Book Review and Book Update

WhenTheLionRoars
BOOK REVIEW: When the Lion Roars: Understanding the Implications of Ancient Prophecies for Our Time, by Carl Gallups

I recently finished reading this book and it is a great read. No matter your eschatological point of view, this book is worth taking a look at. I’m not sure what the author’s view is (pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, etc.) but the purpose of his book is to show that no matter what view you hold, there is an absolutely unprecedented convergence of signs and conditions that line up with all aspects of the Biblical end-time framework.

The author asks the question, “What if we truly were living in the most profoundly prophetic times since the first coming of Jesus Christ? What if you were shown the undeniable and shocking proof?” Then he spends the entire book doing just that. That question and claim may sound sensationalistic, but it is not. Chapter after chapter, the author details concrete facts from secular sources that you can go and verify for yourself.

Even if you are not a Christian—especially if you are not a Christian—I would encourage you to give this book a read. I promise it is not a bunch of churchy talk or christianese. It is a riveting read from cover to cover. If you read the first page or two you will not put this thing down.

If you pick up the book, let me know what you thought! I’d love to hear if it struck you the same way it struck me.

 

 

The Secret Ingredient to Your Overnight Success

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So, I’ve been working on a book idea of late and it’s going to be a lot of work. One of the things with writing a book is you have to get people to buy it.

But before you get people to  buy it, you need a book store and/or website to stock it. But before you get a bookstore to stock it, you need a publishing company to publish it. Oh, but before you get a publishing company to publish it, you need an agent to pitch it to the publishing company. And finally, before you get an agent to pitch it to publishing companies, you need to research and connect with an agent. But before you connect with an agent, you need to write a really good book proposal about your book idea.

All of this got me thinking about what it takes to launch a successful creative project, be it a kids TV show or a book, or any other creative project. We often see the product launch of someone who “just came on the scene” and we think, “Dang. How come I didn’t do that?” We all have these creative ideas. Why don’t we act on them? Here’s why. It’s hard work. That’s right. Your secret ingredient to overnight success looks a lot like blood, sweat, and tears. Work.

The word passion means suffering. What do you care so much about you’re willing to suffer to see it birthed? What creative idea has enough clarity and potential that it’s worth spending countless hours on?

Pixar’s overnight success was 20 years in the making. I think that’s the norm. A long journey with lots of perseverance and a lot of pain that leads to moments of breakthrough…that leads to more suffering…er…passion to keep on going. I’m not being negative, just honest. It will never be easy. We need to get out of cushy mode and do the hard thing. There’s a phrase the Navy Seals use that is relevant if we really want to do something that matters. “Yesterday was the last easy day.”

So, what’s the upside? The upside is you get to experience the journey and do something that matters. If you are a Christian, this is where you discover your calling and your various assignments. It’s where you work on things bigger than you for purposes bigger than worldly success. It’s where true satisfaction occurs in the midst of hard work.

I have a friend who’s been working on a screen play for a feature film for over a decade. God keeps taking him back to this one project. It’s not usual for him to stick with one creative idea for so long but He keeps going back. After over a decade, he’s finally seeing some traction and it’s happening one step at a time.

So, the next time you see someone successful and a little bit of envy starts to rise up, remind yourself that their overnight success only took twenty years to happen. Find your passion, suffer for it, enjoy the journey, and keep working hard.

S.M.A.R.T. Creative Career Goals, Part 1

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This post is an excerpt from chapter 18 of my book Calling All Artists. As we approach the end of the year, I thought it would be appropriate to start thinking about goals for next year. I suggest doing this in November before the holiday season begins so you can hit the ground running in January! Enjoy!

You’ll fail at 100% of the goals you don’t set.  —Mark Victor Hansen

Once you are clear on your calling, you set goals, plan your work, then work your plan. In order to plan, you have to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. I was introduced to this goal setting system last December when I went through Micheal Hyatt’s five day goal setting course. Prior to that my goals were usually missing on of these 5 very important components, but I didn’t even realize it. This simple system took my goal setting to an entirely new level.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
1. Specific: Your goals must be clear and detailed, not broad, general or vague.
2. Measurable: You must be able to measure progress toward your goals.
3. Achievable: Your goals must be realistic and attainable.
4. Relevant: Your goals must matter. They must line up with you overall plans and strategy.
5. Time-bound: Your goals must have a time frame and a target date or deadline.

I honestly didn’t know how powerful each of these components was until I implemented them into my goals this year. I have been setting goals for years, however I have found this method to be revolutionary. I wish I would have learned it years ago. It’s amazing what one small pivot can accomplish in a short time.

