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Author Topic: Elitism in animation
Charles
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I noticed something about our traffic yesterday. For the first time in well over 2 years, almost 2 1/2 years I'd say, we actually got traffic from CartoonBrew through a link they posted.

Turns out it was to this thread on AN regarding the passing of Andy Knight.

http://www.animationnation.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=013052

It came about in this sentence posted by Amid yesterday. I used quotations marks to indicate where the link occured.

.........

According to a note posted by PaulD on this "message board", veteran animator and director Andy Knight, died last Thursday, April 10, at age 46 after suffering a stroke.

.........

Can't quite get yerself to say it, can ya brewmeisters. "AnimationNation.com". It's okay to be human beings guys. Maybe someday you'll grow into the idea.

To continue...

Early this month, a couple days after Animation Day on April 1, there was an event at Disney called Inspiration Day, whereupon students from a variety of different schools and animation programs attended something that was supposed to be inspiring, I don't know. Turns out for some it was anything but.

Many students were thoroughly turned off to the attitudes that came along with arguabley the most elitist school in animation, leaving others with a bad impression of the place and perpetuating the snobbery that's come to define many corners of our community.

I used to be a loss trying to figure out this kind of mentality which seems to be all too pervasive among some artists. Then I started to realize that insecurity manifests itself in many forms.

There's no reason why professional courtesies and respectful behavior can't be fostered and taught at the school level. Common professional courtesy, it's not that hard to adapt to once you get the hang of it.

This is a new day and age for us. It's good to be proud, but not to the point of making oneself look foolish.

Professional courtesy is much healthier for all than elitism. Too negative and ugly. There's been too much of it for too long in this biz. Time for a new day and a new way, I say.

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Mel Allen Sink
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Reminds me of back in the '80s, I really hated how the Mainstream Comics pros dumped on the Indie pros. And how both sets of pros doubly dumped on uppity Small Pressers. And they didn't come more uppity or smaller press than me.

Of course, in fandom and prodom, there were the older Boomers dumping on us younger Boomers. And it didn't help that I also didn't have white collar, suburban parentage.

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Charles
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It's not quite the same thing. You need to be working in the biz and have experienced it to know just what I'm talking about. It's not one faction ragging against the other. It's some factions that don't have the professional maturity to just be friendly with their peers. Too much attitude to get over themselves.

The people by and large in animation are excellent folk, but a few here and there are too full of attitude to stop by planet earth and say hello.

The friendly shall inherit the way of the future.

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Mel Allen Sink
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Oops! Sorry!

I'll just get to fixing those million dollar machines for the government, let you guys draw them there funny pictures, and I'll pick them up on DVD when they come out.

And of course, show some professional courtesy and treat each other right!

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Charles
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You're missing the point entirely and making this into something personal about you. My comment was not intended that way. Don't troll the topic please if you can't contribute to it productively. Asking this as a professional courtesy.

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mojodesign
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It's funny, Charles...when I read that on Cartoon Brew, I totally missed that it was a link and misinterpreted "this message board" as "here at Cartoonbrew".

I love both sites (although I am on here more often because there's just more to discuss). I'd love to see you two kiss and make up one day. It's sorta like watching two of your friends fight...sucks.

...back to the gallery.

-Jose S.

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Mr. Fun
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We're talking about the human condition here.

People are people, and things really never change. I can assure you that the present day elitism was as alive and well in Disney's Golden Age as it is today.

It would seem artists of all stripes have looked down on those who they considered, "beneath them." Some schools were lauded where others were deemed less than worthy. Factions and politics were rife even in the hallowed halls of Disney.

Of course, we would all like to see things change. But, like I said. People are people.

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SNAKEBITE
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People are people so why should it be, you and I should get a long so awfully?

Sorry, I wore a hair wave and looked like farmer ted from sixteen candles when I was a teenager and had to use the Depeche Mode quote.

