internal sunshine day 1: curveball

I promised myself I was going to write every day this month, and what better way than to start off with the biggest curveball I've been tossed in a long time. Someone asked me, yesterday, if I needed a kick in the ass to get my animation dreams rolling, and to get out of the design industry for good; to stop faking it, and to stop wasting time on what I feel others expect of me, and what is safe. I'm coasting through on comfort, and this person knows it. They see my frustration, they see how bored and uninspired I am. They said enough is enough, because I have so much to share and they feel responsible for keeping me from doing so. This person was my boss.

I was given the deadline of March 1, because the idea of me wasting anymore time than that is a painful thought. I'd already extended my animation project to be "before my birthday" because I'm content in the comfort of my position and where I'm at. It's a very hard struggle when you love the company you work for, and the people involved, but not the work. My coworkers have become my family, over the last 3 years, but that's no reason to stick it out and pretend that I'm happy. They can see it, I can see it, and I know that the higher ups can see it. That's where it gets bad, and I can't hide anymore.

My boss has tried over the years, to keep me around, to keep me entertained and motivated, to take advantage of my skills while I'm around. The trouble is that the momentum is fleeting, as my days coast back down to a dead end of putting checkboxes on forms all over again. It's just not the place for me to be, and he feels somewhat responsible for repressing my capabilities. I appreciated his brow scratching and frustrated expression, as he tried to figure out once again how to keep me around. It was a tough call, but we agreed that the solution was that it was time for me to go. I'm being kicked out, but with assistance to make sure I get into what I'm meant to do. I came home last night and cried at the thought that someone offered to help, and that I'd accepted it. You have no idea how much I suck at accepting help. I'll get into it another time.

It's tough to admit to myself that I am not a self motivator. I don't know how to set up deadlines and stick to them confidently, on my own, because I don't know how to take myself seriously. I work far better with the crack of the whip, with a tight deadline, with someone to please other that myself; where I can't pace too long or overthink my approaches. I have one month to dig up the work that I've done, to quit reinventing the wheel, and show myself that my current body of work is strong enough to show for what it is. This is quite the confidence exercise. I'm a big deal, and I need to firmly believe that.

I chose to be a graphic designer because it was what I felt was the most logical thing to do, in regards to stability, and for the sake of having a well known position that people have heard of. There are people who exist in this world, who get paid to do the things I want to do. It's just a bit more competitive out there, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. I have the skills! Everyone sees it, except me. I mean I know it's there, I just don't acknowledge it so strongly as I should. I've always stood out as an artist, and I've also found that to be quite intimidating. I was ripped out of my classes, in art school, because my teachers said I was making them look bad; because my skills were recognizably above average, doing things that I had already taught myself. I'm a master at my talent, with room to grow, and the desire to learn and challenge myself further. I don't get that from putting words on stock photos. Repression is the root of my depression. I'm glad to know it stops here.

To think what this could do to my state of mind, and my drive, is where I get all choked up. To even say to myself out loud that I will never be a graphic designer again.. it's amazing. I believe it, because someone is there to make sure I don't cop out and hop back into the same mindless game of clicking mouse and kerning. Someone has offered to help me; someone who knows how to market things, how to sell a product, how to network and talk to the right people. Someone who believes in me, who knows that I have 'killer skills' to share. I was given the golden ticket to let myself shine, and believe in it. No ifs, ands, or buts. There's no time to worry, doubt, or hesitate. One month, to prove to myself that I'm not a graphic designer anymore, I'm an artist.

Shit just got real.


internal sunshine : day 1

I've been feeling tired, and looking tired. It's hard to stay consistent with motivation, but I know I'm only going to sink lower if I don't push myself just a little bit harder. I believe this is what seasonal depression looks like. After the emotional stress of the holidays (and most of 2014) finished off by a month long, debilitating, illness, I know it's time to shake off the shell of darkness before it takes over.

Winter is tough. I can't help it when I feel this way. It's dark, it's cold, it's angry, it's stressful; and if it's not in the mountains, it's ugly, it's messy, and often quite miserable. The energy is contagious when people get complaining. I don't think it's necessary, yet I know I get caught up in it, too. It's a really tough one to ignore when you lose out on 5-6 months of daylight. This is why I call my new project, Internal Sunshine. I need to shine on.

The darkness loses me. Without sunlight, I'm irritable, negative, I'm moody, I'm lethargic, and ready to fight the inventor of the season. I'm tired of being tired, I'm bored of being bored. Sometimes, I find myself lying in bed at 9:30pm, because I don't know what else to do. I wake up to darkness, I come home to darkness. I feel it should be illegal to get out of bed in darkness. I need to fight it off, before it becomes me. Simple as that. Where do you find the light?

