Over the summer, I was off of work for 4 weeks between July and August. That hiatus happened to line up perfectly with ‘First Flight,’ a 5-week online visual development workshop being run by the Oatley Academy of Visual Storytelling. I’d done some learn-at-your-own-pace Magic Box lessons over the years, but hadn’t taken an actual course with OA yet; I decided to take the plunge and, after much deliberation and thought, added on a personal character design mentorship with Chris Oatley himself, to be conducted alongside the First Flight workshop lessons.
The workshop was essentially a self-directed portfolio development course, giving guidelines, tips and prompts to develop and create the art for your own story as the basis of an animation or gaming concept art portfolio. The addition of the mentorship meant that once a week Chris would be checking in with me (along with 15 others) to see how the work for my portfolio was coming along and give feedback... so I had better do it!
I spent much of the first two weeks brainstorming, writing and doing research for my story. The workshop advised taking a story already in existence from fairytales or myths and altering it somehow - a common practice was to change the location and culture of the story. Following this directive, the Greek goddess Artemis became Pinga, a teenage huntress in the Inuit culture (specifically Kalaallit) in Greenland in the 1800s.
When the course and mentorship ended in mid-August and I returned to work, I had not much completed besides a ton of sketches. I dreaded the end of my hiatus - in the past, I hadn’t had much luck carrying my artistic momentum back into full-time job mode. But the fact that I had done so much writing about Pinga meant that her story stuck in my head. She had become somewhat actualized to me, as if I knew her personally, and every day I didn’t spend time drawing more of her story, I could almost feel her rapping her knuckles on the inside of my brain, yelling that I hadn’t finished her yet and I needed to get back to work. (Since the major feedback from CTN 2014 had been that I didn't seem to really care about my characters or story in my portfolio, I considered this a very good thing.) I dutifully found time to compile my best sketches into a series of pages and got to work finalizing the work & fleshing out the story visually. Here’s what I came up with!
When I finalized the last page, I felt tired but happy - my home life had consisted of nothing but Photoshop for the two weeks prior, but I also felt (and still feel) that this was absolutely the best work I could do at this point in time, which meant that every other consequence was out of my control. I could now, for the first time in a few years, relax in the knowledge that I’d officially given it the old college try.
I completed the majority of the work on October 26th, just in time to submit for professional recruiting for CTNx 2017. More on that in the next post...
© Gina Florio 2017