After a half year of slaving away on my senior thesis and a decently long break of unemployment and graduating, I decided to give the site another new look. Most of it was fueled by the fact that I wanted to move some of the right-column content to the left of the picture for better readability and give more space for the art to breathe. Of course, the CSS file self imploded itself in the middle of editing and I just decided to upgrade to ComicPress 2.9. It reminds me why I worship my CSS Pocket Reference book and is possibly the most abused textbook I bought. Now, there’s just a couple images I need to update and the site will be spiffy new.

Another thought that came up while redesigning the site was if I wanted to have the colors change depending on the time of day or weather. I know it’s possible, but I feel like it’s more flashy than functional. Although I’ll admit, I was pretty attached to the sunset version of the header. What can I say? I’m a sucker for beautiful skies.

Peter Callesen creates sculptural works out of a single piece of paper. Much of this impressed me through it’s sheer craftsmanship and use of positive and negative space. However, I feel that the pieces where the sculpture relates to the shape of the cut out are more successful.

Which reminds me that I have still yet to write about the “Higashi no Eden” (Eden of the East) ending sequence. This one stands out from most anime endings because it’s an animation using nothing but paper cut outs. I absolutely love the parts where the pencils cut through the paper and the effects of crumpled paper acting like large dust clouds. Plus it helps that the music is pretty decent.

And last one is the recent UPS campaign to use cardboard animations in their commercials. I like it because it’s clever in it’s use of materials and dialog that matches the visuals. But, a part of me wonders if it’s actually cardboard cut outs or 3D animation made to look like cardboard.

I thought that the website needed a design upgrade for a while, but I was saving up for this winter break to do it. But as I was working on the new design, I realized it needed some software upgrades for wordpress and comicpress. I have to say, I like the flexibility of the new comicpress, but now I have to go change all those annoying little images that came with it.

So for now, the website is “mostly” done and I’ll be editing little fixes here and there. Hopefully the new design will motivate me to post up more material instead of putting them elsewhere.

First of all, I want to apologize if this offends anyone, but this is more for my sake than any other. A lot of these thoughts have been occurring over the semester, but did not hit me full blast until two nights ago. I feel that I need to write this down to clarify to myself who I am and why I do the things I do.

Throughout this semester, I have grown increasingly frustrated in what defined an artist because like the field itself, it is a subjective definition. It’s obvious to most people that whoever had any “artistic talent” was an artist. But in contemporary art, that is not necessary true in terms of “high culture”, which, for those who don’t know, is museum art. So how can Duchamp’s toilet be on the same level as the Mona Lisa?

I, as someone who is obsessed with animation, cannot connect with this “high culture”. First of all, I have not found a single animation in the past three years that I absolutely LOVED in the museum. Now, that does not mean that I hate museum art. There are some compelling works in there in terms of drawing, painting, and sculpture. I love lines, shapes, colors, and a great idea, but by themselves, cannot move me as much as a well done animation. There is so much depth when it comes to connecting to the audience in such a short period of time. Everything, from writing, to art, to music, works harmoniously together to make a beautiful piece. But this is more like “pop culture”, which is apparently a lower form of art than “high culture”. So does that mean that my art form is not artistic at all? How can I refuse animations that have moved me to tears to be art? How can I not write about the works that inspired me to take this path just because they are main stream? There is not one artist that moved me, but many who worked together to create masterpieces.

A lot of this has led to my frustration with my senior thesis. I’ve been trained and pushed towards “high culture” art for over three years. Sure, I feel a lot more sophisticated knowing about art history and how this has affected art today. There’s definitely little nods to art history in animations that I never noticed until now. But I don’t think I can make art for art’s sake just because of how absurd that idea is. When I decided to be an animator in high school, I was inspired by Animation Runner Kuromi and how even though animation is incredibly laborious, the end product supersedes the suffering. Animation was going to be my main tool to help bring joy to the world, just as it has for me. Today, it is a little different, but the main intent is still the same. Animation is my way of being able to share who I am and how I see the world with whoever is willing to watch. I want them to be able to let them feel the raw energy that I put into my work, whether it’d be happiness, anger, or sadness.

So screw making art for art’s sake. I want to make art for MY sake. That is why I am an artist, or more accurately, an animator.

Here’s a bunch of links I stumbled upon through twitter and various other web browsing that seemed cool and artsy. Some of it even shows my not so secret love of crafts.

