Because it naturally ignites the neurons that stir our imaginations. A snippet from a recent Facebook post by George C. Fraser says “Build your vocabulary by reading. The average American reads only one book a year. If you read one book a month, in 5 years the average American will have only read 5 books, you will have read 60 books. You will be smarter, have a bigger vocabulary and be a deeper thinker.”
I could not agree more. I’ve spent much of my time as a parent imprinting my love of reading upon my children. The logic I share with them is that being a better reader naturally makes you a better writer and speaker. How? Because when you read you’re storing all of those published people’s writing styles and concepts in your brain for future reference. So whenever you’re trying to turn a phrase more effectively, either in written or spoken form, you have all of that expert literary technique to pull from.
That’s another reason I really loved grad school. It wasn’t just about being a pencil and pixel jockey for my animated short film homework assignments. We did seriously deep reading and writing on the arts in general and animation in particular. I share this same point with my fellow creatives – especially the visual types – because we’re all storytellers, including those of us who don’t necessarily write or speak professionally. Even for us, solid reading habits inform visual art. If you don’t believe me, try a new habit. Consider taking your sketch pad to a library and read a book as a break from drawing. Whatever you’re reading will automatically drive you back to your sketch book with ideas from that piece of literature.
Other arts forms prove the value of consistent reading as well. Did you know that most feature films are not original ideas from the imaginations of directors? Fact is, the overwhelming majority of screenplays are book adaptations. So if reading inspires Hollywood directors’ best work then that’s sufficient precedent for the rest of us in the creative world to do the same.
For my musical artist friends the same tip applies for you as well. Those of you who are formally trained already know that reading music makes you a better instrumentalist or singer. You also know that reading music can translate into your being an arranger of other people’s music. I challenge you to elevate your musical talents by reading more literature in general as well. Why? Because the extra mental reference material can make you a more effective original composer (and lyricist) of your own ideas. And in terms of creativity that’s much more significant than merely re-scrambling other composers’ music into new arrangements.
Sadly, the proof of value of reading also explains the state of the rap genre as it relates to the musical arts. I remember reading an interview a few years ago of a Chicago rapper who realized and admitted that his music career was pretty much toast because of his limited vocabulary. Hope he’s done something about it. Although their public schools thoroughly suck, Chi-Town is definitely not lacking in public libraries with plenty of self educational opportunities for the citizenry. I know. I hung out in a bunch of the local libraries while I was in grad school. I saw a bunch of you in there reading with me.
Finally, here’s a career teaching point for you classroom instructors and fellow parents. If a child you know or love tells you they wish they could spend the rest of their lives getting paid to read, tell them with uber gusto, “You can kid. Be an artist.” There’s absolutely nothing better for me than drawing and reading all day, every day, for all the reasons mentioned above. I think you will find the value in adding regular reading to your artistic arsenal as well.Read More
My first public graphic design work is on display here in Louisville, Kentucky. I was part of my wife, Ramona Lindsey’s, artistic team for her first public arts project, Parkland Rising. Here’s a picture of the completed project on an abandoned apartment building at 3201 Greenwood Avenue in Louisville’s west end.
My piece is the Phoenix Flames Marquee. I designed the graphic file in Inkscape, a free and open source vector drawing program. The design included the openings in the flames and the “We Will Rise Together” cutouts. Ramona used a number of service providers to accomplish her project including the marquee fabricator, a local company, HyTec Cutting Services, Inc.
I emailed my digital file to HyTec and they transferred it into AutoCAD. We spoke in person about the design, including overall size as well as screw hole size and positions.There were some issues between the Inkscape file and AutoCAD but they made some adjustments on their end and cut it out with a laser cutter in their facility. Below is my first piece of art in the city of Louisville.
Here is the link to WAVE 3’s report during the project site dedication on Tuesday, July 2, 2013.
You can see more images and clips on Parkland Rising at the project’s Like Page. When you have a moment take the time to stop by 3201 Greenwood Avenue and take a look. The artwork will be in place on the building for one year.Read More
My journey through graduate school and my stay in Chicago has come to its end. New set of letters. Master of Arts in Animation. My program and the city’s cultural scene and natural environment has been artistically and technically enriching in more ways than I can say. I also really honed in on the value of networking and relationship building. Getting to know people in the wider realm of the arts is so important in order to complete anything of substance and consequence.
