Category Archives: Studio

Jonah Lehrer "How Creativity Works"

Predictors of Success (creative or otherwise):
  1. How committed are you to this goal? Is this a goal you take seriously, always wanted to do?
  2. How do you react to the inevitable frustrations and failures along the way – are they interpreted as a sign by you to try something else, or, that you should double down.
“The grittiest win. Creating something new is always going to be hard. If it were easy it would have been done already. It’s always going to involve lots of frustration, lots of failure, lots of edits, lots of drafts, iterations, and that’s why it takes grit. That’s why grit is such an essential component of creative success. Woody Allen has this great quote, ‘Creative success if eighty percent about showing up.’ Well grit is what allows you to show up, again, and again.”
“Everyone says, ‘Make the company bigger, grow the bottom line.” So they get an expensive bureaucracy, lots of fixed costs, but they’re no longer able to innovate at the same rate so they become more reliant upon their old ideas, for their new ideas they’ve got to invest in expensive acquisitions, but eventually those old ideas no longer work. They’re no longer useful. And those acquisitions don’t pan out. And that’s when companies go belly up.”
“Because cities don’t try to maximize creativity they end up doing exactly that. Companies on the other hand they try to micro manage the process. These well paid CEOs say, “I know how to do this, I know how to get the most out of my employees.” So they tell you which problems to work on, and they tell you who you can talk to, they tell you were you can go, they tell you not to drink a beer in the afternoon – they tell you to focus, focus, focus. Stay in your cubicle all day. Tell you to brainstorm when brainstorming absolutely doesn’t work. And all these things – many of which are done with the best of intentions – they actually get in the way.”
“Imagination has always seemed like a magic trick, but, the good news is, by finally understanding where new ideas come from, we can hopefully have more of them. The science of creativity can make us just a little bit more creative.”

"Bicycle for our Mind"

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Jobs’ celebrated motto for the original Mac team — “the journey is the reward” — could have been lifted from the pages of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. For Suzuki-roshi, the path was the goal: “with no gaining idea” — that is, with no hope that your next session on the cushion would bring about a shattering, life-changing flash of satori. Suzuki-roshi didn’t even claim to be enlightened himself, which was a shocking thing for a renowned Zen teacher to admit at the time (laughingly confirmed by his mischievous wife, Mitsu). You didn’t sit zazen to become a Buddha, Suzuki-roshi used to say: 

“You’re perfect just as you are — and you could use a little improvement.”

“I think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And, humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. It was not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn’t look so good. But, then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And, a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts.

And that’s what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” ~ Steve Jobs

Eric Machmer: Illuminated Dancer (contextualized logo)

This quick image may contextualize the ecstatic dancing figure used as our logo. Background story: an old general who had been in charge of organizing events behind a city’s walls dances to distract children gathered around a fire as defenses fail. In such a situation there may have been unaffiliated, retreating, or front-line enemy troops more dangerous to stranded residents than the opposing army. Innocent persons unable to escape — street children, handicapped, elderly — might gather together in a public setting with an elderly official. As debris rains around them they would be protected in no-man’s land by persons such as this dancer.

Check out what is not on the little guy’s right foot, but his head — this was sculpted near Kunming China 1,500 years ago! Imagine him also in a peaceful setting dancing around a hearth, entertaining kids and village folk who have stayed up late to hear his stories.

“Happy Dancer” is the most ‘important’ sculpture ever created by a human being (in my humble opinion)…it is not violent, does not celebrate a state, nationality, or ruler — neither is it conspicuous ornate decoration or even utilitarian…it is human and fun. I LOVE this sculpture. It was created by a Fellow Spirit, a comrade-in-arms, an ancient artist whose name has been lost but whose attitude resonates.

“Happy Dancer” may be seen in a nondescript corner of a display case among shelves of statuettes in the Yunnan Provincial Museum, Kunming China. Some day it’s value will be celebrated. It is the Mona Lisa of sculpture.

(Well, maybe not THE most important, but, one of the most important…allllthough,
if forced to choooooose!! –I LOVE IT!!)

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.”
Angela Monet

“We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes,
we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams.”
Albert Einstein

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”

“There are short-cuts to happiness and dancing is one of them.”
Viki Baum

“If I can’t dance – I don’t want to be part of your revolution”
Emma Goldman

Inspiring Art-centric Work-Ethic! Lynn Johnston on Chiustream

Highlights: “There’s no place on Earth that you’re not going to learn – if you get an art job…whether its doing window displays or whether you’re working for a packaging firm, or whether you’re doing sketches for the local library’s read-a-book weekend [hmm… : ) ] you just learn with every turn of your career, no matter what you do.”

