One of the perks to being a volunteer is that your ticket is free. You can walk around the exhibit halls and attend the panels. Since that is $130 that will be refunded back to me I decided that I can afford to splurge a little and buy some artwork from the amazing artists at CTN. I bought a bit more than I planned but there were just so many tigers. I'm a big fan of tigers and I just could not resist. When I got off volunteering on Friday, after hearing people talk about how amazing the exhibit hall was and all the interesting booths, my first step was to see the exhibit hall. As I stepped in I immediately saw a booth with many drawings of tigers. I made a beeline for the booth and met the artist Tori Davis. I didn't know it at the time, I just loved her instantly for all the tigers, but she is a visual development artist with an amazing CV of having worked on Disney's Frankenweenie, Blue Sky's Rio, vis dev for Sony, background artist for Nickelodeon, and etc. She is awesome. We talked about tigers and big cats. Completely jealous that she knows a person who has a big cat sanctuary so Tori got to go and actually study the beautiful animals up close. Good thing I brought my tiger hat, just in case if I had a bad hair day and I didn't want to deal with it, so I wore it on Saturday and I showed it to her which led to us taking a few selfies.
I'm sorry if a fanboy a little (ok, a lot) over him but Bobby Chiu is one of my biggest inspirations. He was the one that inspired me to get into the animation industry while I was studying art at University of Washington. I thought I would go into visual development and/or matte painting. I didn't buy any prints from him last year as while his works from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland were great I wanted one of his personal works that had a full composition and story. While his prints are a bit more expensive, I saw that he was selling Big Bad Bunny Eater and I just had to buy it. Big Bad Bunny Eater is one of my favorite works of him as it is so amusing and clever, and my other favorite is Early Bloom. I wish I got to talk to him some more but I didn't really know what to say other than the standard "thank you for continuously inspiring me" as I had already asked a lot of questions last year. I promise to be more prepared next time!
Over in the expanded tent area is where the new talent get to exhibit their works. Exhibiting this year is Cody Lyon and Finn from HOUND Illustration. Cody is an amazing artist, I love his drawings that he would post up on Facebook and the fun drawings that he would do while at Tea Time. I love Tigger from Winnie the Pooh so I just had to buy this drawing. If I can get him to do something Calvin and Hobbes I will be on that in a heartbeat.
I had seen Gary Montablano's artwork at last year's CTN, most notably was that I saw large posters of tigers. This year I actually went up to greet him and we talked for awhile. It was great as he knew me by face as I had helped him for exhibitor check-ins. I loved the large black tiger as it sort of reminded me of the Great Sphinx of Giza and the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin. The other poster I got had two tigers on it and it reminded me of one of my favorite novels, Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck, that features a white and a black tiger.
The Daily Zoo, by Chris Ayers, is one of those big names that I know of and have looked at a few times but was unfortunately ill prepared to meet. I've loved his artwork and his animals always bring a smile to my face so I had to stop by and buy a print of Content Kitty. I wish I could have spoken to him some more but I wasn't sure what to say.
Big fan of Andreas Deja. I was incredibly disappointed last year when I got cut off while waiting in line to talk to him and hopefully get a drawing as it was after an evening panel and it was getting to late into the night. Now back to the present, on Friday night my friend who was on closer relations with him introduced me to Andreas and even asked if he would do a drawing for me. Andreas was just walking out so he said that he would promise me a drawing the next day if I show up at the demo that he will be presenting. He remembered and was apparently looking for me during the demo. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to the demo and showed up near the end while he was answering questions. I went up and greeted him saying "Hi, sorry I missed your demo. Hopefully I can catch up with you later and talk with you some more and ask about how your film, Mushka, is doing." I was not expecting to get a drawing as I was too late and missed it, I just mainly wanted to greet and apologize. Instead, Andreas was like "I owe this guy a drawing. Can I draw something for him right now? I'm going to draw something for him right now." So amazing. I got a personal drawing of Scar. I was grinning like a fool as this completely made my day and all of CTN. While I love Scar, all things Lion King, as Andreas was finishing the drawing it dawned on me that instead of asking for Scar I should have asked him to draw me Mushka. Next year! I think I was trying to do a snarl/growl face in the picture but I was just smiling too much.
I stopped by the Nickelodeon booth to ask some questions about their studio and production as I had met another volunteer who works as a texture artist for Nickelodeon. This was confusing as what I knew was that back when Nickelodeon came to talk at AAU about their internship program, what I thought I learned was that they were more of a preproduction studio and they sent their production to other countries. Turns out they outsource the animation but still keep the other areas of production in house. This lets me keep my options a bit more open which is nice.
At the CTN@nite event on Saturday evening, I met Chris Erickson. He is the creator of Hewie in the Cold, which I saw at AAU's Spring Show and loved. I got to see his demo reel and what was really impressive is that he did most everything by himself, from pre vis all the way down to final comp, instead of going into the large collaborative approach. He has graduated from the Academy and is now at Disney Animation's apprenticeship program! Talking with him has inspired me to go back and do more personal work and create short 30 second clips. I would love to do a scene from my Supernova story, a fly-through of the house to see of Reo sitting down and then going supernova. I've also been wanting to take my tiger character and create a 3D model of him. I don't have a story though as his style is too different to be used in place in Tiger Tails.
I knew his work and knew his art but I never had a face to attach to the artist so I had missed who exactly Chris Sanders is. Thankfully my friends told me to check him out especially since he also has tigers. His tigers are adorable and reminded me a lot of the characteristics of Lilo and Stitch. I love Stitch, one of my favorite characters, he is adorable. While I loved all his sketchbooks I ended up buying #2 (I would have liked to buy all 6 but I had already spent so much money) due to a specific page in the book of his tiger character in various poses. Particularly the one with the tiger reading a newspaper and a bunny with a cup. After talking with Chris Erickson the night prior, I had been thinking of what sort of story or event that I could write for my tiger that would be interesting, cute, and endearing while still showing a depth of technical challenges and abilities. The tiger and the bunny reminded me of the alternate story to Tiger Tails that I had created which was about a lonely tiger and his best friend bunny trying to set him up on various dates that do not work. Once I saw that I knew I had to buy this specific sketchbook so I can look at it daily for inspiration.
Attendees got a nice tote bag this year which was cool. Last year it was just a yellow plastic bag with the CTN logo printed on it. One of my favorite things to do is to go around collecting buttons for my lanyard. I've got Blue Sky, Women in Animation, two buttons from Disney's Get a Horse, and a tiger pin from Tori. The adorable chameleon pin is from Azadae to help promote their kickstarter. Azadae is an animated series that follows a young girl and her friends through the everyday life of a child growing up in Tanzania and seeks to help educate and entertain young children by teaching themes like colors, math, science, and animals while integrating Tanzanian culture and geography.
Unfortunately I didn't get to see Nick Pitera again this year. I expected as much since he had a concert in New York at the Carnegie Hall for a benefit to support Music for Hope on the Saturday of CTN. I wish I got a chance to meet the Bancroft brothers. Maybe I'll bring my Lion King DVD next year and ask them to sign it for me.