In 2011 I went to the Massive Black workshop in San Francisco and it kinda was the beginning of where I am today and where I want to be someday. By that time I didn’t know absolutely anyone apart from the instructors seen in books, magazines or the internet and nobody knew me. It was such a great experience that not only helped me to push it for 2 years but also to make some good friends.
As soon as I saw it announced back in September I had no doubt I wanted to be there (even the price was cheaper than ever! 250$ is nothing for what you get in exchange), meet people I met 2 years ago, others I’ve been talking to online but never in person, get inspired by the mind blowing list of instructors and so. Workshops are one of the best experiences anyone can have as part of the community, and after blaming on myself for missing some others where my friends went, I couldn’t miss this one. I didn’t, and it was awesome.
Actually my second trip to America had a pretty bad start, my train to the airport got delayed for an hour because a person got hit by a train making me run at the airport to not miss the flight, which was delayed for 5 hours due to a “minor technical issue”, and then delayed again because a person wasn’t feeling good and even puked inside the plane and we had to wait till he felt better. The good thing is I met Chris Bjors at the airport because we were at the same flight, such a coincidence, and a good one because some company is appreciated in those moments. We arrived to the hotel at 3am and only slept for a few hours before the workshop. If at any point anyone saw me struggling to stay awake, the time difference and that were part responsible.
The first day was very exciting and full of hugs for everyone. The instructors introduced themselves and the line seemed to never end. I liked a lot the layout of this workshop, so many lectures at the same time makes you want to clone yourself but being that impossible, I appreciate they arranged the different rooms in the same place separated by curtains, which made it very easy to move around. I still missed a lot it would have been worth checking from what I heard from my friends but still I feel I got fed enough.
For 3 days you could move around checking the main area with 6 big screens where some of the instructors were doing demos and answering the questions you had, jump from one room to another (or even being in two rooms at the same time if you found the right spot) or enjoy some traditional air in the area where digital was forbidden. And all of this watched by Kim Jun Gi from the skies.
The presence of the korean artist was one of the most iconic elements of this workshop, only the long lines of hundreds of people waiting for hours to get his books signed is a good example of how everyone loves him. His presentation was great having the translator around because it turned into a Q&A with lots on interesting answers from an artist not only good at what he does but with good sense of humor. He was also involved in a “pictionary” session with Marko, Wes and Ian where people from the audience suggested topics and they had to draw them in the time given. Though the pressure they seemed to be having lots of fun (same as us watching them)
There was good variety of subject matter along the classes and demos, going for sci-fi, fantasy, realism, stylization, characters, creatures, environments, 2D, 3D, tips to make it in the industry, jokes, and much more. You can still see on the website the schedule and the list of the instructors, though sadly some of them dropped at the end. I already knew the workflow of some of them from livestream, videotutorials or courses but still feel like I learnt quite a few things I can´t wait to use for my work.
It was sweet to see people I met 2 years ago again, I was surprised some people remembered me for just a few minutes talking back then! The workshop was great again to do networking, it´s the place to exchange business cards. I put up to date everyone about my current situation there and promised I´ll try to stay more active again from now because I lost a bit of activity with my full time job, and after making more friends will be even more motivated. I even managed to talk to some people who looked familiar to me from the previous workshop but didn´t have a chance to talk before. I wish I had talk to more people because everyone´s so cool but there will be more workshops.
Everyday after the workshop the socialization continues having dinner with mates or people you just met for the first time ever, having some drinks and stay together till it´s time to go to bed, some earlier than others.
The last day as usual is for portfolio reviews, things get serious and you have to be ready for the critics. In my case were very useful and same as 2 years ago, was very interesting to see that everyone was pointing out the same flags in my portfolio, different professionals with that in common can only mean I need to work on that as soon as possible.
Again, I can only recommend going to these events if you´re part of this industry no matter if you just started (I was there 2 years ago!) or you are a professional with years of experience. The only sad thing of it was the time to say bye to everyone (more hugs everywhere!) I will try to go next year again, with a whole new portfolio improved. I hope to see everyone there, till then, keep it up!!
This last awesome photo is by Phil Holland