Schoolism LIVE Stockholm. October 3-4, 2015
Pixar's Louis Gonzales
Disney's Mike Yamada
Jason Seiler TIME, Rolling Stone, New York Times
& 2 bonus guests to be announced later.
It's going to be insane.
Here's a promocode to save some cash: CHIU
#1 - Have a Career Compass.
A lot of people when asked, will say that they have an idea of what their goal is. Maybe they want to work on a game or a movie, but they don’t have it narrowed down any further than that. Be very specific about your goals. What kind of movie do you want to work on? What kind of game? Get into the details. Once you have enough details, then you can use that goal as your ‘career compass’. Whatever moves you make, make sure that you think about your compass, and think if your next move is going to take you closer to your goal. My goal was to work on a Tim Burton movie so every job and painting I did was not based on how much it paid but instead on whether or not it was complementary to something I could see Tim Burton doing in one of his films.
The choices won’t always be crystal clear, but sometimes they are. If you get asked to work on an independent movie, and that’s your goal, then that’s super clear. But it won’t always play out like that. Just make sure that every move you make brings you closer to your goal, and aligns with your compass.
Look out for instances where you get offered a job that is simple but doesn't align with your goals. Some people will think “It won’t take long, so I’ll do it.” Those jobs are the worst! If you don't desperately need the money, don't take it. Those jobs won’t bring you towards your goal, they are merely a sidestep or even a step backwards because the time you waste on projects that don’t align with your career compass is time you could have spent on improving your art or learning something useful to get you closer to your goal.
Read the rest of the article posted on my Facebook page
5 Ways to Create Opportunities with Bobby Chiu
by Bobby Chiu & Flynn Ringrose
1 - "No" really means "Not right now."
One of the most important things I’ve learned about opportunities is that the people that receive the most, and I’m counted in this, are the people that don't take no as final. We’re okay with getting a harsh no, or a few of them. When rejection happens, learn to put a smile on your face, go back, reassess, and come back with a new approach or completely new portfolio. If you know in your heart that you are willing to take ten harsh rejections without giving up, then most likely you won't have to.
2 - Don’t sit waiting for your ship to come in.
One thing I see all the time that I think is unfortunate is that many artists wait and wait for the perfect job. Here’s my advice for that, just go and do it! Just go pretend. One of the things that helped me starting out before we did Alice in Wonderland, was pretending that we were already working on a Tim Burton film. Every project we had that was close enough, we’d try to make it complementary to what we thought would be cool in a Tim Burton movie.
You can’t just sit there saying “I wish” and “I imagine” unless you’re doing it in a way that helps you get to that destination. That’s what helped me with getting on Alice in Wonderland, thinking about it all the time, but also always working towards it.
There is something to be said about waiting for your dream job. Just don’t sit there and do nothing. I think not enough people wait for their dream job in a way. They take the first jobs that come to them that are half-decent and go with that. That’s what happened to me way back. I took a job working on a television show that I didn’t particularly like the style or quality of because I had just got out of school and that’s what they tell you you’re supposed to do. Did it help excel my career? No, it was like a sidestep, or even a backstep away from my goal. So only take jobs that move you towards your goals if you can help it.
3 - Keep learning.
You can’t settle, especially nowadays. Things change so rapidly in films, games and art. It evolves every year. So you have to adopt the idea that you’re a life-long student. Because if you’re not advancing, the world is going to advance right past you, even if you’re successful now, it’s going to be hard for you ten years from now if you don’t keep learning.
Every couple years we try to take a month or two off to do a gallery show to strengthen, improve and evolve. And right now I’m trying to gear my schedule so that I can take more courses. You know, before when we were starting Schoolism, I was able to take all the classes. Recently, because we’re doing more things, we’re traveling a lot more, it’s harder. But I gotta stick to what has gotten me to where I am which has been learning constantly. And I gotta make time and get back there.
You can’t keep drawing if you don’t stop to sharpen your pencil every once in a while.
4 - Start a landslide.
