20 November 2008

Thompson's Tales

Growing up in San Diego, Derek Thompson was determined to become a comic book artist. So focused was that dream that when he came Otis' old location- first to participate in the pre-college program and then as an undergrad studying illustration- that he essentially ignored the "crunchy" environment of MacArthur park, graduating with a BFA in Illustration in 1994. During that time he managed to get his first "real" comic book published and he's been working and thriving in the art and design world since.

Last night Derek returned to Otis to give a talk about his own college experience, his life in the professional world and his advice to our current students. He spoke to a packed house in the Lighting Studio and I was lucky enough to catch his talk. He was engaging and entertaining, moving easily between serious subjects (how to deal with the IRS because you didn't have taxes withheld as a freelancer) and the humorous (how do you solve the problem of Jar Jar Binks?). I really appreciated both his honesty about what the art world is and is not and his unflagging spirit and belief that what is is doing "for a living" is what he was always been meant to do. It was a potent mix of encouragement and awareness that an art student should hear. I only wish I had a recorder with me so I could have taped it and then play it for families when they ask why their kid should be able to go to art school.

You may not realize how often you've seen his work and here are just a few of the movies he has worked on during his stints as a freelancer, as a staffer at ILM and currently at Pixar:

Star Wars Episode III
Thirteen Ghosts
Mummy Returns
Men In Black

You can find a lot more information at his personal site DerekMonster, his blog and on IMDB. In addition to the lecture last night he is doing portfolio reviews and group projects with our students the rest of the week.

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