Animation Business as Unusual Life in Art

September 8, 2015

Posted on by Joe Murray
Judy Greer, Joe Murray and Mark Haslett at the Luna Around the World record.

Judy Greer, Joe Murray and Mark Haslett at the Luna Around the World record.

Sorry, way too long between posts. Been working on my pilot for PBS which I LOVE LOVE LOVE. It’s turning out better than my expectations, and I feel it’s something that is needed right now children’s programming. Great to work on something that is putting something of real value out there.

Things didn’t work out with Joan Cusack. I won’t get into any dirty laundry here. Let’s just say Joan didn’t seem entirely committed to the project. But it all worked out for the better because we got extremely talented actress Judy Greer: (IMDB)  to be the lead role, and I feel her voice works better, and she was such an amazing joy to work work with ( above is Judy, myself and co-exec producer and head writer Mark Haslett at the record).

The materials just got shipped to our Canadian animation team, so things will lighten up a bit until the the film comes back.

My two year old can’t stop watching the animatic for the project ( yes, at home I have to review a new pass of the animatic, and Louis comes to watch.) Glad he likes it.

More to come.

Posted in Animation, Business as Unusual, Life in Art | 6 Comments

Animation Business as Unusual Life in Art

June 11, 2015

Posted on by Joe Murray

Extremely crazy busy.

PBS pilot moving forward. Just signed Joan Cusack for the lead role. Very happy about that.

Todd Henry sent me his new pre-release copy of his new book “Louder than Words”. I strongly recommend buying it when it comes out in August. In my classes, I’m always talking about finding your authentic voice that is only yours. Creatively, in business, in life. This is what the book is about, and it is inspiring.

Just got done working on a project with Carl Jones that he is doing for Adult Swim. Carl is extremely talented ( and a good guy.)

More later.

Posted in Animation, Business as Unusual, Life in Art | 6 Comments

Business as Unusual Life in Art Serious Thoughts

May 11, 2015

Posted on by Joe Murray

I was speaking with my old high school art teacher Mark Briggs yesterday ( he just turned 94 last week and still “sharp as a tack”), and we got on the subject of branding. He said he just learned about it as it is being used in the contemporary business world, to him it was something you did to your cattle.

I told him I just recently had an executive tell me they wanted to be part of the Joe Murray Brand. I never thought of myself as a brand, but I’ve been told my work stands out as it’s own thing. I’m not part of a Nickelodeon look, or a Cartoon Network look, and I am definitely not a PBS look. There may have been a time in my highly ambitious 20’s and 30’s where this would have been a highly prized label. But it’s funny that by the time it takes to achieve such a “brand” as an artist, there are different things that are important to you.

To just maintain honesty in your work, and the way you do business. To lead a simple life and do no harm ( or the least amount of harm) socially and environmentally.

And one thing that I’m finding more and more important ( and that actually what my new show is about) is that we are all one. All around the world, we are all connected to each other. What you do to another, good or bad, you do to yourself.

I guess that can be part of the brand, but then we are all one global brand. Right?

Life is good.

Posted in Business as Unusual, Life in Art, Serious Thoughts | 2 Comments

Animation Business as Unusual Life in Art travels

April 25, 2015

Posted on by Joe Murray


A Return?  Hmmmm….

I recently went out of town for a large gathering of PBS producers, content creators and local stations ( my friend the very talented Craig Bartlett was there) and I have returned with a new hope and optimism that there are institutions that are wonderful to work for, and that, if you look hard enough, you can find those people who share your values and goals in life, and if you work together you can both co-create contributions of joy.

I love this project I’m working on so much, and along with my film Fish Head, and spending time with my family, my dance card is filled with a night of blissful moves.

I hoard clippings from magazines, newspapers and such that strike my fancy. I was going through some today and found an article from 2000 about authors and creators working with PBS. There is a quote from William Joyce that I totally agree with when faced with the challenge of educational content coupled with quality entertainment. He said:

” The ironclad rule is to check your cynicism at the door. Being mean and funny is the easiest thing in the world”. 

It’s going to be a challenge, and that is why I like it.

