Learning from Tim Burton

Everyone finally seems to think highly of the work of Tim Burton nowadays, so even the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMa) currently presents a big solo show with his artworks and films.

Since I’m a big fan of his work myself and because I’m not able to travel to New York, I recently ordererd the freshly released exhibition book to have a tiny glance on what is presented within the show. I absolutely enjoy Tim Burtons combination of a childish view on adult problems mixed with absurd humor and yet sometimes weird solutions. Did you know that he also writes poetry? He’s a brilliant artist!

Tim Burton Book.
My new Tim Burton book: Hmmm, brain nutrition!

Magliozzi, Ron & He, Jenny (2009). Tim Burton. New York: Museum of Modern Art.

While teaching animation in schools, I learned that my older students admire his films and style as much as anyone else. They look at his works and famousness and want to have the same for their life, too, while at the same time they deny that they could achieve anything alike. There’s only one advice I can give them here, “Go and start doing it!”

There’s an important thing we often miss while looking at famous people and their outstanding works: How long they kept trying before finally someone had noticed and supported them. Did you know that it took Tim Burton ten years of work from the very first drawing to a final movie called The Nightmare Before Christmas which now is a synonym for a succesful stop-motion animation feature? Ten years! My Orpheus project is quite on short run compared to this…

Tim Burton has been drawing since he was a little boy and now he’s been somehow and eventually paid back for his work. Someone once said,

“It takes twenty years of hard work to become an overnight succes”,

and I think that’s just true.

So, what can we learn from this?
Forget about gaining recognition for your work. Just work. Learn and grow and stay close to yourself as Tim Burton did. I know, it’se asily said but hard to accomplish. But you are creative, as everyone is. The question is, are you ready and willing to go that way?

Since this blog is mainly about animation, make sure you won’t miss Tim Burton’s promotional MoMa animation, and its making of!

08. December 2009 by Jessica
Categories: Stuff | Tags: , , | 4 comments

Comments (4)

  1. well put.

    and when things get tough…push through it…it usually means your on the right track.

  2. With all due respect for all Mr. Burton did… I saw a bit too much of his wors. Now after wathching the trailer for ‘Alice…’ For me – personally – erm… I like his drawings very much. But I don’t see much development in his work as a director. Compare ‘Beetlejuice’ with its raw&dirty kind of humour, or much of his other ‘early works’ (Edward S…) with his ohte works as directors, it seems to me that he has got most of his freedom when he works at home at his drawing board.

    BUT: The picture you posted reminded me of one of my favourite comic artits: Jhonen Vasquez. His works are sure not intended for the broad public: Johnny, the homicidial maniac, Squee, Badly Drawn Art and Filler Bunny. Not to mention Invader ZIM. His artwork often reminds me of Mr. Burton’s, but it is… how to say… more intense.


    And to avoid the ever sad discussion about ‘my art is better than your’s’: I respect Burton’s art, and what he did, BUT I don’t think that he would have the chance to make such films as Nightmare before Christmas if he didn’t attend the Disney funded Cal Arts Institute – despite all his talent. I think back then he was the right person at the right time with some quite new and good ideas – which I admire and respect. And don’t get me wrong: I’m not here sitting and mockering about successful artist who made their way, but myself bitter and with less to nothing about my own work to bring forward: I like his drawings, but I think, the points above are worth to mention…

    It took ten years and a lot of profesionals to realize the mentioned film. And money (funding) – in amounts many of us can/may only dream about.

    Despite all my rantings: all the best. M.

  3. Hallo Rich and welcome to my blog! It’s always good to see new folks around here!

    Michael, don’t be so hard on Tim Burton. He’s just an example. Everyone developes, some more slowly, some much quicker than others. This post is about accepting that you have to go your very own way…

    And thanks for your link! I’m always excited about your recommendations because they often offer a new view on things!

    About being in the right place at a right time… I don’t believe in things like these. If I work contionously and try to find my way, opportunities *will* follow. I’m absolutely sure about that part of life.

  4. Ouch.

    I am wirting this comment the I don’t know-how-often again (ime problem, nothing wrong with the blog management), so here the short version.

    What I meant with being the right person at the right time etc. was that I think that Tim Burton is an outstanding artist, but his work got – in my opinion – stalled, in case of his films. I just know little about his artwork (sketches) from a book of him I browsed through some years ago. I really liked what I saw, and it remembered me of Jhonen Vasquez. Jhonen Vasquez also had a cartoon show named ‘Invader Zim’ – which I can really recommend. It’s intended for kids, but in my opinion for kids older then 12… And here comes it all together: Vasquez is much more radical in his humour and satire, Burton’s work seems to be ‘defused’ for the broad mainstream. My opinion. I see much more potential and creativity in his work that really comes through and is realized. As mentioned before: my opinion…

    In case of ‘Corpse Bride’ – here a video dealin with a similar situation as given in a specific scene in Corpse Bride: just watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aM6sP61zNx4

    And about your work: you got a unique style in your drawings and in your art in general – the main tool as I guess. And you’ve got enough potential to make it. All the best !