Taking opportunities leads to more opportunities. For example, how did I meet Glen Keane, my all-time artistic hero? I took an opportunity to go to Angoulême, France to set up a table at their annual comic festival. I don’t know French, but I heard it was a good opportunity, so we went. And we met these two gallery owners who are now some of our best friends. Jean-Jacques Launier, and Diane Launier. They own a gallery named Arludik. Years later, at CTN in Burbank, Jean-Jacque and Diane were there and we were there and they introduced us to Glen Keane, and then later, we did a gallery show in Paris and Glen Keane came, and we talked a little bit again, and then through opportunity again, because I knew John Carls, a producer on Rango (2011). We’d spoken a bunch of times but never worked together, but we were very cordial to each other. He was organizing a talk in Savannah, and he invited Glen Keane and I, and so I was on stage with Glen Keane and got to spend a couple days with him.
Some people, they just do their convention, or their show, and then they go home. Some people don’t make friends at school, they don’t even know their classmates names, and if there’s one way to lose out on opportunities that can change your life. That’s it.
5 - Live in a way that generates more opportunities.
The best way to make opportunities come to you is to gear your habits and your principles in a way that helps you come across more great opportunities. For example, always try to meet new people. If you’re always trying to meet new people, and that’s a principle you live by, then guaranteed, you’re going to have more opportunities.
Don’t do anything unless you think it through and it makes sense to you. If it makes sense to though, then you have to do it. Get into that mindset and promise yourself that if you know it’ll be good for you, then you’re going to do it.
Just like education. Some people might think, “Oh yeah, that would totally help me, but I don’t have the time.” Maybe because the person isn’t making enough money, but the thing is, if they had more skills, they’d make more money!
The main thing is, you gotta do the things that make sense to you. For example, our Kickstarter is almost done, and if you pledge on the Kickstarter, you’re actually going to get a better price then you would when we launch the subscriptions on Schoolism. www.kickstarter.com/projects/b… If it makes sense to pledge for education from the industry’s best for as little as $10/month, you gotta do it! It would be crazy if you don’t because these opportunities will pass you by if you keep waiting forever.
At some point, you gotta pull over so that you can sharpen your pencil, and get back in the game.
It’s our mission to bring you the latest and greatest art education we can. It is thus our pleasure to present to you this wonderful character design tutorial from Schoolism instructor, Stephen Silver! In this video, Stephen educates and inspires with his unmistakable blend of skill and panache.
Click on the link below to see how Stephen recreates King Joffrey from hit TV show, Game of Thrones in his own unique style.
Have an artist in mind you’d like to learn from? Sound off in the comments to let us know what tutorials you’d like to see in the future!
Schoolism Subscriptions: Affordable Education campaign has 3 days left and 1 more stretch goal to go on Kickstarter. To help reach this goal, any reward $100 or more will receive an additional free month in their subscription.
Number Oneis to wake up hours before your day job begins and spend that time doing your own stuff. This is very effective, but it’s difficult to keep up with because it often means you have to get up at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning and that’s especially difficult in the Winter when the Sun isn’t even up at those times!
This is great because, one, you’re beginning the day doing a hard thing which makes you feel good because you started off with something challenging. Two, when you get up hours before work and do your own art, you’ll see results, that you created something, and that makes you feel even more productive. Why give your best hours, and this is weird to say, but why give your best hours to your job? Why not give it to yourself which will in turn, benefit your job?
Number Twodon’t do emails until the afternoon. If you email them in the morning, then they might respond to you in the afternoon and you’ll have to respond to them twice in a day, instead of just once.
Number Threemake your to-do list the day before you need it. I like to write my to-do list around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon. Just go through it ahead of time to update it with what’s important now and what you’ve finished. This is important because if you come into work in the morning and you know exactly what you need to do, you’ll be more efficient. If you don’t write down the first thing to do tomorrow, that’s when you’ll stand around the water cooler talking to your friends, get a coffee, look on the internet, whatever it is. It’s hard to get momentum when you start off slow, but it’s very easy to keep momentum when you come in running. You get through so much more stuff that way.
Number Fourspend a minimum of 5% of your income back into your art. Spend this money on education for yourself, equipment, and networking. Equipment meaning a new computer, art materials, etc. Networking means going to conventions, workshops, that kind of stuff. A minimum of 5%. For me, because of Schoolism, I’ve been able to go way beyond that because I don’t need to spend money a lot of times to educate myself so I can spend money on other things such as attending events but after a while you get invited to events so you have to spend that money elsewhere and so on. As you start down your artistic path, that’s what’s going to happen to you and it’s going to get harder and harder to spend that 5% which makes it even more awesome.