It could also be that energy that surrounds you when it’s close to your birthday ( which I share the same birthday with my wife). Or just that everything in your life leads to this moment.

Sounding a little hippy dippy but this is genuinely how I feel.


Posted in Animation, Business as Unusual, Life in Art, travels | 7 Comments

Animation Joe Murray Archives

March 10, 2015

Posted on by Joe Murray


Previously unpublished Rocko Archive Art

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Serious Thoughts

March 5, 2015

Posted on by Joe Murray


Happy 2nd birthday to my son Louis. Since he’s mostly into airplanes and the moon right now, I made him this illustration for his gift.

But he is a gift to us. We are blessed.


Posted in Serious Thoughts | 3 Comments

Joe Murray Archives Life in Art

February 23, 2015

Posted on by Joe Murray
Poster recently completed for the La Guarimba Film Festival in Italy.

Poster recently completed for the La Guarimba Film Festival in Italy.

Posted in Joe Murray Archives, Life in Art | 1 Comment

Animation Business as Unusual Serious Thoughts

February 10, 2015

Posted on by Joe Murray
Art from Children's book "Who Asked the Moon to Dinner"

Art from Children’s book “Who Asked the Moon to Dinner”

Had a great skype with Todd Henry a couple of weeks ago, author of “Die Empty” and “The Accidental Creative” ( Two books that I highly recommend.) Really down to earth with lots of insightful advice and banter.

Had a pilot commissioned by PBS Kids on a series that I created and that I’m really excited about. More on this as it develops.

My two year old son Louis is on a major “MOOON ” kick. Has to go outside every night and say hi to the moon. Loves any book that has anything remotely “Moon”. So of course he found my children’s book “Who Asked the Moon to Dinner” published way back in 2001. He needs to have it read at least twenty times and day, and go to sleep with the glow in the dark cover.  I have to say that I’m loving it. ( although I get tired of reading my own words so often, and I find myself critiquing my paintings done 14 years ago.)

Been in deep thought on the effects the ego has on our creative process. Any project that I have taken on that had any attachment to ego ( money, competition , keeping up appearances) has always nose dived for me. Any project that I love and would do for free because I love it so much have been the major highlights for me. Seems logical, but you would be surprised how the ego lures you into things that you think are for noble purposes. Could be why those who become successful at something artistically runs into blocks at times when there is output “expected of them”.

Just thoughts.


Posted in Animation, Business as Unusual, Serious Thoughts | 4 Comments

Animation Life in Art

January 14, 2015

Posted on by Joe Murray

I have not been doing interviews lately, but my old high school newspaper ( Leland High School in San Jose) asked for one recently. I thought I would share it here:

1. What advice would you have for students who are interested in pursuing art or entertainment?

It’s a difficult business and it challenges a lot of what you stand for as an artist. If you have a strong constitution, I would say go for it. If you have a lot of talent without the backbone, they will have you for lunch.

2. On your Wikipedia page, we read that you credit your high school art teacher Mark Briggs with teaching you a lot about art. Could you talk about your experience at Leland and early experiences with art and animation? (for example, how you got interested; what inspired you; etc.)

Mark Briggs taught me a lot about the “business of art”. ( he also helped me secure a scholarship at the SF Academy of Art when I was 14). Mr. Briggs supported almost everything I went for, including animation. He gave me studio space in the back of the art room that I used to start some animation of my own. But at that time, my main love was cartooning. Mr. Briggs would take me to these dinners with the Northern California Cartoon and Humor club, where I would meet all of these top cartoonists of the day, like Charles Schulz ( Peanuts) I still stay in touch with Mark. He’s 93 and always tells me about his latest girlfriends. I love him.

3. What’s the most important thing you have learned in your career so far?

That in a career in art, there will be many ups and downs. In the up part, prepare yourself for a possible down part. In the down part, know that you will soon be in the up part. Nothing is permanent. Also, when you have persistence, the world will come around to you. It may take a while, or it may happen right away. You never know unless you try.

4. What do you like most about your job and why?

I have many jobs. Sometimes it’s developing an animation project, animating on my independent film, or rocking my 20 month old son to sleep. Since I never wanted a “sit at your desk 8 hours a day ” type job, I’m grateful and love all of it.

