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In my never-ending crusade to prove to Deviantart users that 99% of them are illustrators and that it's a legitimate form of art, I thought I would share this cool article.  The blog Muddy Colors is an excellent resource for any illustrator, professional or aspiring or hobbyist, and this is a particularly insightful entry from one of my favourite illustrators, Petar Meseldzija on the topic of making emotionally charged work.  Scroll down to the bottom of the entry and this is part I of II so stay posted!

muddycolors.blogspot.com/2011/…

My own commentary as it relates to deviantart:  We can get a little short-sighted here.  I've been thinking a lot about this recently because I've been looking at some of those "draw this again!" memes and, while it's really inspiring to see so much improvement in technique, there are very few entries which change anything about the drawing (the pose, the scenario, the background, the emotion, basically) to better suit any message.  We spend a lot of time here doing character sheets, practicing different poses with the same characters, doing endless headshots, and generally not really challenging ourselves.  I'm being critical, I know, but I'm saying this having absolutely gone through the same stuff, look through my scraps if you're in for some ocular punishment.  

Sometime last year, when Bryan Lee O'Malley (Scott Pilgrim creator) was still on deviantart, he posted a journal with one of his tweets which said something along the lines of "stop spending so much time obsessing about your character designs and draw some pages!"  Needless to say, people freaked out and attacked him and, coincidence or not, he left a few days later.

Okay that was a lot of shit to stir what I'm saying is that I think we get really freaked out about the idea of the BIG IDEA.  We have to have a BIG IDEA to justify making a "finished" illustration.  But we don't.  All you need is an emotion, and I happen to think that that's the most worthy thing a person could try to express in art.  It's not cynical or political or subjective (Damien Hirst, I'm looking at you!) and it comes a lot more easily as well.

That got out of hand, all I really wanted to do was share a funky link.  Apparently I just can't help myself.
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:iconrowkey:
Rowkey Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
I was actually AT Meseldzija's presentation, and I was most definitely sitting there with tears in my eyes. Easily one of the most moving experiences of my life, and I wish all aspiring artists had access to it. Suffice to say, I'm extremely excited to find the time to incorporate emotion and feeling into my art again. I feel like a combination of Deviantart in my youth and academia now has drained that aspect of my work quite a bit.

Thanks for spreading that article around a bit more- it deserves to be!
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2011
daaaaamn jealous! It seems like this is a subject that extends past a lecture for you, and I'm really glad that you had this burst of inspiration to make work that's important to you!

Thanks for reading!
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:iconeve-bolt:
eve-bolt Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2011
Very interesting read, much to think about here. Thanks for sharing :)
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:iconnoriko-kikhio:
noriko-kikhio Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Hey awesome! Thank-you so much for sharing :D
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:iconboxofwonders:
BoxOfWonders Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011
i see no issue if someone has chosen to spend his or her talents creating various designs for characters or places without actually applying them in a solid concept. imagination and creation can be a focal point. but a lot of the time that's not just whats going on. i do understand that the community as a whole spends some time patting each other on the backs for a pretty face or body or clothes; without efforts to raising any other feelings than those aesthetic.

"this is a fantastic character no doubt; perhaps you could have her/him doing a task, or displaying an emotion?"
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:iconjasontormos:
JasonTormos Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011   Digital Artist
very well put,i'm guilty as charged you'll definitely see more finished work soon.
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:iconkaminosai:
Kaminosai Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Student General Artist
The two styles of art most prominent on this site (Illustration and, by proxy, Comic/Cartooning) are somewhat unique in the field of art in that they are not only expressive of the artists feelings, but invocative of those feelings to the viewer/reader as well. Granted, most other forms of art do this, but Illustration and the like are particularly well suited to it, as they often focus on depicting real (or at least reconizable) subjects that everyone can react to. I think the biggest mistake most of us fall into when starting down this road is the failure to recognise how equally important the expression and the invocation of the emotion in a piece can be.

That said, not every drawing has to be dripping with deep, personal metaphor. The depiction the emotion of "This is totally awesome!", while drawing your rediculous self insert "OC" is still perfectly valid. I know that's how I feel most of the time when I do that myself!
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:iconstarlace:
Starlace Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011   Traditional Artist
Mmm, you're so right. Even though all I draw is headshots, haha, I've been trying to work on this and practicing figures in my sketchbook...and yeah, I should definitely move on to scenes too. (ugh perspective though! haha.)
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
Well good on you! The good news is, the more you do it, the less you become aware of perspective, anatomy, lighting, etc, and the more you become privy to the idea behind the illustration and just doing whatever it takes to convey that idea. And sometimes that means drawing 1,000 point perspective, but it also sometimes means just a shit-ton of rolling mist hahaha

:heart:
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:iconfionacreates:
FionaCreates Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Professional General Artist
I agree esp on the point of "characters".

