Slammin' Blog

"I Love Animation!" Part 2

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I love Animation – part 2

 The early to mid 90’s


At school I was a loner – the ‘arty’ one, the one who was always in the art block and who could draw the best.

At home, when I sketched, Disney music would be on in the background. What was I drawing? Lots of different things - My own characters, Disney characters and comic book characters.

 The mid-90’s saw my exposure to American comics. This was BIG. I remember being blown away by the stories, the drawings and the female superheroes. Let’s face it, I was a big female superhero TV fan and Wonder Woman, Supergirl –later Xena, Buffy – all mesmerised me. In fact to this day, I still remember vividly when I saw Supergirl The movie for the first time.

I wanted to be Supergirl. In the movie, at the beginning, she was an artist and her mentor tells her pretty much that the reason she was bad at maths was because she was creative – a statement I took along with the cape – such a statement was a relief as I was never much into the sciences /mathematics at school and if Supergirl was crap at it, then I didn’t mind if I was too.

Before I knew it I was a full blown collector of comics. I guess I was in my mid-teens. My dad and I went every weekend to a store in Gloucester. I loved those trips. I went mad for comics and variant covers, action figures, models, posters. I wanted to be a comic book artist, badly.

So forget Disney, I found out how comics were drawn, practiced inking and layout and I was off. My parents took me to conventions and I would wait in line to show my portfolio. My fellow comic book wanabes, I’d say not to generalise too much, were all 30-50 year old overweight males. I stood out a mile but I wasn’t bothered at all. I was one of the boys, one of the geeks for sure.

Well it didn’t happen – I doubt Slamsister would be here if I’d made a success of it. The interest in comics did boost my drawing skills, I was on a roll when I finished school and after my A Level’s, I went on to do an Art Foundation course in Cheltenham and then I was picked to study at Central St Martins in London.

Fine Art, at the best art school in the UK. I was pretty chuffed but I have to be honest I was a very naïve country girl who left the cows and muck for the multi-cultural world of Tooting in London. I survived art school, grew to like London, partied a lot, came out as a lesbian and went on to do a post grad in 2D animation.


Learning animation.

I do want to stress the importance of learning 2d (and later 3d) animation for my overall self-learning as an artist. When I was accepted into the London Animation Studio, I could have died with happiness. This was a dream come true.

My reaction is not surprising when you consider my ultimate dream was always to be a Disney animator. I mean, even now, I am so, so happy I learnt animation and got to animate, make films and even storyboard.

2D animation is a skill and a craft which suited me entirely. When I was learning animation, I’d be at my desk all day, listening to music, drawing, flicking, drawing, flicking, flicking, taking my pages to scan in to the computer and watch the playback and my character come to life.

I loved it and not only has animation taught me so much in terms of character design and character movement, I also did a lot of life drawing back then. Forget Fine Art style 1 -2 hour sessions. We would sketch poses for 2-3 minutes max. Now that’s the way to learn the art of looking and finding the line of the body/ movement.

After I left college, I worked for some directors doing storyboarding – a really interesting time for me as I loved live action film as much as animated movies – Most of the work I did in London in my early to mid 20’s was pro bono but I felt on the right path to my dream…

 But, something awful happened.

I don’t want to say too much about this, but looking at the chronology of events in my life, I can’t leave it out. My mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when I was in my 20’s and thought bravely for 3 years but a brain tumour finally won the battle and she passed away when I was 27. It goes without saying that this devastated me and I pretty much remained devastated for the rest of my 20’s, early 30’s – well until pretty much the point where I managed to drag myself out of a horrible 9-5 existence doing catering and waitressing and eventually I started drawing again.

It was so difficult, I think because mum was my supporter in art and was the one who had the most faith in my talent. When lost her I just couldn’t face art or drawing. I didn’t see any of my accomplishments as worthwhile or any good at all – I had managed to do something when she was ill…you might be surprised but I wrote a book and I came up with a design concept called Space Therapy, a series of posters themed around a model in the year 2730.

Of course, there’s an important part of my life I haven’t mentioned yet – my wife ;) Sandy stepped into my life at about the time my mum passed away. More on my wife Sandy next time! (I’m still in the highs of just getting married by the way ;)

I’ve run out of time for this month…so that’s it for now, I hope you enjoyed reading this instalment.

Next time on slamblog:

 I will dish the dirt with pictures on my first foray into the slamsister style with…Space Therapy !

 And my 3 year mission to write a novel, a coming out story called: A Conversation with myself.

Until November,

Take care and have fun!

All the best Emma X



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