Facing the Truth

I wanna talk about the concept "do what you love." At this point in time, everyone has heard this phrase. But relatively few people actually understand why it's so powerful. It has less to do with doing things that are enjoyable, and more to do with facing the truth of who you are.

Being honest, brutally honest about who you are is no easy task. It takes years. And it takes even longer for some. Doing what you love is not about doing something that you like doing, like eating or sleeping (although it could be related to them), it's about being true to who you are. What do I mean by this? Well, for me it was about recognizing what I was predisposed to being good at and also what I'm obsessed with.

For instance, I have a great love for the sciences. I think that molecular chemistry, astronomy, and the laws of thermodynamics are fucking awesome. When I was in college, I almost exclusively took classes in the hard sciences. I took a year of chemistry, as much astronomy as I could, and my favorite class was physics. It was so deliciously cool that I thought I should get a degree in astrophysics just for the hell of it. And who knew, maybe it would lead to something else.

But...

I couldn't run from who I was. My brain, for better or for worse, is intensely attracted to design, art and being creative in an emotional way. The idea of being a scientist is very cool to me, and I wanted to be one (in some small way), but I was passionate about art. And it was a passion that I did not choose.

Now, I could have ignored my predilection for design and animation. But I would not have been as happy. So, I gave in to art. As I often say, "I did not choose to be an artist." Seriously. If I had my way, I would be something else because being an artist is a fucking serious emotional roller-coaster. But for whatever genetic or environmental reasons, I am bound to art. And I love it. But we don't get to choose what we love.

So the lesson is to listen to yourself. Unhappy every Sunday night because you have to go to work in the morning? Well, listen to that. Feeling a sinking feeling when you're getting ready to create something? Listen to that. Every one is different, and the answers you seek will be nuanced. But there are answers. They are there all the time.

As one of my favorite people in the world says "Notice what you can't stop doing." The truth is that you already do the thing you love, even if you don't recognize it yet. It's there, in some small way. It might be hard to see, but it's there. And as my grandpa says, "We're always busy being ourselves." Yep. Truth.

Your bud,

Bailey

Death Comes for Us All

One day we will all be dead. If you're reading this, you will be dust one day. Your organs will rot and bugs will eat your body, churning it into a fine powder to be used in something else. No one has cheated death yet. It is the fate of every man and woman who ever lived.

With that in mind, what will you do today? Will you work on that project that you've been procrastinating? Perhaps it's worth procrastinating, and you should do something more valuable to you. Or maybe it really is something that you want to do. These are the questions you should be asking yourself every day.

Recognizing death's coming embrace has a great utility. It forces us to confront our present for what it is: fleeting.

Figure out what's important to you in life. Whatever it may be. Family. Creating. Peace. Happiness. Whatever. Prioritize this thing (or things) each day.

Time speeds on like a cruel mistress. It never slows down. So, live the life you want to live today. If it sounds corny to you, then you're missing how important this is. Death is coming for us all. You can ignore this fact or embrace it.

Choose wisely. Or not. It doesn't matter to anyone but you.

Paying for Time, Not Art

This post should be read while listening to this music, so hit play and read on! ;)

One of the best things about working as an artist is that I get to work with a wide variety of awesome people. It's honestly one of the best things in life, especially when collaboration is involved.

But as a good friend of mine once said (I'm paraphrasing): people make things interesting, they are both the best and worst things. Most big problems are derived from the messes people make, both emotionally and physically. What does this have to do with art? Well, the things people want and the way they behave make the artistic process a never ending thrill ride. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it's not.

Being a freelancer necessitates that I work with clients (for now). For the most part my experiences have been exceedingly great. I've been lucky to work with high-achieving people/companies that really get the artistic process and how I work. And, most importantly, they understand what they're getting when they work with me. Namely that they're not paying for the art I create, but rather they're paying for the time for me to make the art. This is a crucial thing for people to understand.

Whenever a client of mine doesn't understand this, I suppose it's my fault for not educating them about it. However, I'm gonna be honest. I don't really care to work with clients who aren't already super professional about this. My services are professional and what I create is pretty expensive, at least for individuals (but less so for companies). So, anyone not willing to engage in this sort of thing really shouldn't be talking with me.

Bottom line, if you hire an artist, just know that you're not paying for a painting. You're paying the artist for the time to make the painting. And even then if you don't like the painting, it's irrelevant. The artist still worked for that period of time.