I see so many people making character sheets or bio's with drawings but unless you do something with your character there's little to no point in having a character sheet other than to brag you have a character.

A lot of people create 'novels' and then 'illustrate' their characters, but in no novel I've seen (with illustrations) do the characters just stand opposite a page of powerful writing with their hands on their hips grinning like a loon.

If you're going to illustrate your own novel, actually Illustrate the scene, not just the dress they're wearing or their pretty hairstyle.

I know I'm bad for posting to dA my useless character shit but I've finally started a comic recently and it's much more challenging and rewarding to see my characters interact and move around than to just see them stand and do nothing.

I also understand a lot of people on dA just draw for fun so don't really care about the concepts of illustration and storytelling but will also lynch you if you don't take them 'seriously' or you critique them and they get butthurt.

I think it more people like Bryan Lee O Malley, with the influence and balls could stand up and beat people about the head and just take the abuse and keep going, they could really change some people's minds (the ones who could really benefit from it) I know it's not their job to do so, but sometimes when people get angry it's because you struck a nerve so they're reacting badly often to something that's quite true but they don't want to admit they're wrong.
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
We're very protective of our mediocrity here. I don't mean that everyone sucks, just that we have this idea that DA is immune from the wider standards of art for money that exists outside of DA. Because we have so many hobbyists, there's this attitude that we shouldn't have to think about art in the same way, because there's no intention to take it into the "real world."

In some ways, this is awesome. It's actually really interesting to look at objectively because DA has an economy entirely its own- we have a set of aesthetic standards and a functional marketplace of commissions based off these standards which you don't find anywhere else! It's an incredible phenomenon! But because of this standard we've set, the bar for "professional" work is on a completely different plane from in the professional world, and so the ceiling for improvement is a lot lower within the insulated community.

I would never suggest that doing exclusively character work isn't legitimate, just that people aren't opening themselves to influences that would inspire them to do different, and possibly more fulfilling work.
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:iconfionacreates:
FionaCreates Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Professional General Artist
I do agree, I've done a degree in illustration and hang out in other non dA places and it's obvious between people trying to make money and people on dA, the attitude is totally different.

Such as not all, but a lot of people on dA will go "I want to learn such and such so will find a tutorial" but anyone I know who is professional will just go "I wanted to learn inks so I bought some and tried it". Also 'ameteurs' will tend to avoid drawing what they don't like to draw, but professionals can't because if someone's paying you to draw something you don't like you can't exactly go "if it's ok with you can I draw this thing I like instead"

I like dA for it's relaxed atmosphere, but I do with people would have a little more... ambition? Confidence? Or even just the understanding that because you like to draw anime/comic characters/game stuff/pixel sprites/insert thing here, that you don't just have to be influenced by things in that genre. Like you can be influenced in your anime by a great piece of architecture, and it doesn't mean simply drawing that piece of architecture but inspired by its ideas or it's texture and shape etc. Cross referencing your art references. Some of the best work within some 'cliche' genres is the work where the artists are drawing from everything they like, not just from within that genre.

I didn't mean to come across so negative, cos I don't mean it that way, but yes, dA is indeed a slice of society where mediocrity is king.
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:iconk3lch4n:
K3LCH4N Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Student General Artist
Thank you for sharing this, I'm looking forward to reading part II now :)
I remember that Bryan Lee O'Malley journal you told us about... It's a shame that he left, he had a lot to contribute here. It's also a shame that most people reacted like that...
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
It's a really interesting phenomenon when professional artists with a real name join up on DA. We worship them, but there's this whole code of etiquette specific to DA that if they cross, we're going to crucify them. One of these rules is: no criticism of DA culture allowed!

The man unwittingly stumbled onto a land mine because we're very protective of our mediocrity here. I don't mean that everyone sucks, just that we have this idea that DA is immune from the wider standards of art for money that exists outside of DA. Because we have so many hobbyists, there's this attitude that we shouldn't have to think about art in the same way, because there's no intention to take it into the "real world." In some ways, this is great. In other ways.....not so much.

