Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Complacency Kills the Dream!

Wow, this blog post, from one of my favorite websites—Live Your Legend—spoke VOLUMES to me! The ideas expressed are exactly about what I'm trying to accomplish with this blog, my projects and my life.

It's based on a new documentary called "I'm Fine, Thanks," by Crank Tank Studios in San Francisco. They're currently fundraising on Kickstarter (I just made a contribution!)

When we're young, we're allowed to dream.

Then those dreams are destroyed for the sake of "practicality" and being "realistic." I still remember some old person who wasn't an artist telling me as a pre-teen that I needed something to "fall back on" when I said I wanted to be an artist.

Why the f$#k did I listen to that person? Or anyone for that matter who wasn't an artist? How the f@!k would they know if I could or could not make a living as an artist?

Read the Live Your Legend post and watch the trailer. Your creative life and future will be better for it!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

4 Steps to Become an Expert

Journalist and author Joshua Foer speaks here about getting past what he calls the "OK Plateau." 

To summarize: 

• Research found that when acquiring a new skill, you pass through three stages: the cognitive stage—intellectualizing the task, discovering new strategies to perform it better, making mistakes, concentrating, consciously focusing on what we're doing; the associative stage—making fewer errors and getting better; the autonomous stage—deciding that we're OK at what we've learned, putting the learned skill on auto-pilot. Usually it's a good thing to be on auto-pilot for routine tasks because it allows us to focus on other things.

• It's hard to improve a skill, to develop expertise, to get past the plateau, when in the autonomous (auto-pilot) stage. People who get past the plateau use strategies to stay out of the autonomous stage. They keep whatever skill they're trying to develop in the cognitive stage, under their conscious control.

STEP 1: Experts tend to operate outside of their comfort zones and study themselves failing. The best figure skaters practice the jumps that they can't land, the lesser skaters practice the ones at which they're already good. 

• Deliberate practice is, by its nature, hard.

STEP 2: Experts walk in the shoes of someone who's more competent. Chess-playing success will be greater if you study the actions of the grand masters than if playing lots of games of chess. Break apart what other experts have done  in their work.

STEP 3: Experts crave and thrive on immediate and constant feedback.

STEP 4: Experts treat what they do like a science. They collect data, they analyze data, they create theories about what does and doesn't work and they test them. They discover what their best practices are.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Successful People Struggle. Period.

This little gem is from Amy Hoy, Product Crusader at (visit the site for an explanation of her blog header art and website name.)

Commit this to memory and repeat daily!

Successful People Struggle. End of Story. And yet, there are those who kick ass anyway, who show up, who do awesome shit, and who do it all bravely against the grain — because true success is always against the grain.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

13 Points of the "Cult of Done" Manifesto

Image courtesy

Bre Pettis and Kio Stark collaborated on a 13 point manifesto, written in 20 minutes. Read it, live it.

The Cult of Done Manifesto
1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
3. There is no editing stage.
4. Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're doing even if you don't and do it.
5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
7. Once you're done you can throw it away.
8. Laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done.
9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
11. Destruction is a variant of done.
12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
13. Done is the engine of more.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

5 Highlights from Seth Godin's "Poke the Box"

Marketing and creativity expert Seth Godin's "Poke the Box" is an 84-page manifesto that encourages us to produce something scarce which is by definition, valuable.

Here are 5 excerpts among many inspirational insights in this book:

1. "Only by poking, testing, modifying and understanding can we truly own anything, truly exert our influence."

2. "We have little choice but to move beyond quality and seek remarkable, connected and new."

3. "The upside for you (and the challenge) is to find the energy and the will to challenge the mediocre."

4. "The challenge is to focus on the work, not on the fear that comes from doing the work."

5. The person who fails the most usually wins.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

9 Sterling Hundley Ideation Steps

Illustrator and painter Sterling Hundley has an informative video showing his creative process. 

Here are the 9 steps:

1. Start with text. Research.

2. Simplify the text into several words. Establish word stacks from these disparate ideas. Boil it down to several words that directly relate to the author's content.

