Monday, December 7, 2015

Post CTN 2015 and Does Anyone Remember...?

Well, CTN 2015 is over. It was a bit of a whirlwind this year...which is probably telling in that I am just now realizing it's over and writing this blog post about it.

Day One - Thursday
Our plane down to Burbank left very early on Thursday morning. Raul and I were able to check into our hotel room shortly after arrival which was nice. Then instead of the normal OA Day festivities, we opted to check out the La Brea Tar Pits. What can I say? I promised the man prehistoric dead things. Veronica and Desiree (Lovely ladies I work with) came with us and introduced us to Korean BBQ. When back at the Marriott we went over to the Main Hall, got our badges and started setting up. We sat between Meg Park and Brynn Metheney at T123 - and they were great neighbors. :)

Day Two - Friday
We finished setting up and the Hall opened at 12.30. Traffic was noticeably higher than it was the year prior and the air conditioning was a blessing. I talked to many amazing people - I think I might have been the only Stop Motion person with a table. I wasn't selling anything again, but I hope I can in 2016. Raul sold out of sketchbooks. He sold prints and a few sculptures too. We both collected emails for our newsletters - to keep everyone updated of progress and when new things became available. I didn't buy as much this year. I think this may be due to the fact that many people I regularly bought from decided to go to Designer Con this year - unfortunately the same weekend.

Day Three - Saturday
I got out and attended a panel that fellow Laikan Toby Froud gave on bringing puppets to life. He had puppets from his short Lessons Learned with him and they were absolutely gorgeous. It was a fantastic talk and I got the chance to chat more with him later that day when he was walking around the hall and passed my table. I was unfortunately not able to attend the Laika panel that Brian, Steve and Georgina gave. I spent time at the fire pits that evening to catch up with OA friends.

Day Four - Sunday
This day was calmer in comparison to the last two, which was nice because we almost lost our voices. The hall closed a bit earlier and while we were packing up they had champagne (which neither Raul or I drank) and cake (which both Raul and I ate). The disappointment of this day was that we could not immediately renew our table for next year. I like having things in place as soon as I can so that was a bit irritating. We had dinner with our friends Katherine and Owen which was great since we hadn't seen much of them since moving away.

Day Five - Monday
We flew back early that morning and picked up Tito from the vet/boarding. He seemed happy to see us in the waiting room. But as soon as we got him in the car he started in on us - barking incessantly until we all went to sleep that night. He even refused french fries! Unfortunately since then he's been sick. I don't think we'll board him again. Raul and I followed up with as many people as we could that day and napped intermittently.

It's such a rush - we're already stoked for this next year!! :D

So...straight up, does anyone remember fondly those holiday specials that come on year after year?
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town?
The Year Without a Santa Claus?
Jack Frost?

They were my favorite. I didn't even know it was Christmas most of the time until I saw those. (They seem to show them earlier and earlier each year) Until I was running around singing at the top of my lungs about how people called me Heat Miser. I was too much. Those were the days.

Rankin and Bass made many movies (Not all in stop motion - fans of The Last Unicorn or the animated Hobbit?) and shows (ThunderCats GO!) but the most influential to me where those stop motion features. I was always in awe of the magic in them.

So now that the holidays are in full swing, I'll be relaxing with my buddy Nostalgia as I watch those specials again - trying to say Burgermeister Meisterburger as fast as I can. 

Happy Holidays everyone!! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Surviving the Holidays

So pretty soon here we'll be in Holiday season once more. I know nobody likes thinking about it - especially this early - but what happens when it's the middle of November and a big deadline is looming and you've been so distracted with planning planes tickets home for Thanksgiving that you forget that your book needs to be at the printers last week?


Well, the best way I know of avoiding this scenario is planning ahead and setting boundaries.

The biggest part of planning ahead for me is knowing that I will be less productive during this season. Colder winter weather always brings me down, so I anticipate a few more free hours than normal just keeping positive. I do this by hanging out with friends more, by allowing myself more time on tasks and by just having some ME Time.

I make it a point NOT to work on holidays, like any other job. This more or less solves my problems for the second point - setting boundaries. Since I avoid working on holidays this lets me hang out when others also have more time off. (Of course this is easier said than done sometimes)

That's all nice sounding, but what happens when you're already THERE? When it's already the 11th hour and stuff needs to start magically getting done??

This my friends, is when we prioritize and out source.

