An Essay by Goro Fujita
July 27, 2021
Life is about staying in motion physically and mentally. The more you do it the more you can accomplish. Setbacks are part of the journey, but the key is to keep moving forward.
There are five ingredients that lead to success in my life.
Curiosity, Ambition, Passion, Positivity and Resilience.
I was born in Japan but moved with my family to Hamburg, Germany when I was 3 years old. I come from a musical family. My Father played horn at the Hamburg Symphonic Orchestra and my brother was incredible with the piano. While I played the piano and the trumpet, I was fascinated by drawing and animation ever since I was a little child, and I always knew I would pursue a career in something creative.
Growing up as an immigrant in Germany I was exposed to both Japanese mangas and anime and western comics and cartoons. Every year when we flew to Japan to visit family, I would come back with a bunch of comic books, my all-time favorite being “Slam Dunk”. Whenever there was a bazaar at the Japanese school I attended every Saturday, I would scavenge for old VHS tapes with Japanese anime that people have brought back from Japan. At the same time I was obsessed with The Simpsons and would watch Disney movies on loop.
When Toy Story came out in 1995, I became curious about 3D technology that gave animation an aesthetic I wasn’t used to seeing. Back then, the 3D animation industry was non-existent in Germany. There was no internet to research about the techniques they used, and it felt out of reach.
In the early days of the internet in 1999, I stumbled upon a short animation called “Alien Song” by Victor Navone. Contrary to Toy Story, which was produced by an animation studio, this was a short clip created by one single artist. I kept watching it over and over again and I knew this was something I wanted to learn and do for the rest of my life.
Since I saw “Alien Song” I would purchase every 3D magazine I could find trying to learn as much as I could about this new medium. In late 1999 I was introduced to 3D software, and I created my first 3D renders following tutorials from books I found in the local book stores. It was extremely technical and difficult, but I loved every bit of it.
When I graduated high school in 2000 my plan was to stay in Hamburg to go to an art school where I knew a friend who was learning 3D animation as part of his illustration major. I felt confident about my artistic abilities and sent in my application without looking into other options.
A few weeks later I received a rejection letter. This was a painful reality check making me realize I might not have been as good as I thought I was. While looking into alternatives, I found an ad in a 3D magazine about an animation school in Berlin that just opened in 2000. I immediately made an appointment to visit the school, hopped into my car and drove to Berlin. The school was located in a suburb of Berlin in a small town in the middle of nowhere called Elstal. The interior of the school was incredibly modern with Hollywood movie posters in glass frames hanging in the hallways, a 2D department with original Disney animation desks and computer labs with computers for each individual student. I instantly knew it was the perfect place for me. However, this was a private school with high tuition fees which I could not afford. As I returned home telling my parents about my incredible experience, I had at the school they were excited for me, but they weren’t able to support me financially beyond cost of living. My grandmother had put money aside for my education which could cover two thirds of the tuition. Now it was on me to come up with the remaining amount myself. I was determined and I started a business with a friend of mine selling computer hardware and later scaled towards web design and PHP programming. Learning how to code was completely against my nature but after a year and a half I saved up enough money to cover the remaining amount for my tuition and started school in 2002.
The 3D animation major was a dense demanding program and for the first time I found myself in a competitive environment surrounded by people that were better than me in the same area of interest. This environment made me work extra hard as I did not want to get left behind and I spent an average of 16 hours a day, 7 days a week in school. I loved the competition, and I was laser focused on becoming a character animator until I met Stephan Stoelting. He was a freshman, and rumors were circulating that he was an amazing artist who painted digitally in Photoshop. As I asked him about his work, he showed me two incredible paintings that made my jaw drop to the floor. I still remember them like it was yesterday.
It became clear to me that I needed to learn how to paint. I asked Stephan to mentor me, and in March 2004 I started my 30min daily painting routine periodically checking in with Stephan for feedback.
While my primary focus was still in animation, I thoroughly loved the learning process for both disciplines. Little did I know that this newly found passion would open up new career opportunities for me in the future.