I've never been a click dude. I've always been friends with the cool cats from each click. I can get a long with almost everyone. even punk a$$es and sheep. and I can argue and not get along with them as well. I've done my best to not let my personal differences get in the way of progress...although when going in to get possible work I run away quickly when I pick up on bad vibes.


I think what it comes down to is most artists are pussies. ofcourse this does not apply if it does not apply. but really, insecure pussies. they fear for their jobs and think theres only so much happiness to go around and if you're there you're taking away from their possible happiness.

but art is not a sport.

AN is great board and has created amazing change
in this industry. if people have a problem acknowledging this board its probably because they are threatened by it in some way. if they weren't it wouldn't be a problem to talk about us when its fitting.

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SoleilSmile
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I can only guess which elitist school you are speaking of Charles. Has anyone ever thought that the students of that school are so caught up their own politics that it only SEEMS that it is elitist?
If this school that you mentioned is my alma mater, then that is EXACTLY what is happening. Any alumni from that school will tell you the same story.


And for the record, I've had more students from other schools including the one I am a MFA candidate of now ostracize me due to my alumnus. I think the attitude at Inspiration Day was paranoia Charles. For the kids from the other animation schools have one HELL of a chip on there shoulder against that "elitist school".

Good Evening.

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tstevens
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Now, I don't have very much interaction with the CalArts set. However, most of the folks I have met from there have been pretty cool. Yeah, there are the occassional wonks who think they should be catered to because of thier pedigree, but they are in general few and far between.

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SoleilSmile
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I'd like to find those few are and beat 'em up!
They're ruining our reputation!

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Charles
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Why do you think it's CalArts?

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SoleilSmile
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Because Cal Arts has been attacked before for snobbery. But if it isn't, I will be totally selfish and say, thank goodness it's not us again!

Phew!

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Charles
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What does it say about a school when its name becomes synonymous with snobbery? Is it an attack when good kids from other schools experience a common event with Cal Arts students and leave the place with a less than favorable impression of them because of their behavior?

As I mentioned before, I've come to a personal conclusion that elitism in this business among artists has more to do with an insecurity defense mechanism than anything else, or maybe that's just the way it is, as Mr. Fun pointed out.

I'd believe it and resign myself to the inevitablity of pockets of perpetual snobbery in the animation community, except that my own experiences with many artists, students, the good people from AN, so on, have opened my eyes to the distinct possibility that it doesn't have to be this way. Not at Cal Arts, not at CartoonBrew, not anywhere in animation among artists. Unfortunately, it may be a long time before this divisive and ugly behavior diminishes from the creative community, as long as major bloggers and talented students from major schools continue to act the way they do and foster the all too typical attitude.

But there's Dan Sarto at AWN, Shane Glines, SoleilSmile, Floyd Norman and many many other excellent souls to celebrate and embrace in this business and as long as the sun shines from these folks there's hope that pan-animation camaraderie and professional consideration will ultimately win the day.

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Ganklin
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in thinking about it, i guess artistic snobbery isn't all that new, and animation is exempt from it. like, think about the impressionist movement in painting. they were hated by the snobs of their day! they weren't allowed to hang with the cool kids.

i've certainly met my fare share of snobs in this industry, and im going to meet more im sure. however, im willing to say that 95% of everyone i know and have worked with are awesome people.

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Ganklin
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oops. i meant to say animation "is NOT exempt"...me type bad [Frown]

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Shane Glines
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At the risk of sounding like a new-age hippy....

A very simple concept that has had a huge impact on my life over the past year was the discovery of the Law of Cause and Effect.

If you want negativity and nastiness in your life, you can guarantee it by being nasty, negative and hostile. If you want to attract positivity and happiness and friendship, you gotta do it first. I start my day by doing something positive- maybe something as small as a brief, sincere comment on a young artists blog. It makes them feel great, but it's really a selfish act on my part, because when I get a note back like this one:

quote:
You made my day shane. I am terrible at drawing bodies! but that compliment from you totally made my day.... i'm going to keep at it!
It gives me a great feeling that lasts through the day.
S.

