Thursday, 26 April 2012

the problem with blogging

well, not just blogging in particular. I mean more specifically microblogging: the stuff like facebook, twitter and tumblr that makes it easy and accessible to share pictures, thoughts and, "neat stuff I found on the internet".

I use both tumblr and facebook to stick my artwork on it and lately I have been having some thoughts. They don't make me necessarilly uneasy but they have made me fundamentally question my working practice.

Within my circle of art school peers and teachers, most people will readily accept that internet presence is a good thing: helpful for keeping a record of your work, displaying it to potential employers, expanding your audience and very hopefully meeting like minded individuals. And if you can do it cross platform (by using more than one social networking site), even better! It's just expanding your chances of the aforementioned good things occurring.

but I wonder, I wonder...

don't get me wrong, I think putting your stuff online is a must do and really good for you in these digital times (especially when you're doing digital artwork and have no physical master copy) and beneficial in a lot of ways. I am also mindful that what I am about to write about is not necessarilly relevant to anyone apart from me and certainly don't put down the idea of using the internet to its fullest capabilities, if you feel that's what works for you.

what I question is the rewards based system that accompanies sites like facebook and tumblr: the effective, "like" and "share" hierarchy that exists. I am victim to feeling proud when something I have posted on tumblr receives a lot of notes. the thing is, that more often than not these notes are meaningless to me.

how much validation is it if somebody who reblogs tens of pictures an hour reblogs yours? particularly if it's only done to impress others? why do you need validation?

this then of course leads to the inevitable question of whether I am indeed drawing and uploading content for the sheer joy of it anymore, or whether part of it is to do with keeping up appearances. ("but what about my audience? they'll miss me! or worse, they'll think I'm lazy...")

not that I'm implying that I think this every time I upload something, but the little thrill one feels when a note pops up saying, "so and so has liked this" does make me wonder.

it filters into normal life as well, particularly via facebook. How often do we post a picture, a status with the knowledge that it will get a lot of, well... 'likes'? Sure, it's not in the forefront of our minds but the idea is definitely there. And what does a, 'like' even mean?
Well, I suppose it means somebody likes what we do. But why do we need that? And isn't the clicking of a button on a website a very hollow validation? Certainly moreso than leaving comments; even then, on websites where comments are the only way you can express an opinion through comments (youtube I'm looking at you) they often just say, "cool" with little more added.

my main, personal problem with this is that it really reduces the human experience (I'm not talking about social networking as a whole: I think it's useful and an incredible lifeline to a lot of people, notwithstanding the wonders of being able to talk to people across the world! my problem is with the, "like and share" culture that accompanies it)

isn't a pat on the shoulder and a, "good job!" much better. or even no words at all, just wry smiles. a proud feeling in a room where your work might be on display even if nobody is directly saying anything about it?

I just wonder, that's all.

sitting still

image from the wonderful cabinporn
after much thought (most everything I do is after much thought) I feel that really, most definitely, the skill I would like to have above all others would be the ability to just sit

very calmly

with or without a cup of tea

and not judge myself at all or think about how I could do anything better

I don't think I have ever, at any point in my life, learned to appreciate my work/my surroundings/me in an effective way!

I think it says volumes that the thought of learning about this terrifies me far more than any work based/job prospect related issues I can think about. what an exciting challenge to overcome!

Monday, 23 April 2012


from Ami Lindholm's fantastic Anxiety/Relief
most likely reason you can't find information on anything: you're not looking hard enough. I humbly apologise to Finland for any comments about how, "there's just not anything here!!" I was a fool. a lazy fool who really, really didn't want to sit in front of a computer doing a research project.

but oh how things have changed!

Tuhru are a great animation/illustration/design collective and all fantastically talented ladies. Check out the link above of Ami Lindholm's Anxiety/Relief, a witty animated diary about the creative process. grand!

and I've found some more good stuff, but more on that later!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

FINNISH ANIMATION: general research

just a bit of general noodling about on my research on Finnish animation (which is purely, ashamedly through that wonderful digital resource we call the world wide webs)

Finnanimation is pretty interesting. a non profit association, it has a comprehensive list of all the Finnish animation production companies that have joined it as members (it's also supported by the Finnish Minister for Education and Culture, which makes it pretty official).

