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Making the Tuckerman Cartoon

April 27, 2017

Making the Tuckerman Cartoon

In the wake of our recent cartoon, we’ve fielded a consistent question: “Hey, neat cartoon! Who did that for you guys?”

The answer: we actually did it ourselves. And fear not, dear reader, you too can be an amateur (and enthusiastic) cartoonist. In fact, in the spirit of paying it forward we thought we’d share a few tips for embracing your inner creative. Because amidst the false starts, jerky scene transitions, and initial Serial-like voice overs that were far too serious (and promptly nixed) we discovered that we were actually having a ton of fun. And best of all? No owls were harmed in the making.

So without further ado, here are three tips for embracing your next creative project, cartoon or not.

  1. Working on a passion is a great way to learn a new skill. Between scrutinizing fabrics and patterns, we’d always wanted to take some time to learn Adobe’s After Effects video editing software. The intense interface is intimidating and while our initial reaction was to ⌘+Q and exit the chaos, we persevered. The payoff? Once you actually got over the initial bewilderment, things actually started clicking. Want to splice together a seamless transition? We can do that. Need to edit that audio for better syncing? Sure thing. The takeaway here is that a little initial hesitation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it may mean that the payoff is even more valuable than you expected, and a passion project may be just the thing to get you over the hump.
  2. The pursuit of perfection is a roadblock.Bonus points if you can guess what the most challenging part of this project was: perfecting our dear owl’s blinking eyelids. Try as we might, we just could not figure out how to create or manipulate a shape to mimic a blinking eye. Eventually we realized that we simply didn’t have to make it perfect. Instead we had to figure out which tools we already knew how to use to convey the same effect. If you scrutinize the cartoon you will see the owls don’t “blink.” Rather, their eyelids transition from transparent to opaque and back. This isn’t technical “blinking” but it gives off the same effect. Could we have spent endless hours figuring out how to actually “blink” the darn things? Sure, but that would have taken endless hours away from more important things, like planning our fall production, or letting people know how excited we are about our new women’s line. In short, there serious diminishing returns on pursuing perfection. Reframing the question from “how do I make an eyelid blink?” to “what do I already know that would look like a blinking eyelid?” led to a workable solution.
  3. Expose creative work to the sunshine often.Lastly, like a sapling, creative work needs food and sunlight. Sure it can be TERRIFYING to show a work in progress, especially when that work has some kind of creative element in which you might be personally invested. The truth is, we have a great extended Tuckerman family (including our Advisory Board), a wonderful group of supportive and constructive people. By sharing half-baked versions of the cartoon, we got invaluable feedback that helped redirect the project and create a stronger finished product. For example, the initial Serial-like voiceover we mentioned? Totally hadn’t noticed it, until a friend mentioned. Once she said, it, we realized she was spot on. Instead of subjecting you all to a serious, and very un-Tuckerman-like narrator, that feedback helped get us closer to the real thing.

In sum, we all know that creative projects are far from easy. They’re often beset with false starts, dead paths, and hard lessons. But a little perseverance, a little less perfection, and a little help from a few friends can help immeasurably, not to mention make things a lot more fun. So whether it’s a cartoon or not, we hope this is helpful with whatever creative endeavor you are pursuing next - our bet is that you may have more fun than you anticipated!


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