“It all comes down to hard work, there’s no other explanation for it…I went around the whole city of Hamilton with my baby on my back door-to-door talking with anybody who would give me a job…anybody. I went to libraries, I went to schools, I went to ad agencies, I went to art studios — anybody. Shops which sold art supplies, “Can you introduce me to somebody who will give me a job?” And every so often, somebody would give you some work and you get it to them on time, at a reasonable price, at less than they asked for – you’ll get another job, and then you’ll get bigger jobs and bigger jobs, and by the time I was looking at the artwork that I am doing now — I was hiring other artists to do things for me, huge things…”

“I think hard times are important but I also think that a solid work ethic is important and to not instill that in your children is a crime — because they need that, because, without the ability to show up on time, be reliable, produce, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing whether your selling furniture or driving a cab — you have to show up on time, you have to be reliable and produce.”

“When I was in art school I used to think if I got doped up I would suddenly be link to extreme creativity and everything would just be so easy! And I would go into these places where everybody was stoned, and I would think, “But you’re not doing anything?? You’re all sitting on the floor stoned, blissing-out listening to Ravi Shankar music and doing and doing sweet bugger all — and so I didn’t get stoned, because I couldn’t produce.”

Lynn’s “For Better or for Worse” comic site:

Intrinsic Motivation: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose vs Carrots and Sticks

“Policies about motivation are outdated, unexamined, and rooted more in folklore than in science.  The solution is not to entice people with a sweeter carrot or threaten them with a sharper stick. Intrinsic motivation makes work Interesting, part of something important.”

“Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives. Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters. Purpose: the urning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.”

“Autonomy over time, team, technique: 20% time, ROW results only work environment (how you work, where you work, optional meetings). If then rewards often destroy creativity; the drive to do things for their own sake strengthens business, motivates creativity, and solves problems.”

Chade-Meng Tan: Everyday Compassion as Google Business Strategy

“Compassion leads to happiness, compassion is fun. What if compassion is also profitable? What if compassion is good for business?

“Google is a company born of idealism. Expressions of corporate compassion start with a small group of Googlers, and they don’t usually ask for permission, then they get bigger and bigger until they become official.”

“Compassion creates highly effective business leaders: “I feel for you, I understand you, I want to help you.”

“Leaders highly ambitious for the greater good feel no need to inflate their own egos. Understanding, empathy, tones down the excesses of our own ego — creating leaders able to focus on a project rather than themselves.”

“Compassion also inspires co-workers and promotes collaboration, initiative, and creativity. “It makes us a highly effective company.”

“What is the secret formula for brewing compassion in a corporate setting? There are three ingredients:

“First, create a culture of compassionate concern for the greater good — how is your company, and your job serving the greater good? This awareness of serving a greater good is very self-inspiring, and, it creates fertile grounds for compassion to grow in.”

“The second ingredient is autonomy. “Google is a place where the inmates run the asylum.” If you already have a culture of compassion and idealism, and, you let your people run free? They will do the right thing.”

“The third ingredient is to focus on inner development and personal growth: self-awareness, self-mastery, empathy, and compassion. Leadership begins with character: attention training to create a calm, clear quality of mind as a foundation for emotional intelligence; developing self-knowledge and self-mastery as a high-resolution third-person perspective on one’s own thoughts; create new mental habits…your first impulse upon meeting someone: “I want you to be happy…I want you to be happy,” creating trust and compassion within the workplace.”

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; if you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Exceptional Storyboarding Tutorial by Louie del Carmen (and ‘Incremental Save’ Script for Photoshop and Bridge Workflow)

(previz from Louie del Carmen’s tutorial)

Digital artists are generous: community forums for sharing tips in our evolving medium have become small industries. Whether for Flash, Photoshop, or Maya — or whatever the next program will be — all of us are ultimately self-taught; each of us has our own techniques and workflows — those who share, nurture our community and profit from feedback in turn.

Story Artists are generous but with such a complex workflow it can be difficult to ask the right questions. Boards included in “Art of” books accompanying the release of films often only highlight polished “Hallmark” shots; novice storyboards are notoriously overwrought. (For an informative discussion on production vs polished boards watch this video.)

Louie del Carmen’s comprehensive storyboarding tutorial changes the discussion. From script to sequence viewers are lead through production quality boarding in a straightforward, accessible manner. If you have been scouring the internet for tips this tutorial is a treasure.

Louie’s tutorial will pay for itself within minutes if you are not yet using Adobe Bridge. $25 is a gift…wish more Story Artists were as generous as:


Here’s a Photoshop script which works well with a Bridge workflow. The cool thing is it makes accidentally over-writing sequential files difficult: as you continue working from a single authoring file activating this script saves filenames in increments of 10. (At the very least it will speed up your workflow by eliminating the need to hand edit filenames.)

Paste the code below into a new file in ExtendScript Toolkit (part of Photoshop’s installation found here: Applications/Utilities/Adobe Utilities/ExtendScript Toolkit CS4 or /Applications/Utilities/Adobe Utilities-CS5/ExtendScript Toolkit CS5), save it as a jsx-file into Photoshop’s Presets/Scripts-folder.

After restarting Photoshop the Script should be available under File > Scripts and can be assigned a Keyboard Shortcut, recorded into an Action, used in a Configurator-Panel, or started from the ExtendScript Toolkit itself.

