to the suggestions I got from other artists:

"I try to keep the artists on my team happy by involving them in all aspects of the dev cycle (letting them try things that they may not actually have experience doing) so that they can grow as artists. I buy them supplies, and let them take anything that grabs their fancy from my office (pens, paper, markers) if they are inspired to do so to try their hand and concepting. I send them to interesting sites, invite them out to sketchgroup, etc - basic mentor stuff I suppose. The company also buys training dvds in digital painting, etc. from Gnomon."

So, more good ideas I'd like to present to the other artists tomorrow and see how we can come up with a plan to finally get this need recognized by our creative manager and implemented in some way for our department. More stuff to do! :)


Random Thoughts

On Past Connections
Networking has helped me in my search for creative employment in the past. However, that's something quit different these days....I'm attempting to start a new career and my former contacts work in very different industries. I simply don't have the connections I need. Yet. And ditto for the experience. And 3D skillset. Ok, ok. I'm being realistic. That's why I'm marketing myself as a "Visual Development Artist" not as a 3D artist or modeler.

So, what was once a week or two off between projects when I was freelancing as a graphic or web designer is now almost the same as when I first started out as an illustrator fresh out of college back in 1992 - no one knows me, my creative enthusiasm, my strong work ethic, how well I mesh with my teams, my wealth of knowledge and my continued desire to I can grow more creative skills, have new and innovative ideas, improve the creativity of my team for my employer.

A cover letter and resume can only say so much. It's an introduction, not your history. "You need at least 1 year of experience for an entry-level role..." I know, it's often a ploy to weed out the totally inexperienced. And, OMG, the amount of resumes, demo reels and portfolios that get sent out by so many hopeful artists to's a wonder sometimes that any inexperienced artist can get hired at all. Talent, sure that helps. But, it can also be "who you know" and sometimes just plain Luck. That's happened to me before, too.

And then there's my portfolio....

While drawing naked, huge-breasted sexy women is something I can do, doesn't mean that's what I want to work on all day or that I have a sketchbook full of that kind of work. Maybe one. har. Good grief, it seems like half the time I talk or meet with other artists (and sadly, yes, most if not all of them are men, not women), the creative respect isn't there until they see how well you can draw a monster, a putrid zombie, or some busty babe. Enough to make my teeth hurt from all the grinding.

And, let's not forget - Location, location, location.

Dallas is definitely growing in game development and post-production, and there seems to be potential for studios in the animation industry. Especially compared to what was around in the late eighties, early nineties. But, I need a job now! I feel like I'm wasting my time in my current job....I'm not learning anything that will be useful to me or to whatever company I would like to work for in the animation industry...particularly since I have no intention of getting myself pigeon-holed as an artist for the marketing or licensing branch of any studio, Warner Brothers or otherwise. That's not my dream. Sure, I'm contributing like heck and I have pride in my artistic work and I have nothing but praise to say for the other artists I work with (except for my creative manager...most of the time..heh), but it's not the industry I want to make my mark in.

I've been thinking more and more again about moving to LA.

I don't have a family to relocate - no significant other and definitely no kids to worry about. I'd miss my friends. :( While there's certainly alot of people out there looking for creative work, it's worth a shot - there are plenty of people here looking for work, too...and fewer places that have openings. Since I'm not a complete newbie without ANY work experience and I do know people out there...and I could get a few introductions from people I know now that worked out there, it's something to seriously consider. And if it does work out, I can still come back to Dallas, get involved in growing the animation community here like I dreamed about years ago, and this time have the experience and knowledge that I can't get if I stay here.

At least I'm working. While it isn't my dream job or my industry of choice, I can still contribute some of my skills and mentor the interns who do want to be toy designers and help improve the creativity of my art team. And, "I get to draw all day!!" Yes, that's a direct quote from my creative manager as to why we should be loving our jobs. ARGH!!