Number Fivealways find room for non-urgent but important things. There are usually consequences you strive to avoid that force you to attend to super important and urgent matters in your life. Like you’re going to lose your apartment, the taxman is going to knock on your door, whatever it may be. But the things that aren’t urgent but are important, those are the things that are going to excel your life. Like maybe learning how to use ZBrush, even though you just like to paint. That’s going to help you in some way, you might not know how, but it’s just like how Steve Jobs learning typography helped him make the Apple Computer.
Stick to those five things, and you’ll notice dramatic improvement in your productivity and career if you haven’t already.
Does a routine really make a difference in your art? A lot of artists swear by only doing art when they feel like it. Do you think that’s dangerous just waiting around for inspiration?
Man, the people who are waiting around for inspiration, they’re in trouble most of the time. Especially if you’re working on a film, waiting for inspiration, and you don’t do anything all day. Then what are you going to tell the director? What are you going to tell the producer? You can’t do that! And actually, the routine helps with that because if you have a good routine, you generally won’t have bad drawing days if you just stick with that routine. The only time I experience bad drawing days is when I don’t stick with my routine.
Was there a time when you thought that you’d never need a routine?
Totally, that was part of the reason I wanted to be independent, because I wanted to do my own thing and I didn’t want people telling me what to do and when to do it. Then business started picking up, and more and more people wanted to work with us. And when you want to work on more stuff, and accomplish more things, you need to have a routine to maximize your time. If you just go by the seat of your pants, you’re not going to accomplish as much. You might accomplish more interesting things perhaps, but not as many productive things.
Just a reminder that there's only 5 days left to get a subscription to Schoolism through our kickstarter campaign for very affordable prices, as low as $10/month. Please help me spread the word! www.kickstarter.com/projects/b…
A Discussion with Bobby Chiu by Flynn Ringrose
A lot of people who email in live in circumstances or with people that don’t support their art. What do you think about that?
The first thing is families. Some people don’t have supportive families, and some are too supportive. I’m sure we all have our stories. So you want to look out for yourself and ask, “Is my environment healthy for my growth?” You want to make sure that you’re surrounding yourself with other hungry artists.
For me, in the very, very, very beginning, it was just my brother, Ben and I in our parent’s basement. That was not a good environment because I was living with my parents. Which isn’t necessarily bad, except your parents might think, “Bobby’s home, maybe he would like to take out the trash, or mow the lawn, or whatever.”
When we all started out, we were broke, so we all lived together. We began, just Thierry Lafontaine, Peter Chan, Ben, Kei Acedera, and I living in two small condos! They were packed with desks, and the best thing about that was that we were surrounded with people who loved art! There was always someone awake to carry the torch. It was a great environment where everyone else was doing what they loved and that made you want to do what you loved as well.
I talk to a lot of aspiring artists who say that they read and study endlessly, and yet don’t seem to improve. Do you think that that’s a sign that they should change the environment they’re in?
Don’t think that changing your environment is going to immediately and drastically improve your art. I do think, though that it will give you the best chance to succeed if you surround yourself with other artists who wish to excel. It’s a huge, important part of how you can reach your potential.
Here’s how I think you should go about moulding your environment to your benefit. One, get away from your family if they are stifling you in any way. Go to the library. You don’t have to leave forever, but when it’s art time, it’s art time. Go to the coffee shop, and do what you have to do.
Two, surround yourself with hungry artists, and three, look for mentors. These might be the same hungry artists. One might know all about ocean life, while another is an expert in something else, and you will all learn from each other.
I think it’s an unfortunate thing that so many artists who are so passionate about life, become so wrapped up in their studies, or worse, their frustrations, and as a result, become overly sheltered and introverted.
There are so many of us that go through a period in our lives where we’re just sort of incubating like a caterpillar in a cocoon, we’re not talking to anyone, and we’re not going out and we’re just focusing entirely on art. For me it was maybe like a year, where I wasn’t really talking to anyone and I was just studying, and working hard everyday and not even going home for Christmas. I think I was too hardcore, but I think that that played a significant part in the skills I was able to develop. That’s something that I wonder about; is that time necessary? Because a lot of great artists I know have gone through that.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that balance plays a HUGE role in your overall success and happiness in your career. Practice balance between your art and your loved ones.