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SoleilSmile
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Hi Shane. I'm a Buddhist, so I know exactly what you're talking about.

Anyhoo...
Charles, I guess since Cal Arts is now (from what I hear) impossible to get into, some of the students who attend there have an attitude. I'm sorry. However, in the time of my class ('97), Cal Arts was the only animation school on the west coast. It wasn't an elitist thing, Cal Arts was just the only thing around unless you wanted to go to the Kansas City Art Institute or RISD. I didn't even know about Sheridan until I was enrolled as Cal Arts already. Animation was an elusive industry then.
I hope it isn't the students from '98 and before who is responsible for the strife. As for more recent graduates, I wonder if the catalyst is this: a million other schools have caught on to the trend and established animation programs of their own, so now there is competition between schools. Pity, but that's life. Harvard and Yale have been competing with each other for years. Hopefully it'll all shake down into school spirit like the Bruins vs. the Trojans an we can all work together and appreciate each other's strengths. I hope that day comes soon. I'm sick of the bad press.

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Animation Co-op
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quote:
You need to be working in the biz and have experienced it to know just what I'm talking about.
This smackdown is hilariously ironic in a post entitled "Elistism in animation". [funny]
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SNAKEBITE
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that technically wasn't the "smack down".

just sayin'

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Charles
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That wasn't a smack down Kevin. You're taking one sentence completely out of context. There was nothing offensive intended by my comment as I explained in my follow up post.

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Charles
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Shane, that was a great read. Thanks for the link. I bookmarked it.

I'm pretty much surrounded by very positive people who don't harbor attitudes towards anyone. It's unfortunate that some parts of the industry are the way they are. What I've experienced through AN can be and has been very disappointing and depressing at times, if not for the community of friends that I've been blessed with. Some of the behind the scenes stuff that's gone on over the years has been way over the top, with attitudes and behavior that defy logic, reason and rationality. I guess from this perspective, I see the worst of how people in this business can be. I would've expected it from executives since that's the cast I targeted. I never would've imagined artists acting the way they have. Not all mind you, but enough to realize that something's wrong with a few people out there. It's the pettiness and intensity of it that startled me at first. Then I got used to it and stopped caring what these people thought.

There was an opportunity to publicly discuss elitism with Cartoonbrew this past June in Portland, Oregon at the Platform Animation Festival. I was invited to be a panelist on the same dais as Amid Amidi. When I heard he was going to be a part of it, I said sure. Shortly afterwards, I learned that he withdrew from the panel. Too bad, it would've been fun.

That's the same pattern with everyone. I've invited some of the worst to discuss their issues and grievances face to face and not one has ever taken me up on it. That's how it goes I guess.

I've seen the worst, but I've also seen the best in artists. The beautiful, positive folks in my life more than make up for whatever was lost through broken associations with snobs. I just wish people can get it together a little and get over themselves. Too little time for this. You can go farther in life and in the business with some humility, compassion and consideration than with envy, petty jealousy and hate.

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Graphiteman
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I believe elitism is from individuals not necessarily institutions. It is indeed insecurity. Of course institutions have to say how wonderful they are; they are a business, but a school that says how ownderful they are by having to put down another school is insecure too.
There was never a time when I knew all about animation and life as when I was a student. Today I know how much I don't know.
If I ever was elitist it was because of pride in my school's reputation. At that stage one really has no credentials to speak of so the best we do is pin the school's alumni on our chest; something the student had nothing to do with.
That was really short-lived as I met other artists in "the industry" not only from different schools but countries, prodigies, artists "off the street", some self-taught, some learning on the job who brought talents I did not possess. I realized too how a 3 year reputable accredited course can still turn out slouches. But a school's reputation only takes one as far as the grad ceremony. So for any elitist slacker; your school's reputation will take you as far as the door, that's why you don't include your diploma in your portfolio.

