Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Day at the CTN Animation Expo



Entering Creative Talent Network's CTN Animation Expo on Sunday, November 22 was akin to entering the boundless and colorful imaginations of hundreds of talented artists. It was impossible to take everything in at once and my first thoughts upon entering the expo floor were filled with an exhilarating and overwhelming sense of awe at the amount of creative talent present. Everywhere I looked there was something new and exciting to see and unique ideas to be shared. The high positive energy and endless creativity was astounding and a huge part of what makes the CTN Animation Expo, also commonly known as CTNX, such a special event for the animation industry.


Attendees visit with exhibitors at CTNX.
First held in 2009, CTNX has grown exponentially since its inception increasing attendance from 2,800 to over 6,000 and expanding throughout the Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. With the motto of "Putting the Talent Center Stage", CTNX strives to showcase animation talent within the community by putting on workshops, drawing demonstrations, panels, and signings. It is an incredible opportunity for animation professionals to connect with one another as well as for aspiring animators to receive critical feedback on their work and create industry connections of their own. CTNX certainly holds true to its motto by hosting over 40 presenters and 140 artist and industry exhibitors that allows both students and professionals to meet one another in order to exchange ideas and showcase their work in a supportive and encouraging environment.

Everyone I spoke with at CTNX placed high value on the event and expressed their deep satisfaction
with their experience. Upon arriving to CTNX, I first spoke with Zare Oganesyan, a senior at Woodbury University. Even though he noted that he was losing his voice, he expressed his enthusiasm and excitement over being able to socialize, network, and see all the awesome art at CTNX. An aspiring production manager for TV animation with dreams to work at Disney TV Animation, Oganesyan described CTNX by saying, "It is really tiring, but in a good way. It is really important for everyone who wants to be a part of the industry to attend in order to really connect and be a part of the bigger picture here." I have to agree with him, CTNX is an integral event to attend for anyone interested in the animation industry and even though I only attended for one day, I felt extremely wiped by the end!

Alli White
Attendees for CTNX travel far and wide in order to build up connections and put their work on display. Such was the case for Alli White, a freelance artist exhibiting at CTNX who traveled all the way from Northern Idaho. "You see more moose than people in Idaho" White laughed when describing the difference between her home and Burbank. CTNX is well known to put aspiring artists in the same vicinity as professionals in order to help them build connections and you never know who you're going to meet. Just walking around the expo floor I saw Dean Deblois, director of the How to Train Your Dragon films, and Daron Nefcy, creator of Star vs. the Forces of Evil. For White meeting her idols at CTNX was an experience she sure won't forget, especially when one of her biggest idols, Dean Yeagle, stopped by her booth and said wonderful things about her work. "I felt super validated," White reminisced adding that CTNX was well worth her trip (she sold all of her art books!) and that she plans to return next year.

Andrea Rosales
Another talented artist exhibiting her work at CTNX, including her soon to be launched web comic, Nine Twilights, was Andrea Rosales. "It's been a joy," Rosales said regarding her experience, describing CTNX as a fantastic way to get immersed in the wide world of animation. "The first time I came to CTNX, I was floored by all the artists here. I thought to myself 'Oh my gosh! My people! My people! I found them!'" Rosales enthused with a bright expression. It's clear that Rosales is bursting with creative energy when you look at her upcoming project, Nine Twilights, which she describes as a fusion of magical girls and Norse mythology. In Nine Twilights which is set in modern times, 16 year old Wanda discovers that she is the reincarnation of Odin and that she must find the eight other reincarnated gods in order to work together with them to prevent the second Ragnorak, also known as the end times. With writer Anne Agnew and editor Chris Hansbrough, Rosales has formed an intriguing concept that you can check out here.

Stephan Franck
In addition to exhibiting freelance artists, industry professionals such as Shiyoon Kim and Brittney Lee also come to CTNX to display and talk about their own personal projects with peers and fans. I had the pleasure of speaking with Stephan Franck at CTNX about his experience as a supervising animator on The Iron Giant as well as his new comic, Silver. "Some projects you feel immediately there is a cultural significance before and after and we felt it from the get go with The Iron Giant," Franck remarked about his experience on the beloved film. In working with Brad Bird on the film, Franck described it as a learning experience taking place about 7 years into his career and was proud to be a part of a film that still remains beloved by many today. You can read more about Franck's experience on The Iron Giant in his reflective blog post here. Presently Franck is working on his comic, Silver, which he describes as a continuation of Bram Stoker's Dracula where con men and a kick ass woman steal precious silver from vampires. In developing the story, Franck realized that there was a relationship between the two things he had always loved, vampires and con men wherein both are predatory creatures who live on the outskirts of society and don't really engage in life. The defining difference between con men and vampires according to Franck is that one is figuratively soulless while the latter is truly soulless. Hence Silver was born where con men are pitted against the truly wicked in search of the answer to the question, "What is it to feel alive?". Be sure to check out Stephan Franck's Silver here!

Attendees watch a live drawing demonstration.
By the end of my day at CTNX, I was filled with positivity and inspired by the many artists that I encountered throughout the event. The Creative Talent Network has created something truly special that is beloved by many in the animation industry. As a fun and safe place to come and exchange creative ideas, make new friends, meet up with old friends, and view a massive collection of original art, CTNX is the event that anyone who is even remotely interested in animation should make a priority to attend every year. In the words of Andrea Rosales, "You leave creatively energized and inspired, enough to last until the next CTNX."





A HUGE thank you to the following talented artists who took the time to speak with me on CTNX! Click on their names to check out their work!
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