Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cold and Productive

For those of you still out there, I weave what is to me a tale of brevity. Painting justly the last semester is impossible on a canvas this small. The following I offer is but a sketch; I hope it may provide some picture of the months that inspired it.

It is Friday the 13th, in January of 2012. I live now in the time of oppressive cold, where bodies roam radiating a white aura of winter breath. Wrapping up the final days of break, I prepare for what's ahead with a look at what's behind.

Surviving the sensationalized, consecutive attacks of the hurricane, the earthquake, and the big financial protest, I'd love to pretend I'm a season veteran of disaster. In al honesty you probably had a clearer picture of whichever of these events you followed from the comfort of your living room. Pratt is an island, isolated from the influx of media excitements. Both the people that make it up and by extension the entity itself are too specifically concerned to worry too much about disasters and economics.

For a brief time I moved on to my second internship. Augenblick Studios kindly invited me to intern for their production, Ugly Americans, to which I happily obliged. Nicely framed posters of productions I grew up adoring covered walls straight from some edgy version of a 1930's Disney studio decor. Deer heads and German old world style bar paraphernalia mingled with wooden desk caves lit by soft green incandescent lamps. Collectable toys, bookshelves filled to the brim with inspiration, and animators who will for years to come put me to shame surrounded me. Apparently I had stepped into some awesome and warped cartoon version of a retro reality. Friday afternoon progress screenings were aided by beer, pizza, and the contagious energy of people who love what they do. After learning more in a few weeks of actual hands on experience than any class at Pratt, I was forced by scheduling into an early retirement. The balancing act of 18 credits, working on a film, being an RA, maintaining a social life, and the internship finally came crashing down. I decided Augenblick would be around later, and said adieu for now.

Sell the trip to some friends, cram into a bus full of strangers, and set sail for somewhere more rural. This was the plan and execution of my second annual trip to Pratt's free leadership weekend. Past the blur of concrete are trees, hills, and eventually, a 30 foot high zip-line. A game of bumper boats accompanied the ropes course in what turned out to be a silly and stress relieving weekend. It also marked one of the last hangouts with my dear friend Conor, whose Boston house I visited this summer, and who is now taking some time off from Pratt.

The rumors about New Jersey are mostly true, and it seems to have rightfully usurped many serious contenders for most made fun of state. The exception to this lies off of exit zero. Cape May New Jersey is another gem of surrealism hidden in this northern landscape. Detailed balconies of festively painted wood surround charming beach houses straight from an idealized brochure. This comparison is apropos, seeing as how it is said to be the oldest resort town in the country. My friend Francesca was kind enough to allow me a visit to her charming, seaside village. Bicycles criss-cross streets containing family owned restaurants catty-corner to salt water taffy. Airy pastels speckle the buildings in a landscape with an air of sea salt and the song of crashing waves. The overzealous beach swarms to consume the forest, leaving canopies of trees rising from hills of conquering sand. Thank you Francesca for a marvelous escape.

December marked the end of the long anticipated duck project. Despite my overflowing urge to show off my hard work to all my lovely blog followers, I would be disqualified form a variety of competitions for posting the project online. I await the return of my friend Billy from long Island and the score for the film he will be bringing with him, then I will be submitting to all the free and cheap animation festivals I can get my grubby hands on.

Animation Show of Shows, a Process to Completion lecture with Alan Foreman, A Sesame Street lecture, email correspondence with recently graduated/successful students, and upcoming lunch conversations with several animators mark my clumsy but persistent attempts at networking. I will also be taking my films to the monthly screenings and critiques hosted by the East Coast's animation guild. Hopefully I wont have to decide whether its who you know or what you know.

I now have a tumblr!! This means I will be posting my comics, doodles, animated segments, and sketches! Please follow, checkup, see what i'm up inside the sketchbook:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Story Continues...

Roosevelt Island is like a dip into the Truman Show. A still-aired floating piece of suburbia is fenced by the towering skyscrapers and scurrying life of upper Manhattan. Streets lined with oddly organized structures are strolled at a mid-American tempo light years from the pace across the river. More than just the unremarkable simplicity of the place stood out to me. Something eerie and plastic seemed to hide the island's true face, like a sea creature lurking just beneath the surface of the Hudson. Peaceful, bizarre, and distinctly distant from my typical city environment, it was enough to inspire talks of taking in some different sights this Summer. My friend Conor who accompanied me into this Twilight Zone suggested I come home with him to Boston as the next stop on my adventurous path. The plan was in motion, friends were gathered, and a few weeks later, we set sail to Boston.

