What I tell myself everyday.

To all the people watching, I can never ever thank you enough for the kindness to me, I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask is one thing, and this is.. I'm asking this particularily of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen." - Conan 'O'Brien

April 30, 2013

Art Advice From Joe Mad.

Below is art advice from Joe Madureira. Crazy Talented Comic Book Artist and Creator of Darksiders and Darksiders II.

I couldn't say it any better then he can. I am still overcoming number 5.

It is from his facebook status.


*Art Advice*

Do you really want to be an artist? Or a successful working professional?

Believe it or not there is a difference. I’m not usually a soapbox type guy, I don’t like instructing people, and I think I’m a terrible teacher. But hey, it’s Friday and I’m in a strange mood. So here goes:

I’ve noticed that a good number of my fans happen to be aspiring artists themselves. This is for all you guys. I get asked constantly: “Where should I go to school?” “What classes should I take?” “What should I study for anatomy?” “What pencils and paper do you use?” “Should I be working digitally now instead of traditionally?” “How do I fix my poses? Learn composition? Perspective?” “When am I going to develop my own style?” “Who were your influences?” “Teach me how to draw hands!” The list goes on…

Here’s the deal. All of that stuff *is* important, and it may nudge you in the right direction. A lot of it you will discover for yourself. What works best for one person doesn’t work for another. That’s the beauty of art. It’s personal. It’s discovery. DON’T WORRY ABOUT ALL THAT CRAP!

Instead I’m going to answer the questions that you *SHOULD* be asking, but aren’t. These are things that have only recently occurred to me, after doing this for 20+ years. These things seem so obvious, but apparently they elude a lot of people, because I am surprised at how many ridiculously talented artists are ‘failing’ professionally. Or just unhappy. The beauty of what I’m about to tell you is that it doesn’t matter what field you’re in or what your art style is.

April 19, 2013

reality check 1.

Note to self. Be very grateful to have friends that tell it like it is and to keep your.ego in.check. Cannot underestimate how important that is.when you.are.so.focused on.achieving something grand and actually.not.as.good.as.you.think u are.

April 12, 2013

"When the external validation of success replaces our spiritual sense of purpose, things get messy." - Chris Oatley.

I have just finished reading this bloody well written article below by the amazing Chris Oatley.


I really encourage animation students and working animators to go read it fully.  This particular part below is so so true to me personally. And I want to put it here to remind myself.

"Are you an artist? …a visual storyteller?

…then keep drawing and telling stories.

You can’t let fluctuations in the industry and/or economy kill your creativity.

…and you don’t need a job in the animation industry to validate your calling.

The world needs visual stories. Humanity thrives on visual stories.

I think you should draw or tell the stories inside of you even when you aren’t getting paid.

…especially when you aren’t getting paid.

We must distinguish the truth of our internal calling as creative people from all external forces."

April 10, 2013



Type down all the things in the head. Story, personalities. etc.. all on paper. Mix and match. Might create happen accident,

Experiment with the personality THEN be clear. Trust gut instinct. Because their personality will dictate their reactions and actions. And for the love of god... Pls write down. DUn just procrastinate blindly. Writing down is very good. because it will help you think!!!! PLS PLS! PLS!!!! AAARRRRGGGGGHHH!!!

Ignore the nonimportant stuff. FOCUS!!!!  Highlight the ones that stand out!!! BOLD it! Or color it.

DO NOT LET The nitty griity details get you DOWN. FOR FUCK SAKE!!!! Get the MAIN IDEAS AND BEATS OUT. ARRGGHHH. They are serious eriouss mind fucks and more importantly time waster.

April 9, 2013

Conflict of interest for animation studios to run govt certified courses.

 Locally, there are several companies offering WDA certified animation courses. All of these courses are partially funded by the WDA. I applaude the willingness of the govt to spend the money to help the industry. But I feel that this is actually doing more harm then good.

The key issue for me is that the revenue of these schools come from the subsidies given to the students. So say a  course fee of $10,000, a local students just needs to pay $1,000.00 with the remaining being paid for by the WDA. You can quickly see a dilemma when the company will lose revenue for failing a student. Therefore I question the worth of that certificate given at the end of the course.
Currently there are already 4 polytechnics, a couple of private schools that are churning out hundreds of animation students a year. Such courses are adding to very crowded market.

In addition, recently one of schools which also happens to run a animation studio let go of almost this entire production crew while at the same time, still are offering courses in animation. i am sure you can appreciate the irony and hypocrisy of the situation.

On top of that, Lucasarts Singapore just let.go of its entire games dept.

We have a huge pool of cg artists jostling for a smaller pool of jobs. While these schools chase the govt dollar.

disclosure : I teach animation at a private art school  in.Singapore. I often am torn by the dilemma of.the situation. But I believe that we are offering the students a better chance at succeeding in the industry.

April 7, 2013

Keep Calm and Keep on animating.

Few months back, I was sitting behind my class of 3D animation students during studio time when I read about Dreamworks letting go of up to 500 artists. This was a day after Rhythm and Hues are rumored to be bought over by Primal Focus.

And that was when I felt the hair raising behind my neck. The accumulated silent frustration that these students in front of me are going into an industry that is facing cross roads. Some of them I honestly believe can go far in their careers. If there is a industry to get into.

But I do not know what future holds for them. I initially thought to be optimistic. That they will find jobs. 

Then later, R&H files for bankruptancy and Pixmondo is going to close their Detriot and London Studios followed by Shanghai.

Then Lucas Arts Closed. With plans announcing that ILM might be affected too.

 My original intention of teaching was to have time to make my own short and that I used to enjoy teaching. Especially young eager minds. But  I suddenly felt small. That the value of my self -worth is judged by myself on the success of these students. I felt disgusted at how pitiful I am. But at the same time, that is what drives me to push them harder and to make them better in hope that some of them can make it into one of the big boys and/or create their own companies/ideas. The hope that the success of these students will entice even better quality to join the course in a ever improving  circle.

