Authentic Citizenship: The Sequel
As promised here is part two of our interview and conversation with Chris Copeland and Jeff Wamester. The sequel to part one keeps the art love rolling with Chris Copeland and Jeff Wamester revealing even more fantastic tips for new artists on the rise. They also share with us their favorite deviants of all time.
Part two of the interview with
Jeff Wamester & Christopher Copeland
How important are maintaining stable personal relationships with family, friends, significant others, workmates and somewhat significant others in the steady production of your art?
It's a tall order to do while you are first trying to make it. It really takes an understanding and strong family and/or significant other. Hopefully they can understand how important it is to you. Maybe more accurately that it IS you. Luckily, most of my family has incredibly supportive about what I do. My wife, most of all has been incredibly supportive through the whole process. ( love ya hon! )
More important than music, lol. As much as a song or an album can speak to me life, nothing can speak to me more than the people around me. My wife most importantly is the source for so much of my inspiration and she continues to ground me daily, my children, my family, my colleagues. I am a reflection of the people I’m surrounded by, and the company I keep is vital to keeping me in touch with who I am as a person and as an artist. And I would be crazy not to include the people whom I have had contact with on dA. I get feedback all the time about what im doing artistically and its so AMAZINGLY helpful to me as a professional. I feel like I have been BLESSED with people in my life to keep me grounded. People of various backgrounds – religious, non-religious, they keep me viewing life from a certain perspective. Also, people are the reason why I enjoy any little successes I have here and there. So, people are very important.
Does chaos, emotional or environmental, block your artistic drive and creativity? NO – it feeds it and inspires it.
Yes, chaos can put a damper on your creativity and productivity... no doubt. But as a professional you need to find a way to get stuff done. Us artists don't often get a vacation or any time off that comes with a check.
Our existence/life is chaotic, our world is chaotic. You ask a Buddhist priest whatever perspective he has of our life, and he’d say something similar or close to chaotic. I don’t think it’s a negative idea BTW. I think there’s a lot of amazing energy in chaos. However, I think navigating and understanding Chaos necessitates relationship, which brings me back to how important people are in my life; to navigate through that chaos with, and express it artistically for me.
What is your conception of “authentic citizenship” as it pertains to deviantART’s worldwide community of members? Is this a phenomenon that is almost unique on the Internet and what do you see as its potential as an organizing model extended to the entire web?
deviantART is a unique place. The people that come to deviantART are deeply passionate about art. Even the people that aren't producing or even the people who are here because they are looking for attention, are still here because they are passionate about art. It's very interesting to see how quickly the fakes are sniffed and called out. Goes to show how important it is to the people who are here.
I think deviantART is special, in that, because it is people’s artistic expression, it’s something they hold so near and dear, its almost like Facebook on stage, or Facebook the “naked” version, where everyone is kind of stripped down to their core values. The most appealing element (comparably speaking) of Facebook is the status update, and, I think what you have with dA is a person’s identity in their gallery, stripped down, raw, status updates. And so, with that, there is this sense of authentic community, because when someone speaks about your art they are speaking critically, with love and honesty (hopefully), and an unfiltered sense of criticism about what you feel is reality, and they are contributing to your growth and your understanding of the world around you.
As far as it’s interface, it’s revolutionary. I think for as many people that complain about the interface changing on dA, the numbers show and increased sense of citizenship, or membership, and that’s huge. Because, it’s showing that dA, like people, it changes, and to have people stick with it through that change, as they themselves are changing, that’s remarkable for the internet…something you can just walk away from at any point. Not to mention dA’s ability to establish sound, personal, authentic personal relationships/friendships as well as serve as a job search, and recruitment service – in addition to a comics/animation/entertainment convention all year round is revolutionary.
Could you identify 5 deviants whose art, though largely unrecognized at the moment, you feel should be immediately highlighted and brought to a larger audience in order to receive its greatly deserved due?
One of the most giving people I know...He just loves to tell stories and has serious ambitions for film making and animation. You can see it in everything he does.
A super passionate guy about art. Always has a ton of energy for it and the style to boot. Can be very inspiring.
Just a guy on the rise. His sense for this is stunning.
Not sure how explain it, but he just has it. Could do any kind of art he wants to fine art to comics to animation.
Super nice, heart forward kinda guy with a sense of spot blacks I could only dream of.
I think there are a few that stand out.
He is a director in TV animation and one of the most talented and down to earth people I have ever met in my life. Not to mention he is an absolute POWERHOUSE with his work, having provided design work for Dreamworks animation, as well as being a BEAST on the storyboards, Mel is just a talented and awesome MOFO that I look up to.
My friend and office mate at Cartoon Network Tanner Johnson is AWESOME! Artistically he hates on his own stuff a lot of times, but im telling you the stuff that he does has a real cool flare to it, and watching him grow and learn as an artist is ridiculous. Where Tanner really excels at is with his Storyboards, he has such a natural gift for finding moments in our scripts and just highlighting the hell out of them and making you enjoy them. ALso one of the nicest sincerest guys you will ever meet.