Lying outside the city of Boston is the most quintessentially American neighborhood I have ever encountered. Wood paneled houses sit atop green rolling hills on streets canopied by leafy trees and a sense of history. Immaculately clean lawns and gardens are speckled by the shade of the ancient trees, and I honestly wouldn't have been surprised to see apple pie on the windowsill under the American flag. The insincerity of most suburbs must have to do in part with their cheap attempt at imitation of a neighborhood like this. A park perched high on a hill revealed a layered clearing of hills for miles until the city of Boston poked through the cradle of foliage. Exhausting the daytime entertainment in my friend's hometown, it was on to the city. Boston itself was charming and clean, a red bricked and well preserved piece of American city. Wholesomeness only gets you so far, and as much as I enjoyed the pristine environment, I missed the wild unpredictability and unbridled raw energy one feels in New York. I looked in vein for a drunken man in a peacock costume or the spontaneous invitation to a BBQ on a rooftop in the projects. Finishing up our time in Massachusetts, we were led through the dark maze of houses until the neighborhood disappeared into forest paths, and the paths disappeared into a cave of trees. Finally we emerged onto campfire, and enjoyed out last night away from NYC.

Classy Jazz festivals on Governor's Island provide a chance to dress up and mingle with like minded Jazz enthusiast.

Summer is when the city opens its jaws and swallows you into the belly of free festivities uniquely available in the brief sliver of nice weather. The Brooklyn Bridge 50 yards behind me, the shimmering lights over lower Manhattan to the right, and the statue of liberty just beyond the screen, the city queued up Ghostbusters on the outdoor movie. It was not a bad way to see this cult classic for the first time. I returned to Brooklyn Bridge Park a few days later to kayak in the East river and enjoy the stunning sights of NYC from the water. The scale of the city never ceases to shrink me.
Purchased last Winter Break, my six flags season pass works at any park around the country for the next year. It took little convincing to aim a car full of my friends at the nearby Six Flags great adventure park. Leaving the city behind we embrace New Jersey state line. It lives up to its cheesy reputation with reflective metallic diners that resemble a regurgitation of some 1950's space series. Laughably tasteless, our choice of restaurant allows us some fun at the predictable quality of interstate side cuisine. Crossing into the cornfields and rustic rural features of Pennsylvania, we concluded a great day of rides that helped us forget we weren’t children anymore. Our hospitable friend Nicole lodges us for the night as we rejuvenate for the trains back home.

Blasts from the past show up to NYC in the form of two former high school teachers. The reunion of Frisco High School faculty and alumni included myself, my friend Marly who attends Marymount Manhattan, and briefly, Hannah. Historically inclined, the bar tour encompasses several of the most significant spots in the city’s cultural lifetime. A surreal clash of my old and new worlds dissolved student-teacher lines into friendship. Exciting and unusual, the night left me with amazement at my former teacher’s stamina, and a new found respect for the partying abilities of the people I once deemed old enough to call “Mr.” and “Mrs.”

My friend and fellow RA, Liam, assistant coordinated Pratt’s Pre-College program. Besides the substantial payment and satisfactory managerial power given to the position, there is the remaining theme park account. Students in the Pre-College program are chaperoned through a number of NYC’s attractions, including Coney Island’s freshly built Luna Park. Luckily for us, high school students visiting the city for the first time fancy themselves far too cool to take advantage of the activities already purchased by their parent’s money. Scattering back to their respective homes, the kids left behind a great deal of Luna Park credits. Thus, we felt charged with the task of keeping this cash from going to waste. Friends were gathered; A few hours and roughly 700 dollars later, we headed to the beach to enjoy Coney Island’s weekly Friday night fireworks. Rides, souvenirs, drinks, food, and games were topped of by the indulgent glee of hot, bright flashes of light and sound. Exploding over the night-darkened ocean, the smoky remains drifted in eerie waves from the beach towards the neon amusement park. Clouds of smoke slithered through the century old structures creating an image of haunting beauty. The camera phone picture does little justice to the ghostly atmosphere, but I thought I’d show it anyway. After all this, Liam still had around 600 remaining to spend. I’ll be applying for this job next year…

