...as Thomas Paine titled his own treatise on breaking away from the British Empire. I realize that alot of these ramblings are at bottom basic observations that tend to either repeat or meander on; but as with how many of us were raised, so too was our education: Latchkey. CalArts had no interest in preparing students on the meat and potato mechanics of either drawing or the studio world when I was there, and if the past few generations were brought up like I was, you have to learn most everything on your own anyhow from the ground up, and repeatedly. From finance to nutrition to work ethic, to separating the personal wheat from the chaff of life.
So, tens of readers, benefit what you can from my retarded ass having gotten lost in the weeds more than once.
- Don't sacrifice outer shape for inner. Basically, don't compromise the overall character silhouette for the sake of conforming to some series of interior details. This happens for me fairly often with armor, mech or pressure suit designs, the internal voice of the "technical director" butts heads with the "creative director," or something like that. Or more accurately, the OCD Stockholm Syndrome of having worked in production comes into conflict with the artist / audience part of my brain, the part that is able to take a step back and know what either looks good or appealing, to hell with rigid technicalities. Sometimes you have to bend reality - even the one you've created - in order to get the life out of a drawing.
- You're likely able to objectively look at what influences you when you can separate the nostalgia from the actual technique used.
Or, put another way, when you are able to assess the strengths and weaknesses in the technique used and can see what else in the drawing makes you feel the way you do about it: Themes, types of characters, situations, environment, staging. I think this is how it goes for most folks, the art being the gateway for certain kinds of genres or stories, and vice versa.
- Keep your job description clearly defined. I know it seems fun to be asked to do tasks that branch out from your main responsibilities, but more often than not you'll never be rightly credited for your contributions outside the wheelhouse you signed on for from the beginning. As with pay, so too with credit: Establish well ahead of time if it'll be forthcoming before jumping into a task that, in all likelihood, is someone else's job (or is freelance work someone should be paid for), and is only being handed to you because the management that is asking you now didn't do *their* job in scheduling it to get done beforehand.
Of course, if you think it will open doors to other job openings by being known as the guy that can do boards *and* design, then by all means take the gamble. But let's face it, it's not playtime or "Let's pretend." It's a job. Don't let boredom lead you to wearing more hats than you ought. Let them compensate you for your work, both in name and in deed (pay).
- Every artist will need hand-holding to varying degrees and on different things. If you work with others on a project or production, this is inevitable. How far you're willing to do the hand-holding is up to you, since some will need very little to none at all, while others will make a great show of needing help, yet will either refuse it when offered (maybe a case of shooting the messenger for various reasons) or will seemingly hit wall after wall no matter how many breadcrumbs or loaves you leave for them to follow. The latter may be learning curve, but otherwise it's either sandbagging or intentional handicapping.
And I can't entirely blame anyone in the lower echelons who says they have a bum knee, since it may be a case of them having passed the IQ test and realizing that no matter how much work they put into a production, the end result will still turn (churn) out at a predetermined level of quality which both budget and bureaucracy have decided on. In which case, you have larger problems to deal with than just getting everyone on the same page with what you personally want out of their art...
- Under-promise, over-perform.
Don't promise more than what you know you can deliver. In fact, under-estimating to some degree is better (perhaps a form of intentional handicapping), since it leaves room for over-performance and pleasant surprises for what can be (reasonably) delivered. Most importantly though, it protects the artist being able to deliver *consistently* and not being burnt out in the process.
More often than not it's up to those working on the ground to set the tempo for realistic expectations for a production, since most every other aspect of middle to high management are trying to please their bosses, and in turn are likely pressured into delivering pie-in-the-sky projections on delivery dates and results. They're not in the trenches doing any of the actual legwork (in this case, art), so there's an inevitable degree of corporate-style separation from factory floor to office space.
Save for a conscientious line producer, the artists need to be the gravity of the show, not to weigh it down but to ground it, firm footing so as to chart the skies and know where your ship is at. And where you need to go.
- That said, when asked to get whatever done by so-and-such a date, rather than saying "I can't do" whatever there is that's unreasonable, say "I *can* do thus, so, and thus and get it done" to whatever is reasonable.
Let management do the internal math, and don't give them a flat out "no" or "can't" unless they keep pressing the issue. Even then, give them a "not by so-and-such date," but follow it up with "I *can* do..." with a date of your own. You have to do the internal math as well (even though this should be management's job) since you need to protect your own interests with regards to scheduling.
Develop this and you'll likely be in a better position to perform freelance work later on, and with a good reputation for reliability.
- And as always, after a dry analysis of winding one's way through the Office Space aspects of the art world, it's time to furiously contemplate one's navel and ask the burning question: Is there a balance between being rushed to draw like a stand-up comic so as to improvise and to get things done, and at the same time to not be so plotting and plodding that you end up huffing your own farts like Ben Affleck with his 2016 attempt at remaking Citizen Kane?...
There's a video that breaks down this last point pretty well, so much so that I think Affleck can be reasonably held up as the modern day poster child of Orson Welles' "victim of your own success." Or at least a stumped and deformed version of it which seems to have forgotten how to make and manage storytelling. (Or is the system so top-heavy now with every project a tent pole, that the odds of it failing at every fundamental level are that much higher?)
And another covering everyone's favorite, M. Night. A breakdown of his 2006 film Lady In The Water: