Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The CTN Animation Expo, pt.II

Absolutely killer Kung Fu Panda maquettes sculpted by Damon Bard.
Oh, how I want one.

An artist shows her portfolio at the Blue Sky Studios table.

Very talented, way too young guy, Justin Gerard.


Kent Melton begins a maquette. Like a dope, I walked away
not realizing who he was.

Me, talking about Me, while Roger Allers politely
waits for Me to stop.

People watching me draw.
It was like something out of a fever dream.

Finally, a few minutes to post something on the CTN (Creative Talent Network) Animation Expo in Burbank,California. I must say, it was a tremendous event. I think everyone I met (and I met quite a few people there) expressed surprise and excitement at how well attended and well organized the whole shebang was. I do believe this thing has legs and will be even bigger next year.
More than one person described it as a distilled San Diego Comicon experience but just for animation geeks. Only the good stuff: various artists showing their latest work, including Craig Elliott, Andreas Deja , Kei Acedera and Bobby Chiu to name a few. Also on view were Damon Bard's Kung Fu Panda maquettes, translated so perfectly from Nicolas Marlet's flawless designs (do not get me started on how much I hate Marlet!)- more on that genius later. Mike Mignola was there with his wife Christine and their daughter. Mike had several masterworks for sale, one of which I scored. More on that guy later, too.
Beyond the work displayed by those artists and many more, was a seamless loop of drawing and painting demonstrations, both traditional (Craig Elliott) and digital (Justin Gerard) all staged on a platform near the center of the main room and viewable on large monitors all over the convention. You might be having a coffee outside the hall, look up and find yourself mesmerized by some dazzling display of draughtsmanship only to realize your coffee's gone cold while you sat there slackjawed. There were many panel discussions, (all of which I missed due to my own obligations that weekend), including a history of the maquette by the sculpting superhero, Kent Melton and a roundtable on character design including folks like Harald Seiperman and Greg Couch. Outside the main hall in the lounge area were ad hoc gatherings of artists sharing their sketchbooks with one another. In the same area were also displays of maquettes ranging from vintage Jiminy Crickets circa The Nine Old Men to finished painted models from Tim Burton's upcoming Alice in Wonderland (designed by Kei Acedera and Bobby Chu). Beyond the sharing of ideas, techniques and general passion for the art of animation by both vets and newcomers, was the search for job opportunities, a central goal of CTN. Blue Sky Studios had a table set up and my Blue Sky pals, Sabrina de los Rios and Greg Couch spent much of the weekend going through countless portfolios, giving advice and taking business cards. Sony Animation was there and doing the same thing. I strongly suspect the other studios will follow suit next year.
The very kind Roger Allers, director of The Lion King, generously agreed to interview me on stage before an audience. Despite our jitters, confessed to each other only moments before going on, we had a great time and a lot of laughs.
For myself, I was especially delighted with the wonderful reception A Sketchy Past and the Duchess of Whimsy received. Every time I went to Stuart Ng's table someone was either perusing one of the books or had one in hand, ready for purchase. It was the debut for A Sketchy Past here in the U.S. and I could not have been happier with the response. Thank you to those of you who purchased it!
photos by Marianne Franco
And congratulations to Tina Price, for organizing such a successful weekend!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Finally, a NEW website!

After six years, I finally have a new website. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Chilly Reception

Every year in Kiruna, Sweden, 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle, a team of sturdy Swedes works from dawn until dusk (which, up that far north, means about twenty minutes) to complete construction of the famous Ice Hotel. It is exactly that, a hotel constructed from great blocks of perfect ice, harvested from the Torne river that runs through much of this wintery hinterland. The hotel is reconstructed every year around this time and it is there in very chilly Kiruna, that Twentieth Century Fox decided to hold a three day press junket to promote the release of the Blu Ray, DVD of Ice Age, Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
That's where I was last week.
Here are a few pictures:

A "wilderness picnic lunch" on a frozen river.

We arrived by dog sled and yes, we ate reindeer.

I went for one of the most beautiful runs of my life,

and did not see a soul.