First apologize to everyone around you. Next, look at the things you need to do or have done first. Focus on one thing at a time to decrease the overwhelm. Shut off Facebook and Twitter. You don't need to be reminded about everyone else having a great time skiing when printers are waiting.
If it's something you don't need to do - consider asking for help. There is absolutely no shame in collaborating or admitting you are human. Be reasonable. If it's a MASSIVE thing, scale it back into something that is manageable. Quality over quantity is a real thing. I know I'd rather see one awesome thing than a wave of boring, badly constructed things.

Lastly, don't hurt yourself for "failing." Failure is a good thing - refer to my PD1 audition on Youtube - you learn a lot more from it than from what you do right. Ask questions and have an extra sugar cookie - because YOU are going to keep doing awesome things. :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Wanderlust: Gathering Inspiration & Reference while Traveling

Sometimes a thorough house cleaning isn't enough to get those creative juices flowing. About every five years or so I get an itch - the travel bug!

2007: I head to Japan with my camera and a blank journal. Man, do I wish that I had taken more pictures. I do, however, bring home many brochures from the places I went.

2010: I venture to New Zealand again armed with camera, blank journal, and rolls of tape. You can never take enough pictures. And it also helped budgeting to save receipts along with train ticket stubs.

Moral of the Story: Always bring a camera and extra batteries/charger. Also recommended is a blank journal or a sketchbook to take notes, scribble, etc. If you like doing this digitally - remember your charger! You never know what will inspire or aid in your next project, so start building your visual library now!! 

Who else has felt the itch of the travel bug? How do you appease it? How do you plan for trips and how do you save those memories?

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Life of Cut Paper

In which I ponder = coherently or not = the connections and nuances of my favorite art forms:

When I think about stop motion animation as a type of performance art, I am of course going to starting drawing some interesting comparisons: Various forms of Japanese theater influenced OniSan, including the puppet-based Bunraku.

Bunraku dates back to the late 1600s - in Osaka - and is a combination of musicians, chanters and puppeteers. That's not too far off of how we consume stop motion today - with a soundtrack, voice actor narration and animators.

Of course we see everyone on stage during a Bunraku performance, but to varying degrees we ignore their presence. For the Boxtrolls end titles we get to see Travis Knight animating in lightening speed as the characters wax philosophical about the nature of freewill - the reverse of the original intent to keep the puppeteers hidden.

Bunraku puppets utilize three actors that must be in perfect coordination for the performance. Some stop motion puppets can be acted by several different animators - but they all have to work together to make that character believable as one person.

The puppets themselves in Bunraku can be very simple and very elaborate. Some of my favorites are those beautiful ladies that have face mechanisms which reveal them to be scary demons. A particularly interesting trick they use on many female heads is a pin on the corner of their mouth - so they can bite their sleeve.

Stop motion puppets are getting more and more advanced, with tricks like Neil's belly-mover in ParaNorman or the watch-like facial mechanics in Corpse Bride. I was very impressed with the glow of the Boxtrolls' eyes - when you snap the faceplate off it breaks the circuit and the eyes dim, but when you snap the faceplate back on the circuit completes and Ta Da! Glowing eyes!!

What other connections do you see? How do your favorite mediums compare or contrast? 

Monday, June 8, 2015

End of 2nd Quarter: Never Too Late To Start Something

My host father told me that it takes 9 repetitions of a new word for a child to understand it, while it takes 36 repetitions of the same word for an adult to comprehend. At least, I think that’s what he said. My Japanese wasn’t great at the time. But what I understood from this was that it is far easier to learn new things when you are young than when you are older.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn new things or that you shouldn’t try to learn new things when you’re older. It’s just more challenging. And I applaud those who take that challenge.

I’ve passed a quarter century now and there are times when I feel old. Just typing out quarter century makes me feel it. It’s easy to forget how young that really is when all around you your peers start settling down and having kids. Kids who are your little brother’s age and younger are getting hired in management above you and trying to explain to you how to use the new iPhone. There it is again, that feeling of being ancient. I wish that could mean I could apply to assisted living. I would love some assistance with my chores.

But that feeling doesn’t mean you’re behind, that you haven’t accomplished anything. Even if you only have one major breakthrough each year - that’s only what 25? Year one you learned to sit up. That’s big. Year two and you can talk. MASSIVE. Those years keep passing and seem shorter since 1 year out of 6 takes ages but 1 out of 12 flies, by 24 you start forgetting people’s birthdays and leaving your keys in the fridge, so finishing one painting comes just as monumental. Did this painting finally make sense of light and color for you? That’s like learning to talk. WAY TO GO!! Seriously. I am super proud of you! Didn’t reach a goal? Don’t give up, just gain some perspective and try again. Watch this video: Now watch it again. You’re welcome.