False enthusiasm doesn't help. Fake smiles make my cheek hurt. Sometimes I just want to wallow in a deep depression. Then I think about some of my old jobs...huh, like I'd list THOSE on my resume...and I remind myself that it took time to get that first "real art job" after graduating and sometimes it was longer than I'd like before I got my next art project. That at least I'm not living during a time when women had few employment opportunities...and I'm not a starving artist living in some tiny attic apartment, freezing my poor fingers while I paint my latest commission for my "patron"...even if it was in Paris. Ha! We visited a graphic designer friend of mine in Paris last Thanksgiving and she had such a tiny apartment. I swear it was maybe twice the size of my walk-in closet in the apartment I have now!

Yes, I've been a starving artist...that was one horrible winter - no heat, no money for food, no health insurance, saving what I could for rent...and for whatever reason, I still didn't give up. Didn't draw or paint much, but I did when I could.

OK, enough with the pep talk. Yay...tomorrow is a work day...and my creative manager is on vacation all next week!!!!! LOL

Found a random connection the other day - a former high school classmate of mine,
Aaron Sims. As I recall, he was a rather quiet guy in the one art class I took in my senior year. His work showed promise, and he was very much into airbrushing.

I even still remember two of his projects: one was a copy of a Hildebrandt brothers illustration of
Smaug and the other was of a black leopard lying across a branch. What I didn't understand was why he got special projects to work on instead of the assignments our instructor gave the rest of us...particularly considering that there was a bit of rivalry going on as to who had the better talent. We all liked to show off our artistic skills.

Heh, that's part of the fun of art classes...pushing each other to do better, work harder and learn from each other. Finally found out why (my art teacher, Mrs. Betty Cantwell, never would really explain)...his father was a graphic designer in the Dallas area, and Aaron was just starting to work for another well-known illustrator, Don Ivan Punchatz, at the studio The Sketch Pad. Then he moved to L.A. about two years after we all graduated from high school. Long story short: Aaron is now an art director for SW Digital, the design division at
Stan Winston Studio. Wish I would have had the will and the way to get myself out there then and follow my animation dreams. Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20.

On Being a Toy Designer
There doesn't seem to much information available at the company I work for that could help me or our toy designer interns know more about the toy industry. I try and do a bit of research every week so that I can find out more about what the role of a toy designer could or should be, what ways we can improve our production processes and how we can learn about the toy industry from our competitors. While one of the artists on my team went through a toy design college program, none of the other artists I currently work with have. We've all come from a variety of creative backgrounds and have different experiences. And, yes, that includes our creative manager - no toy design background either.

So, I found a few interesting sites that I'm gonna share with the others tomorrow and hopefully get a fun discussion going. :) Sometimes, things can get lively. Always exciting when we start throwing stuff around (dare I mention the screaming rubber chicken...heh.)

The first was an interesting article about a couple of designers that invented a new kind of interactive toy that sold in the millions:

"Caleb and Christi Chung, a husband and wife toy design team, had just returned from their annual trek to Toy Fair, the largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere, held in New York City every February." Once again we were underwhelmed," Caleb, a former Hollywood special effects developer, says. "We determined, then and there, to stop working altogether, return home to Boise, Idaho, and take the plunge, spend the next six months creating a product we knew our background and knowledge would allow us to perfect and exploit." They invented the

The other I found after some random google with toy design criteria...luckily it was the first link so I didn't quickly do a different search. The remaining ones on the page were not something you could open at most offices. ha! There appears to be an association for
Women in Toys (feel free to guess what the other results were...or do the search yourself, ha!). I suppose like the animation industry, women have had a difficult time in the past (or maybe even currently, I don't know) in gaining meaningful employment in this industry that didn't require a skirt and/or working as the receptionist or secretary. No one has mentioned this group and it appears based on the content of the site to be something at least a few of our employees, designer or product managers, should be involved with, especially since I know at least a couple of them will be in NYC for the June Toy Fair and working in our showroom.

I'll have to find out more tomorrow....


