Tuesday, February 3, 2015

LA Times Article: Big money in theme parks

The popularity of theme parks overseas is also leading to more jobs here. Heavy workloads have added six to 12 months of lead time to many projects, and design firms are struggling with shortages of artists, designers and technicians. Marks anticipates his team of 45 could grow to 70 by year's end.
Contracts to complete concept drawings for Chinese theme parks bring in $500,000 to $7 million apiece, with more detailed construction plans priced at up to $15 million, industry experts estimate.
And that's why I'm in theme parks. Oh yeah... ;)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Creative Juice Expo - Notes and Commentary


1st Expo hosted by Anthony Jones - Creative Juice Expo. Overall - quite unique and cutting edge. Lots of cross pollination and diversity of speakers - including lawyers, entrepreneurs, photographers, 3-D printing and concept artists.  Talks were 30 minutes each - short and concise. Most conferences like Gnomon and Massive black use all day Photoshop demos - while education can get tiring. This conference was pretty relaxing and quite exceptional for it's pilot Expo. Can see great things to come.

Dominic Qwek
- 3D print Z Brush Sculptures. very cool.
- Find ways to outsource and save time so can make more art.
- Figure out what customers want, what sells well.
- Customer Retention
- Add value with prints
- next: sell 3D prints instead of resin? More unique forms?

Zhang Jingna
- Singapore, top school. Star athlete. Quit school to do art.
- Starcraft Pro team.
- Photography
- retainers - photographers require 50% up front

John Park
- generalist vs specialist. (very against buffet food)
- brand - style
- multiple streams of income

Ash Thrope
- motion graphics guy
- 3 months build portfolio. 1 year working at company (super tiring). Freelance.
- spend more time with wife and kids.

Rafael Grasseti
- slideshow of work.

Jeffrey Rose
- lawyer

Steve Jung + Jung Park
- talked about film unions and stuff. Look into NY, Vancouver union. Untapped market. still use pencils.
$2800-$6000 weekly union pay - concept artists
Art directors make $1000-$1200 less

FX studios. smaller design.
Outsourcing companies - make much less.

Gum Road Guy
- add value before you ask for value.
- make your audience feel like superheroes

Maciej Kuciara
- work 12-13 hours. have no social life.
- work hard mantra. from Poland. harsh lifestyle. janitor.

Anthony Jones
- fanbase. make things free. be consistent. appreciate your fans.
- fan will get your back when you need them.

Dan Luvisi
- created own IP. now very popular.
- ER twice. kidney/ liver problems.
- works a lot.

Thoughts and Reflection

First off - I want to THANK all the speakers for being so honest, thoughtful and vulnerable for telling us about their experiences during the workshop. I felt it was very brave and courageous of them to share things such as client experiences, income, failures and hardships. With that said - there are some things that the instructions said that I do disagree with - which I will discuss here. I respect the instructors immensely as artists and individuals. I hope these opinions are not seen as personal attacks - but rather discussion and opinion for the art community. :)

update: 5/13/15 - woah - it seems like I was in a bad MOOD or something while writing these thoughts. I sound like such a punk. I'm so sorry guys. lol Please take the follow thoughts with a grain of salt. 

Desperation pushes you toward success...

was a consistent theme among the speakers. Many of them spoke of a breakthrough in their career because of some big incident. John Park spoke of a time when he had to drop out of school, stop his financial aid, and help his parents because they were bankrupt. At that time, he started looking for a ton of freelance jobs. Anthony Jones spoke of a time where him and his wife were moving into a new home and he got laid off. He started gathering a fan base with his Heaven's Hell illustrations - and transitioning into immediate freelance work. Maciej Kuaciara used to be a janitor and clean toilettes - and that seems like a consistent motivation to push him towards success. 

Overall - it seems many of these successful artist became successful because they had no choice. They use their determination, creativity and desperation to make that career jump. The growth was very rapid. My conclusion is... if you ever get into a bad situation... bankruptcy, laid off etc... it might be a catalyst to your big success. Maybe you will come out on top like these guys. 

