June 23rd, 2021

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Curation and Creativity: Work In Progress

I’m going to chat for a minute about some of our work in progress at Animation Resources…

Curation

The other day, I was talking with a friend about what was important about what we do at the Animation Archive, and he said that the collection was the most important thing. We’ve amassed a huge archive of digitized films and scanned artwork. But I disagreed. Google search has a massive collection too, as does archive.org. The thing that sets us apart is CURATION.

You can have all the treasures in the world, but if you aren’t putting them into context, they’re just specimens in jars of formaldehyde sitting on a dusty shelf. Great objects exist all over. Museums and warehouses are full of them. The trick is to put them to use for a purpose. That takes a deeper understanding. With every Reference Pack and article we share with our followers, Animation Resources is encouraging and supporting our members to engage in that sort of self study and application of principles.

Creative Process

The job of Animation Resources is to bring “the good stuff” to working artists, so they can analyze it, process it, and apply the fundamentals they uncover to their own work. Learning to be creative is a process like any other constructive process, but a lot of artists have never stopped to think of how they go about it. I was chatting with a great artist about this once, and he swore up and down that creativity couldn’t be learned, either you have it or you don’t. I started listing off the ways that you foster and develop creativity. As I listed them, he replied, “I do that.” “I do that.” “I do that.” He thought he had been born creative, but he was actually born doing the things that make a person creative. He was working to become more creative without even knowing it.

Curation is a similar process. Part of it is straightforward research. That’s the easy part. There are lots of librarians and historians who can catalog and document. It’s easy to look at the surface and say, “Disney made ‘Brave Little Tailor’ in 1938.” but that is just a statement of fact, not real understanding. The more difficult and intuitive part of research is discerning the connections between things that reveal the universal truth beneath. Yeah, I know… that sounds “hippy-dippy” and I apologize for that. But it’s the easiest way to describe it. The products of human creativity have cultural differences, and technique is dependent on technology. This makes them all look different. However once you dig beneath the surface, you start to see the invisible connections that make up the way humanity thinks, feels and creates. There are patterns that we all follow. If you want to be an artist, you may express those patterns and choices without even knowing it.

Tenggren and Dulac
Tenggren and Dulac
Connections: Tenggren, Dulac and Japanese Woodcut

Lately, with COVID rapidly shrinking in the distance behind us, I’ve dived into several projects that are all linked, but the connections weren’t initially obvious. I’ve got a long list of projects on my “to-do list” that I haven’t gotten around to developing yet. One of those was investigating international animation. I read the Bendazzi book from cover to cover and it excited me about these films, but I had no way of accessing them. When a batch of Russian DVDs turned up on the greatest archive known to man— eBay— I jumped on it. It was a collection of over 75 DVDs of rare Russian animation. I started digitizing them and I was blown away at the diversity and quality of the work. Their approach to the art form is unique and pure. There’s so much to learn from these films! I’ve begun sharing the riches of the Eastern block in the Reference Packs.

Russian Animation

Russian animation led me to thinking about the other great culture for animation— anime. I’m familiar with the usual suspects… “Akira”, “Kimba the White Lion”, the feature films by Miyazaki and others. But I never felt that Animation Resources needed to focus on that. It’s all readily available, and most animation students today know all about those films. But Animation Resources’ treasurer, JoJo Baptista showed me that there’s a lot more to Japanese animation than just the films we all know. Together, we started researching early Japanese animation. I discovered that before animation became standardized and institutionalized in Japan, there was a wide range of styles and ideas. I traced the history of animated features in Japan from the WWII propaganda film, “Momotaro’s Sea Eagles” through the 1960s, while JoJo focused on early television animation. He discovered some rarely seen series that are models of expressive economy. These TV programs addressed and solved the problem of how to keep limited animation lively- the same problem that independent internet animators face. We’ll be sharing that in upcoming Reference Packs as well.

Early Anime

My research into the early history of Japanese animation led me down a rabbit hole similar to one I explored early on in the Animation Archive Project. Back in the mid 2000s I started tracing the lineage of Western cartooning backwards step by step, from the golden age cartoon films to newspaper comics to the earliest sequential cartoons to caricature magazines to British printmakers to woodblock carvers and ultimately all the way back to Leonardo daVinci’s grotesque caricatures. I learned that animation was just a part of the story. The history of Western cartooning is a continuum that extends back far beyond Winsor McCay. I discovered that on the other side of the globe, in near complete isolation, the same thing was happening in Japan. I’m now in the process of tracing anime back to manga to ukiyo-e and perhaps its earliest origins in Chinese painting. That research is just getting started.

Hans Holbein Dance of Death

Those who have read my article on “Dances of Death” (included in the ebooks in our sample reference pack: https://animationresources.org/join-us-sample-reference-pack/) know the similarities I’ve found between late 15th century woodblock artists like Holbein and Durer and modern commercial cartooning. The EXACT same aspects are shared by Japanese woodcuts known as ukiyo-e or “The Floating World”. And the Japanese woodcuts led to manga, just as woodcuts led to comics. And you already know where comics and manga led!

