Monday, August 27, 2012

A Tidal Wave Of Amazing News

Well, the dust has finally settled enough for me to spread the good news. And "news" is plural, this time, surprisingly so. First off, check THIS place out:
This, my dear readers, is IGT, aka International Gaming Technology, one of the titans of casino gaming in the entire world. And now I WORK FOR THEM!! ME!! HOLY CRAPOLA!!! And so far, it's one of the most amazing jobs I've ever had in my life. I worked in casino gaming prior, but it was for a tiny group of people that really had no organization, and honestly no art background (I was the only art guy, for the longest time), so I never felt like I grew there. Now, fast-forward to now, where I work with some of the most talented people I've ever collaborated with; people that keep me humble at their insane skills, and are willing to glady spread their knowledge to me, as well as keep me honest in my own abilities. In addition, Las Vegas is BEAUTIFUL! There's SO much more to this place than the Strip! Everyone I met that's a local are some of the most ardent hikers, and man, does this place have that in spades! I hope that I continue to love this job, and I don't foresee that changing for a long, long time! In addition to that, I have MORE amazing news. Check THIS picture out:
This is a still image from our short comedic film, "The Ducks", about an innocent jogger that suddenly finds himself being confronted by a band of renegade ducks. I originally wrote it as a lark two years ago, upon which my good friend and collaborator, Rick, felt it was a fun script, and that we should shoot it. Besides, it was a one-person, one-camera deal--should take no time, right? Well...then I had a kid. Fast-forward a eighteen months later....and we finally started production on it. We started filming in April on sporadic weekends, and wrapped production in late August. We had mere days to get a rough cut of the film entered into the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival....AND WE GOT ACCEPTED INTO IT!!! I found this out at the end of my first week at my new job. Man, what an amazing end of that week! This was all an amazing culmination of hard work, that, at many times over the last year, made me question the very purpose of my life. At one point, I really debated about hanging up the art towel, and going back to school to be a dental hygienist. I shit you not. 2011 was an insanely stressful year--I had a newborn child that wouldn't sleep through the night, and my father had cancer. The stress this put on my marriage almost ended it, several times over. All the dreams I had over the prior decades of my life were replaced with just one imperative: JUST SURVIVE. GET THROUGH THIS. I had a very hard look at what I was doing, and what I wanted to do, and I had to be very honest with myself, and figure out if what I was doing with my life made sense. For some crazy reason, there were two things that my heart kept telling me: get back into gaming, and finish this duck film. My wife, bless her heart, understood me better than I did myself, and simply said, "Honey, start looking now for a gaming job! This isn't going to happen overnight! Just do it!" With her encouragement, I did. This started a very frustrating road, for the next several months. I'd get phone calls from recruiters, even a plane flight out to interview with an entire team, and then something wouldn't work out. Either a company would have a hiring freeze, or I'd ace the interview, do a design test, and then, nah, they'll pass. The only thing that was keeping me going was that I was getting consistent nibbles. I kept reminding myself that hey, it ain't easy to get into the big leagues, keep working your ass off, people are interested, this is a numbers game, eventually somebody's gotta say yes! While this was going on, I was getting consistent freelance, and hooked up with a creative temp agency that booked me as a Senior Production Artist. The work was for a black-and-white catalog, basically taking text and applying Paragraph Styles to it. The most challenging part of my job was "ragging": adjusting the kerning on every line of a column so that the right-hand side of the text pretty much lined up with the other text above and below it. There was NO challenge to this, but there WAS steady work, and good pay, and I really liked the people I worked with. From here, I finally got the recruiting call for the IGT position, and things happened in a rapid whirlwind of wrapping up the contract gig, pack and prepare, coordinate flights and apartments, and boom, I was here. It's insane how quickly your life can change. But, remember this--your life will only change with lots of work and focus in the right direction. You CANNOT put that much energy out into the universe without the universe responding to your efforts, eventually. This has been an amazing validation of my calling in life. I LOVE doing art. I LOVE collaborating with creative people that inspire me every day I'm around them. I love this so much, I do it when I'm OFF work! And I don't just wanna do illustration--I do animations, gallery shows, short films, children's books! You only limit yourself, in your potential. You really can mold the world to your will, if you're skilled enough and passionate enough to do it! "Don't complain, just work harder." --Jackie Robinson

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Two-Page Spread From My Children's Book

Here's a rough sample of a finished spread from my Children's Book I'm currently drawing/writing, "My Binky and My Bear." More to come soon!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Making of "ParaNorman"

A spectacular making-of featurette of Laika's new stop-motion animated film, "ParaNorman." It's spectacular to see how efficient stop-motion is getting, with the digital advent of wire removal, green-screening and everything else that you can fix in post relatively easily!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Life of Pi Trailer

'BOUT EFFING TIME!!! After being lobbed from director to director, the Booker award-winning book, "Life of Pi" FINALLY has been made! And by Ang Lee, of all people, probably one of the few big-name directors I'd feel confident would do it right! If you haven't read the book yet, for the love of god, DO SO! It's absolutely AMAAAZZZZIINGGG!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Was Interviewed!

