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