a worthwhile nugget: the president for Animation Magazine visited the country in 2009 and wrote an article here

also, Nick Dorra has some interesting animation stuff on his blog (although it hasn't been updated since 2011, the article on the Finnish animation environment is especially interesting)

some excerpts:

The studios are doing well, the Finnish animation sector in general is growing at a good pace. Animation contributes 32% of the Finnish audiovisual exports (survey 2011 by FAVEX)

(so while I don't necessarily know much Finnish animation, it seems to be doing pretty well! it might not be as burgeoning as say, Belgian animation but it's certainly not in a complete drought)

The financial environment is that of a small European country. This means that there is a limited national audience (5 million inhabitants), forcing producers to seek out coproduction options. Like elsewhere in the Nordic countries, programmes are subtitled, not dubbed, which makes for easy intertanional transactions.

The Finnish Film Foundation supports short and feature films reasonably well, but takes a much more reserved role with TV projects (usually only helping to finance development and a trailer or pilot). The Centre for Audiovisual Arts (AVEK) supports small scale demo projects tailored to the new media / transmedia niche. TEKES, “The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation” also supports some projects, especially with a more technological focus.

The film investment business in Finland is quite unevolved. However there have been some recent developments and one interesting player to look at is Mediatonic.
Interesting stuff! so there's some funding there and it's doing okay. I'm going to have to noodle around more (something I'm interested in is whether, as in certain schools, continents or countries there's a definite, 'flavour' of animation)

work with what you got

Socalled is an interesting fella (according to his website a pianist, composer, producer, puppetmaker and cartoonist amongst a plethora of other things). And also the subject of a documentary!

I like this song about doing what you can with what you have (the video is pretty neat too, as little sense as it makes it's a lot of fun and the animations over the top are cute). I've realised I'm into multidisciplinarianism: those people who break out into one or more fields and make their own job description.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


from Marjut Rimminem's 'Stain', 1991
currently I'm scouring finnish animation, looking for notable names, companies and what the er, 'scene' over there is.

Marjut Rimminen lives in London and is, "the most famous Finnish animator" (I glimpsed somewhere I can't remember that talked about Finnish animation as an incredibly niche thing and perhaps Marjut's emigration to London at the age of 30 is evidence of this: though that was a long time ago and I need to do some more investigation).

I suppose the fact that she is a notable player in European animation and I had not even heard of her says something: and it's not just me. Although Many Happy Returns is beautiful and eerily done it has a disappointingly paltry amount of youtube views (that said, I'm sure there's plenty of master animators in Europe and more eastern stretches that suffer the same problem). But she works in a variety of different ways, always with these beautiful gritty textures and more subdued colours. 

And of her recent foray into picture books she says:

"After all the years of painstaking stop-frame animation I have discovered the pleasure of making picture books. Instead of shooting hundreds of frames as in animation, I only need to get one shot of the scene for telling the story."

That's an interesting thing to think about! Is it worth the pain of stop motion, or can you tell the story in a series of beautifully lit, purposefully posed still pictures?

She works now giving animation masterclasses and was the animation consultant for this strange little idea (which I'm very curious about!) I think I need to look into this more.

if you want to work on your art, work on your life

Illustrator and adventurer Keri Smith (link in the sidebar!) is one of my favourites and says things useful to any creative person. she talks about creating things by utilising that notorious fear we all have (when we're starting a new sketchbook/project, when we get a little lost...) and using everything around you as an inspiration for art.

wow. lotsa good things on her website and blog about freelancing, making and living life as well as you can... what a lady!

and although they're a few years old now, I love her Wish Jar Tales, articles about creative living.

and a personal favourite excerpt (from the article your life IS your art):

"You cannot create art without a source, but the nature of what makes a good source is sometimes illusive to the maker.  Look to your daily life.  The things you do every day without thinking.  A walk in your neighborhood.  A phone conversation.   Your childhood obsessions.  A new purse.  The normal parts.  The "boring" parts.  Your favourite cup.  A hole in your shoe.  What's in your knapsack.  What you ate for lunch.  Include the ugly parts which we often discard as sources. The mess on your desk.  A painful childhood memory.  A nagging fear.  A terrible fight.  A death.  Use these as elements in your opus.    Write them down.  Paint them out.  transform them.  change their meaning.  It is all worthy of documenting.  Your view of the world is unique.  people will respond to your work when it is honest.  even though you might not see the beauty there.  sometimes that is better.  just get it out.  start by talking about what you did yesterday.  actually, just start."