Jun 28, 2012

Thoughts on The Artist In The Office

I don't usually review books. This is for two reasons... 1. I devour books very fast and seldom look back. 2. The things in a particular book that would stick out as valuable to me do not strike me as seeming valuable to the masses. This said, I sometimes do a short write-up on GoodReads or LibraryThing.

I was in the college library earlier in the week, where I work, and I came across a book called The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week by Summer Pierre. I checked it out. Since it deals with creative issues, I figured I'd put down some of my thoughts on the book.

First off, it’s pretty short, simple, and nothing in this book really blew my mind (i.e. almost all the ideas were commonsense or covered in other books). I read the whole thing in two hours.

Summer Pierre is a multi-disciplinary artist (musician, writer, illustration). In this book she, instructs readers that, despite a day job, you can fuel your creativity during the day rather than feel like you're drowning in tedium.

She offers lots a small ideas and tasks such as using your lunch break to visit a museum or making a luxury coffee out of the normal stuff you find in an office kitchen.

The big idea of the book is something I'd already stumbled onto on my own years ago... that if you consider yourself an artist, you are always an artist. You don't stop being an artist when you go to work. This shift in perspective is huge and if someone has never thought about it before, this book could potentially change someone's life. Pierre calls it simply working two jobs... your day job and your art. But YOU don't change.

The book also made me really think about my day job(s). I like having a day job. I just don't like all the day jobs I've had. My current one, as an Adjunct College Teacher of Film Appreciation, is great. It fulfills the several things I really look for in a day job...

Support for CHOP


John Rawley, one of the backers for the "Send CHOP to FringeNYC" Kickstarter and head of the Alternative Comedy Theater called me last week and asked if it was okay to throw a benefit show for CHOP. "Hells yeah!" I said.

The group Rigamarole will improvise, I'll do a ten minute excerpt from CHOP and a short Monologue Jam will all go down.

Whatever proceeds come in will go to the CHOP production fund. So, hazzah!

Jun 27, 2012

BEK

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I am studying up on comics lately. One of the great cartoonists I've stumbled onto is Bruce Eric Kaplan (or BEK as he is known). He has submitted over 300 comics to the New Yorker and I am just over-whelmed by his sense of humor and his drawing style. Really simple and his people are so funny-looking to me. And somehow, it still screams New Yorker, too.

I also found out, via Wikipedia, that he was a television writer for one of my all-time favorite shows, Six Feet Under. so, huzzah!

You can see some of his work at the New Yorker Store and read an interview about him and his 2011 book EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY.

The one above is pretty autobiographical around my household.

UPDATE: Here's another pretty good interview

 

Jun 25, 2012

Sundown Notes

I'm working with a small, but mighty theatre collective in Denton, Texas called the Sundown Collaborative. I've been brought in to write a play especially for the company and we had our first big meeting yesterday. Unfortunately, I coughed through most of it, still nursing the tail end of a flu bug.

The Sundown group all contributed items, thoughts, images, whatever into a red shopping bag (idea from playwright friend Greg Romero. Shout out). Last night, we met in a living room and shared tacos and pizza and went through the bag, item by item.

These items would be the fodder for the play-building process.

Since I have recently stumbled onto Austin Kleon, through his small but action-packed book STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST, I have been experimenting with more visual note-taking (Kleon even stamps the date on his sketchbook pages like I do... kindred spirit). 

So, below are the "notes" for the first meeting ("The Red Bag Meeting?") with Sundown...

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Jun 23, 2012

Teaching Youth Drama

Nursing the flu the past few days. I hate the flu. It has been particularly taxing, this time, since I have been teaching youth drama camps for the past two weeks. I work for an after-school drama outfit called Junior Players. Good organization run by some fine people. Pay's fair. In the summer time JP sends theatre artists out to teach drama games and such - activities that have to do with teamwork, call-and-response, listening, problem-solving, creativity - to large groups of kids at Recreation centers and libraries. At the end of the two week summer camps the kids have to put on a performance of some sort. Over the years as I have continued to work with youth, I've developed a sort of system for devising these performances in a quick and fun manner.
Young actors* working on the script "The Water Princesses" complete with construction-paper costume pieces. 
* I blurred their faces, 'cause... well... they aren't my kids.

1. Introduce the elements of a story... protagonist, antagonist, objectives, obstacles. We discuss different stories and movies they've seen to draw examples.

