There’s something that happens in a creative city where creative people feed off of each other. Like, you know, you’re a painter but you’re recooking at a movie, you’re a moviemaker but you’re looking at a piece of architecture and design. There’s this idea that if you get a big creative community, it’s better for everyone to get those ideas to circulate. The city, it’s diverse, it’s big, it’s constantly morphing. Uh, it’s constantly changing in this healthy tension between preservation and innovation. When people hear about the creative economy, I think they think that’s just Hollywood, uh, but that’s only one aspect of it.
But it’s also everything from video gaming and engineering and space exploration and fashion, people who are asked to use their minds, use their ideas and try to bring them into reality. These industries that make up the creative economy have a far-reaching impact on many parts of the local economy. We have all these symbiotic relationships and the economic activity that is brought about because of those relationships creates a ripple effect on the local economy that is really quite significant. One of the most amazing things about Los Angeles our size is our scale.
Los Angeles Creative City
It’s a place where we are known for invention. Los Angeles is the place where we get to test out ideas and where the population is actually open to new ideas to be tested. And that’s one of the things that makes Los Angeles a kind of creative capital of the world. There are 81 school districts in Los Angeles County serving 1.6 million students in public school. There is a regional plan for arts education. It’s one of the strongest in the country. It’s looked at as a national model.
It’s called for Arts For All. And right now, Arts For All is working with 59 out of the 81 school districts to help them develop plans for arts education and then implement those plans. Access to the arts is absolutely critical. We know that in order to compete in a 21stcentury economy, you need to have four critical skill sets. You need to have critical thinking, you need to have communication skills, you need to have collaboration skills, and you need to have creativity. And there is no single subject that creates those skill sets better than arts education. For young developing minds, the sooner they have exposure to creative expression, the more hardwired that’s gonna become in the mind. If we want to continue to have our economic competitive edge within the creative marketplace, Los Angeles must invest in arts education and we must make sure that every student, regardless of their ZIP code, regardless of their microeconomics status or their immigration status, deserves to have access to those basic skills. (Music is playing.) (Javier is driving his car.) Grew up in Boyle Heights and art wasn’t really there. Just working hard and religion so when you would see art, it was a mural. So some of the first art that children in Los Angeles experience is, uh, murals and graffiti.
Let’s see if any of them are still there. Always sort of wanted to be an animator since I was six years old. Wonderful World of Disney, I saw that and I was like, “Oh, I wanna do animation,” but I had no idea on how to do it. So, that’s why I started doing murals because murals were instant. Doing it now, everybody’s gonna see it panels a whole week. In high school, I was taking classical art classes and then I found out about this, uh, after-program.
And then we go to this, like, oasis. And you go in and it was like this fountain and art and ceramics and it was just amazing. And another van was coming in and it was like, “Oh, those guys are from Lincoln Heights. Oh, those guys are from South Central. Oh, those guys are from Belmont. Oh, whoa, this is, like, from all the neighborhoods. I see these kids getting off the buses and see the potential of the human race just coming in like this, and I’m thinking to myself, “How can I impact these kids? How can I help them to be prepared for what they’re gonna face when they grow up? As a public school teacher, you know, I value all the core subject areas but you have to develop a value for arts education because whatever they’re learning in arts, they’re taking it back into the classroom and they’re-finding ways to incorporate it into all the different subject areas. I think the stereotype around art education really is based on, “Oh, they’re having a nice time. Isn’t that cute? They’re making these pretty little pictures.” They think, “Oh, art can’t possibly be as important as math or science or language or any of those other things,” by not realizing that art actually is a way of opening the doorway to all of the possibilities. So some kids will take a class in drawing they’ll say, “Wow, I want to become, a clothing designer.