Striking a Pose

We're on our way back to work after a mad dash to Toys R Us for some "reference material" - one of the guys had snagged a Dark Galadriel at the store close to his home Wednesday night and we all wanted we grabbed our little interns after the company meeting and took off for the Lewisville TRU, heh. Since the action figure wasn't supposed to be available till July 1st...we wanted to be sure and snag one. Especially since the face and eyes light up all nifty-like when you push the button on the back. aaahhhh....must have one.... I even lent Theron my little LED stand that I have at my desk for my ROTK ghosts setup so that he'd get the uplighting to make the toy look even more dramatic. He said he was hoping I'd lend it to him. har.

Ok, ok...I admit that we all like to play with least we can say we're toy designers so we have a "good excuse" for the shelves of toys we're surrounded know, getting to know what the competition's offering. ;)

No luck at the TRU store. Darn it.

Anyways, so we're heading back to work, chatting and what not, when I see this high school girl standing at the bus stop looking at the passing cars. It was her stillness and her stance that caught my attention. A very rounded head, in part because of her pony-tail hair style; but the rest of her body was so extremely angular. It was like she was a succession of "Z's" going left to right...her neck was a short stroke to the left, then another stroke to define the shoulders...yet another to the left and right to capture the arms and the angle of her elbow, wrist to hand, to hip, to knee to feet. And the very thinness of her body helped to contribute the angular effect and contrast to the very roundness of her head. Shoulda had my sketchbook with me. Oh, well.

I did a quick sketch of the memory because the pose captured my attention so sharply. I didn't quite capture her, but it was fun to do anyways.



For whatever reason, I have this sense of urgency. Like, if I don't get my ass in gear, I'm going to lose out on something. Not sure what it is, though.

Anyways, to help me get better least for my high priority creative projects (I have way many more than what I'm listing here, heh)...I'm updating my wipe-board calendar for the next two months. I figure that will give me enough evening and weekend work to:

  • - update my online portfolio (update design and content)
  • - create a new "book" to leave or send out to job prospects (yes, I really want a job in the animation industry and I'm definitely looking outside of Texas now for that first step in my new career...sad but true)
  • - finish illustrating the first two chapters in my graphic novel
  • - finish a dummy book for one of the three children's picture books I've been developing
  • - finalize character designs for the animation short
  • - tighten and update storyboards for the animation short (we should have about 3 meetings in the next 8 weeks.
  • - schedule specific modeling and animation tutorials (gotta keep up the practice!!)

By setting myself a schedule like this, detailed and specific much like my old class schedules, I'll be able to better manage my list of "things to do". I figure that after two months, I'll re-evaluate and see what progress I've made. Hopefully, I can give myself an "A". :)


Creatively in Debt

I'm folding clothes (Sunday is my laundry day) and I happen to catch this financial show on PBS. Wow. This was an inspiring presentation. Makes me feel better about how I'm trying to get my creative career back on track...even though I'm certainly totally broke, and way in debt after finishing school again last year (2nd degree)...and unsure if what I'm doing is the best way to follow my career dreams, just like the recent grads she's financially advising in the show.

The show is Suze Orman: For the Young, Fabulous & Broke - "Financial advice for 'Generation Debt' (adults aged 25 to 40), which faces hefty student loans, a tough job market and credit-card debt." What really captured my attention was the example she gave of the shoe designer who was offered a job as a toy designer for $65,000/year (what?!? where was this info when I accepted my entry-level salary)...which she was advised to turn down because that wasn't her dream. She was still waitressing almost six months after graduating while she was looking for her first job as a shoe designer. A couple of months later, after turning down the toy designer job, she finally was offered a job with a shoe company. For about $30,000/year. She took it. Why? Because she could see herself growing with this company for several years. It would be a great start for her career as a shoe designer. A year and half after she had been there...coming in early, staying late, financially still in quite a bit of debt but loving her job, learning and contributing, and enthusiastic about the possibilities with this company...she was promoted to one of the lead designers. She didn't ask for more pay, but got offered exactly what she would have asked for (she was advised by Orman not to ask for a pay raise).

Orman said that today, what is most undervalued is not real estate or stocks, but our work-force...the most educated and enthusiastic potential workers the U.S. has ever had.