2. Get their ideas. After the concepts are introduced I take suggestions from everyone in the class "Who would be a protagonist in your story?" Then we narrow down the choice by rounds of voting.

3. I write the play. I use the ingredients they came up with and make it into a little four or five page stage play with parts (and lines) for everyone.

I have posted two of the most recent plays of this sort on my Scribd account. If you are curious, you can read the 5 page epics by clicking the links below.



Jun 18, 2012

EYE IN THE SKY - An Introduction


In 2008 I started a project for my little theatre company called the EYE IN THE SKY project. Commissioning pieces from playwrights around the country and recording these pieces whenever there was time around bigger productions, the project took three and half years.

 

Tonight, Audacity Theatre Lab is doing a CD Release Party. Above is a video intro to the project.

UPDATE: (6/20/12) The evening went delightfully. 

For more pics visit the Audacity Theatre Lab Blog HERE.

Jun 9, 2012

Influences


Hernandez and I recently recorded Episode 5 of the Bike Soccer Jamboree podcast. We talk about our influences, specifically people who have made a dent in our own Personal Mythologies. Canadian solo performer T J Dawe called them Totem Figures.

Episode 6 of BSJ will continue the discussion. I blogged about my major influences a while back. Lately, I've come across the same notion with Austin Kleon (stumbled onto him from his book STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST recently) who advocates finding who inspires you, then tracing back who inspired them and so on.

Here's the deal. The people who have inspired me the most don't know they've even influenced me at all. I learn more from the examples that have been set than from direct, explicit instruction. I'm an observer and a studier. But not a student.

In fact, I’ve never really looked for teachers. I’ve always been on the lookout for mentors... people with skills that I want, people living a kind of lifestyle that appeals to me, people with an approach to life that I want to have as well. People I can emulate

So far, it has proven to be a beneficial way for Gestalting together a brand new aesthetic... my own!

Jun 7, 2012

Fun Grip at 2012 Big Sexy

Fun Grip performed at the Dyer Street Bar as part of the 4th Annual Big Sexy Weekend of Improv. Between folks filming on several cameras, I managed to splice together most of the set...



Jun 6, 2012

Neil Gaiman on Working as an Artist

You get work however you get work, but people keep working in a freelance world (and more and more of today’s world is freelance), because their work is good, because they are easy to get along with and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three! Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. People will forgive the lateness of your work if it is good and they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as everyone else if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.
 

Jun 5, 2012

Send CHOP to FringeNYC Kickstarter Project

I've launched my first Kickstarter Campaign to help raise funds for taking CHOP to FringeNYC. If you're reading this and can help, please do. At the very least, please help me spread the word....

Bike Soccer episode 5


The Bike Soccer Jamboree Podcast episode 5 is online now! Jeff and I discuss those real people - historical and still living - who have been outstanding influences on us.

Listen HERE!

Capturing Improvisers

Since Dribble Funk Comics was a sponsor of the 2012 Big Sexy Weekend of Improv, I took a sketchbook and got a few quick drawings of some of the troupes at the Friday, June 1st shows... (click on any drawing to see a bigger image)



Jun 4, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom


I went to see The Moonrise Kingdom last weekend, kinda in the middle of all the Big Sexy Improv goodness. It may be the best Wes Anderson movie yet. The Moonrise Kingdom has a lot of stuff I usually enjoy in Anderson movies, but moreso... human relationships pushed to the point of absurdity, a retro-obsessed over-packed mise-en-scene, the symmetrically balanced cinematography and a kick-ass soundtrack. I particularly liked this Fran├žoise Hardy song, which is featured prominently in the film.

I think it is on an album called The Yeh Yeh Girl from Paris!  But is costs a king's ransom. I am hoping that with the movie out they will reissue it here in the States! It is on the movie soundtrack, though, so that's at least something...

Jun 3, 2012

The look of the 4th Annual Big Sexy!

So, besides leading a workshop, hosting a Monologue Jam and performing as part of Fun Grip in the 4th Annual Big Sexy Weekend of Improv, some of the groups I'm affiliated with were sponsors of the event. In particular, my webcomic DribbleFunkComics.com was on the list. I ended up designing and drawing the marketing materials for the festival and I was really pleased at how everything came out.
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This is the "teaser" poster I made. I later added troupe names and sponsors to it.
 
The poster and the badges

I also designed the tickets for each show that were run off on different colored paper

My poster design was run off on t-shirts and tote bags as well...

I took my inspiration from the Post Magazine cover called "Leapfrog" by Norman Rockwell.