For example, if you spend a lot of time with your art, but you take action, and you call your mom or your dad or whatever, even if you spend less time with them overall, that kind of attention will strengthen your relationships. And it all plays back into your art, because if your family life is miserable, then your art is going to suffer. You need balance in everything, too much of one thing is not good.
And balance changes over time. In the beginning, I was mentoring Thierry, and Peter, but now we mentor each other because we all have our own expertise. Finally though, as we grew older, we wanted to have our own lives. We all bought our own places, and we moved out.
Did you notice a change in your art after you moved?
I think so, but we needed a change in our lives. The balance you need as a baby is different than the balance you need as a 20-year old, and etcetera. So we needed to find balance again. Did our art slow down? I think that even though I am okay with my current rate of improvement, it isn’t as crazy as it was back then.
Since then, we always wanted to continue the spirit of those first days, which is where the Imaginism In-House Workshop sprung from! We bought a house and we brought in four students from around the world to live with their mentor, Thierry Lafontaine (who worked on Men in Black III with me). In the Imaginism house, it is truly, eat, breathe, sleep, and live art every day, all the time. And when you have four artists from around the world, not only are they bringing insights from their various cultures, but they are all hungry — crazy hungry. And when you’re hungry and you’re beside three other hungry people all living with your mentor, your art is going to be on hyper-drive.
The current house is in St. Julienne, Quebec. It’s the perfect place to get super intense. Now that we have that house we actually have guest artists fly out there to live with and teach those students. And it’s not that you just learn from them, but you break bread with them too. Imagine Nathan Fowkes coming to stay at your house and teaching you how to paint! We’ve had Stephen Silver out there, Wesley Burt, Myself, Kei Acedera, Thomas Fluharty, Jason Seiler, and more.
It’s a super-intense and rewarding experience, and submissions are open right now! Registration closesMay 13th. If you truly want to turn it up, and you thrive on experiences, this is for you, because everyone is transformed by the end of this — there’s no way that you can come out of this the same as you went in.
If you wanna go, just try. You never know what’s going to happen. For more information about the Imaginism In-House Workshop, click HERE
Environment Artist Nathan Fowkes is now on DA! This is one account I recommend everyone to follow.
Nathan Fowkes' film credits include:
Prince of Egypt
Legend of Puss in Boots
How to Train Your Dragon
... just to name a few
Here's a really great tutorial from Nathan Fowkes on how to paint a backlit sunset scene en plein air
Drawing Exercises: 20min Stylized Portraits from ChiuStream.
Post links to your exercises in the comments! I'll feature some of you in the next stream!
Kevin Lima is one of very few directors who has worked on both animated and live-action films. Kevin has tread an exciting journey to become the director he is today. See the interview below and find out how art inspired Kevin to go on to direct A Goofy Movie, Enchanted, Tarzan, and more!
Thanks to all of our backers who have made this triumph possible. There are 20 days left now; let’s see together, just how high we can climb!
If there are more artists you'd like for Schoolism to interview, please sound off in the comments!
10 years ago, I took on a personal mission to make art education affordable to all. I started by teaching people on the subways for free. The group was called "Bobby Chiu's Toronto Subway Sketch Group." I would do this every Sunday for 5 years straight (as long as I was in town). But after travelling extensively over those years, I realized that there are too many others that don't have access to great education.
In an ideal world it shouldn't matter where we happen to be born, how much we happen to make, or what our parents do for a living. Artists should all be able to afford the top education and we should be able to do this without taking out giant loans that take years to pay off.
On Tuesday, March 24th we launched a Kickstarter campaign to see the possibilities of lowering the price of Schoolism classes to as low as $10 per month. In 5 days we raised over $200K and it continues to grow. Check out the subscriptions yourself before they run
out. Please share this post if you'd like to support what we are doing. www.kickstarter.com/projects/b…
7 TIPS FOR THE 21-YEAR-OLD ME by Bobby Chiu
When I was a student in college working on my skills as a character designer, I’d had periods where I would sit at my desk working as hard as I could but having little to show for my efforts at the end of the day. I remember sitting there surrounded by blank pieces of paper, trying to come up with an amazing style that nobody had ever seen before. I would do one drawing and not be satisfied, so I would lay a new piece of paper over it, re-draw it with slight changes to features here and there. This would still not be good enough so I would put another piece of paper over my revision, make more minor adjustments trying to perfect this new style I was searching for.