What I’ve found is that even some great goal setters and achievers, are missing one of these components. Leaving one component out won’t kill your goal setting but it weakens it’s effectiveness. This method just flat out works.

Next week I’ll share more from that chapter, but in the mean time if you haven’t read the book you can get it here. Goal setting really should come after the hard work of nailing down your creative calling. Stay tuned!

Elements of Art: Shape


shape2Early in my animation career, I heard visual development artists and art directors mention shape language. Somewhat baffled and intrigued by this term, I started looking into it. I had learned about artistic voice, color scripts, and other strange right-brained terms, but was not familiar with shape language.

Shape language basically refers to how the shapes in a piece of art (character design, background, object, etc.) intentionally tell you something about the story, character, mood, or tone (or all of the above).

In previous posts, I listed the elements and principles of art, then unpacked the first element of art, line. This brings us to the second element of art. Shape. Understanding shape will help you in all aspects of the visual arts. A good understanding of shape will help you break large complex objects (even animals or the human form) into it’s simpler shape components.

Understanding shape will help take the intimidation factor out of drawing and will give you direction in what shape choices you make when creating a character, prop, background, or other type of artwork.

LINES BECOME SHAPES
Shapes are basically made up of closed contour lines. They are two dimensional and do not have depth (or Z-space for my CG friends).

POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE
Shapes can be positive or negative. Positive shapes show the contour or silhouette of an object. Negative space is the space around an object. We often think of positive space, but good artists are just as cognizant and intentional with negative space as they are with positive space.

TYPES OF SHAPES
Shapes can be geometric (triangle, square, circle, etc.) or they can be organic. Organic shapes are freeform. They have no rules and are random. Organic shapes reflect nature. Most objects including characters, props, and landscape elements can be broken down into organic and geometric shapes.

SHAPE LANGUAGE
Once a basic understanding and use of shapes is integrated into your work, you can begin to understand and define more complex uses of shape such as the concept of shape language I mentioned above.

One of the clearest and most well defined use of shape language I use to describe or talk about shape language can be found in the animated film The Rise of the Guardians by DreamWorks. Each of the 6 main characters has a clearly defined shape language which carries emotional, story, character trait, and inter relational weight.

RECOMMENDED BOOK
The book The Art of DreamWorks Rise of the Guardians by Ramin Zahed does a fantastic job of unpacking each character’s shape language, the reasoning behind it, and how it impacted the film. For a great primer on shape language, I highly recommend this book.

UP NEXT!
In the next post, we’ll look at the third element of art. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Key Advice From 12 Industry Leaders

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In addition to 20 chapters of practical content, there are also 12 interviews with some key creative industry leaders in my new book “Calling All Artists”. One question I asked each  of the interviewees was this;

“If you had one overarching piece of advice for an artist trying to find their way, what would it be?”

I don’t have the space here to include their full answers, but I wanted to grab one or two lines from each to provide an overview. Even in these short statements, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience. These are in reverse alphabetical order (I thought that would be fair since they are in alphabetical order in the book :).

Note: If you would like to see a list of credits, click the contributor’s name.


The word Animation means the state of being full of life or vigor; liveliness. What could be more fulfilling and joy-filled than being part of a process that creates animation? So have fun!
Marcelo Vignali — Production Designer, Sony Pictures Animation

Try to always have fun and enjoy creating art. Try to turn even a small project into a great oportunity to learn and advance.
Narina Sokolova — TV animation background artist, Disney Television

This is not a career where you can be lazy. It requires determination to push you through your goals you must set, it requires passion, because you have to love what you are doing or you will give up to soon.
Stephen Silver — character designer, drawing teacher, entrepreneur, author

When does time stop and the world become quiet? That’s the discipline for you.
Ashley Postlewaite — Co-founder/Executive Producer, Renegade Animation

Study story structure. Write!
Michael Maurer — film and TV writer

I would say, be humble, be good at what you do.
Heather Martinez — director, writer, story board artist

My advice to writers would be to read scripts and watch cartoons.
Shea Fontana — Children’s TV writer, development and distribution consultant

Do it everyday. You’re competing with people who take art seriously. If you’re not serious, go sell insurance. It will be a lot easier.
Phil Cookefilmmaker, media consultant, and author of One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do

Build relationships by being humble, willing, and then once you get the job over deliver.
Kathleen Cooke — Co-Founder Cooke Pictures

Always bring you’re “A” game. Be the absolute best you can be in all that you do. It’s hard work, but again, it’s worth it.
Cassie Byram — actress, singer, song-writer, and Executive Creative Producer, Oodles World Inc.

