May 2016

Ha! Better late than never, right? RIGHT?

I can’t honestly believe how fast June has flown by, and how much time has already passed since I went on holiday to California at the end of May. Hard to believe that a month ago today I was wandering around Mexico for the day, sampling delicious foods and soaking in the Tijuana sun.

May was a pretty eventful month for me, in big and small ways. There were small, stupid things like actually remembering my parents’ anniversary without a reminder, and getting a much needed haircut. See? Eventful. I was home to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom and her side of the family, and softball season started at work (we actually won our first game (the only one we’ve on thus far)).

I played Dungeons and Dragons for the first time after wanting to play for so long but never having anyone to play with. Some co-workers try to get a game in over lunch weekly, so I got to create a character and go through the motions. They all get very into it too, using different voices, illustrating their characters, and the DM is super committed. I was so excited that I went and bought my first dice set at Anime Fan Fest in NJ, which was the first weekend in May.

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Iris (2014)

Iris Apfel is an original. She’s got old school values, classic style, a progressive foundation  and new age taste. She’s such a complex person, so down to earth and chic.

Iris has one of the largest collections of couture costume jewelry in the United States. She has clothing from all over the world, from all periods of time, and from all walks of life. Some times I felt that perhaps it may have not been appropriate that she’d casually wear a garment that would normally be worn by a culture’s priest or shaman, but for what it’s worth, she sincerely seems like she appreciates every piece of clothing that crosses her path. Especially considering that she most likely traveled to that remote village herself and was gifted it. She’s someone who would be just as likely seen in a high end runway show or in Paris boutiques as she would be seen in a small jewelry shop in Harlem or a market in China. Seeing her style mannequins, you can see 1) how much fun she has 2) how much care she takes with every item. I think part of this comes from her background in interior design and restoration, handling very unique items for clients as exclusive as the White House and stylish as Jackie Kennedy.

As a reflection of her personal style and design sense, her home is an eclectic compliment to her style and accessibility, cluttered but tastefully organized. Some times, she seems to border on tacky or cluttered, but somehow it seems like she knows just when to pull back. She’s such a quirky grandma, sweet, with curious she’s excited to show you. She’s 90 years old, still sharp as a whip and able-bodied–she seems in great health. She credits this to just keeping active, so she isn’t sitting home, aware of her aches and pains, brooding. Unfortunately, her husband passed away a year after the film, in 2015, at the age of 100. He too was a wonderful artist, and photographer.

***

She loves color, she rejects a lot of the current trends, saying that these sleek, all-black ensembles are more like uniforms than fashion. At the same time, she never dislikes outfits on others–I think she just is wise enough to know what suits her and to live and let live. She very cheekily says,  “It’s better to be happy than well-dressed.” Damn, girl, so much shade. I think she hits on something here. Well, I mean, of course she does, but I think what sets her apart even more than what already sets her apart is that down-to-earth-ness. There’s such classism in fashion. Conversely, there’s an interest in vintage pieces. But Iris is the one that is actually there, digging through thrift store bins to find them. She’s someone who will pair designer fabrics with $5 Indonesian slippers and costume jewelry from a Brooklyn trunk show with bangles designed by Alexander Wang.

She had some choice words for designers today, saying they needed to get more into their craft and get their hands dirty: “They don’t show, they don’t drape, they’re media freaks. They have no sense of history, no curiosity about anything.” Iris realized early on that everything is inter-related, not jus within fashion, but with politics, economics, science, etc. and how so many factors are affected by all of these things…that you can tell so much about a period from a dress. When she teaches students, her course itinerary is always a bit different than expected:

“They’re all offbeat fields like licensing and styling, and things kids don’t think about as fashion. They just think its like glamorous but it’s important…all the great hand-crafted trades are going down the tube. Some of them are already gone. And then there’s nobody left to teach them and you’ll have all kinds of machine-made junk.”

Designer Naeem Khan advised students to keep their eyes out for everything, and told a story of seeing fields from an airplane and incorporated the pattern in one of his dresses. Finding inspiration, being curious about everything.

