An apology for Tom

2013-08-13 18:15:50 by Gerkinman

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.


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2013-08-13 18:57:34

Fast times on Newfaggrounds.


2013-08-13 21:00:59



2013-08-13 21:01:47



2013-08-13 21:03:55

I hope you realise one day how far your realisation can take you. You should read that last paragraph again and think about what you just said, really. I'd say more - but i'm pretty tired. Good Luck.

Gerkinman responds:

Maybe one day, when im old and its too late.


2013-08-13 23:03:16

your over 1000 fans probably care more, and they are the ones you should be apologizing to.

and honestly if i was tom id be a little offended at 'pretty cool site.' i get that toms super close to the community and that's cool, but he's not a little bitch who cried over your unnecessary forum blow up. is it disappointing for tom? sure, but on less of a personal level and on more of an 'artist(s) aren't/isn't enjoying this because of _____.'

Gerkinman responds:

Ive been attacking this site on and off for 5 years now for a number of reasons, some probably justified, others not so much BUT most likely all of those complaints were brought up in the wrong way. I cant speak for how Tom feels about it all, I don't know how or what he thinks, and its not really my business. This was a post about how I was feeling personally, and if you think he should be offended then maybe your seeing something in what I have said that I don't, maybe he will see it to, I don't know. If we all thought the same the world would be a boring place.

I also don't think my fans really care, despite have over 1000 followers on this site going through the accounts it looks like over 2/3's of them haven't visited the site in years, at least under those account names.


2013-08-13 23:07:03

im just saying that if your going to make a public apology to the founder of a website on the front page of their website, you should have a little more respect for them and yourself.

Gerkinman responds:

Still not entirely sure how your reading into this, but sure, I think most people online deserve more respect then they are given.


2013-08-13 23:53:15

Success is a tricky thing, Gerkinman, I've been around as long as you have and we've both seen crap become huge and praised and excellence be dismissed lost in the sands of time... how it comes about and what makes something work or not is sometimes just impossible to tell.

So, although it's fine to aim for success, if that's a big motivation and it doesn't come about, it can be tremendously frustrating. And that can lead to tirades like the one you've mentioned. To be fair, NG does have quite a few problems, but, as you sorta of imply, it's always going to be hard to be at the top of the curve; it's far from perfect, but it's still trying hard and has a lot going for it.

(Except for the forums, which have been (un)dead to me for years)

In short, I'm glad that you've realized the fickleness of success and I hope you can find, deep inside, good reasons to keep at it!


Gerkinman responds:

Success can be a pretty cruel thing. I probably wouldn't care except I don't like what I do for a living yet i'm really successful at it. Its the stuff I do enjoy that I have a much harder time with.


2013-08-14 08:45:55

At the end of the day, it's never about becoming popular or getting rich. Those things are nice, but it's about doing what you love~

Gerkinman responds:

Yup, thats it.


2013-08-14 11:51:25

Oh boy oh yes you caused quiet the stir in that thread. Oh my. It's a nice read though. You rarely see Tom getting on the defense like that. It's usually just people praising him or asking why something is different.

Hell, you might have gained a reputation there, and everyone knows infamy is still fame ;)

Gerkinman responds:

That 3 Monts beer you have over their is fucking amazing.


2013-08-14 12:04:30

You're not a prick, it's human to get frustrated, I respect that you decided to man up, and have seen the error of your ways.

Lastly the fact that you have kids seeking advice from you, is something you should be proud of.


2013-08-15 09:01:19

Oh cool, youve been here? Or you just tried the beer?

Gerkinman responds:

Just tried the beer ha ha


2013-08-18 20:44:32

as you're well aware, we're surrounded by popular brands and behind-the-scenes success stories.
somehow we "artistic" types expect to join those ranks.
competition is fierce. good fortune plays it's part. but we all know it takes more than wishful thinking and a couple limp stabs to slay the dragon.

if only people were interested in the trials and tribulations of us wannabes - we'd be all set :)

one of these days i'm gonna get my shit together and do something really special.

just because i want to, damn it.

one of these days...


2013-08-28 02:49:58

Okay, so... if you were making a cartoon to promote a brand on the internet, what would you definitely put in it? What would you definitely exclude?

Assume the client wants to attract interest by telling a short story or a joke in their cartoon, like some of the more amusing commercials. Further assume they're trying to crack that fickle young adult demographic.

Logically, whatever you type in response to this hypothetical situation has got to be the answer to all those noobs' prayers! Right?

I mean, y'know, unless advertising and entertainment are two completely different fields, or every 'toon is incredibly situational and tailor-made to solve a specific messaging challenge to the point where there IS no general one-size-fits-all solution, or the distribution of ads is incredibly different from the distribution of entertainment and therefore the success or failure of an ad is determined by entirely different factors, or something crazy like that. :P

Long story short, don't be so hard on yourself. Audiences are stupid! You can't fix that by being better at making art!


2013-09-14 08:45:38

I don't particularly care if I become famous, cause that's probably never gonna happen.
I just draw so maybe I could make a career out of it, like what you're doing. :P