CTNX was so amazing this year! So many great artists all in one place, and tons of inspiration to see, hear, and experience. It was both reaffirming and eye-opening in many ways. The biggest thing I took away from the expo was getting a refocus on the larger picture. When I'm in school, I tend to get bogged down by the little things (I need to focus on sketching, I need to paint more, I need to do this and that and the other thing…..), but I always seem to forget why I should be doing all of these things. And going to CTN really helped me realize the larger context of what's important, and what the industry is looking for: from me, and from everyone.
I got the amazing chance to show my portfolio to a bunch of people, including studios like LAIKA, Sony Pictures Animation Studios, Reel FX, and Blue Sky Studios. And while it was kind of a mixed bag of critiques (as was expected), the response to good, overall. I feel like I'm getting closer to having a pretty solid portfolio. And yet at the same time, I'm absolutely mystified that my work is anywhere near "on par," because I still struggle with the efficacy of my work on a daily basis. But that's normal, I think.
I thought I'd share some of the notes I took at the expo, in hopes that it might help others…….
Justin Rodrigues mentioned that a major factor in achieving clarity of story and establishing a focal point, is edge control. My work tends to lean to the looser side, and unfortunately it starts to blur together. But tightening the edges around the areas I want people to focus on, and being more confident with my strokes, will ultimately help the piece to be more effective.
Josie Seid (LAIKA) talked about getting out my "comfortable zone." And more importantly, she told me to infuse story into everything I do. Every painting should have a story, and a clear one at that.
I heard from people, that showing PROCESS in your portfolio is paramount. Studios want to be able to see that you think about your work. And showing your process, helps them to see how you think. Something Anthony Christov said (after CTN, actually) was that he doesn't like to see only finished pieces in portfolios, because he can't tell if that artist is able to be art-directed. If you show your process, then art directors will be able to tell if you can make changes effectively, and show a creative progression in your work.
I also had an amazing portfolio review with the very talented Tyler Carter. One of the nicest guys I've had the pleasure of knowing, and I'm going to work my ass off to work with this guy one day. In his lecture I attended, he talked about the difference between activity and efficacy, when it comes to producing work. The way he described it was that having only efficacy is like walking in place: you never go anywhere. But having activity means moving from A to B and producing work that moves you forward. And this comes from pencil mileage.
Paul Lasain talked about spoon-feeding the studios with your portfolio. Be obvious with your layouts, and make it clear what your intentions are, and what you want to accomplish. Studios assume you know how to draw and paint. What they're really interested in is what you will add to their pipeline. Can you produce art in the context of the film?
Claire Keane talked about always having sincerity in your work. If your work is honest to who you are as an artist, and as a person, then the rest will fall into place.
And the thing I heard the most, from every artist, every lecture, every workshop, literally every conversation I had with everybody…… STORY IS KING!
Story is the most important thing to focus on. Your work should be dripping with story. Without a history, your work is flat, dull, and lifeless. Giving every element you put on the page something unique about it, will help it read so much better, and really make the difference between your audience forgetting it one second later or remembering it forever.