The whole time I was watching the documentary, I kept thinking about how much her personal growth would have been impacted from social media. I think her growing up without social media definitely assisted her, and removed a lot of the pressures that people today face. Everything, as she also laments, has become so homogenized. Something can look very Tumblr, there are distinct aesthetics on Instagram, lots of fashion bloggers rock the same trends, clothing stores have all melded and sell the exact same looking things. That being said, even if everyone took a page out of Iris’s book, she’d still be leagues apart from everyone else.

I likened Iris to Frida Kahlo a lot. Like. A lot. I’m sure Iris wouldn’t mind, having studied art history in college. They wore beautiful, unique, bold, colorful ensembles, created boldly and with disregard for trends, subverted expectations as women, never had kids, never aspired to be “traditionally” pretty or beautiful, and loved and experienced life deeply and widely. The list goes on, but so would this blog post.


Because I’m a giant nerd, I kept finding parallels with how she felt about fashion to the field of animation. Everyone nowadays tends to strive for the same styles. This isn’t a bad thing, nor is it even by choice. Like fashion, there are trends in animation. I’d love it if more students and even professional broke out of these molds. And of course, there are people who do it–I’m definitely not sitting here angrily typing “All animation looks the same!” because that’s just…not…true. It’s also the idea that anything from life can lead to benefiting the creation of animation, and that animation, like fashion, is a reflection of the science, politics, economics, technology, values, and so much more of that time period. These are two fields that are often sort of…snubbed? I guess, and seen as lesser artforms. People like Iris prove how untrue that idea is.

Iris is available on Netflix! Go have a watch!

 

April 2016

 

Another month of 2016 already gone, and another month where…frankly I didn’t do too much. I’m normally a bit of a homebody, but I am also going to LA at the end of May, so I’ve been especially reluctant to go out and spend money. For me, this month was just a bit more chill, with a couple of little highlights.

The library in my town has become a welcomed, common staple for the weekend, which also curbs my need to buy books. I haven’t even bought any animation books recently due to my backlog of library reads needing full attention.

My boyfriend’s good friend’s birthday was this month, and we celebrated by driving into Brooklyn and going to Brooklyn Bowling, as well as a couple of pit stops at breweries. Before heading into Brooklyn, we pit-stopped in Queens for sushi. I’ve always wanted to go to a sushi bar that had the revolving carousel, and I’d heard there was one in Queens. At these revolving sushi joints, the chefs just continuously add new dishes to the revolving belt, which diners pick up. The prices are set depending on the color of the plate, ranging from $1-$5 for various rolls and appetizers.

It turns out it this one was actually smack in the middle of a mall food court! When my boyfriend realized I’d unknowingly dragged him out for “mall sushi” our expectations nose-dived. But I was honestly really impressed with the food. The fish was fresh, the combinations were interesting, and it was just delicious in general.

Finally got to have conveyor belt sushi today! 🍣😍

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I was finally able to get ahold of an iron, and finish some of the perler bead sprites I’d made last month. As I state in my Instagram, I didn’t design these patterns, but wanted to get aquianted with the process. Naturally, I made Digimon spirtes, whose patterns were lifted from the sprites used in the GameBoy games:

I saw a friend who was in a local production of Little Shop of Horrors, which was awesome. Been watching a lot of films rented from the library, and cooking a lot. I’ve been specifically making big batches of food on Sundays to bring to work for lunch, saving me around $45 a week. Stuff like curries and soups. My favorite meal I made this month though was this one:

Cooked kimchi rice, steak, and fried eggs while @animated.koko napped 😘😪💤

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Work has been going really well too. We’ve been fortunate to get to work with some incredible people in April, and I hope the flowers that grow from those little saplings will bloom in 2017. ; )

March 2016

I’ve already skipped posting during the month of February, so I am not going to mess up another consecutive month–even if it means posting a simple recap post at 11:32pm on the last day of March. Ta da!

That being said, March was…better. Much better than February, and the personal and familial pangs that come with simply living. I do wish that The Little Prince opened in theaters in the US as was intended, but now I’ll just have to continue to place my trust in Netflix. Butttt if that’s really the only bad thing I can think of, I think we’re doing much, much better.

