“Since its inception in 2006 The Creative Talent Network® stands as the seminal community for the worlds leading top creators of both traditional and digital animated films.”
Retrieved from the CTNx website.
Amanda and Gus going full-on tourist mode before heading to the event!
So, November was weird.
In less than 10 days, we went to Disneyland – twice! – got to meet LA, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Burbank, took pictures of the Hollywood sign and went to the Griffith Observatory (GTA feelings much?), and all that was still overshadowed by the amazing event that happened between the 20th and the 22nd.
It took us a while to get back to normal, to be able to gather all the pics from our friends, get all the gigs back on track after taking more than a week off work… and now we want to share a little bit about what CTNx looks like!
To make a poor comparison, CTNx kinda looks like a huge Artist’s Alley. Rows and rows of booths showcasing artists’ books, prints, projects. There were also companies, studios, schools and publishers. And the word of the day (or the weekend, in this case) was networking.
You get to meet amazing people you’ve admired for years, or meet new incredible artists whose work you’ve never seen before. You get to buy some stunning art and support your community. And it’s very inclusive too – on one table you see that guy that you know from deviantArt, and on the next there’s an iconic Disney animator. It’s very humbling and at the same time makes you really confident because, at the end of the day, you can see that everyone there is in the same boat, sharing the same passion for art and the same will to help each other.
Since it was the first time we were attending, we got the 3-day Xpass, which gave us access only to the main floor and the extended tent (no workshops, no panels, no official reviews). We were told that, for first-timers, it was best to get to know the event, since it can be a little overwhelming specially if you don’t know how things work. And boy, were they right!
At first we weren’t sure, because we thought we wouldn’t be getting portfolio reviews at all, and that would be a major down side. But that was not the case at all, we were able to get reviews from every single person we wanted to, and even some major studios!
Everyone was so open and approachable, it’s crazy! Of course, you have to rely on good common sense to tell when it’s OK to ask for a review – sometimes people would be super busy or making a sale, so we’d go away and come back when they were less crowded.
Getting a review from Cameron Scott Davis!
Amanda there in the corner, and also the great Jenn Elly and Sarah Marino! Picture by Chris Oatley.
One of the best parts was to be able to give back a little too!
At The Oatley Academy booth, by far one of the busiest tables we’ve seen, we would sometimes step in to help. Chris Oatley was constantly talking to people and giving feedback, so the line was always crazy long! At some point he encouraged people to ask us for reviews too since he wouldn’t be able to talk to everyone, which caught us by surprise at first, but then turned out to be one of the best experiences we had in the event.
We know that one of the hardest things in an artist’s life is that sometimes we start to study everything at once, and we can’t quite figure out what it is we’re supposed to be doing, or if we’re doing something right, or what we could do to get better. Once we understood that, it was easy to create a connection with everyone and give meaningful feedback the best way we could.
There was also a lot of stuff happening on the side too: live demos on the center stage and on booths, life drawing sessions going on throughout the entire day, art contests and competitions… so much to see! Even though we were bummed to miss some amazing panels and workshops, we were comforted by the fact that we didn’t lose any time in line, or else we wouldn’t be able to see everything!
There were also side parties going on too. One of those was the Stephen Silver’s Drawing Party, with live music and life drawing sessions, drinks and food… so good!
Needless to say, by the end of each day we were destroyed, had no legs and no voice from walking around and talking all day. And even then, we would hang out after dinner with everyone by the fire pits or at the hotel lobby, have some drinks and try to believe that all that awesomeness actually did happen.
The Wacom competition was hilarious! In this picture, the host Bobby Chiu introducing the judges: Kei Acedera, Terryl Whitlatch and Iain McCaig.
So, we already wrote a lot, but be sure that this doesn’t even cover half of what CTNx meant to us!
We wanted to share a little nonetheless, because so many friends who weren’t able to go asked us how it was and what the event looks like, and we hope that with this you all get an idea of what to expect.
We also wanted to point out a few tips for those who plan on attending next year:
- Wear comfortable clothes, you’ll be standing for hours straight;
- If possible, stay in the event’s hotel or somewhere close. You’ll be thankful to have the chance to just go upstairs and rest for a while;
- Take the time to eat and drink, it’s really easy to get caught up with things and forget to have a decent meal;
- You can bring a digital portfolio on your tablet, but bring some small printed ones too in order to give away to potential connections. Usually a business card with a clear and easy link to your portfolio and contact info will do, but you never know. Listen to this episode of Escape from Art Jail, it has some amazing tips on that!
Also, for our international friends, an important reminder: most of the companies and studios there were offering full-time in house jobs, which can be tricky because that requires a work visa if you’re not an american citizen. That didn’t make a difference for us because we were just looking for freelance work and potential clients anyway, but a lot of friends that were looking for full-time positions got shut down at the mere mention that they would need said visa. Not to say that it’s impossible, but it definitely is another obstacle!
The brazilians <3
To wrap things up, we just wanted to give a shout out to the awesome brazilians that we met there: Danielle Pioli, Renan Porto, Amilton Macêdo, and our long time dear friend Ellie Horie!
Also our online teachers that made such a difference in our careers: Chris Oatley, Bobby Chiu, Kei Acedera, Sam Nielson, Stephen Silver, Kalen Chock and the Robotpencil crew!
Aaaand that’s it!
We apologize for the huge text, but there’s just so much to say about this experience! And we’re pretty sure we left tons of amazing things out. If you have any other questions about CTNx, please feel free to send us via message, email or comment below, and we’ll be happy to help!
Cheers, and see you next time 🙂
“CTN Animation Expo. This was my second time there but it totally felt like the first. How big this event has become! I had an amazing time there, but thanks to the brazilian gang, it was even better!! Sooo many amazing artists to meet, amazing art to look at, amazing things to buy, amazing networking going on all the time (which is kind of terrifying for an introvert like me), and amazing panels and workshops. I gotta confess, the very best time is to hang out at the bar after a long day of event! While having a beer you can find yourself surrounded by unbelievably awesome DreamWorks talents, asking about you and being welcoming and approachable! (True story) I like that part the most because it is a very informal and friendly (and a little drunk) time. So, staying at the event’s hotel is the best way to go! I will go back year after year if I can!”
“I think the main learning at this CTN was being able to take a close look at people who are working in this industry and better understand how it works, how people are inserted in it, what kind of work they must do etc. All of that allowed me to compare the things i saw with my own work and get a better notion of the next steps to follow in order to break into and settle in this industry.”