Thursday, November 17, 2011

Diving into the Talent Pool

Nov. 17th - Calgary Airport, 6am local

At the airport waiting to board, on my way to the Creative Talent Network Animation Expo (CTNX) in Burbank. I've had a few anxious moments looking forward to attending again, getting excited for the panels and workshops, hanging out with my friends, and meeting new people. I'm very tired because I only slept for about 30 minutes so I'm hoping I'll zonk out during the flight. Everyone else at the gate seems so alert...even babies! Don't know what's up with that! We all had to wake up at ass-o'clock in order to all be here at this moment in time, didn't we??! At any rate, I have my trusty earplugs and eyemask and I already feel myself zoning. Sleep en route to Phoenix (2.5hrs) to my connecting flight and then another nap after I check into the hotel. That's my plan!

...I remember going to Phoenix Comic Con with Noah when he was 9 weeks old...It was the first time we flew with him. The family next to me right now have a wee one and they were just talking about Hawaii/Oahu/Honolulu. We went there, too, with Noah. (Along with a zillion other places in his first year of life!) Just being in the airport solo make me realize how much traveling we did with him. It's been really hard, but it's also a huge accomplishment and I don't resent it. I also don't wish to carry on with this lifestyle...

...Part of ditching convention life is having an alternate plan for income. I'm hopeful the CTNX will be an answer to that. I am going to enjoy myself, and listen to workshops, and network my face off! I'm not going to stress about finding work. Work will come. I feel a great push within me. I knew my art was strong before...but now there's a drive and a desire and even an increased ability propelling me, compelling me, forward.

Phoenix Airport, 10am local   (I totally slept on the Phoenix flight! Hazah!)

I need to remind myself that many, many well-knowns of the animation industry have taken notice of me so far. Nickelodeon, Mattel, my one-on-one with Eric Goldberg in Ottawa, Blue Sky Studios in NY (NYCC), repeatedly! Bobby Beck, founder and CEO of Animation Mentor, who's become such a huge friend and force in my life. But if I simply remind myself of how we met..."there it is" again! Michel Gagne, Rob Corley and the Bancroft Brothers, Paul Dini, Joe Moshier, Scott Morse! ...I do think it's time I have an honest conversation with myself, so that I take myself a little more seriously heading into this spectacular weekend.

     "Laurie! Where to begin?! You are plenty talented! Your abilites are truly a gift! And in following your strengths, you're already living such a blessed and extraordinary life! This is your dream. GO AFTER IT! LIVE IT! Remember Blue Sky, Scott Morse, Eric freakin' Goldberg! You already have what it takes. In order to take it to the next level, you need a studio atmosphere. You need to submerse yourself in a richly creative surrounding and be challenged by equally (*wink wink*) talented people. I know you're afraid of not being able to keep pace, but you simply won't know until you get there how much the right environment will SPARK you! It will happen, I promise you! Just look at that "Monster Fashion" piece you just completed. That is on par with Imaginism Studios and you know it! AND you did it all traditionally! DAMN! TAKE CREDIT!"

     "Now. Let that sink in."

     "Too fast. Take another moment. Let it reeeeaaally sink in. (pause) You are sought after. You are complimented at every turn. People -- INDUSTRY people -- are impressed by your work. Share it. Make more of it. By any means possible."

     "Have a great time at CTNX this weekend! Squeeze every bit out of it that you can, or want! Enjoy yourself, and BE yourself! Because you're pretty KICK-ASS, and not just in your art, btw! Your mind has the power to blow other minds. If that ain't talent, I don't know what is! It's time that you admit that you owe it to yourself and the world of animation (not to mention the vast population who will forever seek to be entertained!) to just take that plunge and jump into the freakin' talent pool already!"

...Jump into the talent pool?!...YES, ABSOLUTELY! I intend to CANNONBALL that be-otch!

     "And that, my friend, is what people want to see outta you!"