This has been a very long post, and perhaps only a few have read this far. But Animation Resources has never been aimed at the typical followers of social media. 99% of the people who see and share our posts are just reacting to a pretty picture. That’s fine, but that isn’t why Animation Resources exists. Our real target audience is the small specialized number of creative artists who are actively analyzing and making the connections in their head to develop and hone their own creativity. If that describes you, I want to let you know that I’ll be sharing more about these projects in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled and your mind open. Come along on the journey with us.

JOIN ANIMATION RESOURCES

If you aren’t a member of Animation Resources yet…

JOIN Animation Resources TODAY!
https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:00 pm

June 22nd, 2021

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Illustration: Three Early Tenggren Books

Gustaf Tenggren

TenggrenTenggrenToday, we digitized the illustrations from three more early books by Gustaf Tenggren. Tenggren was a key concept artist on Snow White and Pinocchio, and it’s clear that the Disney artists looked to his work for inspiration in establishing the Disney feature style.

As we scan more books, we are able to find interesting parallels. For instance, it’s interesting to compare Tenggren’s approach to Hawthorne’s “Tanglewood Tales” to Edmund Dulac’s highly stylized version.

Tenggren and Dulac

And a similar comparison between Tenggren’s approach to a battle scene and the way Kay Nielsen handled the same subject in East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

Tenggren and Nielsen

We can also compare Tenggren’s early “Juan And Juanita” to his treatment of an almost identical subject in a totally different style in the Golden Book, “The Little Trapper”.

Tenggren comparison

We can also see similarities to Tenggren’s contemporary book, “Small Fry And The Winged Horse”.

Tanglewood and Small Fry

As our database fills out, more and more interesting comparisons and relationships like this will become apparent. That’s one of the most exciting things about the collection of Animation Resources. The information has always existed, but gathering it all together in one place, and making it searchable will add a level of understanding that has never been possible before. Stay tuned. It will get even better!

Here then, are three more books by the great artist, Gustaf Tenggren…

Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren

Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren

Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

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Posted by admin @ 12:19 pm

June 21st, 2021

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DISCORD DISCUSSION: Analyzing Buster Keaton

Animation Resources Discord

Animation Resources is hosting monthly Discord parties on its Discord server. Join us the last Saturday of every month to participate in discussions and network with fellow artists from all over the world. The party starts at 4:30 pm (PDT) and the program begins at 5:30 pm.

THIS MONTH’S PROGRAM

Analyzing Buster Keaton

Our schedule of monthly programs under the banner Discord Discussions continues Sunday June 27th!

Buster Keaton is one of the greatest slapstick performer/directors who ever lived. His impact on both live action and animation cannot be overstated. The acting, staging, and composition of his films are so well executed that they almost demand repeated viewing. Join Animation Resources President Stephen Worth and Director of Programming Davey Jarrell on Sunday, June 27th on Discord as they break down Buster Keaton’s techniques and how modern-day animators can utilize them. We will be discussing scenes from “Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow”, a 1987 documentary that essentially gives viewers the opportunity to sit at the feet of a master. Doors open at 4:30pm PDT and program starts at 5:30pm PDT!

ANALYZING BUSTER KEATON
Animation Resources
At The Animation Resources Discord Server
SUNDAY JUNE 27th, 2021 5:30 pm (PDT)
HOSTED BY DAVEY JARELL WITH STEPHEN WORTH

Animation Resources is one of the best kept secrets in the world of cartooning. Every month, we sponsor a program of interest to artists, and every other month, we share a book and up to an hour of rare animation with our members. If you are a creative person interested in the fields of animation, cartooning or illustration, you should be a member of Animation Resources!

ABOUT YOUR HOSTS

Davey Jarell is a member of the Board of Directors of Animation Resources. He is a professional storyboard artist for television and acts as our Director of Programs.

Stephen Worth has been an Animation Producer for 35 years, and is the President of Animation Resources.

Buster Keaton

ABOUT DISCORD

Discord is a free chat app that supports video, voice chat and text chat. Discord servers are divided into channels, which all have their own subject or theme of discussion. Members are assigned roles which helps everyone keep track of who’s who. The Animation Resources Discord channel is a virtual meeting place for our supporters. You can meet other Animation Resources members, talk with the people behind the scenes at our organization, and attend lectures and screenings— all without leaving your home. It’s free and open to everyone in the creative community. If you’d like more info on how Discord works, see this article: What is Discord?

Here’s how to install the Discord app and login to the Animation Resources Discord Server:


    1. INSTALL DISCORD
  • iPhone or Android: Download the app from the App Store or Google Play Store and install.
  • Desktop: You can access Discord for your Mac or PC from discordapp.com. You can choose to download and install the free Discord app, or enter our channel directly using your web browser. https://discord.gg/cuvNvsMNQP
    2. CREATE AN ACCOUNT
  • Just follow the prompts to create your own login account.
    3. JOIN THE ANIMATION RESOURCES CHANNEL
  • Click the plus sign to the right of the app and select "JOIN A SERVER".
  • Enter this invite code: vES5YsV
    4. YOU’RE THERE!
  • Take a moment to look around, read the rules and introduce yourself.

The Animation Resources Discord Server is open to the public right now. Pop in and look around, and make a point to visit on Sunday!

Buster Keaton

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:00 pm