So its time for this blogger to stop beating around the bush and get to the point that's been gnawing away at my mind since kicking this blog back into life a few months ago.

The bottom line is, I'm not happy with the statuesque in the world of animation. I've spent about 20 years coming at it from every angle and the sad truth is it has never really turned out great. There have been some good times for sure, but ultimately studios of all kinds play the short term game, use up 'talent' like it is an endless resource and consistently put the all mighty dollar ahead of the very thing they need to survive. Creativity

I've also tried the indie path, making my own TV show and working on several indie games, but the market had become virtually impenetrable for anyone unwilling to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

I'm not going to dwell too much on the negatives, but they are the starting point. I feel the potential creativity within most artist ends up being stunted by the systems they are forced to exist within so they can pay the rent etc. I'm sure we could argue the finer points of how the industry treats people till the cows come home, but there isn't much point. What I'm saying is that I think we could aim for something better and I bet I'm not alone.

So this idea has been kicking around in my head for a while, but I've been unable to pin it down. The vocabulary I needed ended up coming from an unlikely source, I hope to be moving to the country soon and doing a lot of gardening, and my research into gardening led me to Permaculture. I found this to be a fascinating movement, and immediately began to see connections between it and what I was trying to put together in my mind about animation.

What is Permaculture? Its essentially about designing sustainable environments with the focus being on how to provide for our needs in a way that works with nature’s processes and ecology, it can apply to almost any other part of your life, the garden, the house you live in, the way you get to work, the products you buy, etc. It is about working towards a system that creates more energy than it uses (just like nature does), now think back to animation, doesn't that sound like the kind of animation studio, school, club or community you would like to be a part of? Can you imagine a creative workplace where people leave at the end of the day feeling more inspired and invigorated than they did where they arrived? Is that even possible? It seems so far removed from the studios I have worked in where everyone leaves exhausted and zombiefied at the end of the day (or night). It seems like a pipe dream, but could it be that usually its just something people never think to try, something dismissed because of financial concerns.

What feeds the creative spirit? We know its not money, no-one was paid to do ancient cave paintings but they still happened. We know its not fame, most animators I know are shy when out in the "real world".

Taking a broad perspective I believe it is two main things that make an animator tick.
  • A connection between something from us and those who see our work.
  • The opportunity to learn about the nature of that connection and explore its potential.
What if ensuring this happened was the first priority of a creative community every day, the first priority of a school, even the first priority of a business?

Could one design a system that achieved this? An ecologically inspired design for a creative environment, this has become my new fascination ( along with Permaculture itself, but that doesn't belong on this blog :P ) and will I think become the focus of my animation related blogging for the foreseeable future. I hope you'll come along for the ride and give me some feedback too :)


Daniel said...

There's a few studios out there that have that kind of system, or so I'm told. And it's the reason why everyone wants to work there even if they have to take a pay cut. Because you're right about what makes an artist tick though, it usually isn't money.

The first thing I'd do if I came into millions of dollars would be to setup a studio that just makes shorts and fosters creative talent.

Good luck in your endeavour.

Ian said...

Thanks Daniel,

I definitely agree there are others, and doubt I'm smart enough to be the trail blazer :P

One such studio that helped to inspire me to think about this was these guys.

Hopefully ways can be found to do this sort of thing that don't require millions of dollars to get started. I know its a long shot, but I'll cling to it for now :)

Mark Osberg said...

I've been traveling the same path. Studio work left me feeling burnt out and I see no real future in the continuous financial struggle as a independent animator either. If there is another way I'm all ears but for the 2012 I will earn money via a regular part time job and animate as a hobby.

Ian said...

The financial side of things is buy far the hardest. Unless we detach ourselves from the way money tips the balance now I don't see how things can be improved at all. I think the first step will be reconsidering how animation and art fits in with any financial goals we might have, this will probably be the topic of my next post.

Alonso said...

If telling a story that connects with people is the first priority, then it's good to remember that pretty basic things can communicate quite effectively ( , which makes it easier for a person or small team to get out there. And with the internet the ability to reach others and connect has completely opened up, you can throw something up on youtube and hear directly what people think of it. As for money, this new media frontier hasn't been explored very thoroughly yet, but so far the front runners seem to just do the things they love and if they're lucky their passion strikes a chord and they go viral. (ala nicepeter)

definitely a subject worth pursuing