Default installations of Photoshop leave the Keyboard Shortcut ctrl+command+shit+S unassigned. By assigning this or another shortcut key you can then map a button on your Cintique to activate the script.

// saves psd copies in rising four digit numbers appended to the authoring file’s name;
#target photoshop
if (app.documents.length > 0) {
// get properties;
var thedoc = app.activeDocument;
var docName =;
var basename = docName.match(/(.*)\.[^\.]+$/)[1];
var docPath = thedoc.path;
// psd options;
psdOpts = new PhotoshopSaveOptions();
psdOpts.embedColorProfile = true;
psdOpts.alphaChannels = false;
// change this to true if you want all the layers in the copy;
psdOpts.layers = true;     
psdOpts.spotColors = true;
// get neighboring  psdf iles;
var theFiles = retrievePSDFiles (Folder (docPath));
// collect numbers;
var theNumbers = new Array;
for (var m = 0; m < theFiles.length; m++) {
     if (theFiles[m].name.match(basename+”_”+”[0-9]{1,4}”+”.psd”)) {
          var thisNumber = Number(theFiles[m].name.slice(0, theFiles[m].name.length – 4).match(/\d{1,4}$/));
// get largest number;
if (theNumbers.length > 0) {
     var number = Number(theLargestNumber(theNumbers));
     var theNumber = bufferNumberWithZeros(number + 10, 4)
else {
     var theNumber = “0010”
// save copy;
thedoc.saveAs((new File(docPath+’/’+basename+”_”+theNumber+”.psd”)),psdOpts,true);
////// buffer number with zeros //////
function bufferNumberWithZeros (number, places) {
     var theNumberString = String(number);
     for (var o = 0; o < (places – String(number).length); o++) {
          theNumberString = String(“0” + theNumberString)
     return theNumberString
////// get from subfolders //////
function retrievePSDFiles (theFolder, theFiles) {
     if (!theFiles) {var theFiles = []};
     var theContent = theFolder.getFiles();
     for (var n = 0; n < theContent.length; n++) {
          var theObject = theContent[n];
          if ( == “Folder”) {
               theFiles = retrievePSDFiles(theObject, theFiles)
          if ( == “.psd”) {
               theFiles = theFiles.concat(theObject)
     return theFiles
////// function to get the biggest number;
function theLargestNumber (numbersArray) {
     var x = new Array;
     x = x.concat(numbersArray);
     while (x.length > 1) {
          if (x[0] >= x[x.length-1]) {
               var a = x.pop()
          else {
               var a = x.shift()
     return x

Feedback welcome: Twitter: @oceanbluesky

Ted Mathot, Scott Morse, Bill Presing and Derek Thompson at CTN

(sketch by Rembrandt)
Derek Thompson: The willingness of a story artist to dispose of their work, of their thinking, is almost equally important as their ability to draw, really, really well. […] That’s where process comes into play. Most artists that I know enjoy looking at rough, unfinished work. For any of you who think we’re doing inked finished typed boards — that’s not what it is. It’s dirty, it’s roll up your sleeves — it’s wet works in the plumbing, it’s really gritty, type of work. “Get in late, get out early.”
Ted Mathot: I generally do all my posing last, so, I’ll go in and I’ll try to nail down each shot. And get my progression of shots going first. So I’ll have one drawing for each shot — then I’ll go back in and start plussing. 
Bill Pressing: I try to do a minimum of three boards for a shot. Cause a lot of times you can do whatever you’re thinking of doing in three. [Thompson: “A beginning, middle, end — an A, B, C — where you’re in, in the shot, what the middle substance is, then how you exit the shot.]
Scott Morse: It’s neat to see how the rule of three works. I’m kind of a nerd about patterns these days, fractal geometry — I love finding patterns in things. Obviously in film there’s a three act structure — because it works, not because it is a “rule” that we stick to because, you know….” “Be prepared to do it, then have it thrown out.” A lot of people ask, “What kind of style do you look for?” — and it’s like, “ok, that’s a big red flag that you just threw it in my face,” ’cause a style isn’t gonna come across in storyboarding. Your drawing style needs to be — not a style. It needs to be a thinking style. You need to be able to work, play, well with others.  [Mathot: You need to be adaptable in that you can draw like other artists around you. But you also have to be able to adapt to the other directors, because they all have styles too, and you need to be able to work with that.] 

NY Times: "Tracing the Spark of Creative Problem-Solving")

Thaliamuse of comedy, gazing upon a comic mask (detail from Muses’ Sarcophagus)

‎”Those with positive moods, turn out to be more likely to solve the puzzles with sudden insight than with trial and error.”

“…students solved word-association puzzles after watching a short video of a stand-up routine by Robin Williams. The students solved more of the puzzles over all, and significantly more by sudden insight, compared with when they’d seen a scary or boring video beforehand.”

“found that the visual areas in people in positive moods picked up more background detail, even when they were instructed to block out distracting information during a computer task.”