Cartoons and Creativity

Abe38081ff1dc9cfe239d4f06831e47e?s=47 Jen Myers
June 26, 2013

Cartoons and Creativity

What I learned from animator Chuck Jones.


Jen Myers

June 26, 2013


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    “ My first instructor at Chouinard Art Institute, like Nicolaides

    at the Art Students League, greeted his beginning classes with the following grim edict: ‘All of you here have one hundred thousand bad drawings in you. The sooner you get rid of them, the better it will be for everyone.’
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    “ One evening I lost faith in both my father

    and Chaplin when my father came home to tell us that he had seen Chaplin shoot a single fifteen-second scene 132 times. … ‘Why,’ I asked myself, ‘not do it right in the first place? Can't he learn how to do it by watching his own movies?’ … It was the beginning of my understanding of the two primary rules of all creativity. The first is you must love what you are doing; the second is that you must be willing to do the often dull and tiring work necessary to bring each creative endeavor to completion, and in that endeavor only the love should show. It took Chaplin more than a hundred takes a thousand times to bring his incredible craft to the screen he loved so well, and never, never did the work show.
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    “ Character always comes first, before the physical representation. We

    are not what we look like. We are not even what we sound like. We are how we move; in other words, our personalities. And our personalities are shaped by what we think, where we come from, by what we have experienced. And that personality is unique to each of us.
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    “ We were forbidden—actually forbidden—to draw on both sides of

    the paper. Because, of course, Father wanted to get rid of the stationery from a defunct business as soon as possible, and he brought logic to bear in sustaining his viewpoint: ‘You never know when you're going to make a good drawing,’ he said. And then, stretching credulity to the point of idiocy: ‘Suppose you were Leonardo da Vinci and you painted the Mona Lisa on one side of your canvas and The Last Supper on the other—how would you ever hang it?’ Nevertheless—and perhaps, just perhaps, he knew what he was saying—he brought into focus a most vital rule of creativity: You must, if you ever pretend to artistry, respect your medium; be it a blank piece of paper or canvas, an untouched bar sheet, an uncarved piece of stone, or an exposed frame of film.
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    “ The whole essence of good drawing—and of good thinking,

    perhaps—is to work a subject down to the simplest form possible and still have it believable for what it is meant to be.
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    “ The rules are simple. Take your work, but never

    yourself, seriously. Pour in the love and whatever skill you have, and it will come out.
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    Inspired by: jones-school-of-creativity.html References: • Chuck Amuck: The Life

    and Times of an Animated Cartoonist • Chuck Reducks: Drawing from the Fun Side of Life