In a past life, Jason Porath worked as an animator at DreamWorks Animation on such films as Kung Fu Panda 2, The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon 2 – so he has some opinions about the state of animated movies. Originally hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Jason long ago journeyed to Los Angeles to complete a degree in film theory at the University of Southern California. In LA he remains, spending his days exploring abandoned buildings and making dangerous art projects like singing tesla coils and virus- shaped flame throwers. He has short thumbs, soft hair, and a weird sense of humor. I think you’d probably like him. I’m really excited to have him today for you on Artist Strong!
Carrie: Thanks so much for joining us today Jason. When did you first realize your interest in the arts?
Probably in high school. I’ve always enjoyed drawing, but it wasn’t until I wrote and put on a couple plays that my interest really took off.
Carrie: What triggered the creation of Rejected Princesses? (Can you describe what is is as well it to Artist Strong readers?)
Rejected Princesses is a what-if look into an alternate world where unsung heroines (usually historical, sometimes legendary) got their big animated princess movies. It spun out of some lunchtime conversations I had while working at DreamWorks Animation about who would be the least suitable candidate possible for the animated princess treatment. It’s part history lesson, part art project. Kind of like reading the world’s most awesome book report every week.
Carrie: Who was your first Rejected Princess? Tell us a bit about her.
The first one I ever attempted drawing was Lolita, which I’m honestly a bit embarrassed about. Lolita as a kids’ movie is just black humor – there’s no more substance to it than that. Sensing other, more interesting directions it could go, I’ve greatly adjusted my aims since then. Now I do entries of people with great senses of agency in their life, iconoclasts who took charge, and wouldn’t fit into the narrow definition of mainstream modern-day femininity. Lolita is still up there on the website, complete with dirty visual entendre, although her entry is a bit buried.
“I portray iconoclasts who don’t fit into the narrow definition of mainstream modern-day femininity.” (Click to Tweet)
Carrie: Besides Rejected Princesses, you have quite a few other creative projects in the works. We’d love to hear about them.
Rejected Princesses is my full-time job at this point, as the amount of research and diligence required in keeping it going is considerable. But yes, I do have a number of other projects on the backburner. One’s an illustrated diary/blog about my various misadventures (think XKCD meets Hyperbole and a Half), and you can see a few of those entries floating around the web. Another is a sci-fi screenplay about meeting alternate reality selves. Lastly, there’s a novel about a lawyer who deals with magical contracts.
Carrie: You at one time worked for Dreamworks, and despite your positive experience felt you needed to leave. What advice do you have for others navigating a quality day job and their creative dreams?
If you’re financially secure enough, just do it. I wish I’d done it years ago. I’m not sure I would have ever been truly happy with myself if I hadn’t taken this leap.
“I’m not sure I would have ever been truly happy with myself if I hadn’t taken this leap.” (Click to Tweet)
Carrie: How do you navigate your time having multiple creative interests?
I ping-pong back and forth out of necessity — otherwise I just burn out. Thankfully the Rejected Princesses umbrella is a pretty wide one, so I’m able to explore a wide variety of interests.
Carrie: Do your multiple creative projects help inspire each other? How?
They give relief. When one project becomes overwhelming, I can switch to the other. Although RP pretty much has all my attention right now until the book comes out.
Carrie: Do you have a habit or practice that helps your creativity?
Good headphones are my talisman. Once the noise from everything else is drowned out, I can focus. Installing plugins on my web browsers that help prevent me from wasting time on the web has also been quite useful. But it’s also important to take time out and see a movie, read a graphic novel, or just surf the web.
Carrie: What advice would you offer to someone waiting for their skill or idea to be “perfectly” developed before they start their big idea?
Don’t. I waited years and years and years before I showed my work to anyone. I spent so long that I had entirely new batches of friends who only knew me as a software guy, or an engineer. Just show people. Get criticism. Put one foot in front of the other. I am still enormously embarrassed by my art, and I hate almost every piece I put online, but I have to believe the next one will be better.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
My local comic book store. Well, that and Google Images.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
The act of turning over an idea in your head like a rubiks cube, and seeing it from a different angle.
“Creativity is the act of turning over an idea in your head like a rubiks cube…” (Click To Tweet)
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Are you waiting for the “right moment” to start your creative project? What is one step you can take today to stop the wait and act on your creative inkling? I want to know! Tell us about it in the comments below.
*Please note: Featured Image Photo by Eric Nguyen*
“I am still enormously embarrassed by my art, and I hate almost every piece I put online, but I have to believe the next one will be better.” OH this gives me hope!!!
It’s much easier to just sit on our work, isn’t it? And that gap between what we see in our heads and what actually comes out? It’s haunting. It is. Thank you for your honesty, Jason. I think your vision to redeem the concept of princesses is refreshing!! I’m a tomboy myself and have twin 5-yr-olds. I want more for them than what most mainstream children’s cartoons have to offer. And when they are old enough to absorb Rejected Princesses, I might point them in your direction!! Thank you!
Hi Mandy, That very line may be my most favorite of any interview I’ve done. I wish more artists would be honest and open about their vulnerability: SO many people avoid engaging with their art interests for those very fears. And yet, what would we have if Jason made that choice? We would be missing out on some amazing stories of interesting women, which may contribute a wee bit to changing our cultural paradigm of the role of women.