3. Write down word associations under each word stack. Pursue tangents and even create new word stacks because this often leads to less obvious solutions.

4. Create simple icons next to your words. This is the first step in creating a visual connection to the literal associations. Keep it simple with little detail.

5. Form bridges—connections between the icons in separate word stacks, using metaphors, analogies, visual and literal associations, word play, shape, design, puns, etc.—and begin drawing.

6. Develop more complex drawings from the bridges. Juxtapose two disparate ideas into a single image.

7. Use value to fully explain shape.

8. Draw a box in correct proportions and define the composition. If an idea doesn't work in the prescribed confines, save for future use.

9. Define the method of execution as a compliment to the content solution.

Monday, May 21, 2012

5 Highlights from Seth Godin's "Linchpin"

Do you want to be successful in the new Age of Creativity? Read Seth Godin's "Linchpin" and learn how to make yourself indispensable!

These highlights don't even scratch the surface of Godin's insights. Read the entire book to get the full effect:

1. Stand out. Be remarkable.

2. "It's the art and the insight and the bravery of value creation that are rewarded."

3. Scarcity creates value.

4. Being fearless is essential for being successful in today's economy. "The linchpin feels the fear, acknowledges it, then proceeds."

5. "You must become indispensable to thrive in the new economy. The best ways to do that are to be remarkable, insightful, an artist, someone bearing gifts. To lead. The worst way is to conform and become a cog in a giant system."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Artistic Anatomy Part 5: Mouth Muscles III

The "lower" muscles of the mouth:

L. risus—laughter
origin: fascia over the cheek
insertion: skin at corner of mouth
action: pulls corner of mouth laterally causing dimples

Triangularis (Depressor anguli oris)
Of triangular shape
origin: lower margin of the mandible
insertion: skin at corner of mouth
action: pulls corner of mouth down; pulls upper lip down

Quadratus labii inferioris (Depressor labii inferioris)
L. quadratus—square-shaped + labii—of lip
origin: lower margin of mandible
insertion: skin of the lower lip
action: pulls lower lip down and out

Mentalis (Levator labii inferioris)
L. mentum—chin
origin: mental protuberance
insertion: skin at chin
action: raises skin of chin and wrinkles it; protrudes lower lip

Next in the series:
eyes, nose and mouth planes, frontal view.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Art, Life & Business Manifestos

From the 99% website.

Plus one of my favorites, the Holstee Manifesto. You can find out more about it at their website which is where I got this picture:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Artistic Anatomy Part 5: Mouth Muscles II

The "middle" section of the mouth muscles:

Caninus (Levator anguli oris)
Origin above canine tooth
origin: canine fossa
insertion: orbicularis oris; skin at corner of mouth
action: pulls corner of mouth upward; together raises lower lip

Zygomaticus major
Origin on zygomatic bone
origin: zygomatic bone in front of suture
insertion: orbicularis oris; skin at corner of mouth
action: pulls corner of mouth upward and outward

L. bucca—cheek
origin: alveolar processes of mandible
insertion: orbicularis oris; skin of the lips
action: pulls corner of mouth outward; compresses lips and cheeks

Orbicularis oris

L. orbicular—small disc + oris—of mouth
origin: fibers from the caninus, zygomaticus major and buccinator
insertion: lip-rim skin
action: closes and protrudes the mouth

Next: the muscles below the mouth.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chuck Jones Wisdom

Some knowledge I picked up from this 1975 animation special issue of Film Comment magazine:

1. Weight=Believability

2. To show surprise, connect whites of the eyes OR raise one eye OR make one eye square.

3. Be mindful of primary and secondary action.

4. Explosions—take it to its furthest point in the first frame then diminish it in the following few frames. Can also be applied to minor, less violent actions. For example, if someone's punched in the jaw, the most extreme drawing is the first one.

5. Characters are the multiplications of our own foibles. All humor is based on that fact: the recognition in others, in a multiplied form, of something that we ourselves are capable of.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Seth Godin on Getting Your S#%t Out There!

