In his CTNx 2011 workshop: Be the Artist – Cultivating Your Artistic Personality, Louie del Carmen (IMDB) unpacked some key insights about how to be independent and how to leave a legacy as an artist.
(From CTNx’s Site)
Born and raised in the Philippines, Louie del Carmen is a veteran character designer, storyboard artist, board supervisor and director having worked at most of the major studios in Los Angeles.
In his 15 plus years in the animation industry, Louie has garnered a reputation as a consummate professional with a tremendous artistic range as demonstrated by the diversity of his show credits which include “Rugrats,” “Invader Zim,” “Kim Possible,” “Lilo & Stitch: the Series,” “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy,” “Drawn Together,” “Tomb Raider: Re/Visioned,” and the “Mighty B.”
Since 2007 he has been a feature story artist at Dreamworks Animation in Glendale, California where he has worked on” Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five,” Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom” as well as other current studio projects.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE: YOU ARE AN ARTIST
Early in the discussion, Louie shared a slideshow of famous masterpieces from different art history periods (Rembrandt, Munch, Matisse, etc.), then pointed out that, “Hundreds of years later we still know their art.” (I minored in Art History and loved the tie-in with animation during his presentation.) He followed up with a few powerful statements leading into his main points.
- “We are the current artists.”
- “For us, animation is our commission.”
- “Life is short. Define your legacy.”
- “The entities we lend our talents to benefit because of our commitment to our craft. Being an artist IS a way of life.”
Louie talked about how his job as an artist became just a job, until he thought about this concept of legacy.
“I want to be remembered for the things that I created”, he said.
Thinking that way gave him a new perspective and enabled him to see the opportunities he was missing. Encouraging those in the crowd, he followed up with, “You are not just a: lighter, concept artist, rigger, animator. You are an artist.”
7 KEYS TO CULTIVATING YOUR ARTISTIC PERSONALITY
Louie posed the question: “how exactly do you achieve independence?” He pointed out that there is no real system and that you have to take matters into your own hands. Then he detailed 7 key concepts that can help achieve that vision. (I’ve included quote marks for exact quotes and the rest are summary statements.)
1. PUT ART FIRST
- It creates momentum.
- It changes how you manage your time.
- It might mean no TV or video games for a while.
2. BE THE PERPETUAL STUDENT
- “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”…is just an excuse not to learn.”
- “Learning to learn is important. You need to learn like a student and execute like a professional.”
3. BE A CREATOR
- Don’t let lack of time or money be an excuse.
- “Turn your ideas into something tangible. put up or shut up. I’m going on a mission to take my ideas and make something happen! No one is going to do it for you.”
- “Whatever happens in the future you can at least be proud of something you made for yourself. No one else can take it from you.”
- Partner with other independents.
- There will always be egos and competition but a little of that is ok.
- “Partnering is also networking. You help yourself when you share.”
5. DON’T GET COMFORTABLE
- Continually attempt things outside your comfort zone.
- Attack your weaknesses.
- “Stumbling and failing miserably is far better than not trying.”
6. KEEP UP WITH THE STATE OF THE ART
- What’s new out there?
- Technology changes fast.
- “The worst thing you can do is shut yourself off and not look at trends.”
7. FEED YOUR SOUL
- “Great art is informed and genuine. It is not phony or pretentious.”
- “You have to fuel your ideas.”
- “Get out of your comfort zone.”
- “Every time you say hey I’m in a good place, it’s time to get the wrecking ball out.”
Del Carmen went on to expand on these and had a short Q&A. Here are some other random but insightful comments from the last section of his workshop.
- “Great teams are made up of strong individuals.”
- “Take control of your own brand and develop your own artistic voice.”
- “Dogs playing cards… No one knows who did it but everyone knows the painting.”
- “Being a story artist is like being an actor. What’s your range? Sooner or later who you are is going to show up in your work and you can’t deny it. It’s who you are. You are a film maker so wear your director hat.”
Hopefully these 7 keys will inspire you in your journey as you cultivate your own artistic personality!