Author: Daniel Gonzales, animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios
Feature Film Credits: Zootopia, Frozen, Wreck it Ralph, and Cars 2 as well as promo for Toy Story 3
To all aspiring artist,
Deep down inside you, inside all of us artists…at one point in our lives we’ve all discovered a huge desire to create. A desire so unexplainable and strong, it’s what makes us artist.
I would wake in the middle of the night as a child with the need to draw, the need to un-load ideas and images from my mind. And that still happens till this day!
To all you who want to be animators..first and foremost, you must find and recognize the same desire to create. Not only for others but to create for yourself. To create for the primal need to just create. Don’t create for the sole reason and purpose of entertainment: to make others laugh and cry. Create to appeal to yourself. I guarantee that your work will connect to more people when you are creating a piece that makes you laugh or cry or think. You’ll be creating from the heart and NOT creating from the assumptions of what might make someone laugh/cry/think.
Stay away from cliche’s. The best tool for original ideas come from your mind, memories and your childhood.
When you ask others to critique your work, remember you’re doing this to ONLY improve technique, skill, execution. You will never grow as an artist if you are always asking others if your work is “good”. Your work becomes good when it connects to you! Most importantly YOU.
When your work is so intwined with your thoughts and your heart that the thought of asking if someone else likes it is pointless.
ask others= improve skill
ask yourself= to improve concept.
Artist never have asked permission to try something new and crazy. Let alone ask if it’s good. Picasso, Mozart, Dali, Monet, Van Gogh, Goya, Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Wagner, John Cage and many more…they just DID IT.
To imphasis the point that the greatest work/ meaning/ originality come from within, here is Edvard Munch’s description of his inspiration for the painting, “The Scream”.
“I was walking along a path with two friends, the sun was setting, suddenly the sky turned blood red. I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence. There was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord of the city. My friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature….” – Edvard Munch
As long as you take your desire and never stop improving your technique, you will never be less than what you want. It’s not about where you end up, what studio you work at, how much money you make. It’s whether or not you are happy with what you are creating.
I never grew up with much of anything. Single parent home in a forgotten run down neighbor hood! As a child I knew more people who have been to prison then to college. Seeing poverty and drive-by shootings was unremarkable to me.
I would find comfort in drawing, pushing myself and my skills to communicate my ideas. I knew my desire was my ticket to get out. Over time people took pleasure in my art, but I never made it for them. It was not them but for me. I needed to draw. Soon then I learned to paint and then to build, and then to animate. I didn’t learn for the sake of learning how to animate, but because I needed to express myself and animation offered another/ different opportunity to do just that, express myself. This mindset has carried me through highschool, college at CCA, 3 years at Pixar, and now mentoring @ Animation Mentor. Most would be content and settle..I can’t.
I need to create, I need to satisfy my artistic desire to continue to express myself until the day I die.
To you aspiring artists/animators out there, never settle down until you are satisfied. And if you find yourself satisfied, you might want to check your inspiration, and desire.
You might of lost it.
Good luck to all. Start at the top and work your way up. Never stop. Patience is the key to all artists!
Daniel Gonzales III