Monday, November 9, 2015

NYT Tackles the Creative Economy

This article was sent to me by my friend Jack, with the promise that it was worth its reading time. It's a good look at the creative culture of today, examining income statistics and sales rates to determine if the outlook is bleak or bright for people who create and produce art and entertainment for a living.

Illustration by Andrew Rae

The answer, of course, is complicated. My TL;DR synopsis is that technology and the internet have made it both easier and harder for creatives. Yay! Sort of.

But two things give me heart: firstly, the fact that, even in the digital age, consumers still appreciate and seek out handmade things and tactile, real-world experiences. As James Gurney said, "Other humans will always enjoy works that are filtered through the human consciousness and the human hand." And secondly, Johnson's observation that "The profound change lies at the boundaries of professionalism. It has never been easier to start making money from creative work, for your passion to undertake that critical leap from pure hobby to part-time income source." 

Whatever the outcome, I believe that easier and more affordable avenues that pave the way for more creative people to do what they love will never be a bad thing.

© Gina Florio 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Drunk Literature: "Game of Thrones"

One of the many benefits to not posting for almost a year is that I now have a nice buildup of my own work to post!

For realsies, though, I'm sorry for my absence, but this year has been certifiably insane. In a good way. But still insane. I'm happy to report that our wedding was great, A++, 5 star experience, would get married again. Also very happy that life is finally starting to resemble normalcy now.

Right after CTNx last year, my friend Ellen (who blogs for Garlic, My Soul, among others) contacted me to see if I would be interested in working with her fiancé Aaron, a DreamWorks TV writer, on one of his side projects, a 'Drunk History' spinoff called Drunk Literature. They'd done a full first season on YouTube that included The Catcher in the Rye, Hamlet, and 50 Shades of Grey, and they were gearing up for season 2. They had me in mind for their epic 'A Song of Ice and Fire' (aka Game of Thrones) episode. Being a huge fan of the book series and the show, I couldn't say no.

Clocking in at almost 8 minutes, it was their longest episode yet, covering the first three books in the series, which meant there was a lot of drawing to do (and there would be no time for polishing). I definitely utilized my skills from my Intro to Storyboarding class with Louie del Carmen here, especially when it came to the animation effects that I wanted to achieve.

Obviously, spoilers for Game of Thrones abound below.

© Gina Florio 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Thursday, February 5, 2015

CTN 2014 Recap

Heeeeeeeeeello everyone... I'm just going to pretend I'm Phil the Groundhog today, poking my head out to see if it's really, actually 2015 and I really, actually haven't posted in 3 months. (Two and a half if we're being really precise so put down those pitchforks already.)

I wanted to do a recap of the 2014 CTN Animation Expo before it got too far away, since building a professional concept art portfolio to show at that convention was ultimately the goal that I've been driving towards for... the entire time I've been writing this blog. To start off, here's a cute little recap video shot by artist Anthony Vu. (You can even see yours truly from 2:03-2:12!)

For anyone who doesn't know, CTN Expo (stands for Creative Talent Network) is a 3-day convention held every November in Burbank, primarily for the creative side of the animation and videogame industries. The convention floor mainly consists of artists selling originals, prints and books from their booths, but the major animation studies (Sony, Disney, Nickelodeon etc.) all have representations there as well. There are professional portfolio reviews that you can apply for ahead of time, as well as art-related panels and demonstrations that are constantly going on. It's almost frustrating to be there, because at any given time, 5 different things could be happening, all of which you want to be present for.

This was the fourth year of the convention (started in 2010). I had been the previous year, in 2013, but just for a day to walk around and see what it was all about. This year I went all out. I bought a 3-day pass and made reservations for a couple of art demos that I didn't want to miss. And most importantly, I worked really hard, for four months, to get my portfolio in order so I could have something at least mildly professional-looking to present for reviews. My completed portfolio can be seen here (or by just clicking the 'portfolio' tab above).

Firstly I just want to say that the energy at this convention is insane. It's a growing event in a fairly small space, so it can reach Comic-Con levels of crowdedness - but it's so awe-inspiring to be in a place where you know everyone else is just as much of an animation and concept art geek as you are. That said, it can also get incredibly taxing, especially if you enjoy your personal space as much as I do. My first day there (Friday) was an extremely long 8 hours of waiting in lines and jostling with crowds, as well as approaching artists I had been admiring over the internet for years, introducing myself, and asking them to look at my vastly inferior portfolio and give me feedback (which feels about the same as vomiting in front of an attractive stranger). I also had a professional portfolio review with Disney and with Bento Box (the producer of Bob's Burgers. Interesting side note, I found out they operate out of the same office building as 51 Minds, the reality TV production company I work for. Hollywood is a really small town sometimes).

