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Thread: TAD and me

  1. #1
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    TAD and me

    Disappointing and unfortunate are the words that have come to mind about the recent drama and words bandied about regarding The Art Department. I have been involved in teaching for a decade on and off, most of it at Rhode Island School of Design. While I feel that my time at RISD as a student (student and now teacher) was wonderful and beneficial, I have come to realize that there are better newer and more submersive ways to teach artists. My first experience with this was teaching at the Illustration Academy. What an eye opener that was! Faculty that were ever present, faculty that were working in the field, faculty with too many awards for their work to count, sitting down and demonstrating or working over your shoulder to help you better grasp the ideas, theories, philosophy and basic crafts that make them who they are and maybe inspire you to newer and greater heights for yourself. I was numb and not just a little embarrassed by my own teachings previous to this experience but have embraced this teaching experience for myself. was part of my life from its inception or close thereafter. I met Jason at San Diego ComiCon where he told me about this grand idea of a community of artists sharing ideas, work and advice, freely! At first I thought It would be short lived but I would participate anyway. I was wrong and so happy for being wrong. Many of you probably do not go that far back but I was constantly on line sharing work, paint-overs and advice as well as receiving the same. I loved it! I honestly believe participating changed my art and life by opening my eyes to new experiences and people.

    Recently I have been less involved, at least on the surface, but much of my time and energy is still devoted to my freelance work and now to TAD.
    I am very excited by what TAD is about and the incredible community it has already generated with its initial workshops. Just these past few weeks I have made new friends, inspired new artists and inspired by them. TAD could actually be what you all have dreamed of in terms of art education (at least what I would have dreamed of). Massive amounts of knowledge given online as well as in person by leaders in the industry. If an instructor cannot participate for some reason you can be sure that there will be a replacement that is as good or better.

    By teaching at TAD and the Illustration Academy I have met an incredible amount of artists that I previously could only dream of meeting. You as a student will be taught by them. In short I am invested in TAD, emotionally invested, and am excited about its direction and innovation. The feeling of being part of a wonderful and epic journey is ever present in my day.

    Also I would love to add that I am friends with Coro, Marko, Andrew and Jason, I think the world of them all. Any past drama or misunderstandings I am sure are just that — misunderstandings. My life and future work, as well as this new and better education process, would not be sabotaged by any of these people. It would be cruel and short sighted and I can say with confidence that none of them are either of those traits. TAD is a positive innovation in the world of art education and we should all focus on that.

    Hope to see you in school!


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  4. #2
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    Aug 2008
    United Kingdom, London
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    It's nice to see that the underlying foundations of what makes TAD and are more than strong enough to withstand a bit of drama.

    I also think it's sad that so many people seem to have the attitude that a little bit of conflict spells destruction when in actual fact it's the means by which changes and, more importantly, develoments are made.

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  6. #3
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    Oct 2009
    Kansas City
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    Great Post!


    Thanks for the kind words concerning TAD and The Illustration Academy. I am fortunate to have your support and all the other devoted instructors connected to TAD. The drama on this site is unfortunate and I feel unnecessary. The MB guys have stated this is a conflict of interest as it pertains to the future success of MB and for now do not want to commit 100%. That said, TAD will not miss a step. We have added and will continue to add the best talent in the industry to our instructor list. TAD is about delivering an education from the industry and it's leaders, not an isolated few. In short, TAD is much bigger than any individual, including myself or anyone else involved!

    What concerns me the most is the focus away from what actually happened during all this drama, that being an incredible 3-week workshop!

    Please take a look at the instructors that attended TAD's 3-week workshop and what they delivered to the students.

    Instructors attending the program were:

    Gary Kelley
    Terry Brown
    Brad Rigney
    Mark English
    John English
    Marshall Vandruff
    Brent Watkinson
    George Pratt
    Jason Manley
    Anita Kunz
    Sterling Hundley
    Francis Vallejo
    Trey Bryan
    Jane Radstrom
    Jon Foster
    Andrew Jones

    During the 3 weeks the students witnessed drawing, painting, print making, and digital demos. They had presentations on process, anatomy, color, composition effective lighting and a round table discussion on the industry and business. While all of this was going on the students completed 3 assignments with critiques for each step of the process.

    I encourage all the students that attended to take a minute and reflect on what they saw and learned, it was amazing!

    Lastly, thanks to all of the students that attended, your confidence and trust in our program is overwhelming! I will always remember you as the very first TAD students.

    Thanks again,

    Last edited by John English; July 7th, 2010 at 06:13 PM.

