Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Follow your Bliss

A couple of days ago I was talking to my 3D class about why I have the "hard ass" approach to teaching computer graphics that I am known for. While I may come off as an inconsiderate "prick", in fact I consider at least part of my job to help people figure out if they realy want to work in Computer graphics or not. CG is a realy hard business to survive in and if anything that I could ever say could possibly dissuade you from pursuing it as a career you won't survie in it. Somebody famous once said someting exactly like that but I forget who it was. Art Directors/Creative directors/Effect & Animation supes will ride you, colleagues will try to stab you in the back to get ahead, and the hours suck. Especialy when you are just starting out, you will have times when you come desperately close to not making your rent, and others when you just won't be able to make it period. The price of being a pixel pusher can often be measured in sleepless nights, cold ramen noodle dinners, and lost free time. Often you are always on the move, jumping from contract to contract trying to work our way up the ladder, and by there way make sure you plan for your old age, because this carer usually doesn't come with a pension plan. All that being said, if you can deal with the cost, it can be a great ride.There was once a man named Joseph Campbell, he was an author and expert on comparitive mythology. In a remarkable series of interviews for the production of "Joseph Campbell and the Powr of Myth", he talks about a concept he learned from studying myth that he calls "following your bliss". Basically, a person needs to figure out what makes them happy and follow it. Just do it! When one finds an occupation, career, vocation, etc. that truly makes them happy they can't help but excel at it, and that excellence will bring them success, and fame, and admiration and the other accolades they are looking for. Campbell himself admits that most people never really take the time to figure out who they are and who they are really meant to be. And to be quite honest this is not the kind of self-exploration that modern society expects of us or the kind that we usually expect from ouselves. In general we follow the roles that we are expected to follow. We work our (9-5, 8-6, etc) job, to make money to support our selves and be a good little consumer in society, becoming just another cog in the great machine of life. But do we ever really stop to ask ourselves why we are doing it, if it isn't making us happy, or satisfied, or more than we are now. According to Campbell, when you figure out what it is that really makes you happy, when you are "following your bliss" you are being true to yourself and your nature, and everything else can be worked out from there.This is the way it is with Cg work and 3D work specifically. Lot of people see movies like "The Incredibles" and "Sky Captain" or play games like "Halo" and "Half-Life" and want to be in the industry. Now, don't get me wrong, that great, I mean we haveall been inspired by someting, for some of us it was seeing "Star Wars" that first time or maybe those "Stop Motion" monsters you saw in the old movies, ("Jason and the Argonaughts" is a classic). But what most people don't understand and what those movies don't tell you is that to create a work of CG art (especialy someting groundbreaking like "Sky Captain") is alot of really hard work and sacrifice. And the problem is that our modern society has taught us to expect quick rewards and instant gratification, not the dificulty to the process, nor the discipline of the craft. That is when the it becomes even more important to make sure that this is realy what you want to do, that you are "following your bliss". That is the only thing that will help you through the tough times and the long dark hours.

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