Saturday, September 7, 2019

The Unbearable LightBox of Being

There's a new animation expo in town - LightBox -and yesterday, I went.   The last such event I attended was the World Animation Celebration in 1998, at the same location - the Pasadena Convention Center (newer building).  My aversion to crowds keeps me away from such events,  but every once in a while I nudge myself to get out there and network.  Still, I dreaded the thought of it.  
     I convinced myself Friday would be less crowded than the weekend.  20 minutes before opening, there was a line of cars around the block for parking.  I found an alternate lot a few blocks away and walked in the stinking September heat to the expo.  To clarify, this was not specifically an animation expo.  The LightBox site describes it as, "Over 250 of the best artists from the animation, live-action, illustration, and gaming industries coming together for the ultimate celebration of art."  Being the first such mish-mash event I had ever attended, it was, by default, the "ultimate". 

 Entering the convention hall looking lost,  it was great to see a familiar face in Shane Richardson.  Shane was on 'Shimmer & Shine' with me at Nick, and being a great guy, he showed me around the place.  I would see a few more 'S&S' peeps along the way.  Jocelyn Sepulveda and Sarah Marino shared a booth of their gorgeous artwork, and Julie Kinman, recently promoted to Queen of Recruiting (or something like that) at Nickelodeon was there incognito, checking the place out. 
     It took a while start really looking at the art on display instead of the characters looking at the art on display.  It was busy, but not so crowded that booths were inaccessible.  The layout was your standard flea market deal.   The place was chock a-block with young animation stereotypes.  And what's with the backpacks?  No grown man should carry a backpack unless he's camping (strictly my opinion, but I'm right).   
     I met a wide array of artists along the way whose work called out for me stop to see more.  Check out their links!   There was character designer  Toshiki Nakamura, who came to the expo from Japan.  Children's book illustrator Eda Kaban came down from Oakland.  Disney's Lorelay Bove graciously talked to me while trying to eat her lunch.  I met fellow Illumination alum Luis Gadea.  Mark Anthony  the vis dev artist NOT singer.   And Brittany Myers, whose character designs and poses had a uniquely quirky charm.  
     When I approached Brittany's booth, she was looking at someone's tablet, giving them advice on their designs and what to put in a portfolio.  I saw this a lot walking around the room - people thrusting their work upon the artists.  Now kids, the artists displaying their work spend hours of time and lots of money generating artwork, creating displays and schlepping their stuff around.  They are not your job coach, nor mentor.  Put your sketchbooks and tablets back in your backpacks, put it in a storage locker, and enjoy the art on exhibit.  You can email an artist later and bug them for free advice.  Putting them on the spot is not cool, even for nerds.  
     After two hours, I had museum fatigue and headed home just ahead of Friday rush hour traffic.  Despite this post's title pun, it was a quite bearable afternoon after all, meeting and getting inspired by young artists.  If you're in the Pasadena area today or tomorrow, drop your backpacks and get over there!  


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