So. Do you feel like you’re too old to start a new project? To pursue your dream? Just because the year’s half gone? Give yourself permission to change the thought from I can’t, maybe later to I CAN AND NOW!

What do you want to start? What do you want to learn?

Monday, May 11, 2015

OAnniversary: Moving Right Along

It was this month, two years ago now, that I reached a pretty serious low in terms of my creative life. I had been graduated from school for a year so of course the loans were in full force, transitioning from one job to another - neither within my field and no way into the field I wanted to be in, I didn’t have many friends and what friends I had I was struggling to keep, and my family was two states away - as much as I wanted to move home I couldn’t, mainly because my room was already taken. This put me into a compulsive loop. I could not get past the first 8 pages of anything before starting over. Again and again until I just didn’t care to do it anymore. I went to work, I came home and I went to bed. My brain just went numb.

It was this month, two years ago now, that I was introduced to Chris Oatley’s podcasts. I hadn’t really been into podcasts before then, and I suddenly found them essential to working efficiently during my day shifts. Suddenly I was inspired to think of my approach differently. Suddenly I found the passion to start pushing forward again. It was announced that a new course was opening, The Magic Box. It was crazy reasonable in terms of price, but I was still a bit hesitant. I had also heard about Painting Drama. Which should I start with?

I messaged Chris and asked him, doubting that I would hear back anytime soon. He was after all a very busy man. But the very next morning a message sat in my inbox - assuring me that there would be more Painting Drama offerings and recommending starting with Magic Box. So I was one of the first to sign up when it opened.

In the first month of lessons I learned more than 1 year of computer illustration classes at the college I attended. I went to Denver Comic Con and met Chris in person and I connected with other OA students in the area - even went on a field trip to the DAM. Two months later I was on a steep upwards climb, energized by the other passionate students around me, all over the world, encouraged by everyone. I got critique that I could actually use. It was like I sat up and turned on a lamp. A few months after that I auditioned for Painting Drama and leveled up my compositional skills. Almost two years later and I’ve exhibited at CTN, made huge progress on my passion project, and left the miserable gray cube for a position at Laika.

I know right?!? Sometimes I pinch myself because it feels so surreal.

I just want to thank my OA family for having my back, for taking me seriously, for lifting me up and keeping me amply supplied with crazy cute animal pictures. And thank you Chris for being an amazing mentor, teacher, and overall fantastic person. I am working on a MOVIE and I wouldn't be here without you guys!! 

Raul will be leaving Denver towards the end of this month to join me here in Portland. We are both very excited for this new chapter in our life - and to see what adventures await for us. :) 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sketch Dump!

Time just keeps slipping this calls for a sketch dump! These are some of the ideas and such that I've been playing around with for the beginning of this year:

Settling in fine to Oregon life. Working very hard at the new job, but trying to have some fun too. It's a world of unexpected craziness and bizarre inspiration that's for sure. Anxiously awaiting the rest of my furniture and supplies - which should be here towards the end of next month when the lease there ends...especially looking forward to the return of the bed. Missing friends and loved ones, but I should be seeing them before too long. :) 

Monday, March 9, 2015

End of 1st Quarter: Spring Cleaning

A Monday Sunbonnet Sue...Baking.

This March 14-15th please join Raul at the Fossils & Flight Founders Symposium presented by the Western Interior Paleontological Society. It will be at the Green Center at the Colorado School of Mines, Golden. There will be all kinds of displays and lectures about dinosaurs, etc. Raul will have a booth and even be selling some pretty awesome stuff!! I can't make it unfortunately - but Raul will pass on all the hugs. :)

Spring at this point is more of a state of mind than an actual season in Colorado. More accurately it’s known as “Mush” since it can’t decide if winter is over or if road construction can start yet. This “Mush”-y feeling certainly inspires me to clean things…

  1. Whistle While You Work: I try to work as tidy as I can - which isn’t very tidy I suppose considering the materials I use - but after each project I’ll clear off my workspace, put reference books back on the shelf, sharpen pencils before placing them in their respective slots, clean off the whiteboard, re-pin the styrofoam, replace the paper on the top of my desk, quick inventories so I can refill depleted items, switch out wallpapers on my laptop and bravely seek out the dirty dishes on Raul’s desk. (I don’t clean his whole desk mind you; I just do search and rescue for glasses, plates and forks - might as well if I’m doing the same for my desk) This will prevent me from early procrastination on my next project, so I’m not pondering messes while trying to brainstorm ideas for characters or waiting around when I’ve run out of col-erase pencils. At least once a year I do this to the whole apartment - sometimes I find more art supplies hiding away that I forgot!