This Seth Godin article was taken from the enormously informative 99% by Behance website. Visit this site often. You won't regret it.

What are you waiting for? Stop resisting, start working and SHIP IT!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Artistic Anatomy Part 5: Mouth Muscles I

Links for the previous four parts:

The mouth muscles can be tricky so I've broken them down into three sections (above the mouth, at the mouth and below the mouth). Here's what's above the mouth:

Quadratus labii superioris 
L. quadratus—square-shaped [muscle] + labii—of lip

angular head (levator labii superioris alaeque nasi)
origin: inner margin of orbit
insertion: nasolabial furrow and ala (wing of the nose)
action: raises the ala and upper lip

infraorbital head (levator labii superioris)
origin: lower margin of orbit
insertion: nasolabial furrow
action: raises the ala and upper lip

zygomatic head (zygomaticus inferioris)
origin: zygomatic bone behind the suture
insertion: nasolabial furrow
action: raises the ala and upper lip

And all together now!

Next: the muscles around the mouth.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The ONE Blog You MUST Read!

Who's the ONE blogger that ALL creative people should be reading?

Seth Godin.

It's the Age of Creativity. It's also the age of DIY. That means you must know how to market yourself. Godin is insightful about the current marketing and new media landscape and his conclusions can be life-altering.

They were for me.

Post a comment below if you're ready to take complete control of your creative life!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Artistic Anatomy Part 4: Eye & Nose Muscles

Continuing the artistic anatomy series—frontal skull bones, brow & forehead muscles and brow & forehead planes—brings us to the eye & nose muscles:

Eye Muscles:

Orbicularis oculi
L. orbicular—small disc + oculi—of eye
origin: medial rim of orbit
insertion: lid-slit skin
action: closes the eye; pulls the skin of the brow down and medially, pulls the skin of the cheek up and medially creating "crow's feet" wrinkles

Levator palpebrae

L. palpebra—eyelid
origin: rear roof of orbit
insertion: skin of the upper lid
action: raises the upper lid

Nose Muscles:
Procerus (Pyramidalis nasi)
L. procerus—prolonged
origin: nasal bone
insertion: skin between the eyebrows
action: pulls up on the skin of the nose, down on the skin of the brows creating horizontal wrinkles across the bridge of the nose.

Nasalis (Compressor nasi)

L. nasus—nose
origin: maxilla behind the wing of the nose
insertion: cartilage of the nose
action: lowers and compresses the wing of the nose

Next step: the muscles of the mouth.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Andrew Stanton, Storytelling…AND the Greatest Story Commandment—Part 3

Continuing from Part I and Part 2 of Andrew Stanton's TED talk synopses, here are more insights and his story commandment:

12. A major threshold is passed when one matures enough to acknowledge what drives you and to take the wheel and steer it. Parents learn who their children are, the children learn who they are and the parents learn who they are.

13. That's why change is fundamental in story. If stories remain static then they die because life isn't static.

14. Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.

15. Has the story made the audience wonder what will happen next on the short-term and wonder how it will conclude in the long-term? Are there honest conflicts with truth that creates doubt in what the outcome might be?

16. Storytelling has guidelines, not hard-fast rules.

17. We're all willing to live life conditionally but if the conditions aren't met, all bets are off.

18. A strong theme always runs through every well-told story. The theme in "Lawrence of Arabia" is his attempt to figure out his place in the world. Everything in the film supports this theme.

19. The strongest element every story should have but is rarely used: the filmmaker's invoking of WONDER.

20. Use what you know, draw from it. Capture a truth from your experience. Express values you feel deep in your core.

The Greatest Story Commandment: MAKE ME CARE, emotionally, aesthetically, intellectually.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Andrew Stanton & Storytelling—Part 2

Continuing from Part I, here are some more golden nuggets of storytelling insight from Andrew Stanton's TED talk:

5. Storytelling without dialogue is the purest form of cinematic storytelling.

6. "WALL-E" confirmed for him that the audience wants to work for their meal without knowing that they're working for it. It's the storytellers job to hide the fact that you're making the audience work for their meal.

