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Does a Tree try to be Something Else? The Role of Outside Influences on the Inside Expression of Art.

As an artist, it’s always been a little challenging to tap into doing something creatively completely without any thought of what else has been done, what people are used to, or what they seem to like. ( I learned early that drawing Elton John for girls I wanted to know better was good. Even though I didn’t really like Elton John).

I started out wanting to do comic strips. As a kid I studied the strips of old and current, and tried to replicate it. ( I remember the first thing an old book said about making comic strips was “ask the syndicate what size they like to work in.”) Already, you are structuring it for a market. When I became a freelance illustrator, I had clients, art directors, editors, etc always giving me imput. When I started animating, I still saw what was being shown at edgy animation festivals, and that had an influence on my early films. But I still practiced much more autonomy.

But in the back of your mind is that little businessman/woman saying ” that won’t make any money” ( Wait, that was my fathers’ quote about art in general). Or the ego saying “Please like me”, “Don’t you think my art makes me special? I want to be special”.

In my years of creating animated shows that were produced for televison and streaming, even though I had a lot of freedom, there was always input from networks. Standards, brand consistency, budget issues. etc.

But You also want to respect and feel gratitude that a company is willing to put up millions of dollars for your odd little strange idea, and believe in it. Even though I stood up for my vision, I always knew that they owned the show.( But I used to say to Nickelodeon “Trust me, this show will still be making you money 20 years from now”. I was right about that, but not right about a lot of other things.

Now with recent directives on developing a series including ‘ We only do shows now that are designed to sell toys, or ‘that are about and/or are done by specific ethnicities” my artistic spirit is screaming to get out. ( and don’t get me wrong, I’m totally behind doors opening where they may have been closed before).

So as an artist, how often do you sit down and say ” I’m going to do whatever I want.”, meditating to remove any thoughts that lead to “my fans like this, the networks like this, I sell more of these, etc. I know there are several artists who can do that and I respect that so much.

So now I’m doing that. We are moving into a quiet farmhouse where my studio will be a converted horse stable. The house is paid for, we have very little bills. It’s a crazy place to be. But it’s really where art wants to be.

You don’t say to a spruce tree, “Could you be a sequoia because tourists really like sequoias”. A spruce does best at being a spruce.

3 Responses

  1. Expressing yourself through your past personal experiences while making room for concepts so important like freedom is what enjoy the most about reading your posts.

    You are a great storyteller at different levels; and when we know you describe your own story and how you manage to present life in a great variety of forms and through all kind of topics, it just adds more depth to it.

    I’ve started to see you as the main character of your movie. It may sound silly and obvious, but I cannot think of a lot of people that lead me to see them that way. You are inspiring. Also: draw Clam.

    Haha, have a great weekend, Joe!

  2. Thank you Rino. I guess we are all the main characters of our movie. But also connected to something much bigger. Thank you for
    your note. I will try and work in a drawing of Clam!

  3. I’m not trying to be mean, but you still haven’t answered my crossover question, sure I don’t mind if you don’t do crossovers in Let’s Go Luna, but still, it would be cool to see Winx Club, Lolirock, nor Pikwik Pack in Let’s Go Luna, and maybe Martha Speaks.

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