Artists are typically known to be care-free, eccentric individuals that live in a dream world. People think they may dye their hair pink, throw caution to the wind and struggle as they pursue their passion. While that may be true for a good portion of creative types, I am not one of those people. Before I found animation I was on my way to becoming an electrical engineer. It was the closest thing I found, at the time, that would mix my love for art and math...until I found 3D animation. I feel like I’m equal parts creative and analytical. Being analytical can be helpful in many ways.
Analytical people are masters at visualizing theories and planning for the future. We’re proponents of delayed gratification and are a very curious bunch. But after all of the planning and conjuring...there’s just more planning and conjuring. My analytical brain keeps my creativity held captive sometimes. I'm the type of person to read a million articles about a topic and not do anything. That’s what analytical people do (or don’t do). We think and think and think and think about doing something, but never take the steps to actually do it!
I want to talk about increasing diversity in animation and share what I feel my role is and the topics surrounding that.
In that I’m sort of a different breed of animation professional, I have to navigate through a lot of stuff that is pretty ridiculous when trying to grow as a young professional. I’m always applying to leadership programs and different young professional ventures and getting denied over and over again. I do realize that it’s partially because I live in Louisiana where connections are more important than accomplishments or degrees most times.
I feel like when I’m applying to programs or talking to people, there’s this air of “she’s in animation; what could she possibly offer.” Luckily, I’ve learned how to be more strategic lately (lately being last year). I purposely told someone I knew that I was applying to a leadership development program for one of the young professional groups here because she was a project manager for the program. Guess what...I made it in!! And then for another NOLA young professional ambassador program, I emailed someone I met in the the leadership development program because she works at the organization putting on the program. I made it into that, and during the first session, I was talking to her and she told me, “I fought for you!” I’m very appreciative of that, but I’m thinking, I’m pretty accomplished, why did she have to fight for me? I looked at the bios of some of my cohort members and I didn’t get it.
I recently tackled a daily project during the month of February. In that I have a full-time job where I commute from New Orleans to Baton Rouge every day and recently started teaching an evening class at a university in the evenings, it was a crazy undertaking, but for over a year I’ve been trying to be more active in the “artist” title I attribute to myself. I feel if you don’t produce art, how can you call yourself an artist?
So, I decided to use an idea for a project I had researched several months back. The original idea for the project was to gain a new skill set, namely learning ZBrush (a digital sculpting software) and getting into 3D sculpting and hair, but since it popped back into my mind of February 1st, I decided to take on the project with my current skill set. A quick explanation of the project is that I took each letter of the alphabet and found a “black hairstyle” that corresponded with it, then created a representation of the hairstyle on the letter. I called it the “Black Hair Alphabet” and chose February because of Black History Month.
When I initially started the project, I was doing a “good job” of working on each letter when I came home from work or class. Each letter typically took 2-4 hours to complete, so that had me going to sleep anywhere between 10:00 pm and midnight. Not good when you get up at 5:30 am every day, but anything to be an artist, right? I posted my letter as soon as I was done with it on my Instagram account and Facebook artist page. In that this was a big project, having these “little wins” helped motivate me toward my goal: being an artist.
This speech was an overview of the 12 Principles of Animation. In that it was a 5-7 minute speech, I knew it was too much content, but giving this particular speech was more for personal evaluation than the evaluation of the club. I had just done a workshop for the Boy Scouts on these same principles and I realized that I spent too much time explaining them, so I wanted to see how quickly I could go over the principles. This will help me in future workshops.
This speech went over very well. In Toastmasters, you're given this sheet with tear-off strips that you can use to give people feedback. I got so many of those after this speech and it was all positive. It felt like when you're in elementary school and get the most Valentine's Day cards (when you could be selective, before the participation trophy era).
This speech is about how staying up all night is not something she does very often because it has consequences.
I had a good amount of interesting experiences when I lived in South Korea and I wanted to tell you guys about one of my infamous stories. As many of you know, I lived in South Korea for two years. Since the country is so small, a 3 to 4-hour bus ride can take you anywhere. So one weekend, I went to the city of Daejeon to hang out with my fraternity brothers. One lived in Daejeon and the other, my friend, Louis, lived in Busan, which was about an hour away. I lived in Gwangju, which was about a 4-hour bus ride.
We had a good time, went out to a few bars, danced and played pool. It’s getting close to 4am so Louis says that instead of heading out and finding somewhere to stay, he thinks we should just keep hanging out and around 6am or so, we can just head home. I agreed. I can always fall asleep on the bus and then take a nap when I get home.
This is my second speech, "When You Call Leadership." Hopefully, it's more interesting to read than it was to listen to it. It has some great information that I put together, but my delivery was off for this speech. I was standing in the front of the room, in the middle of giving my speech and thing thinking, "Wow, this is a boring speech." It would be beneficial to learn how to deliver material that isn't about Korea or animation, so I will work on improving in the future.
After 6 plus years of putting it off, I decided to join Toastmasters last September. A lot of people are familiar with Toastmasters, but for those of your who are not, it is a public speaking organization that has clubs all around the world. Something that I didn't realize before I joined was the opportunities to improve your leadership skills as well, which is nice.
I got the idea to start sharing my Toastmaster's speeches since they are usually centered around South Korea or animation. And since a lot of them have hilarious stories, I also wanted to have a place I was documenting said stories. So I'll be posting my Toastmasters' speeches as I do them. I have already done 5 speeches out of my Competent Communicator manual, so I'll publish those now.
Your first speech is called your Icebreaker, so here is mine. I titled it "A Life of Animation".
Something that artists need to remember is that you have to push yourself in order to get better. It definitely helps when there’s a project where other people are counting on you to finish by a deadline. No better way to push through a challenge when procrastination is not an option.
When I worked at Digital eMation, I had the opportunity to work on a myriad of great projects. The TV shows we worked on were Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Scooby Doo. One day, I finished up one of my many projects. I went to my supervisor to see what I would be working on next. She asked me if I wanted to model a snake for Scooby Doo or a batmobile for Family Guy. Because I wanted a challenge, I chose the batmobile.
Updates about ongoing projects and interesting 3D news.