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Cartoons and Creativity

Jen Myers
June 26, 2013
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Cartoons and Creativity

What I learned from animator Chuck Jones.

Jen Myers

June 26, 2013
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  1. CARTOONS & CREATIVITY
    WHAT I LEARNED FROM ANIMATOR CHUCK JONES
    JEN MYERS • [email protected] • JENMYERS.NET • @ANTIHEROINE

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  2. START ANYWHERE AND STICK WITH IT

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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. STUDY INDIVIDUALITY AND CHARACTER

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  6. 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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  7. RESPECT YOUR MEDIUM

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  8. 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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  9. FIND INSPIRATION IN IMPOSED CONSTRAINTS

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  10. 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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  11. DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND FIND YOUR OWN PATH

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  12. 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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  13. Inspired by:
    jenmyers.net/writing/the-chuck-
    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

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  14. Jen Myers
    [email protected]
    jenmyers.net
    @antiheroine

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