I got really wonderful portfolio feedback - in that I have a fairly clear direction for what I want my next steps to be art-wise. I had several people say "Your skills are in a great place, you could be working as a prop designer right now, no question" (which got a little frustrating after the 4th or 5th time, because of course the ideal response would be "Okay, so... here I am!!") Lora Innes and Justin Copeland of the Paper Wings Podcast literally freaked out over my portfolio, giving me a huge boost at the very start of the convention. I was able to meet Pascal Campion, Cory Loftis, Brett Bean and Justin Rodriguez (both of whom I knew from the Drawing Club), my former character design teacher Jose Lopez, Oatley Academy helmer Chris Oatley, Clio Chiang, Stephen Silver, Bobby Chiu, and James Gurney (!), the author and illustrator of Dinotopia which I have loved since I was four. In addition, I was able to ask most of the above for a portfolio review, most of which were, at the very least, favorable. Almost everyone said something along the same lines - that I need to imbue my characters with more personality and I need to work on my storytelling. They all said this in different ways - some more specific, like tailoring environments to fit the characters more - and some more vague, like “It’s all in the line - you just have to find the line that speaks to the personality of the character.” They all asked for more action poses and more expressions, and more process work, like silhouettes and rough sketches, and they all encouraged me to do more plain observational drawing, painting and sketching. But the true revelation came when I talked to Dutch artist Edwin Rhemrev, and he said “Character Design isn’t about how the character looks. It’s about who the character is.” He showed me a page of sketches he’d done for a single character and said “See how these all look different? Here he’s old, here he’s young; here he’s fat, and here he’s skinny. But they all have the same personality. And you can tell.”

Ahhh. The clouds parted. I don't know that I've ever felt such sudden clarity in my life.

© Edwin Rhemrev

But the best thing about the convention was that by the end of the third day, I felt like I wasn't a lone little fish swimming against the tide anymore. Just from the sheer amount of time I spent there talking to people, asking questions, being polite, generally networking, I felt like I belonged there. My normally overactive imposter's syndrome had faded. On Sunday afternoon, I made the rounds to revisit the artists who gave me portfolio reviews, to thank them and buy something from their booths (the least I could do after the free advice they'd given me), and they all recognized me and greeted me warmly. I no longer felt, or feel, like an outsider in the Los Angeles animation community. Since the convention ended, I've been to several of the drop-in lifedrawing sessions and sketch clubs that I know of around LA, and almost every time I recognize someone and am able to quickly strike up a conversation. Even though I'm just an amateur artist, and it looks like I'm going to stay that way for the time being, I no longer feel like a phony sitting down to draw next to professionals from Dreamworks or Disney. And that feeling is priceless.

© Gina Florio 2015

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Song of Storms

It's a much-needed rainy day here in Los Angeles - it's been coming down all day! - so what better time to share this delightful piece of artwork I found on the interwebs a little while ago.

I don't often share / showcase individual pieces of art by other artists on the blog, but this one really spoke to me for some reason. I love the style, the lighting / mood, the color palette, all the little narrative elements. It's an illustration that rewards looking closely. The artist is Matt Rockefeller, a recent graduate of the Maryland Institute of Art.

CTN recap coming soon!

© Gina Florio 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

CTN Expo 2014 - I'm Off to See the Wizard

Hey everyone!

Just a quick note to say I'll be at CTN Animation Expo all 3 days this weekend! Besides going to portfolio reviews, there's a great lineup of workshops and panels that I plan to attend - notably, an "all-star" character design panel helmed by Chris Oatley, Brett Bean, Stephen Silver, Tony Siruno, and Jeff Wamester. I'm also excited to visit the many artist booths and meet some of my favorite artists like James Gurney, Ty Carter, Mingjue Chen, Cory Loftis and more. I'll also be going to a "Drawing Party" opening night event at the Silver Drawing Academy on Thursday night. It promises to be a busy but exciting weekend!

I've been hard at work on a new chunk of portfolio pages which I'll put up soon!

If any friends/readers will be in attendance let me know! Hope to see you there!

© Gina Florio 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Portfolio Pages

I'm currently keeping my head down working on a portfolio for this year's CTN Animation Expo, which is happening at the end of November. However, the deadline to submit a 12-page portfolio for their specialized recruitment event was today, and I'm happy to say that I just submitted.

After two years of taking classes and going to countless workshops and art events, it's a bit surreal to be finally submitting my portfolio to actual animation and game studios. No matter what happens, I'm proud of the work that I've done and the skill level I've achieved, and I'm excited for whatever the future holds.

Here's some of the recently completed portfolio pages I made to go along from my work from Jose Lopez's Character Design class. You can view my entire portfolio by clicking on the tab above, or just clicking here.

I had a lot of fun with these if you can't tell! Props = good times. Although I am officially over attempting to do solid linework using a tablet... yeesh... whose idea was that.

© Gina Florio 2014