Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Road Less Traveled

I couldn't sleep last night. My mind kept my body up by asking a question I've no doubt asked countless times before: what do you want to do with your life?

I've been putting a lot of thought lately into that question. Where do I want to be? What kind of projects do I want to work on? Who do I want to work with? Am I doing the kind of work that satisfies me? ...and so forth and so on.

I've been working as a freelance concept artist for the past 7 months now, contributing to various games, films and magazines. I decided 2 months ago that I would take some time off and focus on some personal work in hopes of finding a rhythm of learning that I would be proud of. Needless to say, it's been a difficult time. Not so much financially (did some careful saving :)) but more so creatively, and psychologically. The solo freelance road, for me at least, is a lonely one. I'm the kind of person who truly works best with others, and while my personal projects keeps my mojo going, it means little to me when I'm not working on them with others. Childish? Perhaps. But it recently dawned on me, after researching some of my great inspirations, that in most instances the solo road is necessary, and in most cases it can be extremely beneficial. I am enjoying the absolute autonomy that occurs with working on my own projects. The notion that I could cast any actor I want and create the most elaborate sets my mind can conceive is an enticing one.

That was initially the driving force and desire for wanting to work on The Republic, a graphic novel written by my friend, Alexander Tonin. The writing, storytelling and visuals that Alex has conceived with his mind is exactly the kind of project I want to be known for working on artistically. Shortly after high school was when Alex presented me with the idea, and it became extremely easy for me to become attached to the project. Much has changed in the way the design and art looks since then, but my burning desire to complete it over the years hasn't. The problem comes with how elaborate and demanding the job is. I remember reading the script long ago and how I felt completely dwarfed by the scale and grandeur of the kind of art the story required. I wanted to be able to pull it off with a certain amount of elegance, and works by Hergé, Katsuhiro Otomo, Alex Alice, Thomas Kummant and Adam Brockbank immediately started to pour in my mind. These, among many, were my inspirations for storytelling, art and design and I realized how much I had to learn.

I find myself faced now with an ultimatum: either get busy living, or get busy err..doing something else. And by living I mean being chained to a desk, slaving away for many hours during the day with little to no social contact. :) The project, in all honesty, scares the shit out of me. I'm constantly fearful of not being able to pull it off the way I want to and this fear, I realize, has really put a damper on my learning curve. Well tough bananas I say!! I don't know exactly what the future holds for me, but I'll be damned if I'm not working on something that fulfills me like The Republic does. And maybe it isn't even The Republic, maybe it's more about storytelling, for therein lies my true passion.

 All I know is one thing: I want to be able to tell this story, and therefore I must get better at art. Storytelling, design, composition, drawing etc…the works. I may not be ready for production now, but I have a pretty clear idea of how to get there. What will follow on this blog is my learning process for skills that will be directly correlated with the eventual production of the novel. Lot's of study and application. I believe that's the key to growth. This journey will quite honestly be taxing to my psyche, and there will probably be a lot of hard times and obstacles in the way. I just figure the pot of gold is worth it.  In the meantime I'll either continue to work freelance or hopefully join a good game studio with some talented folks I can learn a thing or two from.

This writing thing is really strange and foreign for me, and I would be amazed and extremely appreciative if anyone actually read this post all the way through (although scrolling up it's pretty ridiculous with how many words there are here..haha). However, this really helps me gets my thoughts out in the open, and hopefully, I'll be able to get some feedback and comments from friends in the field and otherwise on my process and progress.

Thanks a million, and until next time,



  1. I totally hear you. I am working on an illustrated series of novels with my wife. We started the writing process a few years ago and have whittled away on the first book and overall story since then but have had no real time to just devote to actually getting it done! It's scary to undertake dream projects and it also takes time that is normally very hard to find. I applaud you for "making" the time to get a solid start on your project and wish you all the best!

  2. I read the whole thing. ;)

    I think this is what we all want, though. Unfortunately paying bills comes first and I hope that I'll be able to save up money the same way you've done in the future.

    I wish you the best success!