Drawing Inspiration #2 – Never Stop Learning – Tom Bancroft

Tom Bancroft pictureNever Stop Learning – Part 2 of Drawing Inspiration

by Tom Bancroft

I used to look up to top cartoonists – not for their money or fame – but because they could draw whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.  In my childhood artistic viewpoint my ultimate goal was to be able to draw whatever I could think of- perfectly.  That’s when I would know I made it as an artist, I thought.  That’s when I could relax and stop having to practice, learn, and strive.  I would have all the answers and just be able to express anything on paper to the enjoyment and amazement of the world.  That was my dream.

But it still hasn’t happened.  I’m 46 years old and I learn something new about art, drawing, animation, cartooning, and life – everyday.  And I love it.  I WANT that now.  I don’t want to be the BEST artist in the room, if possible.  And it took me a little while to learn that.  I started seeing hints of that the first days of going to CalArts.  My brother, Tony, and I had gone from having the title of “best artists in our high school” to a classroom FULL of the “best artists in their high school”.  For the first time, we were faced with true competition and even better – new talent to learn from.  And that was just the students.

We then met our instructors: The late, great Joe Ranft taught us Story, Disney animator (and now director of “Frozen”) Chris Buck taught us Animation, the incredible Mike Giamo taught us Character Design, along with the occasional guest lecture by Glen Keane and Brad Bird.  All were in their primes of passion for what they did and each one spoke about new things they were learning on the projects they were working on at Disney and other studios.  Wait – these incredible talents – professionals at Disney – were still LEARNING?  And they were passing on these new found lessons onto us?  It blew my mind.

From that point forward I discovered that there are so many aspects to what makes a person truly great at anything that there is no stopping point.  There is no mountaintop to being an artist.  There’s always a new challenge.  And, I also discovered, the BEST Animators/Artists SEARCH OUT new challenges to make them learn more and grow!  To be a GREAT animator you have to learn acting, drawing, anatomy, movement mechanics, film, timing, pacing, editing, and a million other nuances of life.

How can any one person know it all?  Additionally, each new element learned folds into the knowledge base you already have and compounds so that everything else you know is even better.  Learning sculpture makes your drawings better, learning painting makes your sculptures better and on and on.  My old dream was to hit a peak and be able to coast on my artistic ability, but now I realize that that will only lead to artistic death.  I now hope for new challenges and the passion to learn from them.

See Part One of Drawing Inspiration – Have A Direction


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  • Rodney

    Thanks for that. I frustrate myself a lot, thinking that I should be that “perfect artist” as you indicate, but I find myself struggling in some areas–specifically character design and style development. Sometimes it makes me want to quit–and I’m 43. I feel like I will never achieve. But, after reading this post, I won’t quit, and I’ll keep the lessons in the back of my mind.

  • namratapanjre

    Huge Fan!!! practice from ur book all d tym!! <3