It was cold, even by his standards.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Randall, The Duchess and I

The shameless self promotion continues!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shoes Make the Man

While we're on the subject of Norman Rockwell, please allow me an observation I've made about him as a character designer.
There are many who would quite incorrectly dismiss Rockwell as an artist enslaved by the photograph. The contrary is true. One of Rockwell's many gifts was his ability to choose what to use from a photo and what to throw out. More importantly, the photos he worked from were of subjects he posed and clothed himself. Now to my point: for a short but (I feel) illuminating lesson in character design, take a look at any Rockwell painting, and don't even bother with the faces. Look down. In every one of his paintings his figures are dressed in exactly the shoes that character should be wearing. Their color and patina, style and condition speak volumes about the wearer's history and personality. You almost don't have to look up again to know who's wearing them.
I am still not the costumer of characters I would like to be, not by a long shot, but artists like Rockwell make it very clear:
it's not the amount of details you choose to include,
but which ones.

The Norman Rockwell Museum and The Duchess

Have you ever been to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachussetts? If you are a fan of Rockwell or a fan of illustration in general, than make the trip sometime. The museum is world class. The galleries are large, beautifully lit and there are many of them. Most are filled with the very best of Rockwell's work and they are very impressive to see in the original. It's a beautiful museum in a gorgeous part of the country and well worth a visit.
As I mentioned, the NRM also focuses on the work of other artists as well and hosts events to help launch new books about and by contemporary illustrators.
Yes, you know where this is going, don't you?
Randall and I will be spending a couple of hours at the Rockwell on November 28th.,the Saturday after Thanksgiving, to give a little talk on the process of working together to create our book, The Duchess of Whimsy. The event will be absolutely kid friendly and will include a reading of the book and I'll be drawing some characters as well. I'm proud to say that there will be a little showing of my originals from The Duchess on exhibit, too. The idea for the talk and the exhibit arose pretty quickly, so the work will not be hanging in one of the formal galleries but in a more casual space near our presentation.
The museum has an excellent bookstore, which I'm proud to say will also have copies of A Sketchy Past, which I will be happy to sign for anyone who is interested.
One more bonus I should mention: Rockwell's final studio is situated on the grounds and available for viewing, just as he left it. It's always interesting to stand in a space you know one of your heroes stood and maybe screamed at the top of his lungs when a picture went badly.

Or is it only me that does that?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The CTN Animation Expo!

On November 20th, an organization called the Creative Talent Network, will be hosting a brand new convention in Burbank, California designed to bring together professionals in the animation industry to discuss their experiences in the business and share them with colleagues and people looking to make their careers there. Tina Price, the founder of CTN and the Expo, has flattered me with the invitation to be a featured guest and to take part in several of the events being held there, including a one on one interview on stage, with the legendary Roger Allers , director of the masterpiece, The Lion King. Other events will include workshops, panel discussions and simple meet and greets at the bar located within the convention ( you know where to find me.) The CTN Expo has been snowballing over the last several months and looks as if it might be shaping up to become something special.
You can find all the info here.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Last Minute Announcement!

Randall and I will be doing a signing and reading of The Duchess of Whimsy at Book Court in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn tomorrow morning , November 8th at 11:00 am.
We hope you can make it!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Arludik and Books of Wonder

Look, I know that photos from signings don't make the most riveting posts, but
I do want to share these events somehow and this is certainly the best way. I'm doubling up this entry to include last Sunday's Duchess of Whimsy reading at Books of Wonder and the wonderful opening of my show at Galerie Arludik in Paris. Both events were very well attended and full of good cheer and encouragement, which believe me, is much appreciated. Thank you to all who joined us. Randall and I will be hosting a few more events surrounding both The Duchess of Whimsy and A Sketchy Past, all of which I will soon list in the upper right hand corner of this page. If you happen to be in this part of the world, please come by.
(thank you, Fabrice Leduc for the Arludik photos above and to Jessica Yeomans, for the Books of Wonder photos below)

PS: Our next reading/signing of The Duchess of Whimsy will be tomorrow, November 8th, at Book Court in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn at 11:00 am!