7. It's the well-organized ABSENCE of information that draws us in.

8. The Unifying Theory of 2+2: Don't give the audience 4, make them put it together. The elements you provide and the order in which they're placed is crucial to engaging the audience.

9. This isn't an exact science. Stories are inevitable if they're good but they're not predictable.

10. All well-drawn characters have a dominant, unconscious goal for which they're striving, an itch they can't scratch, a spine. Michael Corleone trying to please his father. WALL-E's was to find the beauty. Marlon's was to prevent harm. Woody's was to do what was best for his child.

11. Believes that we're born with a certain temperament, that we're wired a certain way and we have no say in it and there's no changing it. All you can do is learn to recognize it and own it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Andrew Stanton, Storytelling & the Greatest Story Commandment—Part I

Andrew Stanton of Pixar—writer of  the "Toy Story" films, Oscar winner for "Finding Nemo" and "WALL-E" and director of "John Carter"—shared his storytelling insights at a February, 2012 TED talk including "the greatest story commandment."

Before we get to the commandment, here are some of the talk's highlights:

1. Storytelling is joke-telling. It's knowing your punchline, knowing your ending, knowing that everything you say from start to finish is leading to a singular goal. Ideally it confirms some truth that deepens our understanding of who we are as human beings.

2. Stories affirm who we are. We all crave affirmation that our lives have meaning. There's no greater affirmation than connecting through stories. Stories allow us to experience the similarities among ourselves and through others, real and imagined.

3. "There isn't anyone you couldn't learn to love once you've heard their story."

4. Every good story at the beginning makes the audience a promise: that this story will lead somewhere that's worth your time. A well-told promise is like a rock pulled back in a slingshot that propels you forward through the story to the end.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Need Inspiration to Work on Your Project?

Independent animator extraordinaire Bill Plympton just started a production blog for his film "Cheatin'." If anything can motivate a filmmaker, it's the DIY approach of Plympton.

See the video here.

Would you like to see a production blog for my film,"Adult Toy Story?" Post your response!

Monday, May 7, 2012

10 Ways to Feel Great as an Artist

Courtesy of Krishna M. Sadasivam:

How to Feel Great as an Artist (Or, What to Do, Underline Any That Currently Apply)

1. Don’t compare yourself to others. Celebrate your own unique skill set and style.

Photo courtesy of

2. Share your passion with like-minded creative folks. There are plenty of artists out there who share their love for the medium, just like you. Form a group and cheer each other on.

3. Base your success on your own artist growth, tackle as many projects as possible.

4. Challenge yourself constantly to push yourself to the next level.

Photo courtesy of

5. Be confident in your knowledge and your ability to creatively problem solve.

6. Do it because you love it.

7. Follow your own vision. If you build it, they will come. (and if not, you can be happy that you accomplished something all on your own terms.)

Photo courtesy of

8. Do work because you enjoy it. Please yourself first!

9. Share your thoughts, concerns and feedback with the client / customer / gallery owner / patron. Frame your dialogue with the intent of helping your clients succeed.

10. Set realistic goals, both short term and long term. Re-evaluate and refocus your goals. Take the time to enjoy the artistic journey. -Krishna of PCWeenies

Photo courtesy of

Will you be following any of these suggestions?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

6 Character Design Resources

Before you start designing the characters for your project(s), consider reviewing these sources for guidance:

1. Great Character Designs—Tips on Creating, Monetizing and Popularizing Digital Characters
Discusses the qualities of the most enduring game characters.

Numerous interviews with character designers and examples of their work.

20 useful tips to help you in the character design process.

Tips from a manga/anime perspective.

Head design tips from Krishna M. Sadasivam, creator of the long-running web comic "PC Weenies."

John K., the creator of "Ren & Stimpy," has a blog dedicated solely to his particular approach to character design.