This is the transcript for the podcast episode Claire Keane, Jenn Ely & Brian McDonald on Art, Fear & Finding Your Calling (Part 1) :: ArtCast #92. To listen to the podcast click here.
Chris: Chris Oatley’s Artcast, episode 92 – Art, Fear, and Finding Your Calling: A Conversation with Claire Keane, Jenn Ely, and Brian McDonald, part one.
Hello, my friends, and welcome to another episode of Chris Oatley’s Artcast. I’m Chris Oatley, a former Disney artist gone rogue. I’m now the director of The Oatley Academy of Visual Storytelling, where I get to work every day with the most positive, passionate, collaborative community of creative I have ever known. You can find more art and story podcasts from some of the most inspiring voices in animation, games, vfx, comics, and new media at OatleyAcademy.com/shows.
Claire Keane, Jenn Ely, Brian McDonald, and I have created a unique conference designed to help you become the great visual storyteller you’re meant to be. In May of 2016, our new story design conference will take place in the awe inspiring city of Rome, Italy and we would love for you to join us. I’ll share more details and tell you how you can be part of it all in just a minute. Claire, Jenn, and Brian are here today on the Artcast in celebration of our announcement. We knew we wanted to do a podcast together, but we didn’t just want to tell you about the event. We wanted to take the opportunity having everyone together to discuss a couple of the many big ideas we’ll be exploring in depth during the conference. This is the first part of a two-part series in which you will hear us discuss why you might never find your calling and why that’s a good thing, why the most intimidating problems can also be the most inspiring, and why fear never goes away no matter how successful you become.
I’d like to begin this Artcast a little bit differently than usual, considering it’s a special occasion. I’m going to read the official announcement about the story design conference, and then I’ll play the first part of the discussion with Claire, Jenn, and Brian. And then in the next episode, I’ll share the entire conference itinerary. But if you want to see it before then, just go to OatleyAcademy.com/go/rome. I do want to say right at the top here that the early bird rate for the conference is amazing. I thought I was going to have to do a lot to kind of help brace for the impact of the cost of the event, but that didn’t happen at all. In fact, the rate is far, far lower than I thought it would be. So if you’re interested in attending, visit OatleyAcademy.com/go/rome, that’s OatleyAcademy.com/go/rome and get all the information about the conference and you can register there as well.
Okay, here’s the announcement. The Story Design Conference, understand color, composition and character development for animation and film. Join Claire Keane, visual development artist for Disney and children’s book creator for Penguin Random House, Brian McDonald, story consultant for Pixar, Disney, and Industrial Light & Magic, Jenn Ely, visual development artist for Laika, Google, and DreamWorks, and Chris Oatley (that’s me), director and founder of The Oatley Academy of Visual Storytelling in the awe inspiring city of Rome, Italy for a unique conference designed to help you become the great visual storyteller you were meant to be. Aesop’s Fables, Romeo & Juliet, the Wizard of Oz, Bambi, E.T., The Legend of Zelda, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Lord of the Rings – for thousands of years, great stories have been changing the world. They don’t just teach us how to survive, but why. The unite us in our joy and in our pain, they transmit the power of healing virtues like selflessness, trust, forgiveness and love. The best part of working in animation, games, vfx, and publishing is the opportunity to create beautiful, meaningful stories in collaboration with other like-minded creative people. Obviously the industry can become disconnected from the power of story, but even when it does, great visual storytellers do not. They will always find a way to tell a great story and for that reason, their work will live on. So what makes a great visual storyteller? How does a great visual storyteller combine color, composition, and character development to create a memorable emotional experience for the audience? What does it take to develop a stable career as a visual storyteller in today’s increasingly competitive industry? And how do you find your own unique visual voice? The Story Design Conference will provide inspiring and actionable insight into these crucial questions. This isn’t simply a sit quietly and watch famous artists be awesome kind of thing, it’s a personal participatory conference with a curriculum designed by some of the entertainment industry’s best teachers. Bring your portfolios and story ideas, there will be frequent opportunities for personal interaction and feedback. Whether you’re a concept artist, character designer, illustrator, story artist, animator, 3D artist, etc., all of the instructors will be available throughout the conference to accelerate your artistic development. Join us May 11-15 in Rome, Italy for the Story Design Conference. Space is extremely limited, so register today and we’ll see you in Rome for the experience of a lifetime. Visit OatleyAcademy.com/go/rome, again that’s OatleyAcademy.com/go/rome to get all of the details and register for the event.
I just want to go around the room here and have everyone sort of update us on what you’ve been up to since you were last on an Oatley Academy podcast. And so, Claire, let’s just start with you. If you could share with us what you’ve been up to recently, what we did establish…I know we can talk about this…you were working on some other book projects.
Claire: Yes, and it’s so funny because the last time that we spoke and it was recorded, I was telling you how I was having such a hard time coming up with my story idea for my second book. And I just couldn’t come up with things, and I was just in like that real hard spot, ya know?
Chris: Oh yeah.
Claire: And you brought up something that Brian talks about, you have to know what you want to communicate before you can say what you want to say.
Claire: And I was just like, oh my gosh! It’s just so obvious! And I hadn’t even thought about that. Like, I hadn’t thought about what it is that I wanted to say with my book. And so, I remember in that conversation just being completely inspired and after we talked, I got in my car and I was just thinking, what is it that I want to say? And I just kind of went down this road of trying to think about what I want to say about this book about my daughter Matisse, and I wanted to say that she kind of like is a big part of our life. I just started going down this little rabbit hole of how this little person can have such a big impact on this world. And I was going down this little rabbit hole of okay, I like that idea, that could be a really fun concept, like this big and little type thing. And so I was going about it just like okay, this is a little girl in a big world. And then I started thinking, but I have to work Roman, my son in there somehow. Like he’s going to be pretty sad if I don’t and at the same time I was coming to this point where I’m like okay, I’ve got all this story about this little girl in a big world but I don’t know what’s going to happen. And all of a sudden I realized, oh my gosh, this little girl in this big world suddenly gets an even littler brother. And then I realized that this is like a sibling story about Matisse and when she became a big sister and how once she becomes a big sister now, it’s her job to show this big world to her little brother. Like this little light went off in my head and now I have just finished all the illustrations and I sent them off on Friday and I’m really excited about it. The editors are real excited about it and it’s coming out in October.
Chris: Oh my! That’s so exciting! I mean, it happened!
Claire: Yeah! It happened! And it was seriously thanks to you guys, and it’s so funny that like we’re right back here like right when I just finished sending off all the illustrations.
Chris: Wow. Can we talk about Tangled at all? Is there anything we can say about that one?