5. What other fields can young artists draw inspiration from?

I have found a lot of inspiration from the story of the first impressionists painters. They were rejected and poverty stricken for 20 years before their work was finally acknowledged for it’s genius. That’s a lot of believing in yourself.

6. How large a role does character creation play in a work of art?

I love creating characters. When I’m doing a show I can’t stop creating more characters for it. Since the networks own everything I create when I’m producing a show, my lawyer gets mad at me for creating too many characters. But it’s what I do. And it makes the show richer.  I also create characters for children’s books, comic books and such. They are usually based on people I know. Sometimes its good for them not to know that.

7. How can students get more involved in art outside of their classes?

Everybody needs good art. There is always a chance to design something, paint something. Especially in this digital age. Keep putting your work out there. Volunteer. Sometimes you do things for free that get you some exposure that leads to other things. Don’t be afraid.

8. What are some of the difficulties of pursuing a less chosen field such as art (as opposed to the more popular engineering or medical paths) as a career? What are the benefits?

It’s a heroic choice to choose art as a career. You are rarely going to find anyone supporting it ( especially parents). But sometimes, as in my case, you can’t see any other choice. It’s what I had to do, and I was confident I was going to succeed at it. It didn’t happen as fast as I thought it would, but I was proud to show my father ( a naysayer) the house I bought from being an artist ( and that was before I sold my shows). It’s not an easy choice, but the rewards are great. You have to weigh the positives against the tough parts. Like how much money do you really need to support yourself if you have the choice to create art for a living. You have to make those kind of choices. If you are attached to lots and lots of material things that you need to buy, I would say, don’t go into art. That’s not what it’s about.

9. What opportunities are there for students to cultivate imagination?

You don’t always have to have paying jobs or commissions to cultivate imagination. Your life is full of imagination possibilities. It’s how you live it. If you can keep yourself away from your devices long enough, you can find a world begging you to create and bringing something more to it. Do art as gifts. Make your own cards for occasions. Watch Art:21 and you will see artists in all areas of life. Anything can become a work of art. I know an artist who just started drawing this one bunny on everything. It became his art, and it grew into a whole career of bunnies.

10. How should schools foster creativity?

I’m sorry to say that American schools have done a crappy job at fostering creativity. Here it’s all about spewing out facts and numbers on tests. I’m married to a teacher from the Waldorf schools ( and my kids went there). They are all about learning from story and creativity, which is more of a European way of nurturing your mind. Graduates from these schools ( and others that take this approach) do extremely well in colleges and in life. Public schools really don’t seem to have the time to foster creativity, except for the few mentors like Mark Briggs. It usually takes those amazing teachers that are willing to swim upstream to introduce more creativity into the lessons and classes.

11. How is art applicable to everyday life? (even if students don’t choose to pursue a career as, say, a graphic designer or animator or illustrator, how does art play a role in their lives)?

I look at a whole life as a work of art. Are you going to make imaginative choices with what you buy, what you eat, who you are with, or are you just going to follow what everyone else thinks, or what advertising tells you should do? Are you going to look like a magazine model, or yourself? Treat your body like an amazing art project, and only put good food into it. Be active. What do you read? What do you listen to? It all creates the art piece that is you. A creative life is definitely not about drugs or drinking like Hunter Thompson. It’s about lighting a fire inside you.

Posted in Animation, Life in Art | 1 Comment

Animation Fish Head Progress

January 12, 2015

Posted on by Joe Murray
Art from Independent animated film "Fish Head".

Art from Independent animated film “Fish Head”.

This is how I feel when I’m animating on Fish Head. Articulated very nicely by craftsman Osama Nakamura:

“A craftsperson’s job is half meditation, half creation. It takes creativity to design whatever you are working on, but it takes meditation to do it right. Making things with one’s own hands cultivates a certain generosity and openness of the heart. It nourishes that state of mind in the craftsperson themselves, which is intimately connected with an entire way of life.”

Posted in Animation, Fish Head Progress | 1 Comment