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  8. #4
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    Aug 2007
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    When I was accepted into TAD it completely changed my mindset to make art my career. The three week work shop in Kansas City confirmed my choice. The schools list of amazingly talented titans of the art industry were greater then I had imagined. I made amazing friends, built relationships that are going to last throughout my career, and felt the dedication that everyone there had for TAD and the Illustration Academy. In three intense weeks I met my goal of bringing my art to the next level, not only in terms of draftsmanship but technique and composition as well. I look forward to being part of the 1st graduating class

    I'm going to take amazing notes because the next 2.5 years are going to be the best artistic experience I have ever had!

    Thank you TAD and IA!


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  10. #5
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    Oct 2009
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    Jon, great post! I too am very committed to this program because it offers a valid alternative education for many people who cannot afford various art schools for whatever reasons.

    The list of the faculty reads like a who's who and they are all fine teachers in addition to being tops in their various fields.

    The energy that was pervasive at this inaugural TAD workshop was very strong. I think everyone had an incredible experience and learned more than I think they bargained for. The idea that there's so much more to be had and is on the way is mind-blowing.

    I look forward to everything!


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  12. #6
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    Oct 2009
    Austin, TX
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    I seriously don't know where to begin. When TAD was announced I could barely believe my eyes. I had always wanted to go to the atelier in Sf but I couldn't get a spot. Then I get the news that TAD is going to open, and it's going to start up one month after I graduate from college? This sounds too good to be true.

    Well I was probably the first person to sign and pay for this school. I have been to some workshops in the past and I attended DISCOVERY. That is all I needed. I am a complete artistic novice since my degree is in an irrelevant field but DISCOVERY was taught at a level that I understood but the information was valuable enough for a seasoned vet. There have been many times where I was chomping at the bit for more information. I mean I had to move to a new city and all that... but it all worked out. I am settled in Austin and I will be attending the POD there. Everyone I have met from the school are stand up guys and are dedicated to learning and their art. DISCOVERY taught me that art education could be transferred across the internet and the only question that remained was about the in person teaching.

    My questions about that were answered at the Kansas City workshop. Sadly, family issues caused me to miss the first week of the workshop but I was able to attend the final 2 weeks. I was expecting an education, I was expecting to meet people I admire and I was curious about the teacher's dedication to the school.

    What did I get??
    Education: Triple Check. We had at least one demo a day from george, john, android, sterling etc... and two other lectures. That's school from 10am-10pm 5 days a week with only food breaks. Not to mention projects. There were days where I was up till 4:30am working on a projects. Although beating my head against the wall is a better description. The next day, my piece still looked like a train wreck but sterling and John English walked up to the painting room (just to check on dorian and i) and they performed what can only be called a miracle. 45 minutes later the two of them did a paint over and gave me some techniques that I was able to finish the painting with.

    Make connections: Triple Check All of the instructors were making their rounds and of course, they took the time to learn our names. Not to mention they knew some of us beforehand. When Sterling arrived I went and introduced myself and he said "...aren't you Thyname". I practically had a fanboy heart attack. haha. All of the instructors were kind, and supportive and very personal. Giving us their phone numbers in case we needed them and all sorts of things. We even went out drinking a few times

    Dedication: Triple Check. Jason was never far from his laptop, constantly plugging away answering questions and tracking down every lead to make this school better yet. He was there at 10pm in the studio when he got Ron Lemon's addition to the school confirmed. He got out of his chair and looked at the 2 of us who were still working and said "We've got Ron Lemon!! and... and... I can't tell you yet". haha. This guy has a passion for the school like you wouldn't believe. I don't know how much John English slept during the workshop but he must have slept less than I did. The two big cheeses to this school work tirelessly towards a future that People can't really comprehend. I mean TAD is a brand new school unlike any other, there was no business model to follow, there were no people to ask for help. I don't even want to know the kind of coordination it takes to open a school in 4 states and fight fires and attacks through text blocks. I told all of the teachers the only thing I could think to say and that was that I was here so at least they were doing something right. They are dedicated to this school and to us and I have and will continue to return the favor.

    I have completely lost my entire train of thought and I'm sure this message came out as some sort of rambling and stumbling monster.

    I guess my closing statement is that TAD has lost and it has gained. It is still moving forward and I am still in the front seat. If anyone and I mean anyone has any questions about the school or anything I am always available. You can shoot me an email, comment on my blog, or hit me up on twitter.


    See ya in class,
    Evan Norman

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  14. #7
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    May 2009
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    All im waiting on is financial aid, or some sort of better program to help those who cant afford to pay 500$ a month on top of their own personal living expenses (not to mention supplies).

    But im excited, and i believe ill be taking home a full ride this time next year...