I realize that long winters are a part of being a Canadian, and I don't feel it's right to complain about it, but this is where we are. I doubt the people in Hawaii complain about the sun. Or maybe they do? "You see the bright blue skies out there, Harry? Ugh, it's disgusting. When will it end?" We never seem to be happy with what we get. There are ways to solve this problem, and the point of this project is to motivate myself out of this funk, and to maybe remind myself what it is that keeps me going regardless of the lighting situation. I long for summer, but it will always return. Maybe I need to learn how to be grateful for the drastic changes in our environment that come with the seasons. I may favor the bright, warm, and sunny, but winter has its own sort of beauty, too. I feel like a mountain adventure is in order, just to see it. It's definitely on the list. Oh, the list...!

I'm making a list, so that I know what to follow and what to share, as I go. I feel it's appropriate for the month of hearts (February), to be a time to focus more solidly on my emotional state, and strengthen the pieces of my soul that are currently passed out on the floor in an overdose of ennui. I need to replenish my bucket of self love, and find more things to be happy for. It's time to prove the winter blues wrong, and shine on. Let's kick this bitch in the balls.

Darkness, you will not take me away. 


my teachers

You have your own awesome style, but who did you look up to while finding your own niche? @jeppyjeep

In order of appearance, My Influences and How They Influence(d) Me:

Chuck Jones 
Way back in the days of Saturday morning cartoons. Most definitely, this influence came from my Dad. He loved Bugs Bunny for the characters, to watch, and to draw. His interest encouraged me to study how the characters were put together; what makes their personality, body language, how they walk/run, how they react to dynamite in the face. I thought it was a huge compliment when someone recently mentioned that they saw Jones' influence in my work. We go way back.

Marc Davis 
Of all of the Disney movies, I have to say that I have always loved the style of Sleeping Beauty the most. With its pointy, dark, and decorative Gothic style, I feel it stands out against any other Disney movie, design wise. I've often referenced the sharp line work of Marc Davis, as he has a certain way of drawing really lovely ladies... including the villains.

I feel like this guy is so popular, it sounds almost unoriginal to say that someone like Pablo Picasso influenced my work. I mean the guy is a mother f*ing genius. To draw how you feel? I wish more people could do it this way. I don't believe it when people say that they can't draw because it's less about making things look real, it's about how things make you feel. Pablo Picasso allowed for representation to take over. It wasn't about painting a vase of flowers to look exactly like the subject. What shapes come out when you think of an old elegant telephone? A cat? Picasso was an influence that told me to feel my work. Best. Love him forever.

Mary Blair
Is it weird of me to be the only human being on this earth who appreciates the dreaded 'It's a Small World' ride at Disneyland? It's less about the haunting music, and more about the show. Whether the robotic children seem a bit scary, that ride is a work of art and something to behold. Mary Blair brought asymmetry, charm, and pattern to Disney, in the years of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. She is also recognizable from those old school Golden Books we had as kids. Yeah, her. A distinct and charming style that always makes me get back in touch with the traditional side of making art.

Bill Watterson
Hell yes, Calvin and Hobbes comics were a tremendous influence in my world of fiddling with ink. I remember getting really attached to the imagery Watterson used to illustrate Calvin's imagination. Childlike, bold, gritty, and organized. A style I can definitely relate to and admire forever.

Tim Burton
I've always been a fan of charming and sinister, and hugely into the asymmetrical. My work has been compared to Burton's quite often, as I loved the style of his sets and how strangely awkward his work can look. He's been a huge influence, when it comes to environment design, and working with black and white. I sucked at perspective class, but chose not to give a fuck, because look at what Burton's doing. Forced perspective and a little bit of a slant never hurt anyone.

Dave McKean 
Another sinister influence. I love drawing not-so-cutesy things from time to time, to let my work get a little bit gross. I'm a huge fan of the strange. Hollow eyes, rough lines, scribbly textures and harshly cut, disconnected, shapes.. yes, Dave McKean, I love.

Alphonse Mucha
On the flip, I love drawing pretty ladies....because they are pretty. I'd say that Mucha's work influences my ultra feminine side; as well as my love for clean, thick, black lines, organic shapes, pattern, and subtle textures. So much to love about Mucha. I learned about his work in college, and he has remained a tremendous influence on my girly side. So beautiful.

Al Hirschfeld
The master of line work, or "line king" as he was called. The graceful style and flow of Hirschfeld's work is what always catches my eye. The way forms just sort of disappear and keep the eye moving; his style has always been a massive influence on my line work.

I know there are more artists that influence my work, but I'd say that the ones listed above are some of the biggest throughout my life as an artist. My animation project is rolling steadily, and taking shape, as the days unfold. I decided that laying out some of my greatest influences would make me think about what is really driving me forward. I'm grateful for the things these artists have taught me, and most of all, it is a joy when people tell me that they can see hints of their touch in my work. That simply blows my mind to even be compared to their greatness.

Who influences you?