Something I’ve found during my Artistic Journey over the last year is that I like listening to things that motivate me. Sometimes all I need is a little push to get me in the right mind set in order to inspire me to work harder. Thanks to Stephen Silver I get that little push every Monday morning in the form of an Art Talk video.
Stephen brings years of experience not just as a successful artist, but as a father, into his insightful videos. As someone that is an “Art Dad” it’s nice to see the perspective of someone who not only gets it, but lives it. I’ll take whatever help I can get in figuring out just how to master this work, family, passion balance. However don’t think that there is nothing there for you if you don’t fall into that camp. The nice thing about Stephen’s videos is that they’re helpful for all ranges of artist be it a beginner or a seasoned industry professional.
My brother Frank was a huge part of Shamoozal back when we were doing our thing. He’s the reason Crapfest Force and How to Hook up the NES turned out really nice. He did tons of work on the GFGames series. Lots of people think all that stuff was me but there were times when Frank was doing possibly even more animation work on Shamoozal than I was. We were juggling lots of stuff at that point, like running the blog, the message boards, a podcast and god knows what else. It was crazy!
Anyway, for the last few months Frank has been putting some time into his YouTube channel simply titled Frank Summers Animation. There you can find his reels and other highlights of his professional work. However he usually updates it with some sketches that he does live called Wednesday Lunch Live and has even recently started to add Toon Boom tutorials.
When I decided to embark upon my Artistic Journey last year my first and biggest emphasis was on figure and life drawing. I spent the first half of 2015 using YouTube videos for figure reference (there are plenty of great ones like Croquis Cafe and New Masters Academy) and then in the second half of the year I began to regularly go to life studio sessions for the first time in well over a decade. While my figure drawing improved with time, I still felt a little lost. Then I heard about the book Movement & Form by Samantha Youssef. Youssef has amazingly beautiful drawings and years of experience teaching figure drawing. It did not take me long to make up my mind in that I needed to own this book.
I received my copy of the book at the end of December and have since read it cover to cover. Twice actually. Almost instantly I began to work the lessons from the book into my studies. The sessons here require a radical shift in thinking about the way I go about drafting my drawings, but I believe my drawings are starting to have a stronger foundation. I’m finding myself to have a greater understanding of how the body works, where the pieces fit together, and ultimately adding weight and believably to my work. This is of course a work in progress and without having a mentor telling me exactly where and how things work, my improvement comes down to me and my ability to recognize my mistakes.
Usually when I work on a new animated short I tend to keep very quiet about it. I generally like to keep those kinds of things close to the chest. After all, how can I surprise anyone with cool content if they know everything that’s going to be in it? With my next project, I’d like to be a little more open.
What I’m creating is something wholly original and in my mind, like nothing I’ve made before. As of this writing it is being referred to as Wrestlemasters, a name which may or may not be final. Anyway, I’m done with parody videos. I had a good run with Read Only Memory all those years ago now and the 1980s Anime videos literally sucked the life from me, even if I do think some of them had some good ideas thrown in there. It has been a full year since I’ve animated a video, and I suspect it might be another full year until anyone sees an animated video from me again.
For the last year I’ve been on what I’d like to think of as an artistic journey. While there have been improvements to my art over the decade that I have been creating on Shamoozal, the improvement has been very slight. I need to push myself. One thing that I’ve also started doing on this journey is finding particular artists to learn from and be inspired by. The problem here is that the very people you are inspired by can also be your temporary downfall.
We all get jealous. We all envy things that people can do or have. There are times when I go sit down to do work, I load up Twitter, see some incredible pictures and it cripples me creatively. I think “I’ll never be as good as this person” and IF I move onto actually drawing from that point, I’m harsh to judge what I put down. From there I usually go further down the rabbit hole of looking more into the amazing work of said person and feeling not inspired, but horrible about my current ability by the end.
Sometimes we need to step back and begin to filter the noise. The downside to having so much available to us is that there is simply TOO much available to us at any given time. If you’re ever feeling down about your own art after looking at great art, then that is your hint to take a break from looking at art. Choose not to look at great art for a day or more. Don’t allow yourself to get consumed by it. If that means temporarily muting an artist you admire on Twitter or another social platform, then do it. Once you feel better, allow yourself to become inspired by great art again. I’d also suggest not looking at art moments before you saw something that inspired you. Chances are you won’t be able to draw or paint what you just saw as good as the piece that inspired you in the first place. This will also cause you to fall into that pit of despair.
If you follow me on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter you’ll know that I did a Halloween/monster related drawing every day of October. Now that everything is wrapped up, I’m offering a free download of every drawing through Gumroad. The pack contains high res JPGs along with the original PSD files for the images I did digitally. The PSD file contain all the layers, including the original sketches. You can make your own prints or do whatever! Please know that for a week of October I was away on vacation with my family, so those drawings are simply cell phone shots I grabbed of the drawings I did in our hotel room when I was essentially dead from walking through Disney parks all day. I hope you like the pack.
Last night a few of us from the old Shamoozal Radio Podcast got together and reminisced a bit about Shamoozal Radio, the site as a whole, and just kind of spent a few moments explaining where we were in our lives.
As usual, I recently had a chance to sit down with Randy from Elder-Geek and Shamoozal alum Steve to talk about this years E3. Clocking in at nearly 2 hours long, the three of us go about as in depth as we can with the latest news out of the game industry. It’s been probably over a year since I last podcasted and I have to say it felt nice getting back into the swing of things. If anything, it makes me want to podcast more in the future.
Outside of that, I have a panel at the upcoming Too Many Games convention that takes place in Oaks, PA. This is the first panel I’ve ever done in my life so I’m quite nervous about it! It takes place Sunday, June 28th at 11 AM in the morning at “Panel 3″ (wherever that is). The panel is called “The Art of the Animated Parody” and I plan on going in deep in regards to how my 1980s Anime trilogy for Maker Studios was crafted in order to have mass appeal. I’ll mainly be using Star Wars as a talking point, but I’ll dive into Harry Potter and Ghostbusters when applicable. Assuming there is time, I’ll open it up to a Q&A as well. In a best case scenario, it’s something that I’d like to be insightful and have some meaning to those who attend it, at worst it’ll be me rambling to five people and nothing of value will be gained. That said, I’ll take five people, it would probably be easier on me to speak with a smaller crowd. I do intend to try and record it however. I’m not sure exactly how that will turn out, but if it turns out well, you can be sure to see it pop up here. Hope to see some of you there!