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Paburrows
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Well and I wonder if there is even elitism of some artists towards the business side of the industry. I know that Im going to get clobbered for saying this, I know that a lot of business people feel elitism towards artists, but theres also good ones too. I wonder if because of the bad experiences with the jerks in the business community some artists have a general dislike or elitism towards business? We call them all monkeys and other names. Theres got to be some that we like? Just something to think about.

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tstevens
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I agree... There are those that feel art is superior to commerce and those who feel commerce is superior to art. When we use terms like Monkey or Suit I think it does imply that we think of ourselves as being superior to business folk.

Remember, if you use derogatory terms to describe another person or group it usually implies that you feel you are better than the person whom you have disdain for. However, in actuallity it could be a sign of anything from insecurity, hate, and anger, to inferiority complex.

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SNAKEBITE
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yeah no doubt. Im guilty of that, Paburrows. Part elitism towards execs, part conditioning since my experience really shows me why I should have that beef with monkey.

I do my best to be pleasantly surprised that not all big companies or executives will treat me poorly
but really, I have yet to be proven wrong.

I just recently did some work for a big company and they reminded me why I am elitist towards the business people. they really don't care about you.

still waiting to be wrong.lol

and ya know what, my elitism doesn't keep me from participating like a human being. I go in, treat people with respect, work with their schedule
and get the work done how and when they need it...do they return the favor by paying me when they say they will or talking to me with respect?...9.9 times out of 10, no.

maybe its me. Im the a$$ who attracts more a$$es.lol

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OFFBEAT
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I think we can all be somewhat elitist towards those who don't agree with us..


I see elitism happening this way..

We all have our own ideas on what Animation should be.

Some might think it should be wholesome family Disney entertainment. Only for kids. Cute cuddly Rated G.
Others might think it should be funny like the old Warner Bros. cartoons. If it isn't funny.. it shouldn't be animated. (clenches fists.. holds breath)
Others might think it should be college humor gay, dick and fart jokes.. The more offensive, the funnier it is.
Others may think it should be experimental. Why do something that has already been done before?
Others may like that action adventure.. and making comic books come to life is priority one. None of this kid stuff!
Others may think.. if it doesn't look Anime.. they can't be bothered..
.. and on and on and on.


Then whatever you think animation should be.. you find like minded people.. and now you have a group. and your group becomes so PRO that one form/style.. that any other form becomes complete crap in your minds.

I've seen a rise of "Terrytoon" fans in the past couple of years that would make scientologists envious!

And People get angry when their 'style' isn't in the mainstream anymore. (Especially when no shows are being made of that style) They start knocking on other styles.
(insecure men do this at parties.. goof on someone to make themselves look better.. complete p*ssy maneuver)

I'm guilty of this with fine art. I hated barely making ends meet, working in animation and seeing some douchey fine artist fill up a jar of urine, drop a crucifix in it.. call it "Piss Christ" and make millions of dollars, and be the talk of the town. Or whenever Cy Twombly has a sh*t fit onto a canvas with decoupage and fudgecicles.. he's paraded around as a genius, and is exhibited in museums.

That stuff seems to be complete crap to me.. but very likely, they might think the same of what I do.

...unless they are better people than I am.

I'm not as angry anymore...I got over it, after a friend pointed out that art doesn't need to be objective.. what's the point of painting photo real? Dancers don't try to mimic how other people walk, run, move. and musicians don't try to re-create sounds with their instruments that are created in nature.

I found that insightful. [Smile]

And I used to be a music shop snob when I was a teen.. and would goofing on all the people who were buying "Achey Breaky Heart", while music I thought was awesome was never played on the radio.

Another person told me.. "Life is so sh*tty, that if someone can find something that brings them a little bit of joy.. why should you want to be the douche that ruins it for them?"

Again.. really insightful at the time. [Smile]

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bigshot
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The rise in Terry-Toons fans is thanks to Jerry Beck, Mark Kausler and John K. They've gone above and beyond to make sure that films that aren't often seen get seen. We have over 900 Terry-Toons in the ASIFA Archive Database, along with fairly complete runs of Fleischer, Lantz, Columbia (from Mintz to UPA) and Famous. Once you see a few of these films, you realize that the full history of animation hasn't even begun to be written yet. There's so much more than just WB and Disney.