Floating Logos-makes signs more epic and towering than they already were.
The Owl- A technically simple looking animation achieving maximum effectiveness.
How To Create A Fiber Optic Starfield Ceiling- Something I’d like to try with my geeky brother someday.
Sticker Collage Mural- Also something I’d like to try just for kicks! It goes along with the vinyl decoration I’ve been wishing I had time to do in my dorm room!
How to Make A Radish Mario Mushroom- Something cute and food related.
Sand Animation- It spread like wildfire over the internet, but overall pretty spiff.
POSER! The history and evolution of the peace sign- Wong Fu Productions always do some smart comedic commentary on asian issues and stereotypes.

After a long discussion with my professor, Phil Sanders, on animation, he ended up lending me a VHS copy of Tron. I was excited to watch it, but unfortunately didn’t have a VHS player on campus. The irony of living in a world of fast technological turnover rates! Anyway, I finally had the chance to watch it at home with silly parental commentaries on the side.

A lot of the film must of been green screened in order to achieve the effects of having humans trapped in a computer. It did look strange because everything had a blue tint over it. The graphics must of been outstanding when it came out, but by today’s standards, are quite primitive. But I liked how they made such a simple game into something quite dramatic with the use of camera angles and sound. If anything, this movie obviously catered to my one weakness in color: orange and blues!

Anyway! I must return this wonderful VHS to my professor and get back to animating! I didn’t get to watch as much as I thought I would due to being dragged away from my work due to life circumstances!

In continuing research of what makes a good animation, I decided to buckle down and watch some old cartoons. So I went on a quest to the college library and rented out a DVD containing mickey mouse shorts from 1928 to around the 1940′s. The first thing I noticed was how uncensored it was in terms of tobacco and alcohol, but I suppose parents weren’t into kid-proofing the world back then as they are now. A lot of the characters consisted of simple shapes that stretched and squashed to emphasize their actions. I really liked how the animation and sound worked together to keep the rhythm of the whole piece going. The only problem I had with Mickey was that after watching the cartoons for 2 hour straight, it was too much of the same mind-numbing humor. I did notice a huge improvement between 1928 and 1940 in which reoccurring characters started appearing besides Mickey and Minnie.

Next up: The Graphics in Tron

Earlier in my art career, one of my mentors commented several times that my work was “simple yet effective”. Since then, I’ve been playing with the idea of taking something complex and breaking it down to the basics. This is not necessarily only in art style but also in terms of concepts of what is the basis of a good story and how it keeps the audience engaged.

Currently, my medium of choice is making short comics and both two-dimensional and three-dimensional animation. Sometimes I make the occasional illustration through Photoshop or Illustrator and often draw in my sketchbook as much as I can. I love to make fun of the mundanity of life and come up with terrible puns as my source of inspiration.

Time to blow off the dust on this site. I’ve been busy with the loads of work from the end of the school year and doing my summer tech job at the school. It’s been a relaxing summer in all the parts when I’m not at work, but I’ve been working a lot on my creative process.

For a while, I’ve been thinking about a good method on creating comics and animations so that I can work on making them more efficiently. A lot of it is trial and error and learning from past experiences as I’ve joined a lot of tournaments and competitions on DeviantArt in order to gain practice. Also, I’ve been watching old cartoons that I loved as a kid and recent animated movies and trying to figure out what made me like them.

What it mostly came down to was if it had a good story to tell and characters that a lot of people could relate to. Therefore, I needed to have a solid plan, writing wise, before I even start trying to draw out the scenes and pages. So I’ve spent days on a script that would go into a comic and then organizing and splitting it so I knew how many panels were in a page and how exactly to lay it out. Then I laid out the panels and now the drawing process is much simpler because I’m not wasting time redrawing everything when I mess up. The same thing should hopefully work for an animation that I’ll eventually be doing for the next year as a senior at TCNJ.

Aside from random art thoughts, I’m going to be at Otakon this weekend. It’ll be hopefully a lot of fun as it’s my first time going. Hopefully I’ll get to draw sketches for people, othewise I have a giant stack of lineless index cards I don’t know what to do with. Either way, it’s going to be such an interesting experience!

This past weekend, I went to the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) conference with several of my friends in the Asian American Association at TCNJ. I learned a lot, not only about Asian issues in the media, but also how I should think about the characters I create.

Lately, I’ve felt that they’ve been a bit two-dimensional and that their stories were not developed enough. I’ve realized they’ve lacked a “want”, something that drives them forward. If the character doesn’t have a drive, then why would the reader want to read about him or her? Thinking about that, I think I might go back and flesh out some of my old characters and figure out what exactly is going on with them.

Anyway, a lot of props to the guys running Secret Identities and the workshop they ran at ECAASU. I got momentarily inspired and had a lot of fun coming up with Asian American super heroes with people I didn’t know in the workshop.