DRAWING, DREAMING AND CARPENTRY…

I’ve been walking this path for years. Carrying a bag on my back I was told to open when I got to the edge of the cliff. Finally! Some end in sight. I sit on the edge, letting my feet dangle off the overhang and start unzipping the satchel I’d been hauling. Planks of wood? Tools? Rope? What am I supposed to do with this? I glance over to the other side of the cliff and see the familiar silhouettes of my parents.

Everyone says you’re at the age where you’re bridging the gap between child and adult. Nobody told me that I had to build-the bridge myself. Thought it would just happen. Instead, I’m teetering on the edge of a cliff, without any skills of carpentry, waving to the grown-ups on the other side. My mother and father are ushering me towards them, still deliberating in their heads, if they’ve done a good job in raising a stand up human being. Every action at this age, seems like it’s just an attempt, to recapture the magic of how exciting things were when I was a child. That sentiment probably sounded much darker than I envisaged. But this does make me wonder; is that why we get full grown Disneyland fanatics, or middle-aged women idealising middle-aged ex-boybands and bronies?!

Is that why I still like animation?

Drawing seems to be the only reoccurring motif in my life -that I’ve carried through from ages 2 to 21. It’s one of those things that we are encouraged to do in nursery and only a few of us are doing it by secondary school, then, sometimes, you’re left still letting it consume you for hours, you can’t help shake the feeling, though, that it’s somewhat childish and a waste of time. Is it?

I’ve been trying to write and draw a graphic novel because I want to combine the skill an English degree has taught me along with my long-time passion. But it’s not going very well. Turns out I can’t stick to a schedule, which is a vital skill for self-management. Who knew? It has strengthened my belief, however, in what I actually want to do in my life, I do want to learn to animate. Perhaps I’m not quite on the right path for that yet though, I avoided animation school in pursuit of practicality over unattainable dreams. But as practical as I try to conduct myself, the library daydreams of working at Pixar studios persist.

This stems from a Monsters Inc. DVD extras reel I watched in about 2003. It showed the inner workings of the Pixar animation studios, and the workings involved what looked like, not much working at all. They were wearing wacky shirts, making clay models of characters and riding around -on scooters. This would ignite the fire for any child. Of course I wanted to work there, what child wouldn’t? (Unless you were one of those kids where suited professionals, synergy and accountancy got you motivated.) Thinking about it now though, the fun happy go lucky quirky façade, may all seem a bit forced. Riding around work on scooters no longer appeal to me. Guess it’s time to grow up and press on. But I always slip back. I recently watched the documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. This fly-on-the-wall insight into the Studio Ghibli animation studios sparked a new appreciation for the art of animation, but in a different light from Pixar. Their work environment didn’t look overtly fun, there were no scooters, no kitschy giant character models; just a simple organic working space. A typical Japanese work environment; which involved hard work, routine, exercise and capping the day off to watch the sunset on the roof, each day. Somehow, this all seemed rather appealing. My dreams had changed from that of a child to more of an adult, but was I ready to bridge the gap?

I placed planks of wood on top the grass and sat down. I looked over to my parents at the other side, and resumed drawing this endless graphic novel. I ushered mum and dad towards this side of the cliff for a while, they came over gladly. I’m not building that bridge anytime soon.

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