Friday, July 08, 2011

Making Things: The Workspace

I spend most of my day, and year, and therefore life at my desk. I make everything I make there. It's where I watch movies and TV. It's usually the first place I listen to an album. I do a huge amount of reading there. I'm also an avid gamer.

Now, before you start worrying about a sedentary life, I also walk or hike several miles almost every day. More on that in another post.

I am not the sort of artist who makes loads and loads of money. We obviously do just fine, but our habitation options are limited to medium-sized, older apartments. We generally pick a place in halfway-decent shape and then do a massive amount of fixing up. If we ever were to move into a place that needed little to make it habitable, I think we wouldn't feel it was ours. That said, I often find myself gazing longingly at the Lifehacker workspace features.

When we moved last month, it became clear both that my old desk would not fit into the new space, and that we could not afford to get me a nice new one. Thankfully, the previous tenants left their kitchen table (along with much of their dust and cigarette butts). We got some risers and shelves from Ikea and I set about making a new workspace.


I need to get some cable ties and clean up the wires. Someday, perhaps when I replace my workstation in 4 or 5 years, all of this will be wireless out of the box. Fingers crossed. I don't like to keep a cluttered desk, but it happens without my noticing. There is also rarely a time during a work session that a Coke Zero isn't on the desk somewhere. Oh, you probably noticed I don't use a Mac. That is for two reasons. 1: I like the open nature of having a PC. I like tinkering with it and using it for a wide variety of things. 2: It would have cost almost twice as much money to get a Mac workstation with slower processors and graphics card. Not worth it.


I find that I must have books around. I've got the typical books you'd expect an animator to have - some Preston Blair, Eric Goldberg, and the amazing Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams. Along with reference books, I also tend to keep things that are just fun or cool to look at - my collections of Mike Mignola and Chris ware, along with the 1990-91 issues of Nintendo Power I got off of Ebay to replace the ones I lost since my youth. I also keep a few books of folklore and other things that are good to flip through when the ideas aren't coming. Oh, on the far left you can see a ceramic Slowpoke my sister made me when she was younger. He was always my favorite Pokemon.

Fun story: Back in 1998 I was at the mall with my friends. We were your typical teen mall-rat punks of the day. I was in a Wizards of The Coast store looking at miniatures or something when I spotted the brand-new Pokemon card section. I walked over to check them out. Some 10 year old was rifling through the cards.
"Pokemon is COOL", he said.
"Yessir, it is", I said. "What's your favorite Pokemon?"
"Charmander is my favorite", he replied. "What's yours?"
"Slowpoke!", I answered.
The 10 year old looked at me with a mix of confusion and scorn. He loudly scolded me.
"Slowpoke's the dumbest because HE'S THE SLOWPOKE-IEST!"
"Hey kid, how 'bout I throw you down the escalator?" I replied.
That ended the conversation.
Note : I have not threatened a child since. I did not actually pitch him down the escalator. He probably deserved it, though.


Thankfully, our bookshelves are in our office/living room in the new place. This shelf is directly to my left. I was a devout christian for most of my life, but have in the not-so-distant past publicly "come out" as an atheist. As such, my shelves are full of books I collected during both eras of my life. Some for study, and others for comfort. I still have a massive English/Hebrew/Greek Keyword Bible from my years as a weekly speaker, so if anyone ever brings up a word like koinonia, I'm totally ready. I also have the edition of Candide with the Chris Ware cover, and that's just a match made in heaven for me.


Also on my desk, my current reading slate. The book on the left is extremely quick, enjoyable reading. The book on the right I will be starting on Monday. I'm not a comics artist, but I often feel I have more in common with this kind of cartoonist than I do with the vast majority of animators who write helpful books. Or maybe I'm just not a very good animator. It's one of the two.


Behind me is stacked the growing pile of storyboards for Potential. I got about a minute into it and realized that I needed to get far more organized because it was getting too complicated. So enjoy this EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEAK!


Finally, here's the little ideas book I carry around with me. Here's the initial sketch and idea for Man and Cat At The End Of The World. I think I drew these during Tiny Canary, an annual craft show in Ohio that we usually do.


Here's some ideas for Ghost Pilgrims that I jotted down during a craft show in Atlanta last November.

So that's a small tour of where it is that I make things. Someday I'll have some amazing, esthetically perfect and super-conducive-to-work alternate-zen-dimension of a workspace. For now, though, this will do.

And, while I had the camera out, I took some cat pictures in the kitchen:
Ico Benson : Best Cat.

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