Thanks! I think so, too! ..."Why just the other day I was having a conversation with myself about you..."*

     "YES! This is exactly what I'm talking about! You just go ahead and be YOU! 'Cause ain't nobody else in this world can do it for you!"

Loud and clear, coach! ...I am pretty kick-ass, aren't I?!

     "That's what I said! An' I don't says sumthin' unless I means it!"

Dually noted! ;D Seems all that's left now (I mean after this weekend and taking in all that I'm meant to take in) is to come up with a solid plan.

     "Well, where do you want to go with this? Into the industry, and relocate your family? Or stay freelancing and have that flexibility to raise Noah in these early years and watch him grow?"

I'm not sure yet. Ideally? A bit of both. Can't I do short-term, freelance stints working in the industry for feature studios, a la my good friend Michel Gagne? Must it be all-or-none? Can't I have my cake and eat it, too?!

     "Well, I for one don't see the point of having cake if you can't eat it!"

My sentiments exactly!

     "Besides, who ever said you can't have it all?!"

??!? ...Uhmm, PEOPLE DO!! They say it all the time! "You can't have your cake and eat it, too," that's what they say! It's ingrained in us so much it's become a staple expression of the english language!!!

     "LAURIE! Focus! Don't dismiss what you've accomplished here and regress back to square one. And don't you dare let others tell you what you can and can't do. Evah."

     "So, let others have their cake and not eat it. If that's what they want to live by, that's their call! "...Only WHO can prevent forest fires?...You have selected 'you', referring to 'me'...That is incorrect...The correct answer is: only YOU can prevent forest fires!"** ...Get my point?!

"Ayecarumba!" Yah! Got it! ...Touche, smart-ass!

Touchdown Burbank, 11:45am local

*"Lady and the Tramp" reference

**"The Simpson's" reference

Monday, November 7, 2011

Office Space

I have been M.I.A. for far too long.

I had a baby a year and a half ago. He is the most amazing thing I've ever created, but with that has come the biggest life-adjustment I will ever experience. In addition to becoming a full-fledged family, my husband, our child, and I have continued to travel the convention circuit for the last 18 months.

It has been grueling and near impossible to sketch at shows, especially as my kid became increasingly mobile. So for our last handful of con appearances this summer & fall, we opted to leave the little guy at home with family, which has been just as challenging. It has definitely come with mixed emotions, as to be expected. It has been difficult getting my head in the game when my heart is at home (awww!), but I inevitably hit my stride at each convention -- and then some! -- as now, more than ever, do I have the deep understanding of the value of my time and how much I can actually accomplish when my efforts are concentrated.

For 2012, my husband and I are discussing a restructure to our convention travel schedule and with that comes a restructure to everything else. I am extremely happy to report that we have acquired office space outside of our home, and though it has only been 1 week, it has been the welcome change that we have been seeking! Having worked from a home-based studio for the last near-decade, and having lived -- and worked! -- amidst major home-renos (not just the baby proofing kind, but YES, ceiling-to-floor baby proofing as well!), finally having that separation between work and family is reflecting itself already! We're into a new and refreshing routine!

Many of you have commissioned me at shows and some of those pieces are still outstanding. For that, I offer you my deepest apologies, and thank you for your continued patience. I hope that I have your understanding. I have never "not delivered" on a commission even if the wait has been long, and in those instances I have always poured much more additional time and effort into a piece due to the long wait so as to never leave a fan unsatisfied. ...My would-be consolation prize!

In the meantime, many have inquired about commissions via my website, and eventually -- once all of the back-orders have been fulfilled -- I will open up the request line there, too!

As for now, in an effort to get back into the forefront, I am happily settling into my new nest, new routine, new business model! I have one more trip to take this month, so I will post freely for the next few weeks before settling into a more regular blog routine.

"Thank You!" to the many, many great people and fans I've met out there over the months and years! More "Laurie B!" is on the way! ;D