Looks like there's a book, too. I'll have to check it out. :)

Back to the Drawing Table

Howl's Moving Castle was GREAT! I remembered enough of the original story to enjoy the interpretation and vision that Miyazaki brought to the story to make it his own. But, I want to go ahead and reread Jones' story, see what the differences were. The kids I was sitting with also had a great time, although it may have been a bit long for the littlest ones. Excellent characterizations and the English dubbing seemed to be pretty well done, although I can't really tell for sure since I don't speak Japanese, heh. My only discontent was with some of the continuity of the character art, particularly for the wizard Howl. I thought it was a bit off in some of the later scenes. While I do recall that Sophie's character had fluctuations...that she went at times from being an old woman to being almost her original younger self due to the curse from the Witch of the Wastes, I don't remember that being so with Howl. There were times where his face was totally different and the proportions were off, too. Different artist maybe? Everything else was most beautiful. I was kind of surprised how much attention I paid to the matte paintings and sets...but maybe that's because of the recent work I've been doing. ;) After the movie as we were all leaving, they handed out a black folder to everyone - turns out it had a lovely print of Howl's Castle inside. Totally cool! I'm going to get it framed to go with my other animation movie posters.

One of my favorite books is Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn. I just found out some Good and Bad news from Animated News Weekly about the feature film version that's currently in production. I didn't realize, but he's also developing a sequel! Oooooo....

Yesterday I got my copy of Skwigly, a new UK animation magazine. I've just started reading it, but so far it looks pretty good. Since it's the first issue, I'm curious to see how they plan to differentiate themselves from others that are currently in publication. I'll post some comments about it once I've finished going through it.

Tomorrow we have some interns starting work in my department from FIT in New York. I wonder how much we will disillusion them about what being a toy designer is really all about...One of our previous artists was from that school. He chose to leave the company and return to NYC after almost 2 years of employment. His primary issue: our creative manager.



Woohoo! Tomorrow after work I get to see a free screening of Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle" based on the book by Diana Wynne Jones, one of my favorite YA writers. Even better, Miyazaki is one of my favorite animation directors! Totally sweet deal all around. The Dallas animation group, A Bunch of Short Guys (horrible name, I should see their Industry Giants' logo) is sponsoring part of it, I think... at least, that's how I got my seat. Thanks, guys!

At work, I'm developing concepts and some final art for a new product line. Looks like we're also getting a patent for it. Kinda interesting, but of some concern to me as well...will my art hold up to long-term consumer and competitor scrutiny if it's part of a one-of-a-kind piece that no other company can legally duplicate. EEK!! Especially when you consider the fact that everything at this job has to be created RUSH RUSH RUSH. And I have 7 more final pieces to create (all of my additional sketches were approved and I was told to go to final art). And they take about 24 production hours to complete just for one. And they want it all yesterday, of course. Not to mention the other 15 art requests on my list that are getting pushed back because of this new priority. ARGH! I'm sorry, but I am not going to work 14 hour days 6 days a week because the creative staff at the China factory keeps those kind of hours and then some! I'd like to have a life - do some of my own creative projects at my home studio, and occasionally have a social life and make friends outside of this job. It's almost nice to be needed, somewheres by somebody.

On a final note, I'm also in the process of reviewing a new animation book, Storytelling Through Animation by Mike Wellins. An excellent read so far (I'm only about half-way through the book), with examples from well-known movies, both animated and not. In addition, there are some interesting interviews and insights from a variety of professionals in the animation industry who talk about their specific areas of animation development. While this is primarily for beginning or intermediate skill levels in animation, it's still a worthwhile read I think. Especially if you've had limited exposure to animation history or are looking to create your own first animation short and would like some hints and tips on what to do and what problems to resolve to ease the development process. Ooooo....I even got to meet a couple of the animators who have a short on the CD included with the book,
Patrik and Amila Puhala. They created a funny little animation short called 107.6 Degrees. Anyways, I'll post a more in-depth review of the book once I've finished reading it. :)