Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween From Tokyo

Always loved Japan's answer to Fantasia, Robot Carnival(1987).

The segment, "Nightmare" directed by Takeshi Nakamura (中村 たかし) pays homage to Disney's Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad segment, Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Happy Halloween. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shiny Things That Mean Nothing

That's exactly what I read on the description on the first art piece at the Yokohama Triennale 2011 at the Yokohama Museum of Art today. This is Japan's leading art exhibition of contemporary art that is held every three years. Without a doubt there was work from from the world leading contemporary artists, including Yoko Ono. (How could she not be included?) There was craftsmanship, there was meticulousness, there was obvious thought and hard work and there were....questions. I.E. "What do you want to say??"

I'm no snob. Experimental expression is a must. But I like to believe that art is "communication" not masturbation. If you express something so nebulous and you know that no one is likely to understand what you're saying off the bat----then why communicate anything at all?

There's an anecdote in Norman Rockwell's, "My Adventures as an Illustrator" where a young hippie was in his studio observing Rockwell's process. Rockwell was working an illustration of Johnny Appleseed and the hippie said, "Whatcha doing it that way for?" The hippie scribbled off some unintelligible (but I guess passionate) scribbles onto a piece of paper, declaring it to be better depiction of Johnny Appleseed. Rockwell told him no one would be able to identify the scribbles but himself. The hippie responded, "So? What difference does it make about anyone else? I know it's old Johnny. I'm painting it for myself."

Expressing something for yourself is one thing, but the moment you put it out there for others to see now, you're communicating. Don't you want to be understood?

There are worthwhile, visually beautiful and sometimes inspiring things there no doubt. (Maybe that's enough?) Some things communicated to me better than others. I'll leave it at that.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Animation School in the Palm of Your Hand Part II

I blogged earlier about how animator Clay Kaytis had made this amazing podcast called, "The Animation Podcast". Great and inspiring interviews with animators such as Glen Keane, Ray Harryhausen, Andreas Deja, James Baxter and Eric Goldberg. There were 30 podcasts in all. The last podcast available on iTunes was about three years ago.

For those going through Animation Podcast withdraw, I am sure you have found other great podcasts online. Animation Mentor has its newsletter and offers webcasts through its site. There's Toon In! made by the UPA Legacy Project. And of course there is the SplineCast from the Spline Doctors.

What stood out the most was TAG Blog's TAG Interview by Steve Hulett. TAG Blog is designed in the interest of promoting members of The Animation Guild, I.A.T.S.E. Local 839. Here, you just won't hear interviews with the household names in animation like Andreas Deja, Burny Mattinson or Andy Gaskill, but very noteworthy people in animation who might not be at the tip of your tongue. On TAG Interview people seem to be a bit more "frank" about their experiences in animation. See the Walt Peregoy interview for further clarification.

What people offer to say on the TAG Interview isn't always as "carefully phrased" or "self-censored" as in some other interviews. Realities of production, working with difficult or unscrupulous people, breaking in, and yes, what to do in the face of unemployment. You'll find a little of all that in the TAG Interview. A nice compliment to the other sources of what you can learn about animation online.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


The photo above I shamefully swiped from so I could make this post. As the icon landed on my desktop I saw that whoever named the file didn't label it with a random series of alpha-numeric characters. The file as was named: "Hero".

Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011 was indeed one of the few true great innovators remaining from the 20th Century, perhaps the most culturally, technologically expansive centuries known to mankind.

American illustrator, J. Scott Campbell in his tweet about Jobs' passing called him, "the Walt Disney of technology". He is so right. Aside from his key role in the development of Pixar Animation, he like Disney, and many other visionaries, furthered the technology of his industry as well as the culture surrounding it.

When I think of the innovators I respect, I notice that they all have this in common: they have created their own universes and were driven by indomitable passion to follow the voice of what they felt to be important and what made them happy. Even when they failed (and think of those innovators you admire) ....failure didn't stop them.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gucci x Hirohiko Araki = 幸せ

Johnny-Come-Lately again, BUT at least this time, you have two days left to catch this.

Anyone remember the anime or manga series Baoh? JoJo's Bizarre Adventure? If art, animation, illustration, Gucci or fashion stirs anything in you, this is something you might want to check out.

Observing its 90th Anniversary (80th Anniversary in Japan), Gucci has collaborated with manga artist Hirohiko Araki in connection with his 30th Anniversary (in the business I have to assume). I was more familiar with the anime and manga series, Baoh which was published back in the late eighties in Japan but didn't get translated for U.S. audiences until the early nineties.

This might not seem like the obvious match up, but maybe fans of the manga or anime, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure might know that Araki has named some of his characters after famous fashion designers. To his advantage, there even an echo of his characters in the Gucci logo as one part of the JoJo's story it set in Italy and JoJo is known there as "GioGio". (Is that reading too much into it?)

I blogged earlier about the death of illustration in light of the way film poster art has been hijacked by Photoshopped photography. But things like this bring optimism that the powers that be understand illustration and the hand-drawn line still has a significant impact on people. American comic artist J. Scott Campbell did a similar comic art/ fashion collaboration with Express Jeans in 2003 and Hogan Milan Fashion Week in 2007. Dig around, I'm sure you'll find images.

The exhibition hall showcasing this work can be found at the GUCCI Store in Shinjuku, Tokyo....until, ah, October 6th. There you will find original artwork and illustrations by Araki as well as a full sized figure of the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure character, Rohan Kishibe. Also if you're in town grab a copy of the October issue of Japanese fashion magazine, Spur. Inside is a 16 page manga of "Rohan Kishibe Goes to Gucci".

If you can't get to Shinjuku in the next couple of days, or get a hold of Spur, I've included images from the magazine and the event below. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Don't Sleep on Frédéric Back

I meant to post this a long time ago, but if you're in Tokyo tomorrow is the last day to catch this amazing Studio Ghibli sponsored exhibit on Canadian animator, Frederic Back

Animator, illustrator, muralist, author, Knight, and Academy Award winner has a plethora of his work in film and television at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo on display until tomorrow I'm afraid.

There are over one thousand drawings from his days of studying Fine Art in France, to his illustrations, his educational animation work at Radio Canada to (what I found most emotionally moving) tons of sketches he made traveling cross country in Canada with his wife on their honeymoon. Of course there is original work from his Academy Award winning films, The Man Who Planted Trees, and Crac.

There's a sleepy, dreamlike quality to his work that comes off almost like post-Impressionistic art in animation. Nothing to sleep on. Very inspiring.