  1. Meditative Approach: Sometimes projects are emotionally draining which can be good and bad. I need time between projects so I can “detox” from the last subject to engage the next one with the same enthusiasm. This can range from a few days of relaxing (Read sleeping) to a week of “do-anything-else-but” activities - like traveling to visit friends and family, hiking, trying a new restaurant, giving the chihuahua a bath, holiday traditions, etc. Too much time spent away makes me feel equally “Mush”-y, so balance is key.

What are some ways that you participate in the spring clean?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Creative Couples: Balancing Work and Family, an Insight into Creative Living

Just Married by Ânia

As a creator it’s important to have the support of your family and friends. To have those you can bounce ideas off of, to comfort and encourage you when a pitch goes wrong or another rejection letter shows up, to keep you grounded and still returning your mother’s calls in a timely manner.  

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, one might wonder about that particular brand of relationship - how it can work with or work against being a creative. So the fabulous Ânia Marcos and I pondered a few questions with our Circles of Trust, to explore the various shades in which a significant other might add color to a creative’s life. No creative is the same, so our relationships are equally as diverse, but we did start seeing common threads.
Clarice and Silvio by Beki

Idea One: Where and when did you meet? How long have you been together? What are your professions and pursuits?

Ânia: Luis and I met at a punk concert! That was around 8 years ago, while I was in high school and he in University. We got together 4 months later (after he did the hand stand on my skateboard, got me chocolates, pancakes and made puppy eyes).
He’s a brilliant software engineer while I’m a designer and artist at the company we both founded, after getting out from University, 4-5 years ago. We’ve been working together ever since, and though it’s not an easy pie, we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Beki: Raul and I met in art school. It was a small school, so it seemed like everybody dated everybody. (Potentially disastrous in hindsight; My mother was hoping I’d fall for an Engineer like my father) We’ve been together over 3 years and recently got engaged. We were in the same major (Illustration) so we had several classes together in the beginning and all of our classes together at the end. While we have many of the same skill sets, we have very different strengths and career goals. He is a Paleo Artist and Creature Designer with an interest in collectable toys - currently employed as a Concept Artist/Illustrator at a video game company. I am a Character Designer and Puppet Fabricator with an interest in costumes/fashion - currently open to opportunities and building my own business.

Immediately we saw an interesting distinction between “dual creatives” (Two creatives in a couple - defining someone as “creative” for being professionally or pursuing a career in a creative field) and “singular creatives” (One “creative” in a couple). While dual creatives weren’t uncommon, singular creatives pairing with Engineers or IT seemed most common. Notable dual creatives include: Sarah Marino and Shane Richardson, Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying, Brian and Wendy Froud.

On Two Wheels by Ânia

Idea Two: What does your support system look like? In terms of balancing careers? Compromising? Sharing your passion and finding mutual interests?

Ânia: Eeeer…. Well, we have the same career goals, since we started our own company: Make Games. The difference is he wishes to code them and I want to do concepts for them. And even though he LOVES sci-fi and I LOVE medieval themes, we both make an effort to understand each other. We work GREAT as a team and are super used to working together - as long as he does not try to give me feedback on my art (I’ll explain later).
Compromise-wise… well… I started watching Big Bang and listen to his infinite mumble about the galaxy, his physic theories and how AWESOME that code is and in return he takes me to watch animated movies and listens to my rambles about how that scene was gorgeous and how well thought that composition was. Yup. OH and he gets me cake sometimes.

Beki: It’s been an epic balance for us since we’re both very ambitious. We more or less take turns or try to do things that will ultimately benefit us both. Example: I stayed in Colorado after graduating so that he could gain experience in a studio, which has given me time to further develop my skills and refine my goals. This Spring we’re moving to Portland so I have a shot at studio work and he has some time to do more personal work. We both do events like CTN-X since it applies to both of us.
It’s great that he’s a fellow creative because I never have to explain why I’m up so late working. Chances are good he’s up too. lol When I rant about storytelling he’s on the same page or adding fuel to the fire. We overlap interests in weird places - like our Asian interior decor - and seem to be very flexible in terms of what movies or music we’ll consume together and separately.
Sometimes it feels like the biggest compromises aren’t necessarily creatively linked. Since we both have deadlines we’ll let dishes sit a bit too long, or the laundry. I feel like these are normal couples issues?

