So I'm sorry Tom, your site is pretty cool. You have managed to create and maintain a website that has continued to house some of the best content creators online for 15 years. Regardless of where the site is now in regards to the rest of the internet, Newgrounds has single handedly launched the creative careers of more game developers, animators, musicians and voice actors then any other website online could probably ever hope for. And whatever ends up with happening with the site, thats going to be its legacy. No other site caters to such a wide variety of content creators online, let alone even coming close to starting as many careers in so many diverse and completely different areas of entertainment and media. Thats Newgrounds legacy, and thats your own legacy. Nobody can take it from you and nobody can tell you otherwise. You changed a lot of peoples lives, some will be thankful, some might not even realise that you gave them the platform that allowed for it. But in the end, it was your vision back in 1998 that allowed for it, and thats an achievement you should always be proud of.
About a month ago I went on a huge tirade on the Newgrounds forums about how the system is broke, it wasn’t catering to my needs, blah blah blah. I only just went back into thread so I could link it to someone else and noticed a post from someone I really look up to. Not because of his work (which is top notch by the way) but rather his approach to things. Despite large measures of success, he keeps a level head and remains modest, he doesn’t brag or anything like that. And its really got me thinking, or really, makes me want to write about how I have been feeling about my work for the last couple of weeks.
I have been animating for 11 years now, and aside from a little popularity in 2004 that I managed to get for myself by being friends with other more popular people, my work has never particularly appealed to anyone. I started drawing when I was very young, as did most people who no doubt end up as animators and illustrators. In 2002 I got my first computer and a copy of Flash 4 and started animating. I didn’t have the internet at the time so animation was something I did purely to help myself forget about the bullying and fact that I was a social outcast. It wasn’t until late 2003 that my household made its way onto the internet and then 2004 that I discovered the likes of Newgrounds or DeviantArt.
Over the next 10 years I produced over 150 animated shorts (many from DeviantArt and SheezyArt that have been lost to time). Some were parodies, some original, 99% of which were and are terrible. I no doubt spent a lot of time complaining about how I was unpopular and that I deserved more and probably went on and on about how it was holding me back and so on. This was a pretty common thing, not just with me, but with a lot of people at the time, and I get a lot of young kids adding me on skype now asking why they’re not popular (why they are asking me I don’t know). BUT im starting to wonder if my reasons for thinking I should be popular were a little different to other peoples. I mean I have been working in advertising for about 7 years now, I started when I was fresh out of school, I was handed brands like Coca Cola and Mitsubishi with absolutely no advertising experience and somehow went from strength to strength in the field. What area of advertising? Animation and online, the same area all my cartoons were going.
I was, and still am making good money out of it, so I think deep down I must have really been confused internally about why companies were willing to throw money at me and trust me with their brands when I couldn’t get people in my own target demographic to look at my own work. I think its something that has been bothering me for years, but also something I have been ignoring. All the while funding thousands of dollars and hours into equipment and time that ends of with very little to no payoff aside from the satisfaction of having completed something. So here is where we come full circle.
A month ago I went on a huge tirade on the Newgrounds forums about how the system is broke, it wasn’t catering to my needs, blah blah blah. I had the similar complaints about Youtube and Vimeo as well. Now I realise that it wasn’t that they weren’t catering to my needs, but rather I wasn’t catering to theirs, particularly for the last few years. Ever since I have been able to finance my own films I have been making the films that I want to see, and the fact of the matter is, not everyone has the same interests that I do, not everyone has the same sense of humour that I do. Having complete creative control means I can make it exactly how I want it and how I want things isn’t something that can be pushed onto other people, and its certainly not something I can just expect people to want to like and share and tell their friends about.
Ive admitted to myself that my animation would never take me anywhere. Im not a good animator and have no interest in technical proficiency even if I do have a great appreciate for it when watching the work of others. Im also not a particular good story teller. My sense of humour is rather disconnected when compared to most peoples and my sense of design is limited at best. I have been doing this for 11 years, I draw every day, have filled countless art books and barely improved since I was in my teens.
So I guess that just means i’m animating stuff for myself, which really, is something I wish I had realised a long long time ago. If I had, maybe I wouldn’t have become the bitter prick who blames everyone but himself that I have become.