It's a shame he took off, but to be fair, I don't blame him. That experience would have given anyone the impression that we're a bunch of butthurt little brats.
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:iconk3lch4n:
K3LCH4N Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2011  Student General Artist
So true. Although I mainly use dA to look for art than to socialize, it's very clear this is a social network. Rather than artists meeting people, it's all about people meeting art, often for the first time. Anyway, I'm glad art is more accessible nowadays.
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:iconwhiteraven90:
WhiteRaven90 Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Professional General Artist
Hmm. I need to sort things out before i could see behind the scenes of my life, but something is certain... I went to an art school but my heart lies with literature. In drawing i always consciously held myself back from expressing the things i wanted to express through literature - even if i do like illustration. It was like a question of love and loyalty to me. Now, i finished art school (sort of), and for the first time in a long time, i feel like i can safely cross back to the world of storytelling and self-expression. May it be through literature or illustration.

Although it's more complex than that.
Just thinking, that maybe what you mentioned, what deviantart users seem like doing in large flocks, is a symptom that more than one cause/problems share. It's not necessarily "i want this character to be perfect".
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
Haha that's amazing! I totally know the feeling you're talking about, I used to do the same things with "holding onto" a visual because I wanted to use it in a comic, rather than in an illustration. The interesting thing is, there's this one story I've done now in like 5 different ways, and I won't stop telling the story until I get it absolutely right. It hasn't gotten old. Maybe I'll keep telling it until I die (or get some psychotherapy and figure out why I'm so obsessed!)

You're definitely right about pack mentality on DA. It's actually really interesting to look at objectively because DA has an economy entirely its own- we have a set of aesthetic standards and a functional marketplace of commissions based off these standards which you don't find anywhere else! It's an incredible phenomenon! But because of this standard we've set, the bar for "professional" work is on a completely different plane from in the professional world, and so the ceiling for improvement is a lot lower within the insulated community. You're right, it's not that people get 100% wrapped up in perfecting their character, it's that there's not enough to pull from here for what comes after character creation!

Thanks for reading! :heart:
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:iconnullunit:
nullunit Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
Petar is a amazing; even the man's pencil's look like paintings. Good on you for spreading his name.

Art without story or where the entire emotional content is injected from the viewer but not freighted in the work itself is not even a reality. Artsy-fartsy folks seem to have a real stigma attached to teh idea of being an illustrator which I don't understand.

I get get wrapped up Self-indulgent cycles of noodling out head shots and poses. Obsessing over perfection, which really isn't attainable anyway. I think the worse one for me is not being able to separate from the idea that my story needs to be somehow 100% original or new; which again is pretty much impossible. At some point someone has told the story in your head and possibly better, but that is no reason to stop. Now saying all that, and getting past it are totally separate.

Good post.
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
I'm about to make some really gross generalizations, but they are born of observation:

Self-identified fine-artists are like philosophers. Questions only lead to more questions and the search is really the object. Illustrators are like scientists: there is a question that needs an answer and we use an established method to find come to a conclusion. It just represents two different approaches to a problem, and I can definitely see how a philosopher could feel that a scientist is obsessed with "fact" over "truth," just as a scientist would feel that a philosopher is obsessed with self-congratulatory thinking spirals, rather than making any actual conclusions that could make sense to a person.

That was odd. Anyway, the idea of perfection is a whole other thing. You're right, there's no reason to not do it. We all have a thousand bad ideas in us, and we need to get them out of the way before we can get to the good stuff, but to do that we need to start immediately.

Thanks for reading, and making me think! :heart:
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:iconsilvertide:
Silvertide Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
This is a refreshing take on how to approach art. So much of art instruction and advice focuses on the more superficial aspects of technique and impersonal concepts of technical things like anatomy, perspective, etc. All of it seems important in different proportions and different times, it can be had to know what to focus on and when.

There are so many ways to see it, too. A friend of mine was said that, "art is a field of infinite knowledge", because there is always more to learn. Both superficial things like how to do it, and the deeper things like how do you put your feelings into your art and then into whoever views the art...
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
From my experience, that seems to be the biggest difference between a mediocre art education and a really good one: the instruction on how to think about content is noticeably lacking in many art education programs. A lot of times, this skill-set is directly associated with illustration, as opposed to fine arts. I think the main difference is that the main priority of fine art is to express your feelings, whereas the main priority of illustration is to get other people to experience those feelings.

