Sep 1, 2009

Inspiration Is Better Than Coffee

When I lived in Vancouver, I was lucky enough to get a decent half hour every weekday to read some books whilst I got the train into the city. I probably read more in those few months than I've read in the last 10 years! but one that really stood out to me was "Coaching the Artist Within" by Eric Maisel. I`m not going to talk about the book other than recommending it - but instead, just one of the things the author discussed that was really interesting to me.

He spoke about how we require mental energy to create our art, the same way that you would require energy to perform a physical task. If you stop and think about it for a minute, it takes an immense amount of concentration to make animation work... you literally have to think really hard around the problems you encounter, and all this thinking actually requires a form of energy other than the sustenance your brain gets from your breakfast.

Now lets just say I usually start to get very skeptical about this stuff around this point, and I don't want to sound like a $6.99 "whale songs" CD... but the truth is that inspiration is the source of this energy we need to animate well. It builds a fuel that our minds need in order to create.

So the point of this post... I've found something that is really helping me here at work is to watch the latest work movies in the morning. I get in, have some coffee and read my e-mail, then I load up all the most recent animation videos from the previous day ( and usually the lighting videos ) and I just sit back and watch them for 20 minutes or so. Now I know in the back of my mind that I'm deliberately doing something to build inspiration, and I notice that for the first few minutes, but then a start experiencing the stuff, and seeing how bloody amazing it is... and it really does build an eagerness to get to work and continue on my shots. Its good fun!, and a great way to start the work day on a whole variety of levels. If I don't do this.. its like I'm starting to work on a very difficult task with the same groggy brain I drove down the motorway with... I'm still thinking about some unimportant e-mail I have to write... I end up having to build inspiration from my own acheivments as I work through my shot, which is obvioulsy a much harder and slower process.

What I'm suggesting is to find something very literal that you can use for inspiration every day. I'm the same way in that the sounds of the city, or the smells of the breeze in the morning can inspire me to want to create - but I can't count on things like this.. they come and go. If you have a means to watch the most recent work of your colleagues, that's a great and very black and white thing you can do to build inspiration. If not, try reading a chapter from an animation book each morning ( Walt Stanchfield anyone? ) or finding a website that has consistent good animation to watch, or maybe get a bunch of DVDs of movies you like and watch 15 minutes every morning just to get the creativity moving around in your early morning mind. The key of course is for it to be something consistent, that you can rely on, that you do every day.

27 comments:

GhettoFab said...

now if I could talk you into posting every day I would have all the inspiration I need and then some.... :)

Inspiring stuff Cam

Phil Willis said...

I'll check out "Coaching the Artist Within" - but man it has an ugly cover. ;)

Thanks for the inspiration.

@b said...

very very well said Cameron.

Coffee gets the physical body(not always though!) going, but if our mind is not inspired, nothing will work!

I am a huge fan of blogs and combine it with rss, I get my daily/hourly dose of inspirations stuff by many amazing people(like FLIP!) who have made BLOGS so much fun and useful to read !

Cheers!

Carl Campbell said...

Great advice, Cam'! I love to wonder over to my workmates' cubicles for a little while each morning just to check out what they're working on, even if it's something completely unrelated to animation like FX or Art assets.
Getting and eyeload of cool stuff really puts me in the mood for 'adding to the pile' so to speak.

mattanimation said...

Very true, I find myself inspired to animate much more after I have been browsing others' short films on youtube or seeing clips from the 11 second Club. Thanks for the post!

bartok said...

as GhettoFab said, if you could post more we would have more inspiration.
Really good stuff on this blog.
Thanks
:B

Jac Hamman said...

Great post and I whole-heartedly agree about the Walt Stanchfield books... I'm halfway with the first volume and only read a couple pages each day and it's like a shot in the arm, helping me brush off complacency and procrastination which tend to collect rather easily. Blogs work too (keep cranking out the posts) and so do movies (District 9, too many nice).
I'll have a look into that book you suggested.

Huseyin said...

That's cool advice I think This is really important motivation. When I come to office in the morning I can't sit to animate my shots because of without inspiration.

Jamaal Bradley said...

good words.. stay inspired

-JB

JR said...

Watching animation on my Ipod, while
I'm on my way to work is the best for me. It really is a good advice!

Animator Trav said...

Well put, Cameron! Now if penciltestdepot.com would give me 20 minutes of material each morning, I'd be set!

Anonymous said...

I love this site! Thank you sooo much for all your posts!

Delanimo said...

It's like every time I visit your site, you've always got some excellent material prepared, whether it's in the form of crucial topics that can benefit every animator, in my opinion, or your AMAZING work that lends itself to inspiration.

Don't know how many times I can say thank you before it started to get played out ;) but thanks man! You've made and are still making a huge impact on my animation career.

As they say in Jamaica, "Nuff Respeck, yeheeer!" Translation - "You are greatly respected!" lol

Anonymous said...

quite interesting article. I would love to follow you on twitter.

Lance E Nelson said...

I have been reading your blogs just recently and the information you have contained in them is quite the eye opener to me. I am actually still a student and finding inspiration to simply carry on is hard to find.
Thank you for the advice it has helped me already.

Anonymous said...

Hi, as you can see this is my first post here.
Hope to receive some assistance from you if I will have any quesitons.
Thanks in advance and good luck! :)

Jeffrey Cheung said...

Just saw How To Train Your Dragon.
Great work!

rakesh said...

hi cameron,
first of all thanks for this kickass blog.Now, my little sixpence.Its perfectly true what you talk about needing mental energy for creating art. But I believe what you cite as inspiration is second hand source. I believe that true inspiration, like you mentioned inpassing, comes from the air we breathe and the nature around us. Personally, nothing fires the artist in me more than getting up early in the morning and having a nice perspiring jog in the open air, and if possible, followed by an hour of sketching outdoors. True, great films and works always inspire me but they in no way compare to that. there is so much creative energy vibrating in the air around us and we spend our lives ignoring that.

regards

Anonymous said...

Hello

It is my first time here. I just wanted to say hi!

俊達 said...

your son/daughter is so cute............................................................

Anonymous said...

Great post, I'd add though that I need coffee to get my brain in gear but without the inspiration it remains unfocused; still unproductive, just at 4 times the speed.

I have started watching VFX movies new and old in the morning instead of (or sometimes as well as)late at night, giving me the kick I need to get going.

Came across your blog looking for some character anim reels and your's is up there with the best, look forward to more posts.

Animator Trav said...

Great post, Cameron! Thanks!

Aidanicus said...

I still find 'animFood' from your downloads section helpful and inspiring.

rastkos said...

I read this post a while ago. I ran into it again and it just rang the bell.

krishnan Neelakantan said...

its really works...good post...

krishnan Neelakantan said...

its really works...good post...

Siar said...

I agree with you that "inspiration is the source of this energy we need to animate well. It builds a fuel that our minds need in order to create." I may try my best to get "inspiration".

flipbook maker