See ya
Steve

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OFFBEAT
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I just picked Terrytoons as an example. Not knocking on them at all!!! I digs em' and hope the increased popularity of them will result in a dvd collection coming out..

Kudos to you guys getting them out there! The "kids" love em'!!
[cheers]

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gergley
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Sorta riffing off of what Offbeat wrote:
In addition to What People Like isn't there also What People Want to Work On?
PaBurrows wrote:
quote:

I know that a lot of business people feel elitism towards artists, but theres also good ones too.

There are producers who do appreciate animation a lot. And, there are some who don't and sorta look down on it. The latter doesn't seem to appreciate what goes into it either. With is a drag and a-half. Thank goodness there's good, cartoon-loving people who deal with the business stuff.
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Animation Co-op
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quote:
Well and I wonder if there is even elitism of some artists towards the business side of the industry.
Yes, there is. And it doesn't help things one bit. [Smile]

KG

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SoleilSmile
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There is a compilation of Terry Toons, Fliescher Studio, and many other fringe studio cartoons on DVD that you can pick up at your local dime store for $1 each or $6 for 150 cartoons.
I'm enjoying the 150 cartoon compilation right now as I animate my film. Very inspiring. Little Lulu is my new heroine!

Hopefully once these cartoons come into vogue they will be restored and re-released.

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Charles
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Elitism is a not so silent disease in this industry.

So here's the Cal Arts contingent at Inspiration Day at Disney as portfolios and student artwork are being shown, and they snicker at the stuff they don't like, with students whose work is being shown present.

Well, we all had a pretty good laugh the other day, figuring out what a typical Cal Arts student would owe after 4 years at that place.

Unlike the 1970s, when about the only school one could study character animation at in the US was Cal Arts, there's a completely different and diverse landscape out there now with lots of options for educating oneself in the animation arts. Take Animation Mentor for example, only a few years old and already they had 22 of their students working on the latest Blue Sky film. Gnomon in Hollywood kicks ass, Cal State Northridge rising fast, which by the way, students can get a 4 year degree at for less than what it would cost to go to Cal Arts for 1 semester. Not to mention my own little school, which has trained some of the top character designers and production designers in the industry. Any of whom could easily handle the best that Cal Arts can churn out.

I often put a rhetorical question to my students. Which is the better school. One that requires that you get good enough to be accepted into it, or the one that gets you good enough to get there.

I've had many of my students go to Cal Arts. In the 2 years of the existence of the Warner Bros Hanna Barbera Scholarship, which involves a scholarship to Cal Arts, my students have won both years. I had another student inform me just last week they've been accepted there.

I give them all the same advice. You can get a lot farther in this business and in life with a lot of talent and a little modesty than with a lot of talent and an attitude to match. Even then, after they've started, I see the difference in them that Cal Arts makes in their personalities.

The strongest singular point I've made over the years through AN is that we are not the enemy, yet in certain pockets it just doesn't get through. Elitism is alive and well in animation as long as insecure little snobs are being groomed at the most venerable of educational institutions in the animation business.

This ain't the day when Cal Arts is all there is. There's a helluva lot of super talented people out there who don't hail from there with enough self respect and class not to publicly belittle other people's work. Maybe that's why Cal Arts students laugh at others. They have to put them down to give themselves a false sense of superiority. You guys aren't the only game in town anymore, but go ahead and snicker away. And good luck with those student loans fellas. Good thing you've got so many alumni in the biz looking out for ya.

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Ganklin
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im not on the west coast, so i don't have many run ins with cal arts alumni, however i've come across two people who did graduate from there in my life who were decent people. one of those people was one of the largest inspirations in my life to pursue animation as a career, and he's easily the nicest fellow i ever met.

however, i have certainly met plenty of students who feel the need to act like a snob. the east coast may not have cal arts, but we have our share of "schools with attitudes". i suppose the only thing i can think of to say to those kids is that sure, maybe your work will get you an interview, but a crappy attitude won't get you through the door.

