Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Create, Concept, and Collaborate Recap!

Wow! Create, Concept, & Collaborate is already over, and it was a huge success! This past weekend we were honored to have the incredibly talented duo of Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying visit us at Light Grey Art Lab to host a weekend workshop dedicated to visual development. As Visual Development Artists at Walt Disney Animation Studios, Mike and Victoria brought with them an incredible wealth of talent, experience, and insight.

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying

The weekend kicked off with a public lecture in the Minneapolis College of Art and Design's auditorium, which was packed to the brim with excited artists. Mike and Victoria gave a great introduction on what it actually means to create visual development and concept work for a company like Disney. Their body of work is hugely impressive and it was a great lecture! You can listen to the full lecture it on the latest podcast episode, here.

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying
A packed house over at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design!

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying
Mike and Victoria share upcoming projects, animation stills, and concept art for Disney Animation Studios.

Afterwards, everyone moved down the street to Glam Doll Donuts, where we had a bustling All Creatives Meet & Greet. Spirits were high, fueled by Glam Dolls delectable donuts and plenty of coffee. It was a great event, and the people at Glam Doll happily dealt with the throngs of hungry artists like pros.

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying
Artists line up to talk to Mike and Victoria, say hello to each other, and fill up on some delicious donuts!

The first day started bright and early, with introductions and an opener discussion with Mike and Victoria about personal work, their brainchild Extracurricular Activities, and sharing the portfolios that got them into the industry. Mike and Victoria highlighted some of their favorite pieces to date, shared current and in process works, and the differences in their personal and professional works. It was wonderful to see the changes from project to project!

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying

Then, Light Grey led a series of workshop exercises, focusing on experimentation and exploration in story-telling. Splitting into groups, each team was given a short prompt and challenge to create a children's story with limited resources- Rorschach ink blots! As a humorous ice-breaker, this was a perfect project to start the day: it focused on group improv, brainstorming, and creative problem solving. The exercise was followed by reflective worksheets and discussion on project ideation.

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying
Groups work on creating a playful and quick children's story, all with ink blots and abstract shapes!

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying
A giant and fun brainstorming session to get all of us awake and thinking.

After a breezy outdoor lunch at Jasmine Deli and a coffee break at the Spyhouse, boardgame art director Mike Linnemann came by and talked about the relationship between art directors and participating artists. Mike is a bright and honest guy, not to mention an incredibly experienced and prolific director. Along with a presentation, students were able to peek at a few of the games and card decks Mike has helped produce.

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying

Following Mike Linnemann's talk, Victoria led an incredible character building demo, where she talked about the shapes, relationships, and dynamics to think about when creating interesting character.

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying


Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying
Victoria creates her version of Hansel and Gretel, showing how she ideates, creates characters, and builds personas.

The demo ended with a project prompt for a character building exercise, which the class worked on while each participant started in their one-on-one (or one-on-two, in this case) chats with Mike and Victoria. Individual students were able sit down ask questions, review their portfolio, and talk about their personal work.

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying

After a long day, the whole workshop walked to Uptown's Chino Latino for some great food and some much needed R&R. We reflected on the day over colorful and exotic dishes and fun drinks!

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying

Sunday morning started with an open and honest discussion about social media, promotion and marketing. This was a round-table discussion, and each person had great things to say about their personal experience, thoughts on promotion, useful and inspiring tools, and resources. From books to podcasts to online articles, this discussion was both insightful and necessary- shedding light on some of the most wondered and important questions. It was a very positive conversation, fueled by the variety of past experiences of participants, Mike and Victoria, and the Light Grey team.

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying
Erik Krenz sharing his views on tumblr and social media.

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying
So much enthusiasm!

Next, Mike led a lively landscape, character and painting demo. We all watched in awe as Mike effortlessly painted his interactive characters and background. He shared his personal techniques and tricks for painting in photoshop, as well as creating dynamic and informative compositions.

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying

After the demonstration, we packed our bags and headed to Midtown Global Market for a quick and delicious bite to eat! Midtown is one of our favorite places to get lunch because of its endless and unique entrees, bubble teas, and handmade crafts. During lunch, we were able to relax and talk about our experiences so far, developing stories, and talk about our plan for the afternoon work session.

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying

With the day half over, the group quickly got back to work! They spent the afternoon developing and working through their character building project. The review meetings continued throughout the afternoon, along with peer revisions, conversations, and a few Light Grey tarot readings!

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying
Busy at work!

Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying
Partners were able to critique characters and look an each others work.

To close the day, Mike and Victoria walked through a portfolio building presentation, outlining the do's and don't's of portfolio creation, tips for unifying work, and how to make a portfolio a "reflection of yourself." The talk was not only about creating a portfolio, but how to share it, where to bring your portfolio, and how to get noticed. After a two full days of working, this was a perfect cap to share hopes and plans for the future.

To celebrate the weekend and new friends, the group moved to the Lowry for a great dinner and to give out final goodbyes. There were several drawing contests, such as "Cutest Kitten", or "Batman With Your Eyes Closed". Information was exchanged, including a hypothetical conversation about future workshops and dream projects.


Create, Concept, and Collaborate with Mike Yamada and Victoria Ying

Overall, it was an incredible weekend with so many talented and motivated individuals! Thank you to all of our participants, as well as those who were able to attend the lecture, meet & greet, or parts of the class! To see the entire collection of photographs from the weekend, you can check out the flickr gallery.

You can see more artwork by Victoria Ying and Mike Yamada here!

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