Also - if you are growly very slowly, maybe that's not a bad thing. At least you don't have to experience such a catastrophic event. Is it possible to grow rapidly without having a fire on your ass? I'm sure it's possible too.  


A couple of the artists spoke of their work ethic and working 12-13 hour days - including Steve Jung, Maciej Kuciara, Dan Luvisi & John Park. They mention offsetting their work schedule with exercise such as swimming and Jujitsu.  Maybe these professional artists are very healthy and happy working 12-13 hours a day and they love it -  I can't speak for them.  I can't say for sure what their work schedules are like - or what their beliefs are... but, I'm personally really against 12-13 hour work days. 

Dan Luvisi has mentioned that he has been to the ER twice, and has multiple liver & kidney problems. John Park mentioned in a previous workshop that because he works so many hours in a day, he might die young. I'm calling attention to student artists that while working 12-13 hours a day might get you success FASTER - I advise artists to be patient and not do anything that could permanently damage their body.. For me personally - it literally makes me sick.
In contrast, other artists also mention of creating work schedules that make time for their wife and kids - such as Anthony Jones and Ash Thrope. 

Alternatives to working 12-13 hours a day include investing more time in how to work smarter. Passive income sources such as "gum road" are good ways to supplement your income - as John Park smartly mentioned in his workshop. You can increase your rates so you work fewer hours. There are many alternatives to working 12-13 hours a day. It's just what motivates you. Personally, I want to live a healthier lifestyle and spend more time with friends and family. Other people like Anthony Jones or Ash work smarter because they are motivated to spend time with their wife and kids.

Working hard is a tool. Working smart is another tool. It would be foolish to master one tool, and neglect the other. If you want to learn how to work smart - I suggest you looking into a book called "4 hour work week." There are many principles in their such as Parkinson's Law, 80/20 rule, Outsourcing - that can be really applicable to art.

Doing Art and Making money - 

Jung Park mentioned that people who get into art do it because they love it - not because they like money. If you want to make money - go into real estate or something.
He is correct in that real estate does make a lot of money! :) However, I've always been doing art for the money! haha. I did art because I've been successful at it -  I won my first $50 prize from an art contest when I was in 3rd grade. And I won $10,000 in contests and art scholarships (not including college scholarships) before I was 18.

Just because you like money, doesn't mean that you HAVE to become a stock broker or real estate agent. What if you like MONEY and ART? There is no shame in that. It's very much possible to do art and make a lot of money at the same time. Steve Jung makes tons of money doing concept art. Anthony Jones spoke of a guy who makes $20,000/week doing concept art. You can have both - you can do what you love AND make a ton of money.  I believe that it's possible - all the professionals at the workshop are living proof.

Here is a video on why "Following your passion" is bad advice.

Fanbase - 

I'm actually kind of sick of the entire art industry antagonizing clients and the "suits." I think it's very ironic that artists love their fans and provide free stuff for them - as advocated by Anthony Jones' talk. Yet, when dealing with clients - artists are compelled to "command respect" -  (Steve Jung's talk). Many traditional artists - such as the masterful movie poster illustrator Drew Struzan - condemns marketers and businessmen. He really antagonizes them in many of the rants in his book.

In a way - your clients are your BIGGEST fans. They are paying you TONS of money for you to do art for them. Yet, many artists belittle their money-drive motivations. Artists think that they are in some way better than these businessmen. They business businessmen are evil and out to take advantage of artists.

I think we should treat our clients more like beloved customers and fans. Yes - they do not have the artistic talent and eye we have - but it does not give us the right for us to think we are better than them and see their marketing, branding, and business goals as worthless.

There was a time when designers and engineers would fight when designing products - now they collaborate and create great products and industrial design.

There was a time when video game concept artists and modelers would fight over the character designs - now the fields go hand-in-hand.

I believe we are moving in an era where artists and businessmen will collaborate together to create beautiful masterpieces of games, movies, art - while generating immense profits that allow people to make a abundant living doing what they love.