Then I came across this article below.

"now listen, there is nothing wrong about treating this as a hobby, it is a wonderful satisfying hobby to have. but if you want to be a professional, be it a comic artist a game artist a n animator a designer... you will have to put in the time, you will have to pay your dues.

life is a bitch, it will do you no favors. all you can get out of it is what you are willing to fight for. it is a hard battle, but it is worth it.

see, at a certain point it truly is about this. what is it that you want to do in life, do you want to spend your life being slowly killed on the inside  by the job you hate while dreaming of your could haves, or will you fight for your dreams."

That quote above struck me and it just brought me back to when I was in school stuck doing something that I didn't like to do. After growing up and having to worry about bills, jobs mortage, getting fucked over by bosses etc.. especially in this pressure cooker of a country..But I understand that in spite of the shit that is going down, this is still what I want to do. And i have to be good enough at it to make a living creating ideas, stories with these tools. Be it a pencil or a software package. It is still a tool to tell a story. Stories that will bring people to a different world or to escape reality for that few minutes. Or to relive their childhood memories... Or simply just to feel.

VFX industry craziness

This is about 2 months late.... but Wwith all the angry and frustrations over the Oscars snub for R&H guys who won best VFX, it confirmed my long held suspicion that they treat us as the smart class geek at the back of the class doing their home work for them, the cool guys... the jocks, the studs that they think they are. And we loved it. Trying so hard to be accepted, to be invited to the party.... I do not need to add more to the situation. there is a whole lot of info at the links below.


Except there are a whole world for Nerds/geeks out there that want to bend over and be their whipping boys.

Here is my take of it. From the other side of the world, from the supposedly side that is taking work away from US.

A union isn't going to work. PERIOD. Not on a global scale. Someone posted on VFX Solitary Int.

"AGAIN...HOLD ON HERE! Let me jump in and ask one VERY SIMPLE question: What happens when another market in the world offers an even greater Tax Subsidy Incentive to the Studios that they can't afford not to Leave New Zealand? Then what happens to the New Zealand market?"
Here and here are the answers.

No Govt will come together for a agreement so that a bunch of (in their eyes) animators want fairer pay. That is like asking for World Peace.

I feel that it is a global issue. Artists from China, India, , South Korea, japan, South East Asia etc... are being subjected to same stress, job uncertainty as those in California because even here, there is even more crazy pressure to make things cheaper and faster. The race to the bottom will not help anyone except the studios and the money men....

And there are different viewpoints. Some rejoice that the jobs are coming to Asia. that finally they get a piece of the pie. but that is just stupid. Some over in Us are angry that the jobs are going to Asia.

But the problem is still, the people who wins are the money men.

The problem is compounded by unscrupulous individuals offering courses in vfx, animation etc.. flooding the market with utterly inadequate "artistes".

Ending with pissed off people spending so much money and govt on subsidies on animation courses supposedly to help get them non-existence jobs.


They view the subsidies and funding by the different governments world widde creating a unfair playing field as a problem.

How many companies here closed down despite of the govt funding and subsidies. How many of the local animators are working as permanent freelancers etc...

As you well know, we also have problems like this locally. Its a worldwide problem Animators in Batam are paid how much ? U compare them to local animators. for the quality vs the price which will you chose? And I am sorry to say this, the quality of work locally isn't near what is needed to compete with the big boys.

At the end of the day, its basic maths. There is too much supply, not enough demand.

my honest opinion is the the local big boys will move towards the cheaper countries when the quality vs wages level off and when the subsidy is over.

 If you want to be pissed off, be pissed off at the companies and schools that offer govt subsidised short courses and letting hundreds of ill equpped "artists" with unrealistic expectations of industry while making themselves rich. Those are the assholes you should be pissed off by.

Be the Jock? No.... Be the smart Geek that the Jock cannot live without. Not the jerk in the corner trying to get you hook on smack.

How ? I do not know. Yet. But I am sure as hell trying to find out.

April 3, 2013

The mentality of the Singaporean Animator / Student.

This have been something that I encountered in the years of teaching students and trainees of different nationalities over the years. And came across different  mentality. Being Singaporean, I obviously am interested in the mindset of our students in comparison to other countries.

My personal observations are that a lot of local students are conditioned to have a sense of entitlement.. Maybe that is too strong a word... Maybe more of a sense of naivety to them. We are not not most street smart people in the world with almost everything controlled by the government and expectations structually heaped upon us since young.

i.e If I study hard and score good marks, I will get a good job with great salary. (endavuor for reward. Classic Singaporean incentive system.

So the result is a gullibity that I still retain. (Although I prefer childlike innocence.)

So if, someone tells you that after taking a partially govt-funded short course, you will get to work at Lucasfilm! Or D Neg! Heck even Pixar if you are good enough....you EXPECT that upon completion, you will get a job. Of course the sombering reality hits you that there are not enough jobs to go around or that the skillsets that you learnt isn't good enough to get you a job. Or that the slow realisation that YOU are actually not good enough to get that job.

The funny thing is when there is a job offer as a runner or as a matchmover, the locals frown at that job. They considered too low pay and low class for a degree grad or a diploma grad.

I do not blame them for that mindset. After all, they struggled the long nights over months to finish their FYPs and of course.

What i foresee is a lot of locals leaving to go work overseas in China and India. If you want to be working on the big Dreamworks movies, and you can get better savings then working locally. Plus a step towards the big boys. Of course the problem is that the big boys are here. because they want to cut cost. duh....

Rather then coming across like a preaching session or with a I know better attitude, I am more curious to investigate how to change this mindset.