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SoleilSmile
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Eh, Charles... I've seen artists from school sacross the union and beyond kibitz work that needs to be strengthened. Some people have teacher's hearts and will recognize potential and reach out and help--and others don't. That's just life. Don't blame Cal Arts exclusively for that.

For the record, my soon to be two degrees were worth every penny. Not everyone goes to college just so they can get into Disney or whatever company. After 7 years in the inudustry you wake up and realize that you've been giving someone ELSE all of your great ideas. School is a valuable resource for rejuvenation. There's more than just a potential life at Disney. There's the film festival circuit and so many other things that offer rewards for the individual! The school with most resources can offer the most help and your teachers remain your friends for life. My graduate school can't even afford guest speakers. Old masters--including one who just left us recently. Cal Arts had a plethora of guest speakers and grants, because it is a non-profit school with an established reputation for excellence. And that's just the tip of the ice berg!
So, I'm sorry the students from other schools got burned by "the Loop", but you gotta take the good with the bad. Cal Arts will always be my womb. I'll try to remember that when I pay my student loans:)

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bigshot
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Personally, I think animation artists would do better to study art in school rather than animation. A graduate from a good atelier program would have the skills to quickly learn the basics of animation faster than a graduate from an animation trade school that teaches compositing and maya will learn how to be an artist.

See ya
Steve

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Charles
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I agree Steve. I stress academic fundamentals at all times. Makes a significant difference in ones skills. Sometimes my students get annoyed as I'm adamant about sticking with the basics. When they see how their work improves they understand the importance of it all.

Whether a student's work needs to be strengthened or not, there's no excuse for unprofessional behavior especially when a school as prominent as Cal Arts is represented this way. I'm more putoff by this than the students I talked to who witnessed what went down. They pretty much took it in stride, which speaks highly for their maturity.

As part of the orientation I give my students as they prepare for careers in this business, is how to deal with elitism. First thing I tell them is that it's there and to be expecting it. That way it won't come as a shock when they're exposed to it. The unfortunate thing about this group from Cal Arts is that they perpetuate the perception of elitism from that school. When the word gets around that Cal Arts students are elitists and then they actually act that way in a professional/social environment, there's nobody to blame for the rap they get but themselves.

That's why I admire the students at CSUN. There's no air of pretentiousness. It's a great community of students. I've been teaching Animation Drawing at the school for a year and a half now and the improvement in their work is so profound I can kick back and let them do their thing. They also appreciate the Academy and both groups get along without one having to put the other down. Competition is a good thing, it's healthy to be creatively competitive, but snobby attitudes in animation only cause bad feelings and negative word of mouth.

If there's a positive in this, it made students even more determined not to emulate the example.

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SoleilSmile
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I went to the San Francisco Art Institute and studied painting and sculpture for two years before transferring to Cal Arts. The Cal Arts recruiter insisted. I also grew up in arts magnate schools from 6th grade and eventually graduated from School of the Arts San Francisco. Did anyone here know Mrs. Pannone? My regular elementary school teachers could not stop me from drawing all over my homework.
So yeah, get a fine art degree first if you're parents will spare you the time of being marginally employed for 4 years. I highly recommend it. Don't worry about the cost. Most of the non-profit schools have full scholarships just waiting for the next father/mother of the next movement in the art world.

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bigshot
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The irony is that any elitism about what school you attend dissolves when you get into the job market and someone with a junior college degree and a stronger portfolio applies for the same job you do. The "put up or shutup" for art school snobs comes around eventually.

See ya
Steve

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SoleilSmile
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Anyhooooo...
Charles, I can take this matter up with the dean of Character Animation at Cal Arts.I think all Calartians should. Students need to know that the ribbing that they do with each other's work is not appreciated when it is applied art that is done "outside the hive". People are listening and getting hurt and probably not intentionally so.
Perhaps this thing can be nipped in the bud.

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