Who, What and Are You An Animation Gardener?

Our first public attempt at locking down some specifics about what the animation garden is and who it is for. All a giant work in progress, but you have to stick you neck out at some point :) Who is an animation gardener?
You may be an animation gardener already and not know it :) The animation garden is inclusive, not exclusive. Any like minded individual can be referred to as a fellow gardener. The broader you can think the better. We don’t own any of this or get to set the destination. We are travelling in a direction, towards sustainable self reliance and happiness for artists. Those travelling in the same general direction are more than welcome in the garden.

What is an animation gardener? 
An Animation Gardener aspires to meet one rule, 3 goals and 12 principles.

The Animation Garden Rule
1Don’t Be Desperate

Covered in a previous post (two posts back) this is pretty much the starting point for any Animation Gardener. If you can't manage to keep desperation at bay it will undermine your ability to 
implement everything that follows.

The Animation Garden Goals
1Have fun being productive.
2Learn and grow.
3Share your knowledge.

The Animation Garden goals are pretty self explanatory I feel, they are the things we want out of our lives as artists.

The Animation Garden Principles
1Use your environment for inspiration.
2Set aside time for playful creativity.
3Go with the creative flow.
4Set small achievable goals.
5Value creative relationships.
6Use all work as an opportunity for feedback.
7Improve incrementally.
8Focus on your story. The craft will follow.
9Give your ideas willingly to others.
10Foster a wide range of interests.
11Stay open to suggestions.
12Make your message fun to say.

The 12 Animation Garden principles are loosely bases on the 12 principles of Permaculture.  Basically they amount to a check-list, if what you are doing falls within these parameters you can be sure your activities are sustainable. The Permaculture principles were originally written up with agriculture in mind (sustainable food production) as will be obvious from the language used. They have however evolved and grown over time to encompass a broader context, covering the creation of a sustainable culture, I am not the first to apply these principles to a new situation, and may not even be the first to apply them to this specific situation.

Below I have listed each principle with a little more detail and put the original Permaculture principle with each one so you can see the leaps I have made to keep them relevant. This was a highly subjective process. I'd welcome any feedback on other ways they might have been bent towards our needs.

Use your environment for inspiration
Be inspired by your context, it is unique to you and will lead to more unique ideas.
Permaculture 01 - Observe and Interact – “Beauty is in the mind of the beholder” By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
Set aside time for playful creativity.
Understand what sustains you creatively, set aside time to maintain relationships and networks that will immerse you in your special creative fertiliser.
Permaculture 02 - Catch and Store Energy – “Make hay while the sun shines” By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.
Go with the creative flow.
Produce to feed your creativity. When your momentum is coming from within instead of commercial direction you'll need to listen to your inner child. Spinning your wheels without producing will stunt your momentum, come back to that later and follow your inspiration so you can move forward. Act out & record ideas (audio +/- visual), keep a visual diary of ideas for later, the right ideas for you will last or reemerge later.
Permaculture 03 - Obtain a yield – “You can’t work on an empty stomach” Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the working you are doing.
Set small achievable goals.
Animation Gardeners are not interested in boom and bust, crunch time, deadlines, creative manic depression. Manage your time according to what your body and mind tell you. Less of higher quality is better than more that can not be sustained.
Permaculture 04 - Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback – “The sins of the fathers are visited on the children of the seventh generation” We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well. Negative feedback is often slow to emerge.
Value creative relationships.
Nothing forges new friendship like working hard along side someone. Projects come and go but those friendships remain. These people will pick you up when you are flat, push you to do better and congratulate you on your successes. Value and make time to nurture those friendships.
Permaculture 05 - Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services – “Let nature take its course” Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
Use all work as an opportunity for feedback.
Never throw work away without showing it to someone. Even your worst work can start a conversation that broadens your understanding. Everything you produce has some value, make use of it, most of all learn from it.
Permaculture 06 - Produce No Waste – “Waste not, want not” or “A stitch in time saves nine” By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
Improve incrementally.
Beware the never finished masterpiece. If you work has improved, publish it and move on. Let your body of work tell the story of your evolution as an artist.
Permaculture 07 - Use Small and Slow Solutions – “Slow and steady wins the race”. Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and produce more sustainable outcomes.
Focus on your story. The craft will follow.
Only commercial institutions that desire tools to turn to their own agenda want you to put the craft ahead of the story or message. Keep an eye on the big picture. What are you trying to say with your work? Use this as your compass. Be aware of how small achievements help to bring you closer to your bigger goals.
Permaculture 08 - Design From Patterns to Details – “Can’t see the forest for the trees” By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go
Give your ideas willingly to others.
Share your creative journey with other animation gardeners and offer to help those who share with you. Form good will buffers.
Permaculture 09 - Use and Value Diversity – “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
Foster a wide range of interests.
If animation or creative art is all that you are interested it is only a matter of time until you burn out. Look up and expand your view, have other interests and use them as inspiration for your work.
Permaculture 10 - Integrate Rather Than Segregate – “Many hands make light work” By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
Stay open to suggestions.
Be open to the changes in direction that might be initiated by interactions with other animation gardeners. Where ideas meet is fertile ground for more original ideas. Don’t be precious.
Permaculture 11 - Use Edges and Value the Marginal – “Don’t think you are on the right track just because it’s a well-beaten path” The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
Make your message fun to say.
Listen to your inner child and work towards parts of the process that feel like play. Think of ways you can get your message across that maximise your time engaging with the parts of the process that feel like play.
Permaculture 12 - Creatively Use and Respond to Change – “Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be” We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing and then intervening at the right time.

And here is an interesting little point, I'm not sure how useful it is beyond maybe making them easier to remember. But there just happen to be 12 Animation Garden principles and of course 12 animation principles. If you arrange them in the right order, turn your head sideways and squint there is even a kind of relationship between them.

The Animation Garden Principles
The Animation Principles
Use your environment for inspiration.Anticipation
Set aside time for playful creativity.Exaggeration
Go with the creative flow.Overlap and follow through
Set small achievable goals.Ease-in and ease-out
Value creative relationships.Secondary actions
Use all work as an opportunity for feedback.Solid Drawing/Technical skills
Improve incrementally.Timing and Spacing
Focus on your story. The craft will follow.Appeal
Give your ideas willingly to others.Staging
Foster a wide range of interests.Arcs
Stay open to suggestions.Squash and Stretch
Make your message fun to say.Animation type/style

Are you an animation gardener?
If from where you are it seems I've been stating the obvious so far during this post then chances are you are at least in part already an animation gardener. If so that is great, maybe this can just serve as another way of articulating how you feel, or identifying kindred spirits. If not then hopefully I have challenged you to look at your creative life in a different way.

Even during the time I have been researching and exploring these concepts I have encountered other on the same wavelength who I now think of as fellow gardeners.

What are we planting next in the garden?
Now for the next and perhaps most challenging part, to put our work where our mouth is. We want to spread the word about the Animation Garden, so we are going to attempt to produce a short animation for each principle. As we do we will attempt to use the principles to guide us, we will be testing them as we go. If they are any good we should come up with something we are proud of that was also fulfilling to produce.

Any feedback is more than welcome.
( Anim Garden Principle 6 - Use all work as an opportunity for feedback ;)


Mark Osberg said...

Don't be desperate rings especially true for me. Far better to work on something for free that you beleive in and can be proud of.

Ian said...

Yep. Really I think everything that follows is just to make you aware of the ways desperation might be creeping into your work, or the things you might loose if you are desperate.