I did this for weeks on end, tweaking and polishing over and over, working hard every day. But in the end, did I come up with a brand new style, something amazing that nobody had ever seen before?
No, unfortunately I didn’t.
And how much did I improve from this experience? Not much at all.
Spinning my wheels like this made me a little depressed and I thought to myself, “If only someone could tell me what to do to become a great artist, I would do exactly that and do it with all my heart.”
That’s what this article is about: seven key things that I would tell the 21-year-old me, which I’ve found to contribute the most to having a successful career in art.
1. “Focus, Bobby. Undisturbed focus, 90 minutes at a time.”
It’s actually really great to work intensely for short segments of time and take regular breaks. I’ve found that when I split my work into intense and focused 90-minutes sessions, not only do I have a good sense of urgency as the 90 minutes expire, but the regular breaks also give me wonderful, fresh looks at my work multiple times throughout the day.
2. “You have to practice, Bobby. There’s no way around it and there is no substitute for good, purposeful practice.”
There are many different ways to practice but I have found that practicing as a way of trying to learn has the greatest impact. What I mean by this is, I don’t practice drawing something just because it looks cool—I always have an objective in mind. What am I trying to learn?
Am I studying how an artist does a certain technique or achieves a certain look?
Am I learning muscles and other anatomy?
I didn’t practice simply how to copy what I saw but rather I practiced fully understanding what it was that I was drawing and painting to the point that I could do it out of my imagination.
If I had only practiced how to copy things, then I would have become a great copier. But by striving to understand what it was that I was referencing and trying to create something with the same essence and feeling, I worked multiple parts of my mind and skills.
3. “Embrace your routine, Bobby.”
I used to be against routines.
I used to think routines would take all the fun and excitement out of my life and lock me down. I started my own studio because I wanted to be free.
But I’ve since discovered that I looked at it all wrong.
Freedom isn’t necessarily a result of having spontaneity, it’s the result of having time.
I feel the most free when I have time to do the things that I really want to do, and the best way to have a lot of time is to be better organized. Having a great routine allows me to be more productive, which gives me more time to do the other things I love to do.
Routines are also extremely powerful for creating momentum but they only work if we make them a priority. I became better at drapery and drawing people by sketching for a few hours on the subways of Toronto every Sunday. This was part of my routine for five years and I did it consistently even if it was raining, Christmas, or my birthday. And even though subway sketching only took two or three hours every seven days, the routine helped improve my skills dramatically.
Try it yourself! Start off with something small that you know you can commit to. Do that thing consistently and you’ll quickly see the benefits of a great routine. Once you get used to it, add something new and soon you’ll have a great routine that will improve your skills and save your time.
4. “Cultivate a love for what you do, Bobby.”
As a student, I was afraid to really, truly love doing art. Some artists get too obsessed about their art, and I didn’t want to go that crazy about my work.
But what I found was that loving what I do doesn’t automatically make me crazy about it, and that’s a good thing. Loving art not only helps me get through the day, it makes me eagerly await the next day because each day is another opportunity to get better at doing what I love.
Most of us who call ourselves artists love art, but like with any relationship, we have to put in the effort in to make our love affair strong and lasting. So we should all try to cultivate our passion, enthusiasm, and love for art; these can only help us on our artistic journeys.
5. “Build a network of like-minded people, Bobby. Everything is easier when you have a group.”
I could never do as much or go as far alone as I could with a group of like-minded people.
I think part of the reason that I’ve had a successful career over the years is because I’m naturally curious about people. I love learning their stories and, in turn, making friends. In this way, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many of the artists that I look up to and admire, and today, call them my friends.
Because art is typically a solitary pursuit, many artists are naturally shy individuals, so building a network can be daunting. Nevertheless, I cannot overstate the value of having people. To get over my natural shyness, particularly when I first met my heroes, I had to consciously dig around in my mind for that little tiny piece of me that is not as shy, and expand it even if it’s just for a short period of time. I let this little piece steer the ship for a while, and that was how I got myself out there to meet interesting people or people that I didn’t know.