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  16. #8
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    Nov 2006
    United States
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    Thanks for the post Jon. I agree with all that was said. I was in Kansas City from the 14th of June until the 29th helping out at the Illustration Academy and TAD.

    Short Story (Jon sorry you have to hear/read this again, but it's a big deal for me....hah):

    I'm an illustrator in no small part thanks to Jon Foster. I was a computer animator at Ringling School of Art for my first 3 years there. I had discovered this incredible artist (Jon) my junior year and had found he was releasing a new art book. I quickly pre-ordered it and ran to the animation lab with the book above my head, ecstatic. I swiftly stared at the book for the rest of the night and missed my modeling assignment and failed the project...haha. A couple of months later I switched to Illustration. Fast forward 3 years later and now I was giving a demo at TAD after watching Jon demo 3-4 times at the Illustration Academy, Ringling, and TAD. I was nervous out of my mind with my heroes listening to me explain my work and my thoughts on picture making while trying to make a competent drawing. Mr. Foster was in the room and I basically told this story to the students. Jon replied, "...well now I'm learning from you." Genuinely, that was perhaps the most important comment anyone has ever directed toward me. Changed my life. The fact that students approached me, or messaged me, that the talk/demo was helpful was enormously fulfilling to me!

    The year previous when I was a student at the Academy Gary Kelley stopped by my desk and had we talked about the foundations of drawing for an hour...around 10 at night. I remember a painter that had just graduated with me had eavesdropped the conversation and joined me outside the studio after Gary had left. We both just stood there; all you could here was my friend go "whoa." I still think about that conversation and how it blew my mind and rocked the foundation of what makes me an artist. Changed me life.

    2 years ago, I royally bombed the first project - the world famous "flat assignment." I tried to show off and get all fancy and the faculty promptly shut me down and showed me the long journey I had ahead as an illustrator and maker of pictures. That brutal critique shaped my career. Changed my life.

    I say all this to show the other side of the coin in relation to the drama that has recently transpired. People lives are being changed. Life long friends are being made. This experience is an important one for the instructors/pod leaders/etc as well. Every teacher comments how fired up being in this program gets them, and the energy that is prevalent in the studio space. Even after dominating contemporary illustration Sterling always talks about how pumped he gets after being at the Ill Acad/TAD. If it inspires Sterling you can imagine how pumped the students get!!!!

    All new ventures become involved with drama of sorts. The more I work professorially the more I see this. But in this day and age of the super fast exchange of info and ideas, it's easy to let your emotions go and allow feelings into the public. TAD is a huge venture for all involved. The passion is obvious. But I've seen firsthand how both sides are working monster hours to make sure every issue is resolved and the students have the best experience possible.

    The best way to rate the quality of something is to study it's history and honestly talk first hand to those that have experienced it. Be it a book, a movie, a school, something from history.... Take the time out to contact anyone - student or teacher - that has spent time in any of the programs put together with TAD. The feedback will be enlightening.

    I look forward to the exciting times ahead!
    Last edited by Fvallejo; July 9th, 2010 at 04:35 AM.
    Link to download my demo video "Inking Techniques with Brush, Nib, and Wash."




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  18. #9
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    Oct 2007
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    This type and quality of art education is mainly only available in US. I've always dreamed of to be able to go into such school but economics and geographic location has prevented me from having the chance to do so.

    When TAD was announced, it seemed too good to be true. At first I figured, there's no way I would get in. After having some thoughts I figured I would try out and see what happens. I can tell you that 95$ for the portfolio submission was the best investment I've ever made

    I got in and I really couldn't believe the education I was going to get. That being said, no instructor or school can make you a great artist. They can give you the keys but at the end it is you who need to unlock the mysteries and work double time to make the most out of it. "You get from it as much as you put in.".

    I will be posting my experiences from TAD the next 2.5 years in my blog for those who are interested.

    One of the things I realized at the workshop was to look beyond the style the instructor has. Whether they have a style which I love or not, it doesn't make any difference to how good they are at teaching and whether they have the information you need or not. You can have an instructor with the coolest style but who can't teach and can't make a good image because they don't have the foundations down. Style is the sugar on top and I admit before this workshop it had cast its spell on me. Now I try to look beyond it.

    The teachers at TAD are TEACHERS with deep knowledge in the foundations and history of great picture making, deep roots and knowledge of their industry where they are working at this very moment and they all have very different points of view. That is what makes them so great. They are really hand picked and all of them have years of experience in teaching and picture making.

    Teaching is a difficult skill. It means loosing your ego and finding ways to get past the ego's of young and at times naive students like myself. These teachers are more than teachers, they are your friends and comrades and they take you personally.