March started off pretty strong, admittedly due to my boyfriend’s birthday being earlier in the month. Determined to not drag him down, we celebrated with a fun trip into NYC, despite my dislike of said city. I dragged him to my favorite, Kinokunya, as well as the Museum of Modern Art, the Nintendo World store, some good food and sights. We also celebrated by seeing Zootopia and having BarTaco with some friends. He and I did some additional exploring in our own town–we finally checked out a small local park and read by the stream. We’re also planning a trip to LA/San Diego at the start of the summer!

Starry Night by #vanGogh #museumofmodernart

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When I was home for Easter, I took some time to visit Asbury Park, NJ to brunch with my best friends from high school and wander the strange little shops (mostly antique places) in the area. Easter was wonderful, as usual, starting with a Dominican fish fry on Good Friday (followed by a second helping of Deadpool with my brother in tow). Easter itself was enjoyable–typical family fare.

I GOT A LIBRARY CARD! I cannot explain how exciting this was for me! Honestly, I could, but that’s easily a whole separate blog post itself. I know it’s sad, but I feel like a whole new world has opened up to me again. I’d forgotten how precious they are, and I’m fortunate that my new town has a gorgeous, very up-to-date and well-funded facility. I borrowed a bunch of graphic novels, and geek queen Felicia Day’s autobiography. I’ve been doing a 20 Book Challenge for 2016 on GoodReads, but I think with how speedy some comics are to read, I may have to bump it to 30. I intend to check out more traditional novels my next go-around.

Overcome with #relatable feelings after reading several of these library graphic novels, I plucked up the courage to actually shoot a video for YouTube. It was/is nothing special–a simple book review for Raina Telgmeier’s Smile–but from that one session I feel like I already learned so much. The footage still lives on my computer, where I have not touched Adobe Premiere CC in easily 10 days, BUT THE FOOTAGE EXISTS, and that is good enough for now. Starting really is the toughest part, man.

We also had puppeteer Bill Diamond visit work and bring some amazing characters with him! It reminded me of a documentary about Yoda that I watched not too long ago. It was very refreshing to hear about such a tangible artform, and hear him parallel it so well to CG/animation.

Selfie with one of the real Red Fraggle puppets from #FraggleRock!

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In general, this month was pretty good. I’m trying to do more art/craft things, I’m definitely reading more….cooking more, trying new things, feeling more confident at work… Still a long way to go, c’est la vie. But there’s so much to be happy about.

 

The Planning Trap

I have been caught in the planning trap for most of my adult life. Also known as the research trap, this sad, sad phenomenon gives me the false impression that I am doing things–that I’m moving forward, and taking small steps towards the things I want (or think I want, at this point). And in some small, teeny tiny ways, it’s not untrue. But it’s definitely more untrue than true.

When there is something I want to learn more about, or learn how to do, I, like any person, go on a Google-spree. But then I turn into one of those people who starts to read an article and a bit into it, when I realize, “Oh this is good stuff,” will move to something else and decide to come back to it later in order to “give it the proper attention it deserves.” What does that even mean!? Typically, these articles contain good information I’d like to refer back to in the future, but I have no good bookmarking/way of saving things in place. So they stay there, unused, with the end result of initial Googling remaining unrealized. Some times the amount of information is overwhelming and daunting, and halts me right in my tracks.

An example of this comes from a sincere desire to self-improve (as do most of them): I want to become a more financially literate young adult. And honestly, there is no logical point to having over 20 different articles from The Financial Diet open in Chrome. Call it FOMO, call it “covering all of your bases”, but I’ll call it a problem. This is definitely a site where I’m prone to leaving articles open and unread for weeks, knowing there there is so much information I want to retain and implement into my life. I have begun the slow process of cleaning up a younger me’s bookmarks (honestly, I know what folders and subfolders are, so WTF past-me?) as well as other sites like Pinterest and Pocket.

I read this HuffPost article the other day, “9 Excuses Artists Need to Stop Making in 2016” and damn, did some of those sting. Particularly the first and last ones: “I Don’t Have Time” and “I am a Perfectionist.” The first can be be-bunked when taking an honest look at one’s priorities, and the second might require me to get the phrase “Done is better than perfect” tattooed in reverse across my head so that I see it every time I glance at a mirror, because seriously, DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT. The article links to then another fantastic article about being content and embracing imperfection (that stays open in a tab, unread or partially read for several weeks) that would be super helpful if I didn’t trap it–and myself–in this very pointless cycle.