RA training brought a new generation of friends and experiences. Receiving the disappointing news that this year’s camp lacked a lake, I had low expectations for our retreat. What I found instead was a forest ripped from mythology. Slender, rain darkened trees rose from the carpet of moss and disappeared in the thick fog a few layers beyond. Speckled with warm shades of newts, the forest floor was alive with friendly creatures and vibrant vegetation. New friends and old grew closer as we journeyed the quiet majesty of the rainy wilderness. Mysterious, serpentine paths revealed valleys and peaks, stair-casing waterfalls and long forgotten clearings. Oh, and I guess we did some learning too.
Back to school means back to sorting the influx of house party invitations. It means accompanying hoards of art school kids to Brooklyn rooftops to shake the foundations of brownstone buildings into wee hours of the morning. I’ll attend until the weather gets cold and the work picks up; then its back to our caves to hide from the elements as we hammer out our artwork in dimly lit interiors.

Catching wind of the spiciest curry in all the five boroughs, we set off to face the challenge. Ten of us boarded the subway, eight competitors and two spectators, anxiety building as we neared the legendary phaal dish. The price for failure had ranged from tabletop vomiting, to nose bleeds and ambulance calls. Victory over the flaming meteorite of meat and sauce would earn you a certificate of recognition, a spot on the mostly vacant wall of fame, and eternal glory as a “curry monster.” Equipping ourselves with mango lassis, naan, and all the determination we would muster, we were given a verbal disclaimer and 30minutes to complete the dish. Exploding in skin dissolving heat, the looks around the table went from excited to grave. Tears of pain and laughter, raised voices and the most fun kind of excruciating pain characterized the next half hour. Despite the spice-induced numbness the spread from my mouth down through my hands, I found my downfall was the massive portions of food. I shouldn’t have eaten that huge burrito for lunch a few short hours prior… Stubbornly exploring all possible strategies, I finally had to throw in the towel when I learned I would be disqualified if I attempted to vomit and continue eating. Although I am not personally a curry monster, I witnessed five of my friend’s induction into the phaal challenge hall of fame.
I conclude this entry, which has been long in the making, from my friends Long Island vacation home. As I write to you now, I peer out bay windows, past a balconied wooden porch, down a tangled, infinite mixture of flora bursting from a steep hill, and into the peace of the Long Island Sound 200 or so yards beyond. Saturday afternoon, we loaded a car to capacity, and headed out to enjoy the long weekend. The last few days have been filled with the grey-blue peace of a sophisticated northeastern beach.

I stand ready and eager to face the challenges of the next year. Life has proven action packed, difficult, and fulfilling. I’m having the time of my life, but keep in mind: If you are reading this, chances are I miss you dearly.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Devoured by the Flames of Summer

I couldn't sleep one day, so I watched the birth of the roaring sun.

New friends means new trouble to get into. Summer has become synonymous with intensity: intensity of events, intensity of heat in unairconditioned buildings, intensity of plans I make and things I can't plan for.

In the summer, we ride bikes through traffic to parks. We sit near rivers that overlook some of the world's most famous buildings.

This is what my school looks like in these days

And this is what protest looks like. Pratt refuses to hire union workers, so they inflate rats. Meanwhile, us irreverent art students take pictures and laugh.

Weddings introduce me to St. Louis and fine midwestern dining.

Receptions are held in houses that have touched the century mark.

I've even time to stop by the Church of Scientology for a spiritual tour. Funny stuff.

Careful with Pratt cats, they're not all friendly...

My Summer animation is under control but moving slowly. A separate blog is in progress to document my process for those of you interested. My internship continues to be educational and fulfilling. Seeing projects you've worked on broadcasted on national television is surreal.

Care to see me in a magazine article? Read Up:

Do I look like somebody famous? Hopefully I will someday. Stay tuned for more excitement and adventure, at!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Since you have last checked on me, some interesting things have happened...

Those of you who have noticed my absence from the blistering Texas heat will be happy to know that i didn't get abducted, I am staying the summer here in New York. I am a summer RA in my space for next fall.

I have an internship this summer working for a show called superjail on cartoon network, at a studio called Titmouse.

I got into Wallabout film festival for my first semester animation final. It was really exciting to be next to a host of amazing films from all over the world.

I won for a student leadership award for quiet influence from Pratt (quiet assumedly meaning subtle not literally quiet).

A Pratt magazine called the gateway, which is sent out to tens of thousands of readers, has chosen me as their student spotlight for the June issue.

This summer has yielded relaxation with friends, trips to flee markets, and plans for road trips in and around the NYC area.

