Comic artist from Europe visits CTNx; 3 reasons to go even if you don’t work in animation

Hello all! I’m back from my trip to the US. I went to the CTNx animation expo in Los Angeles. It was quite the adventure. I’m so happy I have met a lot of my fellow Oatley Academy students and some of the teachers in person. We had a great time hanging out before the expo and after each day on the floor ended.
To all the people who are on the fence about wanting to go to CTNx next year but wondering if it’s worth the trip, I have written this blogpost. (Early bird registration for November 2015 starts soon)
CTNx has some amazing talent giving lectures and workshops.
CTNx has some amazing talent giving lectures and workshops. Featured here is a workshop on character design by Jeff Wamester (, Brett Bean (, Stephen Silver ( and Tony Siruno ( Hosted by Chris Oatley. (

First of all, you might wonder why I went to CTNx, other than to meet up people I know from the internet. I make comics, I don’t work in animation and don’t aspire to. (even though I always start doubting that when I do anything animation related since I’m such a big fan of the medium and the collaborative process of making movies) On top of that I’m also from Europe, with no plans to move to the US.

So why did I go?

Reason 1: Atmosphere

What I have heard about the expo for the last few years is that the atmosphere is so great. Everyone’s really open and approachable and you quickly meet new people.
This was absolutely true. There were tables of seasoned pros and artists who just started out. Companies and individual artists or groups of collaborating people. All were equally open to start a conversation. You could buy whole trunks of beautiful artwork and books and exhibitors were also willing to look at your own work and give you feedback. I had some great conversations with people I follow online and with people I never saw the work of before. There were sessions of drawing together or demo’s and I met up with a lot of people just waiting in the lines for workshops. It was great.
Live drawing session in the beautiful Californian weather.
Live drawing session in the beautiful Californian weather.

Reason: 2 Feedback

My portfolio was very focused on comics and there were a few people who have experience with comics there who gave me some great feedback, but still a lot of other artists there that work in animation or illustration had something to add. (See also reason 3)
Approaching people and asking for their time felt awkward at first, but despite my initial shyness I managed to show my art to a lot of artists I look up to. Every single artist had something useful to offer that I can work on. The feedback I got was really consistent too, overall. Which was good because I now know what stands out and needs the most work and I didn’t hear any conflicting things.CTNx is a great way to get your art looked at by a lot of really good people in a short amount of time. The feedback you bring home can help you improve your current portfolio a lot and also give you enough ideas for what to focus on while studying in the coming months.

New teacher of the Oatley Academy Jennifer Ely:
One of the new teachers of the Oatley Academy, Jennifer Ely:

Reason 3: Art techniques cross over into each other

The expo was very animation oriented (with exceptions). But a lot of workshops and lectures were very broad and had subjects like “composition” “colour” “social media” “character design” etc. A lot of these things apply to all forms of visual arts.
The amazing James Gurney:
The amazing James Gurney:

Bonus reason:

My childhood animation heroes were there:
Saw my all time favourite artist there: Glen Keane
Saw my all time favourite artist there: Glen Keane (
The awesome and inspirational Andreas Deja (and a tired me)
The awesome and inspirational Andreas Deja (and a tired, but inspired, me) (

Did you attend CTNx, or would you like to? What do you do to meet other artists and get feedback? Share in the comments!