This definitely won’t be the last time I write about dealing with this issue. I think in a world of perfectly filtered, curated, and selectively shared lives via Facebook, Instagram, et all, the problem has come to affect everyone, either subconsciously, or blatantly. I think it causes us to react in different ways, where you have some who hustle and bustle to keep up with the Joneses, others who become resentful, and some of us (lol hi) who sort of stagnate somewhere in the middle. I’m not blaming social media here by any means, as I know this has affected me personally since my childhood days pre-Windows 97. It has definitely augmented the problem, but let’s face it, the main obstacle is yourself…your own opinion about yourself. I think our collective sense of humor (at least over here in NYC area) has become very self-depreciating, but if you keep telling yourself something enough, even as joke, it starts to take hold one way or another.

On the flip side, a little envy can be a good thing too. Being in a field where there is not a whole lot of upward mobility, I can’t help but feel jealous and have those fleeting moments of doubt/insecurity when others succeed. It has and still takes me a lot to digest that other people’s success does not equal your own failure. We live in such a competitive society that I think it’s important to un-learn many of these gut-reactions and behaviors. Seeing people around you succeed should motivate rather than discourage.

Even now, writing this, I’ve felt compelled to stop on multiple occasions because I don’t feel it is good enough. I have over 80 articles for this blog saved in the drafts, and I chip away at them from time to time, but I am always letting myself be deterred. I gave myself challenges this year to both write and read more to help me improve my writing and formulating and articulating my thoughts better. So I just need to fucking do it. And a million other things. I want to get back into tangible art (watercolors, sculpting, papercraft, calligraphy), and explore more digital art (motion graphics, 3D modeling, YouTube videos). I want to cook more and work on collaborative projects with people and make video games. There are so many things I want to jump into, which I know will require me to pick and chose where I invest my time, but for the time being I’m investing none of it, and it’s a goddamn shame.

A plan, therefore, was what made the most sense. It’s the last day of January, and I am still trying to figure out what goals I want to set for myself for the year, and how to best go about accomplishing them. It’s been on my pointless to-do list all month. I don’t want to be one of those people whose blogs/work become super meta in the sense that most of their work is explaining or talking about their work (or lack thereof). I don’t want to become one of those people who is all talk and no action, so here is my talk, which will ideally be followed by action. So I think it helps. I hope this helps.

 

2015 Recap

Cliche, I know. Doesn’t matter. I want to write about this.

A lot has changed for me this year. A lot of good things. 2013 was frankly the worst year I’d ever had. Prior, I didn’t even know you could have a “bad year.” I’d heard the lyric in the Friends theme song1, but the idea that you couldn’t have anything past a rough week had come from a very naive and fortunate perspective. 2014 fared quite better, but bared the brunt of the aftermath. Now, don’t get me wrong, there were of course, some great things to happen in those years. But in general…no bueno.

2015, man.

I had my one year anniversary at Blue Sky Studios, detailed in a post from October.  As a result of this employment

I got my first credit in animated feature film, The Peanuts Movie!2

#Peanuts crew photo!! #dreamBig #blueskystudios

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I finally started blogging more consistently. It’s not much to the seasoned blogger, but I wanted to write at least 12 posts this past year (one per month, theoretically, to help me build up consistency). Blogging is something I have wanted to do for easily six+ years now. Though I did “skip” two months, I kept things going and wrote 15 posts prior to this one this year, and tried to keep it all centered around animation/games.

I attended more events that really took me out of my normal comfort zone, and stopped going to things I sincerely didn’t want to go to. Some were repeat events, like New York Comic Con, AnimeNext, another visit to Seattle, and seeing a Bill Plympton talk, but others were the New York International Children’s Film Festival and seeing The Lord of the Rings in concert. There were a few other cool talks I attended through Blue Sky that I took notes about (such as an Anomalisa screening featuring Charlie Kauffman), but just haven’t posted about, as well as some other trips, like to the NY Ren Faire and many screenings.