I think I really mastered that on this project. I worked with two other artists who I’ve gotten to know over the last 2-3 years and their performances really put extra unique native Chicago energy into it. Visual artist Candace Hunter performed the voice over. We recorded it one day at Faie African Art Gallery in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood on the south side of town. And Samuel Savoirfaire Williams, Jazz Violinist, gave me permission to use one of his band’s songs, Counter Poise from their Ran Out of Time CD.
Hardware and software wise, I used a variety of tools. I recorded Candace’s voice over on a H4n recorder. The animated parts of the film are hand drawn in Flash, the voice over and music clip were edited in Audition and all visual and audio files were edited together in After Effects to produce the film.
It all began last year during the fall quarter and this is culmination of our efforts.
On campus, I and my classmates spent the fall quarter in pre-production, giving pitches to each other about three ideas we had in mind for a final animated short. We voted for our favorites of everyone’s three pitches and most of us went with the preference of the room. Then we proceeded with weeks of developing a coherent story then storyboarding it with a series of weekly class critiques and revisions.
Since mine was an adaptation of a part of a poem my challenge was to create what my professor called a “visual language” just for this piece. She didn’t want me to simply animate the words but to illustrate some of the deeper meaning. Well one of my pitch ideas was an abstract animation so I was able to fit some of that style in after all. Developing a visual language for someone else’s writing is no easy task though. In fact it was actually the toughest and longest part of the project. My storyboards changed significantly and I was still modifying them into this quarter before I was able to get started on animating it but the extra time and effort was worth it.
From that point critiques of my storyboard panels were easy to adapt into my evolving sequence of images. Once I got into the activity of creating animated key frames, weekly animation critiques accelerated my process even more. This project gave me the opportunity to experiment with elemental animation in the form of water, clouds and smoke and that part of the creative process was most enjoyable for me.
Thanks to my final project professor Jo Dery for guiding us through the process of pre-production last quarter and full on animation in Animated Short Film Parts I and II over the last two quarters.Read More
If you’ve heard of the old radio shows from yester year like The Shadow or Halloween classics like War of the Worlds then you’ll like the modern day twist Hartlife, a team of multimedia actors and artists, has given the old genre. While strolling through artist alley, their booth caught my eye and I spoke to director Jeffrey Gardner about their newfangled internet audio drama.
Funny how small the world is. Turns out Jeffrey and I are coworkers. We both began working at the Museum of Science & Industry earlier this year. I bumped into him in the museum one day a few weeks ago, months after this interview, and said “Hey, do you have an internet radio show?” He said yeah and remembered us talking at ComicCon this past summer. It was great catching up with him again.
Be sure to catch up on episodes of Hartlife’s Our Fair City, save the site and drop the guys a line to tell them how much you enjoyed it.
When we began this year’s weekend Science Achievers program at the Museum of Science and Industry, our manager in the Fab Lab had us facilitators create introductory PowerPoints as a way of introducing us to the kids. I chose to share my favorite T.V. scientists from my youth and a couple from science history who inspired me to become a technologist. Take a look at the presentation and you’ll get to me a little better too.
Still can’t figure out how I pursued engineering first before science later in life (engineers don’t have cool T.V. shows, scientists do!) but I have my act together now – LOL. Really enjoyed putting this together. It affirmed my combined scientific and artistic pursuits in my current life.
This was my group interview presentation for my current job as a fab lab facilitator at the Museum of Science and Industry. I’ve always liked physics and astronomy so I figured I’d take it back to “how it all began”. Our objective for the interview was to pretend that we were giving a real science workshop to kids. Our audience was the group of us interviewing plus a number of museum staff. Take a look at mine.
One of the goals of the fab lab is to have kids make something that they can take home with them. I had an activity where they created an atom out of pipe cleaners and wagon wheel pasta that took home as there personally made souvenir. I had a good time with it. Most importantly, I got the job 😉