During my undergrad I tried to enjoy every class, but sometimes it was hard to wake up and go to Boring Abstract Formulas Lacking Any Discernible Application to Anything 100.
At CCS, there are no dead-weight classes. That said, I think Cartooning Studio taught by Jason Lutes is quickly becoming my favourite class. This is simply due to the fact that Jason has a diabolical mind that concocts only the maddest of class projects … like, say, that time on the first day of classes when we had to make 45-second drawings that clearly communicate an assigned scenario.
For our first homework assignment, we were provided with an emotion, an animal, and an occupation. We then had to design a character that clearly communicates all three elements without words or backgrounds. This was infinitely more difficult than I expected it to be.
It’s been about three weeks since I started classes at the Center for Cartoon Studies, and it’s been fantastic so far! The assignments have been fun and challenging, and the student work has been inspiring. It’s so weird to be in a room with so many great cartoonists at the same time.
One of the first assignments we were given in Steve Bissette’s Drawing Studio class is a weekly diary comic. The comic must be at least one page in length, and occasionally has other requirements.
For the first diary comic, Steve split everyone into groups of two or three and told us to go eat lunch together. We then had to draw our comics based on some aspect of that conversation.
I had lunch with Katie Moody and Bailey Sharp, and this is how it went:
We tried to get a good picture, but then like, this HUGE DINOSAUR TOTALLY APPEARED you guys.
Needless to say, it’s been great so far. I really can’t believe how fortunate I am to be here. I’ll be posting some stuff from my first couple of weeks soon. Keep an eye out on Thursdays for sketches, drawings, and comics made in class!
After looking at some of the current Center for Cartoon Studies student sites today, I realized that it’s possible to have nested drop-down menu items on my site.
I’ve added a Shorts page, accessible via the menu. I’m hoping to add a bunch of my short comics over the next few days. I also plan on having a page for my single-page comics.
Hell, I might even add some of my Tijuana Bibles since they are responsible for all the hits I get on my old site. Seriously, there are a lot of disappointed masturbators stumbling onto my site during an otherwise pleasant Google image search session.
After spending much time agonizing over my decision to apply to the Center for Cartoon Studies, I finally sent off my application in September.
Yesterday I received an acceptance letter (along with the great CCS How-To Guide, filled with the sort of anxieties and self-doubts that seem to drift through the mind while inking). By Fall 2010, I’ll be in Vermont beginning work on the two-year course of study to get my MFA.
Naturally, I was ecstatic, I’ve found it impossible to get White River Junction out of my mind since I attended the CCS Portfolio Day in November 2009.
I’ve been working full-time since March, as well as taking every commission that comes my way, just in the off-chance that I would decide to apply. Now that I’ve been accepted, the weight of it all hit me today. Debt! Distance! Visas! In short, this shit just got real. It’s a good thing they sent that guide.
So it looks like I’ll be continuing my office work for the next eight or nine months, which will hopefully help take a chunk out of the debt I’ll soon incur. My wife mentioned that we could have a baby in that time, but I think she was joking (though I seem to remember reading about a CCS student who had a baby with his wife during his studies … well, not literally during his studies, but the point is it can be done, especially if said baby craps cash).
Anyway, I’ll complain about the inflexibility of working full-time coupled with the finicky nature of creative inspiration another day.
For now, I’d like to post the comic I made for my application. Each prospective student must create a minimum two-page comic featuring themselves, a robot, a snowman, and a piece of fruit (the current application form also requests the inclusion of the ocean). For the printed version, I colored the falling hair silver in the last couple of panels … the effect was much more underwhelming than I would have liked.
Last November I visited The Center for Cartoon Studies for their Portfolio Day, and my life has been in turmoil ever since. Here’s why…
Before discovering the school, I was resting on the laurels of my BFA. This mostly consisted of trying to learn more about the art world, as well as applying for grants and the occasional residency/exhibition (usually unsuccessfully). I frequently felt as though I was treading water.
Sometimes I contemplated going back to school, but none of the MFA programs I looked into really excited me enough to commit.
As much as I enjoy contemporary art, I didn’t enjoy trying to make work that would be suitable for most galleries. When it came time to sit down to my drawing board next to the fridge, I only wanted to draw comics. And while comics have been gaining increasing respect in the art world, they are often still regarded as a kind of sideshow.
The Center for Cartoon Studies offers an MFA program focussing on things in which I am endlessly interested. To name a few: comics, cartoons, design, history, narrative, printmaking, self-publishing, etc. But there were two problems with this plan: 1) CCS is not accredited (though it has been given the state’s authority to offer MFA degrees) 2) I am poor.
The weekend I spent in Vermont was fantastic, thanks largely to the welcoming CCS faculty and students. The school is located in the town (village?) of White River Junction – a place that has recently seen a little more vibrancy and bustle thanks in part to the small but active arts community.
As my wife and I drove back to Montreal, I rambled for four hours, still high on the excitement of new possibilities.
But once the voice becomes too hoarse to ramble, a funny thing happens. Reality kicks in. How would I afford it? We were about to move back to Regina; did I want to move again so soon? Does accreditation matter?
When we moved back to Regina, I spent several months waffling on the decision, seeking the advice of anyone who would listen. I even ended up getting a real job and saving money, just in case I would eventually work up the gumption to apply (let alone get accepted) to CCS.
I received a lot of different reactions regarding the school. Most of my peers thought that it was cool (though after explaining it to one artist she just made a face like I used Duchamp’s corpse as a urinal). Academics warned me of the pitfalls of an unaccredited (and therefore useless) degree. Family expressed concerns about me moving. An editor with whom I was working suggested I use my savings to show my work at various comics conferences, conventions and fairs.
Needless to say, I was conflicted.
As I sought advice, positive reactions made me excited beyond description, and negative reactions absolutely crushed me, leaving me sad for days. After repeating this cycle numerous ties, I realized that I had already made up my mind and was only seeking approval.
A friend of mine reminded me that the biggest thing an MFA should give you is lots of studio time to develop something new– to improve your skills and knowledge through hard work and research.
Long story short, I finally finished my application and mailed it this morning.
I have a blog.
If you are reading this, you are probably my friend, or you accidentally ended up here while researching the Scottish genealogies of North Dakota.
It’s my intent to use this blog as a supplement to my website, and to more consistently post my work, thoughts on art things, and hilarious images of cats juxtaposed with text. Like other bloggers, I tend to think a lot of things in a day, and I’m totally convinced that everything I think is so vitally important to the betterment of the human species that I am compelled to publicly document it for all to see.
But mostly this is just shameless self-promotion.
Hopefully more illuminating posts will appear after I’ve gotten this surprisingly awkward first post out of the way. I feel like I’m on a blind date here.
Anyway, I will soon post about some of my current thinkings and doings, which will include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Applying to the Center for Cartoon Studies.
- Touring Saskatchewan, teaching art workshops about art with other artists.
- Other things that have nothing to do with the above.
- The overuse of commas and bullets.