Tomorrow will mark a deadline for many students, artists, designers and creatives. These deadlines are solid dates ingrained in minds, the last day in a calender that has a firm end. They represent the end of an era, when you worked like hell and tried to create something honest. It will have certainly involved passion, heartache, loss and joy, a spectrum of emotion in the attempt to create something. You may have quarms about your own work, it will not reach your high standards, it will not be perfect, but it will be the start of something. I'd like to address students and soon to be graduates of creative courses across the country. In particular, the students of CG Arts and Animation, UCA. This is a short piece about my year since graduation and how it may help you in some small way...
"All you have been doing for four years is look at this, like this close...you can't see anything else. You don't even see the mistakes any more."
Today, my graduate film "The Minor Key" was kindly featured on a great website devoted to animated shorts. Showmetheanimation.com regularly promotes and features the work of student and graduate artists, as well as featuring some of the most inspirational creatives in the industry. It is an honour to be featured on another site with such a love for the artform and it feels particularly poignant considering that the Minor Key project came to a close this time last year.
A lot has happened in the year since then, with freelance work and personal projects driving me forward, as well as working with some superbly talented students at the University for the Creative Arts as the Graduate Teaching Assistant. It's been a strange journey, but one that feels completely necessary. My work has evolved a lot since then. The year has largely consisted of a diverse set of freelance projects. From animated children in a sea of fire to photo realistic lemons and door handles It's been a pleasure to work with such a great group of artists and designers, all of which have been kind and welcoming to a graduate animator. More importantly, it has inspired me to move forward as a film maker. The Minor Key represented my departure from the CG Arts and Animation course and in truth, it was a project of self discovery. It demonstrated that I could use the software correctly, I could tell moving narratives and that I could bring a world to life. It was of course limited by time, technical ability and confidence, but it was definitely the start of something interesting. It made me realise that if I keep doing this, I think one day, I could do something that could be fucking good.
After a year spent exploring new techniques and ideas, I'm ready to start something big. That "something" is currently a bit of a secret and I won't be revealing too much until after the summer. But it's safe to say that it will be the most interesting and exciting piece of work I have yet been a part of. My passion has always been film and film making. It is part of me that feels so deeply certain and concrete that there are no other options in my life. I love what I do, I love creating work that moves people. My graduate film was my first step to achieving that dream and now I'm ready to make the next big step along that path. For myself, this is an independent step. It is a scary thought but it feels like exactly what I need to do next.
I knew my graduate film had it's problems. You will be thinking the same about your own work. It can never live up to your own high standards or ideals, but it is the first step forward. You will worry about what others think and explain away the mistakes. But this graduate film is more important than glossy visuals and perfect renders. This is the first step towards something far more special. Part of that is finding a voice and a passion.
"Things that are personal have flaws, they have vulnerabilities."Jonathan Blow
You have had 3 years to learn new software, skillsets, artforms and a new lifestyle. That may seem like a long time but in reality it is such a small part of the whole. You are more developed and confident than when you started. You now know stuff that always seemed impossible. These are important steps in a long and difficult journey. What becomes important is that you still love what you do. You may feel lost in a world of business and career. But that is superficial. Many will wonder why they should listen to me. I have no real signs of success, whatever these are. I do not work for the best company in the world, nor do I own an loft apartment in Manhattan Instead, I live in a grey industrial town and make animation. To many, that sounds kind of pathetic, but to me, that's kind of the fucking dream. All I can really say is, stay in love with what you do. Try to avoid ever ruining that. The world needs more people with ambition, you are most definitely one of those important people. Be honest in everything you do. If you do that, you can never really be ashamed about your choices.
"Say who you are! Really say it, in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won't be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can't help but be. But more importantly, if you are honest about who you are, you will help that person be less lonely in their world. Because that person will recognise him or herself in you. And that will give them hope...Give that to the world, rather than selling something to the world."