A year into the program I knew that my goal was to graduate as an animator and move to the US to work for one of the big animation studios. I was always a big dreamer setting extremely high goals in order to figure out how far I can go. I graduated in 2005 with a diploma in 3D animation. I was ready for the real world with an animation demo reel and with little over 365 daily paintings. I started applying to numerous animation studios in the US as an animator and ended up getting a reply from DreamWorks Animation stating they do not have any positions that match my skill set but that they would encourage me to re-apply at a later point. Although it was a rejection, receiving a letter with a DreamWorks Animation letterhead made my dream feel more real and tangible. The letter motivated me to work harder, and I went back to the drawing board working on my skills so I could re-apply when I was ready.
Everyone will go through challenging times at some point in life. One of the most challenging times for me was when my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the summer of 2005. While my goal was to work overseas, I decided to stay in Hamburg with my parents. My mother always had a positive attitude towards life and even with her sickness she tried her best to make me feel that everything was going to be alright. She passed away in 2006.
While I was grieving, I realized that for her, leaving was a sweet relief as she was suffering greatly from her illness. I knew she would not have wanted to see me in sorrow and expected me to move forward. In a way it felt like she opened the door to send me on my own adventure, worry free. Shifting my perspective helped me to turn my grief into gratitude and I became determined to make her proud. She often pointed out that my special ability was determination, that if I set my mind to something, I would achieve it. This was another critical moment in my career where I developed a different level of commitment towards my goals.
After freelancing for two years in Germany relentlessly working on my skills, I reapplied to animation studios in the US, this time for Character Animation and Visual Development.
A month after sending out my applications I got hired by DreamWorks Animation as a Visual Development Artist and stayed there for 7 years working on animated feature films.
Staying in Motion
In 2015 I decided to start a new chapter in my career and dove into the tech industry to explore the world of Virtual Reality.
With the power of VR it is now possible to send people into your own imagination which is pure magic to me. The moment I drew my first stroke in VR I immediately fell in love with this medium. Being able to paint and sculpt with six degrees of freedom you are no longer constrained to a 2D surface anymore and it speeds up the creation process exponentially. With the VR workflow I’m able to create not only daily paintings but also daily animations.
Throughout my career I wore many hats working in animation, visual development, editorial illustration, motion graphics and videography. While previously I had to choose one or the other, VR has allowed me to bring all my skill sets back to life and combine them to take my art to the next level. The “In Motion” collection is a reflection of my past 20 years.
When I first heard about NFTs in late 2020 I was intrigued. It was a whole new world that I didn’t know anything about. The idea to be able to make digital assets unique to enable direct patronage sounded amazing and I had a few invitations to NFT platforms in my inbox already. I love cutting edge technology however, learning about the energy usage of PoW blockchains which the majority of the popular NFT platforms are using, I decided not to engage and to wait for energy efficient alternatives.
This is when I was introduced to LGND. LGND is built on an established energy efficient DPoS blockchain that was invented specifically for NFTs. There are no fees if you mint or buy assets on LGND. It’s great to see a platform bringing the focus back to art and being part of an incredible lineup of artists that I look up to is a great honor.
The NFT space is still young but I see it as an exciting new avenue for artists to make a living from their art. It also invites a new set of artists that create animated content that has been very difficult to exhibit or own. I am hopeful that it will have a positive impact on the artist community as a whole.
Throughout his career, Goro has worked in a wide variety of creative roles from animating on TV commercials and feature films, designing as a Visual Development Artist at DreamWorks Animation on films such as “Megamind”, “Madagascar 3”, “Penguins of Madagascar” and Boss Baby”, to illustrating multiple children’s books as a Freelance Illustrator.
Goro has most recently immersed himself in the world of virtual reality where he art directed the Emmy Award winning VR experiences "Henry" and "Wolves in the Walls, Chapter 1" at Oculus Story Studio. However, Goro is probably best known for the work he creates in VR, introducing the world to the magic of Storytelling in VR.