One of my good friends and ridiculous "imaginator" Adam Lucas aka Konjur (www.konjur.deviantart.com) He is a MONSTER of a creator and thinker, his imagination is always pushing his work in directions that are constantly amazing me and the people around him. Another guy that, like myself and Jeff, was scouted on his Deviantart, and his work spoke for itself, and then when meeting him, the guys thought he was cool enough to want him around. His forst gig in Animation was as a storyboard revisionist on Avatar Korra, how you like that, check his work, he's AMAZING!!!!
I know that he has a lot of pageviews already, but seriously, I think that he needs more, what he does with inks is just STUPID DOPE, and not to mention that he is one of the nicest and most genuine guys I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and having a beer with, PUNK ROCK JESUS is all I can say, lookout!
She is a model, and yes, she is pretty, but having spoken to her on a few occasions, and hearing her ideas for how to try to change the scope of what a model does on dA as far as commissions and pushing herself the like, its pretty dope, so big props to her)
Were there established artists whose bumps of praise helped you in your career?
I was very lucky to get words of encouragement from some established artists that really hit me really hard. However minute they might feel the effort was, the words were a huge boost to my confidence... They really helped me bridge the gap. I feel very indebted to them...
Thomas Perkins - *tnperkins
Shaunt Nigoghossian - IMDb Profile
Joaquim Dos Santos - ~JoaquimDossantos
Alex Soto - IMDb Profile
Phil Bourassa - *philbourassa
Chris Oatley - *ChrisOatley
Oh God yes.
I know Jeff mentioned him, but, to me, he is a sensei in every sense of the word, and his encouragement is what bought me out to Cali in the first place. He is the guy that lead me around the WB animation studios for the first time and personally introduced me to EVERYONE there, he has an AMAZING sense of humor, and his knowlege of what it takes to make it in this industry is UNCANNY, not to mention he’s a MONSTER of a designer and his designs on Cartoon Network's, Young Justice just recently put an Emmy on his mantle. Serious amounts of debt and thanks to him for his mentorship and friendship.
Sorry, I know Jeff mentioned him as well, but I cant help it, he is another big reason im in animation, he is RIDICULOUSLY talented and one of the nicest guys you can meet, but he is a great leader in his abilities, and it really propels you to want to do better as a storyboard guy, he sat the bar pretty high for me early on.
A director of the Emmy award winnig Transformers: Prime, and probably the reason im still in animation. He taught me TONS of the tricks and methods in a way that I understood, and his form of tough love was the medicine I needed to progress as a storyboard artist, and although im still VERY new to the industry and being a storyboard artist, he equipped me with enough to start my career. Hes also a good friend of mine now, and I cherish his friendship emmensely.
Brother in arms, maniac of an artist, and just one of the mentors I look up to from early on, ALWAYS encouraging me before I even thought about animation. He is always sharing his wisdom with me, and CONSTANTLY giving me feedback and great ideas on my output.
Always encouraging me before I was even introduced to deviantART, this guy pulled me behind artist alley tables ad assured me that I would be there one day, much love for that.
Another brother in arms that has been there form the absolute beginning always encouraging me to think outside the box and pushing me and my brothers forward from the beginning.
Convinced me to get a deviantart page more than 8 years ago, and always supported my ideas and thoughts about breaking in, AMAZINGLY nice man that has been showing me the ropes for a while now.
One of the most talented guys in animation and comics, and when he first contacted me and gave me his phone number and encouraged me to make the move from Chicago to LA, it was the icing on the cake, just a great few phone conversations that really helped me believe in my abilities, and instilled hope in the process.
A fellow Chicagoan and former graffiti artist like myself, I have always looked up to him for his imagination and abilities with the pen, and when I found out that he was a fan of my work, and then having him reach out to chill with me and sketch together, it was AMAZING having that experience, and his belief in my abilities s well as his friendship, is something that I treasure to this day.
SO, thats the end of my changes, you can just take those and pop them in in place of the old version.
How important is it to develop lasting friendships with other artists?
I think it's so important to have your circle. A group that you can root for and they can root for you. This kind of a career is not easy by any means. The hours of work, the challenges of the profession, it affects every part our lives, both professionally and personally. You need that circle that allows you to lean on each other and inspire each other. I would not be where I am without my friends ( they know who they are! ).
Very. I can’t even explain how challenged I am by my friends who are also artists. It’s like having a college education at your disposal. Being able to be challenged by them, just because we view our style and things we see differently. There’s just and endless source of inspiration to having friends as artists. I wouldn’t be an artist without other artists around me, most notably my two brothers. This goes back to the citizenship of dA and how important it is to invest in your page and let the people around you know who you are. Because, eventually, they will contribute to what you do as an artist, and as well as you contributing to what the people around you do artistically.
