I thought that was all that I needed at the time, I started a job search a month or two before graduation and focused on sending out portfolios and going to regular networking events, but my drawing had become minimal since my focus had moved to job search. Unfortunately that was the time that Traditional Animation died out so a lot of the training that I had focused on became irrelevant, so after a while I realized that I needed to refocus on educating myself and build my skills. I’ve come to learn that there are two aspects to educating oneself, self-education and teaching others.
Over the years my personal education has taken many forms, one of the biggest is smaller schools, like Charles Zambilla’s The Animation Academy, Stephen Silver’s school out of his home, Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, Animation union classes, Concept Design Academy and others. All of these have done a lot to improve my drawing and other art skills.
Another source of education that I pursued since I don’t worry about what others think of me is to approach masters of their craft for feedback and other advice, I can’t tell you how many times when I was younger that I would get into the autograph line at Comic-con for Gendy Tartakowsky, Craig McCracken or other animation designers or directors and asked them to look at my portfolio and all but one graciously did. I would also go to them if they had an artist table selling stuff. I would ask teachers after class for feedback also and a few of them mentored me further.
Live figure drawing has also been a great source of Education; Bob Kato’s The Drawing Club in Alhambra has been my favorite along with CTN in Burbank. (CTN has been doing a lot of online zoom sessions along with others) My focus in the last few years though is to go regularly to the LA Zoo to draw, pre-covid I got to where I was going 5 days a week and since covid with the zoo open and closed off and on I have migrated to the William Hart park in Santa Clarita, the petting zoo is closed, but you can still see the animals through the cages since the park is open on select days and if you walk up the hill, you can see Bison! I have also been visiting some of the stables and horse rental places around the area of the LA Equestrian Center in Burbank, I found one stable in particular where the owner has been happy to answer all of the millions of questions that I had. Also the San Diego Zoo and many others have zoo cams that one can draw from. Aaron Blaise’s video subscription classes, been very informative also. I don’t know what I would have done without having continued to seek out artistic education, which has led to my desire to do the thing that I had been advoiding and following in my Father’s footsteps and teaching others what I had learned.
Back when I was in art school there was a friend that I would hang out with and it was one of my things to study artistic anatomy books and to make copies and she’s wasn’t great at it so I would regularly teach her stuff during breaks in our figure drawing class. I found that the more that I shared and taught her the better that I got because I had to understand each principle though enough to not only understand it myself, but well enough to simplify it so that she would understand it. Later when I left school and my family moved down to the LA area in Thousand Oaks a friend of mine referred me to a former Nickelodeon Background artist who was teaching a class in the evenings at a small art school in the Thousand Oaks area off of the 101. So I started assisting her, helping high school kids with their art and eventually in some Park and Rec classes in the Elementary school. After a while, later I started volunteering in my own kids classes teaching them to draw their favorite characters.
I had been a Stay at Home Father and my wife had been pushing me to find side jobs, so rather than take a restaurant or store job (nothing wrong with that for those who do it) I wanted to find something where I could use my art skills so I left a business card at the local Park and Rec center and they asked me to create a class and because of this I was forced to take all of the education that I had learned and a lot of the exercises that I had learned and distill it all into an 8 week class that I could repeat every semester. My classes were popular enough that I was able to teach at 5 different elementary and a charter school and I ended up creating an animal and creatures class and a buildings, vehicles and robots class, along with some private students at the library. (Currently because of Covid I just have the private students via Zoom and we go over any topic they want to since we have covered all of my main 3 classes). All of this teaching has helped my knowledge and ability on the topic to increase greatly.
I am so grateful for the importance of continuing to learn and then to teach others what I have learned. There are always opportunities to learn new things no matter what point in life you are and there’s always people that you can teach and that act will increase one’s own knowledge.