We found this could be a sticking point for many creatives. Not necessarily in terms of interest or compromise, but in terms of understanding and communicating the passion for being creative.
While a few of us found our partners to be very supportive, regardless of them being a creative or not, a good number of us also needed an outside net - our Circles Of Trust - to feel “secure” in our artistic pursuits.
Belladonna from Which Witch by Beki

Idea Three: Are you able to collaborate with your significant other? Would you prefer to or not? What does that process look like? Can you ask/accept critique?

Ânia: Doesn’t matter what project we’re working on, if the talk is about logistics and the best way to act, then we’re a GREAT team.
When it’s art time for me, I just shoo him away - seriously, the guy uses his logical brain to see the weirdest, most unimportant stuff. “Hey, does this scene work for you?” - me, while showing him a sketch. “Hmm, the painting sucks you know? So weird. And where’s the colour?” - Yup. It’s like that. Don’t get me wrong, he TRIES. Same way as when he asks me to see how WELL that thing works and I just stated “that looks disgusting, I did NOT design it that way! - “MY POINT IS THAT IT WORKS, ANIA!”...I now learned how to see his work, and he learned to nod and smile/stay quiet.

In short: I resort to my Circle of Trust for critique when my art is in-the-making, BUT always ask for his opinion when I’m done, since his eye ALWAYS gets something. Nit picky Luís…I love that guy.

Beki: We haven’t collaborated much in the past. We have very different styles, speeds and preferences, so we’re more likely to just focus on our own things. We’re trying to do more together, playing to each others’ skills (The ones we don’t share, like knowledge of Zbrush to make face plates for puppets or business/marketing for launching new products) and so far we’re enjoying it.
Critique was an issue. Back in school Raul got a lot of flack for giving me critique, so he would just keep quiet. It took about 2 years to break that habit. As with any other disagreement we have to approach it with the right attitude: choose our words/tone carefully and not posture defensively/offensively. We have to step outside of our relationship. Which is hard because of the next point.

We realized this is universal and probably a fundamental relationship/communication issue that needed consideration on a case by case basis. Some people work really well together. Some people don’t, so it’s not a sign of a “failed relationship” when you can’t get on the same page for a project.

Idea Four: How do you separate work from personal life? What challenges and benefits are there to being a creative or living with a creative?

Ânia: It’s hard to completely separate them, especially when you run a business together. We enjoy talking about our next moves and organize our schedules at dinner, but we also learned that we need our own space. We’re together 24/7 and our work is essentially at the desk, so I send him on his bike rides with his friends and make sure he has some time with them, while I try and make time for my friends too.

Sometimes it’s SUPER hard; even if Luís is an awesome person and supports me however he can and I try and give him and us as much space as needed, when work stress is strong, it is doubled.

If a big deal of a business goes down, our personal work is postponed yet again or a client is a butthead, we both lose it at the same time. If he’s down, I’m down and we bring each other down even if we try not to. It’s really hard to get over something like that. This was a very serious problem before I met art friends and got my other job at the Oatley Academy. Since now I have another job I have to worry about and a personal project - I’m currently working on an illustrated book with two other art friends! YAAAY! - my attention get divided between all of this and I get out of the rabbit hole way faster.

When we’re on tight deadlines he works like a crazy man and I barely see him - besides the office. Like, we get home at 8pm, he showers while I cook dinner, he eats and then disappears into the void (the void being the home-office). On those days I magically wake up around 5 am to pick him up from his desk or the extra bed we have in there.
Then I get ready and go to the office while he sleeps a bit (I’m unable to work that late, so I rather wake up earlier and head out).
Fortunately we usually have our holy Friday night, which consists of watching a movie or a series at home while eating something we WANT. It’s super relaxing and we have one rule: no phones, no computers, no internet for a few hours. And one day of the weekend is booked for us - unless we have group hangouts or family stuff.

Beki: Simply put, we don’t. Our workspace is currently our dining/living room so it all spills over - no separation of space! I’m drawing on the couch watching Netflix (I spread out and get messy - opposite of how I am outside of art???) and he’s sitting at his desk listening to Podcasts. (He’s super stationary and tidy - opposite of how he is outside of art???) This is a typical evening. I imagine some people might find this incredibly lonely.
Even though I have him right there for immediate feedback, I do still need my COT within Oatley Academy. I’ve always been the person with a few good friends - so sometimes I rely a little too much on those few. I realize that can potentially strain those relationships. When I open it up - still being mindful as to quality - my perspective is that much more enriched.
It’s great sharing all of our supplies and making trips to craft stores a regular thing, but sometimes I do wish we had a more structured time set aside for relaxing together. Even when we’re watching movies we’re sitting there analyzing color, accuracy, composition, narrative structure, etc. We can’t turn it off, but then it also doesn’t bother us. It’s easier I think when we have separated spaces - like our old apartment had a dining room separate from our workspace which was separate from our living room. It was easier to focus and disengage when necessary.

