Monday, August 20, 2012

Less Massive, More Black

My short break between classes at AAU and teaching at CCSF allowed me to attend this year's Massive Black Workshop SF in San Francisco, CA. As a veteran of two workshops, one on Seattle, WA, and one in San Francisco, I had mixed expectations and even wondered if it was even worth attending. The Academy hosted and co-sponsored the event and even offered a 50% student discount.

While this year's workshop lacked the live music, circus performers and dancing women in lingerie, I saw a refreshing level of no-nonsense professionalism. It was tough choosing which lectures and demonstrations to attend. Toi Okunyoku's lecture on model building and sculpting left me with two pages of typed notes and about 20 images to pore through after the workshop. While I've come to expect presenters to show their work with minimal preparation, Toi gave us a thorough step-by-step overview of how he turned Kemp Remillard's astronaut sketch into a complete resin kit. 

It was also a treat seeing the team from Steambot share their insights into their process and working collaboratively. They also shared a few of their experiences working on projects like Ridley Scott's Prometheus and led a sketching session where they showed how they work from a live model. 

Jana Schirmer's digital still life demo was also inspiring in its simplicity. Just take an interesting object, light it nicely, and paint it to the best of your abilities while using the digital tools to make the process easier and more efficient.

Jason Chan and Chris Hatala put together an informative Kickstarter talk and later in the workshop, we got to see some behind-the-scenes work on indie game projects Mothhead and Zombie Playground. Seeing those games so close to release answered my question about when and how do creatives in the field get to do work they're truly passionate about. It takes time, perseverance, and never compromising your vision.

We also spent an evening at the Safehouse Atelier for a book signing and art auction. The place was packed and full of friendly students and professionals. Shawn Barber's art book was available for purchase.

The portfolio reviews were also eye-opening. Design and the creation of work that resonates with existing industry expectations and styles continues to be a weakness in my portfolio, but my approach to process, and research for concept art has potential. 

While I am a lot less starry-eyed and much more realistic about my prospects as a professional illustrator, events like these still leave me inspired and enriched. To be around so many like-minded people, Hopefully, the Academy will continue to participate in these kinds of partnerships that lead to stronger industry ties for the school and its students. 

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