Love, B

Hey Look, It's Me

For the last eight years, I've been working as a paid, professional artist. And in that time, I've never spun the camera around on myself. I've always just been behind the curtain, creating and producing art. But the time has come for me to break that cycle.

In an effort to put a face to my name, I've decided to create tutorials and the like where people can see who I am. In fact, I've already delivered one as of this week. My comfort level on camera still sucks, but I'll get loads better. Hopefully this will make my work more interesting now that people can see me.

Here's the first one. Can't wait until I can say I'm way better than this. I'll just have to put it out of my mind for now.

Bailey

Turning Point

Cinematics will always hold a special place in my heart. They captured my imagination when I was younger, and I continue to love them to this day. However, there was one particular cinematic that inspired me more than any other...

One afternoon back in 2009, while I was deep in the internet on some tangent going from one article to the next, I came across a random video link. I had no idea what it was, but I clicked on it anyway. It began with the developer's logo emblazoning on the screen. It was familiar, but I didn't really know who they were. Then screen went dark. Lights flickered on and machinery began to come to life. It seemed spooky, so I shielded my eyes for a second in case it was a trailer for some horror movie. But slowly I came to understand that it was sci-fi, and the brooding music foretold that that something interesting was going to happen. Then, when the music thundered into the second phase, it had my full attention. I was positively glued to the screen. It was wonderful! I couldn't believe what I was watching. Who made this again? Finally, when it was all over, the title of the game faded into view. StarCraft II. I proceeded to watch the trailer over and over and over again. I was smitten.

Many of you may know exactly what this feels like. It was a clear and undeniable turning point in my career. I've experienced this only a handful of times in my life. The cinematic itself wasn't the best thing that's ever been made, but it was deeply appealing to me. I wanted to know everything about it. And, ultimately, my trajectory as an artist was influenced by this trailer. I'm dead serious about that.

Here's the video I was talking about. I'm sure most of you know it well, but go ahead and watch it. Such nostalgia! (this cinematic was made by Blizzard Entertainment)

Again, I had nothing to do with this video. But I post it here to emphasize my anecdote. To me, this is one of the best cinematic teasers out there. It's got atmosphere, killer music, great art, and piques one's curiosity (as any teaser worth its salt should).

Bailey

The Client and Artist Relationship

People say that when you're a freelancer, all that matters is keeping your client happy. And while I make every effort to establish and maintain a healthy and productive working relationship with my clients, ultimately the product is what's important. The effectiveness and quality of the art is more important than simply doing what my client wants me to do.

The effectiveness and quality of the art is more important than simply doing what my client wants me to do.

First and foremost, my job is to make a good product. Those sixty to ninety seconds of story, art and music are all that matter. But the journey to that moment is a long and arduous process of toil, joy, frustration, anxiety, learning, epiphanies, excitement, fear, and exhaustion.

Understanding that the art is what matters gives me the confidence to perform to the best of my ability. Sometimes it's tempting to agree with a client and give them exactly what they ask for. After all, we want to please. But it takes guts to push back when it's called for, and to educate when needed. On the surface it may seem right to immediately give them what they want, but often times it's a disservice to them. Why? Because artists can deliver so much more.

Ultimately what a client really wants is for the artist to tell them what they want. As artists, it's our job to interpret what they tell us into actionable endeavors and then to expand on that. And when a client takes issue with something, they're usually not sure how to fix it. Often times they don't know how to describe the thing that's rubbing them the wrong way. It's not their fault, but they will use language and terminology that doesn't translate well to the art tasks. Or it may be misinterpreted. It's a language barrier of the professional variety. They speak the language of their profession, and we speak ours. An experienced artist knows how to bridge the gap, and determine what they actually want to convey.

They learn to trust how I work, and I learn how to interpret their desires.

I work to develop strong communication channels with my clients. The more I work with specific people, the better we're able to work together. They learn to trust how I work, and I learn how to interpret their desires. This requires that I occasionally educate them on how things work. It can be tricky, but I strive to gently show them how the artistic process works to build trust and ease their fears.

On the whole, this profession of mine has caused me more than a few heartaches. Art is an emotional, vulnerable and risky endeavor. It's one hell of a journey, I'll tell ya.

Bailey

Goals

Over the course of my career, and in my personal life, I've discovered that I'm useless without a plan. My will power is decent, but it doesn't solve everything. I need goals or else I don't achieve well.

Trouble arises whenever I complete something. Last week, for instance, I completed a 3-month, long-distance running goal. Over the 12 weeks, I knew exactly what to do each day. The decisions were made for me ahead of time and were in service of a larger plan. But as soon as it was finished, I began to flounder again. I had no fitness purpose.

