My Buffalo Daughter
Am I gonna talk about the band Buffalo Daughter? No (but they’re good too) I am of course referring to the herculean task of raising a child that I’ve acquired recently when I became a father.
People told me all sorts of things before she was born, and I could list them all, but to keep to things pertaining to this site (it’s professional, remember?) I’ll say that yeah, she has brought me good luck. But, that good luck comes at the cost of time, which I almost have none as I’m barely managing to write this post (and in case you haven’t noticed, it’s been again over two months since my last update.)
What that good luck has become is a slight change in my career. I’m taking a break from the independent commercial animator side of things and trying out tv animation for now; it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and those who know me understand that I’m doing this for a variety of reasons, but probably none more important than my daughter and my wife. Sure, it’s nice to be able to hop from one studio to another and work on very short projects (with a unusually high level of quality,) but at the end of the day the motion side of the industry was never really for me, and not being part of a team as staff made me feel kind of lonely after while – ironically, I think I’ve made some of my new best friends after bumping into the same crew of animators in different commercial houses, but my relationships with the actual projects still remained detached. And while tv animation is certainly more geared to children in general, the appeal of being part of a team is still very strong in me, and something I’d been yearning for since my days as a story artist on the feature “9.”
So, have I arrived? Have I made it? Am I living the dream? I don’t know if I should think in hyperbolic terms as those, but I do think I feel relieved somewhat. Relieved that at least I know I can do this again, and that no matter what kind of project I’m working on, (as a story artist, concept/character designer, or animator,) I can still manage to make the experience my own.
Of course, when you have kids, all your priorities get in check and I think I’m finally understanding what unconditional love is; coincidentally I am listening to more John Coltrane, as his music puts my daughter in such ease as I cuddle her to sleep. “Sacrifice” is the other term usually thrown around when talking about kids, but I think the only thing that I can really feel that I am sacrificing is time – everything else that she has brought to my life and my wife’s is complementary, and we can’t really imagine how our lives were before her. I had a similar feeling last year when I adopted my dog; pets do make good “training wheels” for having kids, and luckily ours gets along with our kid just fine. Whether it’s waking up in the morning to walk the dog, change a diaper or two, and hold one in one arm while petting the other, I cherish these moments as an artist just as much as when I’m working on my own projects. They are the ones that bring meaning to my art, and while nowadays I may not have as much time for mindless sketching, I feel that when I am working on my own work, there is more focus, and I get more satisfaction out of even an hour of just brainstorming ideas, writing scripts, thumbnailing comic pages or working on character illustrations. Finding those moments is still hard since my daughter is still so young (over 4 months old now) but, after all, I’m still managing to reflect upon it here on this blog.