Pretty much the greatest week of my life, art-wise. Hung out all day Wednesday with Phil Jiminez and Rodney Greenblat at the Scholastic HQ judging AMAZING h.s. student comic art for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (I didn't know how important these were - tons of national recognition and scholarship money for winners -- Andy Warhol won when he was a student!). Phil and Rodney are both such nice, down-to-earth guys; you'd never guess they were both practically art legends. We exchanged dumpster-diving triumphs and convention anecdotes over lunch, but it was very serious business during the judging and we had some truly incredible winners by the end. I can't even grasp *imagining* the kind of work these students were producing when I was their age.. much less actually getting it on paper!
Thursday it was off to the SCAD Savannah campus for my first time as a guest at the Comic Arts Forum. I've done workshops and Q&As at other SCAD events before, but the CAF is the Big Deal and I was so honored to be a part of it. It's one of those things that seems like it could only be a pipe dream as a student, when you're in the audience watching the panel discussion. I know, because I used to be in that same spot, listening to the advice on how to break in, wondering if I'd ever have the stuff to "make it" -- still not sure if I really do but at the very least I'm good at tricking people into believing it now.
The other guests were Robert Atkins, Phil Craven, Kristian Donaldson, Merrill Hagan, Shawn Martinbrough, and David Silva. If you don't know these guys' work, google them and weep -- I certainly wanted to! We each did two workshops and two group portfolio reviews, and then split up into two groups for panel discussions on Friday and Saturday evenings. I think my workshops went well in the end. I really just hope students walked away with *something* they hadn't thought of before to use in their own work, but I'm not the best public speaker and can get a bit flustered. It also made me very aware of the fact that I don't really think about what I do or why I do it... I just... do it and hope for the best. Which can be good and bad. Some of the other artists have such brilliant reasoning and logic behind what they do, which is exactly how I want to be. So I also walked away with a lot of inspiration and new ideas.
I saw some truly amazing art in student portfolios. There were more than a few that were capable of getting good work right now. On another note, SCAD Savannah has recently acquired Don Bluth Films' ENTIRE warehouse of concept art, cels, backgrounds, you name it, donated by the man himself. It's in the Special Collections in Jen Library and the students are able to go over and see it whenever they want as long as the professors make an appt. in advance. The guest artists were able to go see it and actually touch and hold the pieces. I never wanted to leave the archives. To be surrounded by the life's work of so many brilliant animators is both moving and overwhelming. And we got to take home some flipbooks from Space Ace and Dragon's Lair!
I titled this journal "Humbled" but the reality is I don't need much humbling, as 99.9% of the time I'm convinced I suck. But there is a big difference between thinking you suck and thinking you suck but seeing the footsteps ahead left by artists greater than you and realizing you can get There too. It's weeks like this that push me back from the edge of the former and safely into the latter, and I'm very grateful for them.
And... we're leaving for Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle this week! Hope to see some of you guys at the 12 Gauge booth.