My career has endured many ups and downs like this. I know what I'm working towards, and then I feel a bit lost, and then it repeats. Luckily this time I had a plan figured out, but I still felt a little down after my last project. Project ends are always high energy for me, so I guess it's natural to have a decompression afterwards? I honestly don't know.

So, I'm thinking that I may need concrete goals ad infinitum. This means I need to figure out exactly what needs to happen every day, forever. I suppose my walls are doomed to be covered in an unending stream of calendars. I wonder how ambitious people manage to achieve consistently. It's a tough business, I'll tell ya.

Bailey

Twenty Percent

The last twenty percent of every project is always the most fun for me. It's when everything starts coming together. Because for the longest time (the 80%), the art is never very interesting. There are so many missing pieces, proxy portions, and tests littered throughout the video. In fact, for most of the project I'm just hoping that I'm making something good. It's hard to see the end result when everything is in progress. It requires lots of imagination.

But once the polish phase begins, that's when I get really energized. I assume there are lots of other artist out there who feel the same. And as the puzzle forms, the vision finally comes into focus. It's very rewarding, in general.

I'm currently entering the last week of such a project, and as I feel the joy of this 20% time, I have to be extra careful not to work myself too hard. Like I've said before in the 20-Mile Marching article, it's easy to get caught up in the work and not get enough sleep each night. I'll admit that it remains a struggle to resist the urge to work in favor of rest.

Bailey

The Skill Paradox

This week saw a ton of look development on the commercial project I've been working on for weeks. It's tough trying to find something that fits the company's vision, the music, the story, and ultimately my taste. I am continually reminded of how difficult this process is. Oof!

Still just a concept, but getting closer to something that I don't hate.

Still just a concept, but getting closer to something that I don't hate.

Oh hey, I also added a section to the site where I recommend my favorite books on business. Go here and read those books (if you haven't already).

Art Troubles

I recently saw a tweet from an artist named Dave Kellett. He made a comic strip that captured a feeling I've been having for some time now. You can check out his work here.

With each new project I embark upon, I have found that it becomes more and more difficult to feel like I'm creating something worthwhile. I have happy accident moments, but I was expecting my career to remain just as difficult as time goes on. Instead, it seems to be getting more difficult as I get better. So, perhaps the comic strip above explains this?

It's as if my increasing standards inhibit my ability to get excited about most of the stuff I create. I've always been hard on myself, but I remember past projects feeling more energized, like I was riding the edge of my skill set and everything was new.

I still push myself, and I always do as many new things as possible with each project. But it feels like when I understand how to do something, I'm no longer interested in making stuff like that again. Basically I worry that if I do something that I already know how to do, I risk making something that is too same-y, and ultimately uninspired. I fear making art that is soulless, so I'm constantly attempting to create things that interest me and are genuinely "me."

It's a tough business, I'll tell ya. I'll figure this out eventually (I hope), but these are my thoughts at the moment. Let me know if you have any insights? How do other artists create things that are similar over and over again, but are still genuine?

Bailey 

The CG Argument

Over the past few years, I've heard a lot of criticism of computer generated visual effects in movies. Some people talk about how practical effects are better than modern movie magic techniques. And, overall, there seems to be a lot of nostalgia for a time when props were the thing. But this insistent love for practical effects is often misguided. Pretty much every movie has computer generated imagery in it nowadays. And when visual effects artists are doing their jobs well, no one even knows it was made digitally. On top of that, tools continue to advance, and people continue to get better at their craft. This means that at the top level it's getting harder and harder to spot what's practical and what's not.

So, for years I've been frustrated whenever someone confidently tells me how CG effects are worse than practical effects. It's such a broad and dismissive statement that, as a digital artist, I've felt the need to educate them on the facts and calmly explain that computer generated images in of themselves aren't bad. Digital tools are just tools, and it's up to the artist to deliver something good. However, my words don't always properly convey what I want to say.

But the fine folks over at RocketJump Film School have just released a new video that breaks down this argument. And they do it beautifully:

"Are computer generated visual effects really ruining movies? We believe that the reason we think all CG looks bad, is because we only see "bad" CG. Fantastic, beautiful, and wonderfully executed CG is everywhere - you just don't know it. Truly great visual effects serve story and character - and in doing so are, by their very definition, invisible."

Thanks again to Freddie and company for entertaining and educating. I've been a big fan of their work for many, many years. Check out their work if you haven't already.

Bailey