Automobiles Designs Creativity
I wanna design automobiles. I wanna build a new kind of spaceship.” All of these things from the creative experiences they have, empowers kids to be able to go into the future. There’s something like 800,000 jobs that require creative ability, people to be able to draw, to paint, to be able to work creatively. Non-profit arts organizations are the backbone of the creative economy. They create access, they provide and develop the content, and they’re really the research and development
A lot of them start asking me, “What are some jobs that you can do after high school? Or, what do I have to do? Do I have to go to college to be able to be an animator and this is another complex lifestyle that I escorted and these people mostly are becoming fun and their designs and there are notes within the aforementioned. Also, I did like, “Stop!, exactly how to make yourself take it?” “Well, you got to get your portfolio for college to do this.” I’m like, “There are schools just for art? I’m like, “Whoa. There’s a school?” “Oh, yeah, it’s Cartoon College.” I’m like, “Cartoon College?” “Oh, yeah, Walt Disney (UI) “Oh, okay. What do I have to do? We think about the traditional forms of being an actor, designer, artist, educator, but there are many, many jobs that come from a creative background. Every company has forms of creativity within itself. Whether it’s in science or digital media or graphic design or advertising or marketing, the number of careers and opportunities available in the creative industries is enormous.
So I graduated as an animator from Cal Art sin USU and I worked with MTV, Netflix, for Oakley, and Fox but my passion is making my own films. That’s–so that’s why I’m really excited about the new project that I’m working on, El Coyote. It’s an animated documentary about human smuggling between the US-Mexico border. (Classical music is playing.) (Children are clapping.) Hi, guys. So it’s, it’s fun to go back when I do presentations or visiting artist lectures. I like it, I like you… It’s just–I go to–if I just go there as a teacher saying this and this and this, students aren’t gonna take it but I have an example of my work. It just hits them a different way.
I show them my drawings, I show them some graffiti stuff, then I show them professional work. And so when they see that this is a job, they see that you’re actually making money off your drawings. I also work in a lot of non-profits. And right now, I’m teaching animation at LAC-MA. It’s really great that the students could check out the permanent collection, be bombarded by all this classic work, and then it goes into the classroom and just channel all their energy where we reinterpret, uh, piece of artwork from the permanent collection and give it meaning. It’s really valuable to help our kids train, to let them know, “Okay, I don’t just have to be a doctor or I don’t have to be just a. To me, I feel like it gives them a different way to dream about their future. The Otis Report showed that one out of seven jobs is in the creative economy and that’s for-profit and non-profit and design. It’s all-encompassing.
If one in seven jobs is in the creative economy and we are not preparing students for the jobs that are here and the jobs that are going to be here in the future, we are failing them. So arts education is a critical part of the pipeline. (Music is playing.) Often, when students begin to study art, they’ve re attracted to a medium or they’re attracted to a skill base that’s challenging. So mastery is one of the great seducers for you to want to get better at something and it just feels really great. And then because it’s so much better, students begin to learn how to think about art and understand this larger context in which resides in socially, politically, personally.
And as that begins to unfold, the real opportunities begin where a person finds themselves in a world that’s just much bigger and deeper than they ever thought possible.
I knew how to draw as a young kid and the teachers in public school, like, anytime they need, a drawing of a Christmas tree, they drag me up and do it. Keep in mind, well, I believe that being able to draw really has very little to do with whether you should be an artist or not. But my elementary school teachers thought that was one of the markers.
And so it just became something that I did and I never imagined myself within that career. During the time I was in graduate school, I began to get an idea of what it means to be an artist and whether I want to have anything to do with that. Started teaching right out of graduate school and college in Mississippi. Uh, I moved to Fresno, California in 1968where I taught, at Fresno State and been teaching at Cal Arts since 1989 and I can imagine giving up teaching. Yeah, really when you’re on the line, they look flat. Yeah. Because I see this as a crucial part of my studio practice. It’s a place where I can throw out ideas to students and we can think imaginatively. At the time that I was working in the ’70s, I was converting real things in the world into numbers, the kind of early effort to theorize digital content, at a time when nobody knew what digital content meant.