#jousting

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Amazing. Def had an out of body experience. #lordoftherings #LOTRinConcert

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#NewOrleans

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I moved from NY to CT (and now only spend around 35% of my monthly income on rent rather than a crippling 77%). Like, damn. I’m honestly so excited that I can start managing my finances better: save up for things, pay off loans, invest in the long term, and really just having options/some breathing room. The move also had me downsize, which gave me the chance to start streamlining my life a tiny bit. Plus, I cannot stress enough how much having stable financial footing has already helped me mentally and emotionally.

Cutie-patootie

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I left grad school, for real this time. It was not an easy decision, and probably definitely needs its own post, but frankly I don’t really care to talk about it right now. To put it simply, I couldn’t handle the demands of both it and full-time job, along with all of the other things I would rather invest my time into.

Oh hey there old friend

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I started kickboxing, rock-climbing, and cooking more, largely thanks to a boy I met this year. I’m still not a fit or healthy person by any means, and I still lack discipline when it comes to personal care. I have succeeded in many small ways that I wanted to at the start of the year, but it’s still not consistent enough or effortless enough where I don’t need to constantly remind myself3. My SO is annoyingly good at calling out my laziness, and getting me to think in different ways about improving my overall quality of life. I did stop climbing after a few months due to finances, but I am happy that I tried something I never would have on my own.

Ok, fine, I admit it, it was a blast

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I haven’t had many expectations or going into the last few years, rather, just looking to have a less dramatic year than the previous. But this one was a good one. It was what I needed–a recovery, I guess. I’m finally finding some stable ground, and figuring out what I want to do next both to grow into my career and as a person.

 


Footnotes
1. “…when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month–or even your year, but, I’ll be there for you!
2. Achievement unlocked: Having an IMDb page!
3. Not gonna lie, resolutions 3, 6, 8, and 10 were a total bust this year. The others were pretty all right, but I wouldn’t be lying if I said they could all use some shaping up!

26 Years in 25 Hours

I had the strange phenomenon of celebrating my birthday on the same day as Daylight Savings Time, a useless concept that, nevertheless, added a 25th hour to November 1st, 2015. As my father said, not many people can say that had an extra hour to celebrate! Had I realized this ahead of time, maybe I would have done something silly, like do something every hour on the hour. It would have been more amusing if I was turning 25 (which I was not). But alas, it was more just a fun fact than any actual catalyst for anything–which is fine in my book.

I had a wonderfully simple birthday, which is frankly my favorite kind. Having recently celebrated the crew screening and wrap party for The Peanuts Movie well into the night, I’d had enough fanfare1. Even the day before–Halloween–was a simple hiking excursion and viewing of Laika’s Coraline.

Halloween hike on Bear Mountain today 😊

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For my actual birthday, I celebrated with some shrimp dumplings I love, actually sitting in bed a reading2, a visit to the craft store, a nap, free Starbucks, delicious ramen, Tous Les Jours cake, and ended strong with one of my favorite movies, Whisper of the Heart, and two episodes of one of my favorite anime Shirobako. Were there other things I wanted to read and eat and watch and do? Sure, as there are every day. But some times it’s so nice to just take these days to appreciate little things and spend a whole day relaxing and unwinding. It was nice to spend a weekend not staring at a monitor, be it my work computers, my devices at home, or my phone. It was refreshing to be active outside, and passive inside.

I couldn't decide whether I wanted the blueberry or mocha cake, so I had both. #birthday

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The weekend made me revisit all of the different things that I want to learn and try to do, many of them more tangible artistic endeavors away from technology, or just things I’ve never done before. It reminded me of many of the simple goals I wanted for myself back in January that revolved around my health, and how I am finally taking them more seriously and paying more attention to these things little by little. It also made me want to try NaNoWriMo again, which I used to do every year back in undergrad uni. We’ll see how that goes!

Hope everyone has a happy November!


Footnotes
1. Especially considering I went into work the next day, after not going to sleep until almost 3am after a night of drinking and dancing!
2. Sadly one of my favorite activities–reading–is one that I have barely done the entirety of 2015. So the fact that I got to read a bit about Will Eisner’s life was fan-fucking-tastic.