This was another point where we saw differences, but many similarities again. The idea of having an outside Circle of Trust also came back up as a positive way to create a “buffer.” Separating your creative/business space from general living space also seemed to help - sometimes you have to physically remove yourself from an area of stress to relieve the stress and not bring it with you to another area.

Merry Christmas by Ânia

Idea Five: Can you remember the best/worst moment you both had with you career pursuit? Be it a critique or a situation, does anything come to mind?

Ânia: Maybe one of the toughest was this time when he was super flooded with work (I usually do my part and then pass it on to him. His part takes a bit longer than mine, so it’s not unusual for me to be waiting on him) and the company was not going well at all. The ambience between us got super thick and heavy. The stress kept building up and we were both super aggressive to each other, even if we didn’t realize it. It was bad. Really bad. I can’t remember how we got over that time honestly, more than half of it was deleted by my brain. But we’re just glad it’s in the past.

The best would probably be when we get together to have our game brainstorm ideas and explore the possibilities and come up with plans. Super exciting, we have tons of fun all the time with those!! Can’t wait to actually have them out there!!!

Beki: For me the worst was during school, when we were first starting to date. We had a grad class together and the crits were generally horrifying. People seemed to enjoy ripping into Raul for no good reason. Nobody ever commented on my work or when pressed would just say “that’s nice.” Equally frustrating. Once Raul tried to give me some feedback, but this group of girls pounced on him saying he was being especially harsh. So Raul never gave me another crit for the rest of the term. Even when I asked he couldn’t - they had him convinced he was being a jerk. I couldn’t get them to leave him alone either. I got discouraged. That stuck to me for almost a year post art school - beyond the almost 2 years it took to get him critiquing me again. I am very glad to say that’s behind us now.
Best moments...I always like to think those are still to come. Recently, our experience at CTN-X sharing a booth was fantastic. It was very encouraging and energizing. Can’t wait to do it again this year! :)

We found it helpful and insightful to reflect on direct positives and negatives. The retrospective let us problem solve on a larger scale, let us see “issue” areas where we can ease future disagreements and boost each other into a positive mindset.
La Belle et La Bete Sketches by Beki

Idea Six: Any piece of advice you’d like to give to our readers?

Ânia: Don‘t let stress eat you alive. If your work is mainly at the desk, do some sport, try and eat as healthy as you can and give each other the space you need. Log off from the technologies from time to time too. When you two are together, then let it be just you two. Don’t let tweets and Facebook notifications ruin your moment.

Beki: I agree with Ânia - definitely take care of yourself!
I’m also going to advocate for therapy. I know some people don’t like the idea or feed into the stigma, but it’s given me MANY tools to communicate better with all my relationships and in my art too. It makes all the difference between “I feel stuck and unhappy and I don’t know how to fix it” and “I feel empowered to make the changes necessary to get my point across.” Like any other skill, it just takes practice and patience.
Fred: Just pick up your pencil and put it to paper. Anything that happens after that is success. Just keep picking up your pencil.

Lise: One: Keep at it. Don't give up, continue to push yourself and you'll get there. Two: Join the Oatley Academy, even if you're not a digital artist the community there is Amazing, and you learn so much more than things that only apply to digital mediums! You'll meet people who are dedicated to becoming better artists and that will cheer on everyone else in the process as well. Three: keep an Achievement Book. A small notebook where you write in your achievements, ALL and ANY achievements. It doesn't have to be huge, it could be that you actually dared to remove the spider that somehow found it's way inside your home even though you are terrified of them. It could be that you finished a piece and felt good about it. That you managed to give someone else a critique that they found helpful. That you kept on working on your art even though you felt like crap and just wanted to throw it away. Eventually it comes to a point that some of the challenges you struggled with earlier aren't a problem anymore.

Angela: Being in a relationship doesn't mean you always have to agree or like the same things. Patience, empathy, and understanding can open the doors to new connections you never would have thought you could make, enriching your relationship in ways you probably never would have planned on!