You must have a tremendous amount of passion and drive to be in the business. You must also have an outstanding work ethic.
Amick Byram — feature film and theater actor and singer

To go out and do it. Don’t feel like you have to research, research, research.
Tom Bancroft — former Disney Supervising Animator, Director, Studio Owner, Character Designer, Author


There are 10-14 questions in each interview and some great back-and-forth discussion. To read the full interviews along with the rest of the book, click here to go directly to the Amazon page.

Official Book Launch: Calling All Artists

forpostSee details and purchase options here.
(or go directly to Amazon)

Well it’s finally here. Six months in the making (although I could argue decades) with many late nights and early mornings, encouragement from my wife, kids, and great friends, I’m proud to announce the official release of my first book: Calling All Artists. (See printed manuscript from last week at left.)

After compiling and editing 210+ pages (39,790+ words), setting the master manuscript up with all of the correct styles needed for e-readers, uploading to Amazon it’s finally ready for purchase.

It’s available for Kindles (and Kindle app on iPhone/iPad and other devices) at Amazon.com.


ENDORSEMENTS

I was extremely humbled by these generous endorsements from some very kind industry veterans. Some also have some amazing interviews in the book along with several other TV, Feature Film, Broadway, Music, and Video Production veterans!


An immensely practical guide for the creative in all of us. Todd Hampson’s work has blessed me and thousands of others – his writing about the nuts and bolts of being a working creative will bless many more. Highly recommended!

Phil Vischer — Creator of VeggieTales and What’s in the Bible?


When someone with Todd Hampson’s credentials and experience talks about creativity, I listen.  In fact, his new book, “Calling All Artists” was the kick in the pants I needed to move forward on my next project.  If you live a creative life (and all of us should), then I recommend the book.  You won’t regret it.

Phil Cooke — filmmaker, media consultant, and author of One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do


Having been an adjunct professor in the cinema and media departments of two major universities, I know firsthand the positive impact this book will have on students.  Whether graduating from college or deciding what to do with your life, this book answers hard questions,  provides insightful information, and gives you life changing tips on how to make better choices and start a creative career in the 21st century.

Kathleen Cooke — kathleencooke.com, Co-Founder Cooke Pictures, cookepictures.com


Todd Hampson’s “Calling All Artists” e-book is a GREAT tool for anyone just getting into animation or even those that have been in it a while and want to reinvent themselves and/or reignite their passions.  As artists, we are not very good at looking internally or into the future, so planning our careers is a mysterious journey.  Todd really gets you to organize your thoughts and aline them with your talents!  That is THE path to success for any artist!  Additionally, his optimistic viewpoint toward the industry, and his excitement about it, is a breath of fresh air we all need to hear!

Tom Bancroft — former Disney Supervising Animator, Director, Studio Owner, Character Designer, Author


Todd Hampson listens and delivers! I have personally had the privilege of working with Todd and his company Timbuktoons developing an animated series for kids. He and his wonderful team were able to grant my every wish, and then some. The information he shares in this book will absolutely help artists on their creative journey.

Cassie Byram — actress, singer, song-writer, and Executive Creative Producer, Oodles World Inc.


Needless to say, I’m really excited about this book, most of all because I think it is going to help thousands of artists discover their creative calling and how to thrive in a creative career. I’m planning a few promotional events to help get the word out about the book but I couldn’t wait to share the news. Please tell your friends and share this link (http://ow.ly/zG06i) on social media to help get the word out!

 

 

Book Recommendation: “APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book”

APEI’m not quite ready to mention an actual release date for my new e-book, “Calling All Artists:Why There’s Never Been a Better Time To Be A Creative” but we are very close. My editor/wife (who also happens to be a middle-school language arts ninja) will begin proofing the manuscript today.

By the end of this week I should have a locked manuscript formatted for the myriad of e-publishing exports and by next week I’ll be able to announce an official release date. I’ll share some teaser info later this week, but first, I wanted to tell you about a great book that has helped me tremendously over the past few weeks during my research for self-publishing resources.

Guy Kawasaki, author and former Chief Evangelist at Apple, along with Shawn Welch, wrote this book to help authors of all experience levels in their quest to self publish. 

If you are thinking about self publishing, please start here! It will save you hours of sifting through forums, blogs, and web searches. It’s an easy read and you can dial right in to the chapter you need at that moment, or read it from e-cover to e-cover!