1/02/2015

Hello 2015


Instead of coming up with New Year's resolutions for 2015, I've been compelled to think about 2014, and all the years that came before it. 2014 was my 20th year as a working professional artist in art departments of all kinds, from commercial animation, game art, short films, print and packaging illustration, gallery shows, auctions and finally, in the last few years, as Art Director. The ups and downs of being an artist are, well, pretty extreme, but thankfully over the years my experiences have taught me to try to keep a lid on the drama in the most disruptive/stressful times and try to be the best problem solver I can be. Curiously, in more recent years, I've had the experience of non-art departments questioning the value in having any quality art at all - a strange thing for a life-long artist to defend and justify my own existence when obviously visual communication is more important than ever in this globally interconnected age. 

In my personal work and on-going portfolio refinement, I've tried as best I can to challenge myself, usually by taking course work with various artists outside of my usual day to day work as a designer. I like to expose myself to ways of art-making that are different than the ones I was brought up on and I especially enjoy research of traditional methods of the past that have been handed down (or not) to our present age. I honestly find any hand made and traditional art utterly more satisfying than digital art, and at the same time I enjoy the challenges of creating images digitally that deliver on the expectation the audience requires. I also enjoy the profound way that artists are interacting with the culture at large today, which is different than it was in the past, mainly through film and games as well as other interesting points of distribution via smart phones and devices. At no other time in history has art been so accessible.

Surprisingly, I have found that even with the rise of the atelier classic education, storytelling and narrative visual design has been strongly neglected - again, strange, given that we are in an age of storytelling unlike any other. I feel as though I've focused enough for now on traditional methods and now I'd like to expand in other important directions. I have been actively seeking out narrative based artist-teachers like the fabulous James Gurney and teachers (and working artist) Armand Baltazar, and other amazing visual development artists who teach at the Animation Collaborative, the Pixar founded film design school in Emeryville, where I currently take classes while on my extended sabbatical.



This is a great time for me as I've not had a break from working since I was about 16, my very first job being as a cashier at McDonald's just outside West Point Military Academy where my father taught and where we lived. I've been working hard ever since, all throughout art school and after, often accepting freelance work while working full time and trying to fit painting time in at the Palette and Chisel in between. All the while, it seems that I neglected, usually by life circumstance (translation = very little money to survive), to develop my own voice in my art, since most often I've focused on "how to" rather than grander concepts. Being completely independent since I was about 20-21, I feel like I've been in a constant panic to pay the rent and bills, and that has led over time to some neglect of my personal artistic development. I suspect this is a very, very common problem amongst those of us who aspire to become artists in the first place and then gamble on making a living as such.

So I've decided: 2015 is going to be a pivotal year for me. Currently my days are packed to the brim working on some new projects that I am excited about sharing over the coming year as they gain legs and come to life. I have a couple of projects for clients I am busy with and a few stories that I've written which I am busy designing art for in order to expand my visual development skills and deepen my storytelling/narrative painting chops. 


I am excited to share my endeavors throughout 2015 on this blog. I hope that your artistic journeys are also bringing new avenues of development, challenge, and most of all - joy.

Happy 2015! Let's demand it's a good one.

Julia