My good journalist friend, Andrea Emmes, interviewed me for her Gaming blog! Check it out here: Forbidden Panel: An Interview With Jason Martin

Monday, July 2, 2012

Indie Game: The Movie

This delightful documentary showcases three independent video game makers, and the insane struggles they went through to not only make, but iron out the bugs, hit a deadline, and try to sell, their creations that each have taken about three years of their lives to create and develop. It really makes you feel for ANYONE that takes the time and effort to really focus on making something that could, potentially, be great, or in one case of the three shown, could blow up in your face. It equal parts heart-breaking and inspirational, at the same time. Not only do I give insane props to the creators shown in this film, but also to the documentarians that made this, and succeeded in doing so well with the spare budget and time they had to work on this. Bravo! So take your 10 bucks, and buy it, dammit! Support indie cinema! Support creativity! And get inspired, at the same time!

"What Is Your Style?"

Probably one of the biggest critiques I get from Art Directors is that they can't figure out what my style is. Well, GOOD! If you're working for a company that changes the visual development with your next project, it seems having an artist with a wide, diverse range would be beneficial, in my opinion, but some A.D.s get confused by this. I think I'm going to eventually just make websites with very specific styles of art, and just create strange and ridiculous pen names, to just differentiate what I do, and not have to deal with that issue any more. Jason Martin will do cute, cartoony art that's predominantly round and vector. Sir Leo Cornelius Fishgraff III will do the dark, edgy fantasy. And Baxter Petinschew will do children's books. Well, until I figure that out, here's a dark, edgy quick gesture I did the other day. Integrating a lot more textures into my art. Really seems to add an organic edge to what I'm making, no doubt.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

One-Hour Sketch: Froster

A real quick one-hour sketch I did. I'm gonna start doing more of these kinds of regular doodles, soon, just to keep in practice and loosen up a bit each day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Minion!

A quick illustration I did that's related to an online social network game I'd LOVE to work on, called, "CastleVille!"

Monday, January 30, 2012

Beer & Star Wars

What's the point of having a blog if I don't shamelessly promote myself on a regular basis??? Here's a quick painting I did for an art show in Sarasota, "Beer & Star Wars." The piece didn't sell, but that's okay, 'cause I wanted to keep it, anyways. :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Why I Love Moneyball....and Cinema, In General

Baseball, in my opinion, is one of the most boring sports in the world. To still call it, "The Nation's Past Time" in the 21st-century realm is an antiquated, nostalgic phrase that hasn't been modernized to take into account thousands of cable channels, on-demand movies, high-def 3-D flat-screen televisions that play effects-laden films, and copious amounts of the freakiest free porn accessible on your home computer.
Add to that the exorbitant number of baseball films that have already been done, and done well, might I add, and you wonder why an executive would even RISK making something like Moneyball.
But then you watch it, and it reminds you that, with every theme out there, there's a million different stories that can be told about it. Not only that, but this one had a combination of talent that, in a way, was accumulated together probably in the same respect and approach that the General Manager (and main character of Moneyball), Billy Beane, put together his Oakland A's.
Adapted from a the real-life story of Billy's ordeal of building a winning team with a fraction of the budget that a big-time team like the New York Yankees had, screenwriters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin put together a story that both humanizes and intrigues the viewer about something that, from a very literal interpretation, was a very dry and statistical analysis of how players were recruited. But from a larger perspective, the story is about fighting and breaking the reins of convention; it's about taking bold risks; it's about how money overwhelmingly influences victory; but most importantly, it's about challenging the status quo, as well as people who call themselves "professionals", and asking the hard and honest questions of why do they do things the way they do. Zaillian and Sorkin are wonderful yins to each other's yangs. I ADORE Sorkin, and truly feel, pound-for-pound, he holds the Lifetime Achievement award for creating whip-fire dialogue, snappy dynamics, and clever banter with all his characters. That being said, you can also see his imprint on a script from a mile away. With Zaillian credited as the main screenwriter, you can see how there was added a more realistic and grounded foundation that added a more acceptable sense of tone, and added the intensity of the drama of watching a man make VERY risky and bold approaches to decision-making, and getting punched in the face mercilessly, both in the professional and social realm, when he did so.
From that same perspective of taking risks, using director Bennett Miller was a bold choice to combine with an A-Lister like Brad Pitt. They guy only has two other movies under his belt, one being Capote, which, although a critical success from a critic's point of view, financially didn't make huge waves (it did, however, make enough domestically by awards season to justify its small art-house budget, and eventually quadrupled the amount it cost to make it) Bennett Miller understands how to build drama, how to add a cinematic quality to the voyeurism of watching the industry from the inside, instead of from the bleachers.
He also recruited a spectacular sound editor that knew how to set mood just from the crisp crack of the ball on a bat, to even the complete absence of sound in scenarios that really would, at that time, probably be so epic, everything around you would seem to go silent.
This movie exhibits to me everything that I LOVE about cinema. It takes an overdone genre, and makes it fresh again. It challenges convention. It grabs your eyeballs, and won't let go until the credits. It folds you into the story, and takes you for the ride. It forces you to think of a bigger idea. Most cinema is just a fun ride, a temporary reprieve, and break from redundancy. Then you have movies like this, and it just reminds you of the power art really CAN have on a viewer. So please go see this and enjoy it as much as I did!