Think of it this way: not meeting one person doesn’t mean missing out on that one person that you could have been friends with; it means missing out on that one person and every person that that person could have introduced you to, and one of THOSE people could have been the one to give you your dream job, been your best friend, or your wife or husband.
Take every opportunity you can to get out there and talk with people, in person or online. Who knows where it will lead you.
6. “Discomfort and fear can’t hurt you, Bobby. By challenging and overcoming them, you will always continue to improve.”
I have learned to challenge challenges, to be comfortable in discomfort, and to overcome my fears. By doing so, I constantly push my limits and therefore expand my potential and possibilities. I love doing things that are challenging, even when I might not know where to even start. These are the things that I live for and they have helped me to push my limits further and further.
When I’ve been too comfortable for too long, I get unsettled. An alarm will go off in my head, compelling me to get up and do something challenging.
Comfort is one of life’s traps and many new professionals fall into it, preventing them from continuing to learn and improve every day. The moment this happens will be the exact moment that you start to fall behind.
The whole world keeps evolving and learning every day, so to stay relevant and to have the best chance at a successful career, we must continue to learn as well.
7. “Exercise your willpower, Bobby. When the mind is willing, the body has no choice but to follow.”
We are not born with willpower. As babies and children, we have to be taught (and taught and taught again) to resist urges, wait for rewards, and basically do the things we know we should do but don’t particularly want to. This challenge doesn’t end at adulthood, either. In fact, I’m sure we all know grown men and women who still have trouble resisting that extra slice of cake, hitting that snooze button one more time, or doing that uncomfortable and inconvenient thing in order to get the reward that they want.
Willpower is something that we can develop, like a muscle that we can grow and strengthen. To exercise it, do things that are challenging or which you don’t want to do but you know are good for you.
Willpower drains as we make decisions such as resisting what we want to have, waiting for a reward, or doing something we don’t want to do. For example, perhaps you can decline a piece of chocolate cake, but what if it was followed by brownies, ice cream, French fries, and potato chips?
This is why I always prefer to make will-draining decisions the night before so that the following morning, I don’t have to make ANY decisions and can just jump right to the first item on my to-do list.
Follow imaginismcanvas.tumblr.com/ for more of my articles. Thanks!
Schoolism Fall Sale has started! $100 off all Self-Taught classes. Only 2 sales a year... this is one of them. Have a wonderful Thursday! www.schoolism.com/
MONTREAL - Sept 20-21, 2014
Creating Worlds with Robert Kondo (Art Director for Toy Story 3, Ratatouille, Monsters University)
Designing with Color & Light with Nathan Fowkes (How to Train Your Dragon, The Legend of Puss in Boots, Prince of Egypt)
Color Scripts with Dice Tsutsumi (Toy Story 3, Ice Age, Horton Hears a Who, Monsters University)
Environment Design with Nathan Fowkes (How to Train Your Dragon, The Legend of Puss in Boots, Prince of Egypt)
SAN FRANCISCO - Oct 6, 2014 (Tickets go on sale Tuesday August 19, 2014)
Creating Worlds with Robert Kondo (Art Director for Toy Story 3, Ratatouille, Monsters University)
Color Scripts with Dice Tsutsumi (Toy Story 3, Ice Age, Horton Hears a Who, Monsters University)
Characters for Animated Film with Daniel Arriaga (Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, Monsters University, Wreck-It Ralph, Toy Story 3)
The Art of Story with Brenda Chapman (Brave, Prince of Egypt, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast)
Workshops coming soon...
London - Oct 11-12, 2014
Berlin - Oct 18-19, 2014
Florianopolis - Nov 8-9, 2014
Florence - Dec 16, 2014
Sign up for the Schoolism Newsletter to stay informed.
Did we miss any cities? Where else would you like to see us do a workshop in the future!
You can find us at...
Imaginism Booth - Table G6 (end of aisle 800)
Schoolism Booth - 2042
*this year we will have
-Bobby's comicon exclusive sketchbook "Creature Mix and Match",
-Pieces of Wonderland artbook,
-Art of Niko artbook