I have to say the "All Things Animation" meeting tonight with Dan and Karen Hasket was hands down, the greatest experience of my life to date. They both exude passion and love for the arts. It seems like every day, every moment, every horrible frustrating event in my life over the last 1 1/2 years of living in NJ has lead up to this single moment of pure clarity.
The evening was mostly a question and answer session between Dan and the students. We opened with the discussion about going to school, choosing a school wisely, what is good what is bad etc. But, when it all fell down what mater the most was to be true to yourself as an artist and to draw. Dan stated how animators in this industry have to put there foot down and, "start setting the standard and change the industry" so we can bring things back to there former glory. Furthermore, he discussed the importance of doing your own films, advertising and the great opportunities that are being offered on the internet for reaching audiences with your vision. Most important he said is, "Just to get started. all you need is a pencil and paper." One of the questions I had for him involved his opinion of animating on the computer and he openly admitted to not doing it and honestly disliking tools such as the Wacom Tablet cause he felt it took away allot of control. He felt like the line you created in the computer was more the computers interpretation of a line you create and stated how inferior it was to the work you could create with a pencil and paper.
One of the most moving moments for me this evening was when Karen, Dans wife, spoke about the power we hold as artists and most importantly animators. She spoke of how a single moment and experience as a child can impact someone so much that when you grow up, even if you were only 3 years old when you experienced it, it can follow you through your adult hood. Even things as ridiculous as my little pony or rainbow bright can have a huge impact on our lives. The importance of creating with a purpose and meaning all along the while remaining yourself and showcasing your knowledge and experiences no matter how big or small is so important cause as animators so many people will experience the work that you create that you want them to walk away having been moved or learning something great.
Seriously, for the first time I actually was able to be around people who's raw passion really shined in everything they did in there lives. It was like looking at someone and seeing what it ment to live as themselves in every moment. Something very few people ever do. Karen went on to talk a bit about women in animation, a question Michelle posed to her during a 15 minute break, say there was a , "school in Russia of female animators in stop motion and how these women directed films with many different subject matters and feeling, in comparison with the male dominated american market. She went on to talk about how, everyones individual life is an idea and how 2 siblings might experience the exact same events in life" and they could still be radically different when talked about. "Animation is about storytelling and moving an audience, bringing what you want to see to the tables." She asked us all to think about,"What you want when you are 50?"
She continued," be in a world but not necessarily of it. Create to have an impact and give everything your best. There is nothing to loose and connecting with your own stories is like self love. Look at animation as a way to become something or someone else. It is putting who you are into everything you do. By animating you are bringing a gift to the world." I especially loved that last line. "By animating you are bringing a gift to the world." I think that is something that can said about almost all art.
It made me think of another subject that was eventually brought up during the meeting and that was how the business side of things really collides with the art side of things. Sometimes when I see the things done in television now it doesn't even feel like art anymore but simply a product. It really kills what I feel like animation stands for. Dan talked a bit about seeing the movie Dream on Silly Dreamer and the disrespect he felt that the business executives had for the artists. Which I think makes you ask the question, how can you create great classics when you isolate the 1 most important key to creating such classics and destroy it. After all, without the artist there can be no art. It s the same with the educational institution if you think about it. How can you pass on such an amazing art form to willing students when the educational system is more interested in making money than providing good teachers that are eager to share there knowledge. Even in the work place they replace experience workers with inexperienced people and it is hard to learn in an environment where every one is guessing as to how to make something work.
There were many other topics brought to the table. One in particular that crossed not just the sex barrier but eventually the race barrier. On the topic of women in animation, Dan talked about how so many animators were scared to draw women out of fear of making them ugly. Then he reasoned, why not just get a female animator to animate female characters. Who can know a women better than a women knows herself after all. It is the same for the use of multi-cultural themes in animated film. Particularly at Disney. He mentioned that there was rumor of the first 2D feature film being a movie called the Frog Prince and how the character were going to be Black this time around. He talked about the important to of seeing multicultural images in animation, but his fear of what the approach would be to doing black characters. From the way he spoke he hadn't been all that impressed with past portrayals of Black people in animated films and television and expressed a dislike for some shows cause he felt they were simply to stereotypical. One particular instant mentioned was the choice to make Sebastian, from Little Mermaid, rastafarian with big lips and a accent simply because it was funny. This goes back to the idea of just how influential animation can be on a society of youths and adults alike. It is like saying it is ok to disrespect a group of people based on what you saw on television or a stereotype. He mentioned a few instances where this happened in animation and the artists didn't realize they were actually hurting people by being uninformed or even simply hiring animators with enough cultural experience in an area to portray a cultural group in a respectful educating way.
Another Highlight of the evening was getting to see some of Dans personal work. Page after page of breathtaking masterpieces. I could only wish to be that good. There were storyboards,pencil tests, model sheets, and character designs. he even showed his take on Anime styled designs. I asked him if he liked any anime and he said both he and his wife both grew up watching and loving AstroBoy (by Tezuka).
There really is a life and fluidity to Dans work that is rarely seen. He also discussed his strive for perfection in all his work. He said out right that he didn't like to sketch or thumbnail cause it just took to much time. ( It brought back a memory for me cause last year when drawing the hand assignment for Sal I realized if I did it right the first time around I wouldn't have to draw it over and over again.) I often feel the same about comics too. I hate laboring over a page or a single drawing. you can call it lazy if you want to, but I get frustrated and my attention span gets short but if I did it right from the start that means allot less headaches. Anyway, Mr. Haskett mentioned how some animators he worked with could labor over a line till they got it right. Just imagine not having to do that how much faster you would be. You could draw something one time and move on to the next page or project.
All around tonight gave me a new perspective on things. It is the most I felt I had learned in a very long time. There are no one set of special rules there is only being an artist. For a while I had been wondering if maybe I was looking at life in the wrongway, but guess there is no right or wrong there is only doing and being. I hope there are others out there reading this. I welcome all responses from those that came along tonight. And to Juan and Emil I really wish you could have been here. So I hope you find this helpful most of all.
Thanks for reading. Tomorrow I will post some art.