I apologize for the brevity of this message, but I haven't been in the mood for descriptive writing lately, which is why it took me so long to write another post. Just wanted to keep all of you who care about me informed on the goings on in my life.

Here are some pictures from lately:

Over spring break, some friends came to visit...this is us at the Metropolitan Museum of art

Here are me and three of my friends, we walked around campus like this, and got a surprisingly amount of confused stares considering all the things that go down at art school.

My friend Lauren from Frisco High went to college in NYC too, and she wanted to go to the top of the empire state before she moved to California.

Hopefully my creative spark for describing my life will return. For now all my creative energy is being poured into exhaustive research for a sumer animation I am planning.
With love from New York,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Into the Icy Voyage

New York greeted me with a flurry of snow that has since been piled in human height stacks in the corners of Brooklyn’s streets. At first, I welcomed the blustery wonderland as I watched the world disappear into a swirling haze of white from my 12th story window. But winter is a relentless old broad, and she beats on me with weekly sheets of sleet and ice that made me regret even my earliest affections for frozen precipitation. What didn’t help winter’s case was my nearly two week encounter with death in the form of the black plague, aka some mutated flu monster. Throughout the congestion, aches, fevers, fatigues, piles of mucus, and less dignified stomach issues I continued to kid myself about the symptoms and force myself to class, retroactively diagnosing myself with flu. Needless to say I am ready for some warmer weather that is still months away.

In RA training we have an event called “behind closed doors.” This event requires new RAs to confront various pre-staged rooms as they travel the floors of a residence hall. Inside they find older RAs acting as residents in a number of confrontation scenarios. The idea is to condition the newbies to appropriately handle tough situations. It has also become somewhat of an opportunity for the older RAs to have some fun at the new people’s expense. As the new, terrified RAs tremble at the notion of handling a party room, or a pot bust, the older RAs are likely inside planning to make it as difficult as possible. With some experience now under my belt, I savored the opportunity to be on the fun side of this exercise. In the party room, I played a belligerent drunk and fled the room at top speed when the RAs in training arrived. In the pot room, I was an incoherent stoner who forgot all my information and gave a fake name. It was a fun opportunity to give back to the system that had once teased me.

Taking advantage of the largest city in America, I have partaken in a variety of fun and uniquely New York adventures, despite my increasingly crushing schedule. 5 dollars got me into a famous comedy club known as the Upright Citizens Brigade for a highly unusual but exceedingly hilarious night. Spare time and weekends have provided the opportunity for the endless exploration of diverse NYC cuisine. I have discovered a charming and affordable Cuban restaurant near Pratt as well as a newfound love for Indian food available throughout the city. Amongst Brooklyn’s expansive and mostly abandoned ruins of what once was a navy yard Jared (my roommate) and I made quite a discovery. A late night walk through the lifeless streets framed by the cracked windows and age damaged crumbling stone skeletons of buildings revealed an illuminating light at the end of a hidden street. Glowing, pristinely new letters read, “Steiner Studios.” A bit of research uncovered that it is the largest studio in the world outside of Los Angeles, and only about 3 blocks from Pratt. After a bit of over-the-phone truth stretching about our position at our school, a few friends and I got invited on a private tour of the studios. We saw the sets for the upcoming movie Men in Black 3, and the currently on air television shows: Boardwalk Empire, and Damages. Our tour of the expansive studios had to take place early in the day because the projects were shooting that afternoon.

The Palm Room of Brooklyn Botanical Gardens hosted what I anticipated to be a prom-like event known as Pratt Night Out. Since tickets where only $10, I was curious to see what an art school dance had in store. Turns out: better food, more people I like, a whole lot more dancing, (all of it ridiculous in the best way possible). Hors d'oeuvres, dubstep (aka weird robot music), and a lot of laid back fun combined with an excuse to dress up is a recipe for a pretty good night.

An extra-curricular side project to produce a contest-quality animation is under way by the team of Jared, Colin Kelly, and myself. Taking our project on as professionals, my classmates and I have visited the Museum of Modern Art for notes on visual style, researched films and animations, and sought the reviewing eye of the head of the animation department. Quite a lot of discussion, a loose script, and working models of the character designs have resulted from our work thus far. I anticipate it will be the greatest thing I have ever animated in my short career, and a quality above most student level animations. Details to come as the project develops.

Also, I learned to knit, it’s pretty cool.

Look closely at this one....
Hope all is well down south =)