    Having the chance to meet Jason Manley, listen to him talk I am so inspired by his passion to make this school and community the best he can. I don't think many realizes how much he has given up to make this school and happen. Android's post at the drama thread was pretty heavy. I don't know Jason but I'm starting to see the tip of the iceberg he has done for the art community. I Salute you Jason. What you are doing is ground braking for all of us and I support you 110%. Thank you for this opportunity.

    Jussi Tarvainen

    "Carpe diem"
    Last edited by Jussi Tarvainen; July 9th, 2010 at 03:56 PM.
    "Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway."

    Jussi Tarvainen



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  20. #10
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    Thanks for the post John

    When I first starting hearing about the a program like this a couple years ago I was attending the Illustration Academy and was very excited to know that a program did come out a couple years later called The Art Department. Now that it is actually happening I almost feel like i'm in a dream.

    Having Instructors in the top of their game in the industry teaching you about how they do art and manage their business, is what TAD has. The Instructors of TAD program are extremely helpful with information on not only making art but also the business side of the art world. Having received the chance to have met some of the instructors like John English, Sterling Hundley, Brent Watkinson (The epitome of cool) and just two days ago Jason Manley and many more, has allowed me to see the nicest, and very caring instructors who will almost do anything to help you out with art, business, and sometimes even life in general.

    What I am trying to get to is if you want to be an artist who is successful in the cut throat industry of art it is not a bad idea (actually it is an awesome idea) to go to the The Art Department program and learn from the instructors that are leading and shaping the art industry.The top dogs if you will. Even if you just want to learn how to make art, in my opinion these are the best of the best instructors to learn from and also very humble people to be around with.

    -Orlando Sanchez-

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  22. #11
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    Feb 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
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    We haven't even started to official first semester and TAD already means the world to me. Before last month I had been working for several years at an incredibly boring desk job. I had a meager but decent salary, a nice apartment, benefits, I lived close to my family and with my girlfriend... but I wasn't satisfied with my life. I'm sure this is a feeling that a lot of you can relate to. A feeling that even though you have everything people say you need to be happy, there's just something missing. For me that thing was making art every day. Until TAD came around I just couldn't see how I'd ever change my life for the better.

    I got lucky and my work paid for me to take Discovery as "professional development". Suddenly that old fire roared up in my chest and I was making things again. During Discovery, I got up at 5:30 every morning so I could go put in a full day's work and be home in time to be online for the start of class. I worked my ass off because I loved it. I think it was dedication, not my work, that got me a scholarship to TAD. I say this because I know how easy it is to get discouraged, especially when you're surrounded by immensely talented picture makers, like on this site... but have heart! If you give this your all and sweat blood, people will notice. I'm living testament to it.

    Since then TAD has continued to be a total blessing in my life. Everyone I've met as a result of moving here to KC has been kind, welcoming and inspiring. It's pretty amazing suddenly making a new, huge group of friends that are just as nerdy about picture making as you are! I've learned so much in this short month that it's difficult o quantify. Every day was so packed with info and lessons, both delivered and observed, that it's hard to even put my finger on them.

    George and John have helped me a ton with my composition skills (like Francis I struggled hard with the flat assignment, but ended up learning a ton). Marshall had the magical, geometric formula that finally unlocked for me the mystery of placing facial features on the head when it's in perspective. C.F. Payne ignited in me a passion for caricature that I had no idea I harbored. Jon did an amazing paint over on one of my pieces, proving to be one of the most enlightening hours of over-the-shoulder-peeking I've ever had as well as showing me the power of the selective color approach. Anita introduced me to new techniques and impressed upon me the value of delicacy in approach. Brent may be responsible for the largest improvement in my work, since he armed me a better understanding of both color temperature and reference photography. Andrew showed me the value of searching for deeper meaning in your art as well as a powerful approach to thumbnailing. Sterling not only passed on to me what I consider to be the best process for making a picture I've ever com across, but he also gave me a new nickname: Robocop (google Robocop without his helmet and you'll understand! ).

    Jason and John deserve special mention. They both worked tirelessly, often late into the night, making sure that the TAD workshop was as good as it could be. John played ambassador to KC and made sure that ever one had a bed to sleep in and a way to get around. Jason clacked away on his laptop all day and night, securing more and more amazing teachers...all while a torrent of mostly fictional bile about him splashed about here. Some people here have Jason pegged totalyl wrong. He's not some sort of malevolent internet dictator, he's simply a man who is 150% devoted to his vision, without time or the desire to address bullshit... and frankly, that's what most of this "drama" was, bullshit.
    I feel incredibly fortunate to be studying under this amazing group of people and I'm confident that in time, we'll look back at this time as something special.

    Andy "Robocop" Brinkman(!)

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