Can rivalries with other artists be a healthy thing that can be conducted in a positive manner, or are they pretty much always detrimental to both artists?
I think it can but not everybody thinks so. It's fine if both sides have a healthy view of competition. If you see it as a great way to improve, then it's a great thing. However, if you equate your value as human being to your achievements in your art or career then obviously you will get hurt and probably should stay away until you are ready. So, in my opinion it's not about whether competition is unhealthy, it's really about whether the people involved are mature enough to take advantage of its benefits.
I believe that rivalries ABSOLUTELY have the ability to be conducted in a positive manner, im a big believer in this idea. It happens all the time in Animation, and im sure in other industries as well, and it’s a great thing when it happens the way that I think its supposed to. I have a group of friends that are also artists, and we are constantly trying to push each other to be better and go further artistically, and sometimes, the words fail and we have to execute artistically what we are thinking and show it around to each other in order to push each other. I know for me, when I look at some 15 year old prodigy on dA, it always pushes me, I usually leave a comment trying to discourage them moving to the states and taking all of my work, lol. But seriously, I generally try to encourage them, and also let them know that they inspired me in some way, and it usually grounds for a great relationship to be established upon. So yeah, I think there is a lot of good in healthy rivalries, but I do think there is a lot to be said about moderation being the idea, you don’t want to ALWAYS compete with your fellow artists, I think that can get out of hand, and then door for receiving wisdom from one another can be detrimental.
Is it wise to seek romantic fulfillment and a true love with another artist – or is this something that just doesn’t work?
I don't see why not. It's another one of things where both artists have to be truly honest with themselves. Do you have a mature view on your relationship between you and your art and/your career? Relationships are often forged where art has brought the artists together. However competition can start to poison the relationship if both parties don't have a healthy view on competition, or can keep competition out of the relationship's dynamics. So, I would, before getting serious with another artist, examine my relationship with art.
SURE, lol. I guess, maybe....yeah, I think so. HAHAHAHA! (Im sorry, that’s a funny question, lol) I definitely think that 2 artists can work out, I will emphasize “CAN”. I also think that can is a question of capability and not probability, lol. I have known a good amount of artists that have dated other artists, and as long as the competition stays at a healthy balance, those relationships usually work out. I have seen the other side though, where jealousy takes hold of one or the other and there is no bond that can keep them from wanting to “out-do” the other, so theres that. Not to mention that 2 artists usually have strengths in the same area, and I know for me and my wife, although artistic, she is CLEARLY a better person than I am in the other areas of our life and so I give her all the props and freedom in the world with everything that we own, cause she will actually be a better steward with them than myself, lol. So, my final answer is yes, it think they can work out… sometimes, lol.
That's what I got man, let me know if you need clarity or anything on any of this. This is soooooo EXCITING!!!!!!
Best Tips for Your Profile Page (Tips 6-10)
by *jeffwamester & *chriscopeland
Absolutely no questionable material on your front page.
Seriously folks, if you want to work in the industry of anything (other than porn, lol) its going to be hard for the big guys to show your work off if you have a bunch of questionable materials on your page, just think about it as if your mom, or grandmother will be visiting your page.
You don't want to be pigeon-holed for adult material. Make sure you keep all avenues open.
Prominently display a link to your website.
This is a big one as well, the funny thing is that you almost want to lead people away from your deviantART page (sorry dA guys, lol) but the reality is that you have your Fav's, Your wishlist and a bunch of other artwork on your main page that isn't your work, you would definitely want to pull clients to a place where you are at the center of the attention. I have a blog that I send people to.
I use a hub site that connects to all my social media. It lets anyone who wants to connect more can easily do so.
Make a memorable avatar that is YOUR art.
Again, another way tot show off your work, I have literally seen avatars that have forced me to visit that individuals dA page, and then to either be AMAZED, or quickly turned away because everything else falls flat, lol.
If you don't it will automatically create an air of distrust, the moment they visit your site.
Take advantage of the features/widgets offered in your deviantART page.
dA is not some cheaply placed site with a small amount of customization, it should be viewed as your home and taken care of, and also used to your advantage. There is so much to be said about the little things here and there that Deviantart offers, its almost hard to name, but fill out the information about yourself, use your journa,ls to express yourself with the words your art can speak.
There's things like twitter feed, gallery folders, featured image and especially deviantID that can help you reveal more about who you are.
Treat your page as a real representation of you and who you are.
The last thing you want to happen is that your gallery becomes stagnant, and/or neglected, that would be a waste of something amazing that has been handed to you. Use your gallery, make sure that all of if points back to you as a person, it says what you want it to say, and keep changing it as you change as a person, so that no matter what the people that visit get a feel of you as a person.
Use your favorites folder to show what inspires you and where you passions lay. People, including possible employers want to know this stuff to get a better representation of who you are. Remember, in reality your dA page is your first interview.