Anyway, yeah. Went off on a tangent there haha

Thanks for reading! :heart:
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:iconpainted-flamingo:
painted-flamingo Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
Found the article very interesting and motivating, thank you for sharing it
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
Thanks for reading! :heart:
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:icondeskleaves:
Deskleaves Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I agree with what you say here; A lot of people spend too much time refining their character, and eventually they all turn into 'perfect' superhuman mary-sues.
Real people are flawed, especially young people, which are more often the protagonists. It's easier to identify with a character that isn't perfect, because the readers themselves aren't perfect. It takes just the right amount of developing to make a fun, believable character, and in my adventures with them I often find them developing in a direction I never would have expected! They never would have become so lovable (or dispicable) if I had them all figured out before starting their adventures and shenanigans. Bravo for insightful research.
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
I think a lot of it is that character design is so much easier than story design- character is so much more about creating visual translations for characteristics and it's a lot more quick and rewarding. Placing them in an environment, however, becomes a lot more difficult, and what frequently happens is that people design a story out of a series of moments to showcase a character's talents and that's where the Mary-Sue comes along.

There's nothing wrong with spending a lot of time with your character, but there's nothing wrong with spending some time with a story, either!

Thanks for reading! :heart:
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:iconkyendo:
Kyendo Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Professional
Agreed! I've been thinking a bit about this too, and how I'm trying to make my sketchbook less stiff and a bit more imaginative and inspirational. I guess most of my artistic ways come from my teenage years here in Deviantart - hadn't it been for this site I probably wouldn't have grown in the same way, so I'll always owe it, no doubt, but a lot of bad habits came from this as well.

Storytelling, composition and emotion have gradually become a lot more important to me than anatomy and realism - I think that's how I realized I was an illustrator rather than a character/background designer. Just a couple of days ago I was mentioning how I decided to make one of my pieces have bright red blood instead of picking a realistic blood red, simply because the bright red had so much more impact. And hey, guess what, apparently the more I think "fuck it" and just have fun I have with weird and bold colour schemes the more people seem to respond to my work, so it's all good!
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
Dude, you are not alone, DA absolutely shaped my teenage art years, and still does! I am actually a HUGE advocate for using this site, all its quirks and unsavory bits included, because it's such a valuable tool. There's so much inspiration to be found, skills to be shared, connections to be made, it's insane. I think it's easy to get critical and to be sure, a lot of crap gets made here, but I'll also point out that all of my current work with official people has come directly from people seeing my gallery here.

I think that transition of focus from rendering (anatomy, realism) into concept (storytelling, emotion) is a marked step in any illustrator's development. I don't remember when it happened, but I no longer feel the urge to draw pages and pages of poses or expressions, which used to be all I ever did. It's strange though, that many people on DA don't ever reach that transition, and I think that's part of the downside of such an insular community.

And that's great that you're branching into symbolic color. It's really clear from your gallery that you have a very strong design sense, can't wait to see what you do next!
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:iconkyendo:
Kyendo Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Professional
Yes, definitely - it's probably not something art teachers like to hear, that my way of making art was mostly shaped by young adults and teenagers barely my senior from an online art community, but hey, it's pure truth. Specially because I never had actual proper formation in illustration (except for this past year, and even then it was a masters, so I didn't exactly have any classes). So this whole thang was my way of learning. That, I think, is the true power of this community.

Thank you - having someone like you say that made me quite giddy! :') I'm very much looking forward to more of your stuff as well. Much much more.
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:iconemla:
emla Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Professional
I love MuddyColors, it's a great blog! I am baffled when people say that illustration "isn't real art." Some fine artists like to conveniently forget that for the vast majority of art history, most work (other than decorative patterning on goods and architecture) has been illustrative in nature.

As to the phenomenon of people spending too much time on character design, I personally find that if I spend too much time planning for a story my personal expectations get built up to where it can become impossible to write for it at all. Seeking perfection too early is often the enemy of getting anything done, and locking in too many details can make drawing a character really boring and static.
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
The history of art as illustration is a huge huge huge point for me -- what do you call it when you are paid to do work and given the subject matter? I call that illustration.

It's interesting that the disciplines really diverged at the time when color printing became available - magazines became a big huge deal and suddenly the focus was on the REPRODUCTION, not on the original art itself. That's where the rift formed. All the Pre-Raphaelites were illustrators as well, but since printing was still being figured out and they were more interested in having their hands in the whole process, (Kelmscott Press etc.) they were the last wave of real "fine arts" illustrators.

That divergence pretty much defined the concept of "illustration" for the foreseeable future- and Howard Pyle filled that void with his set of principles for modern illustration and everything that has happened since has been either consciously following or consciously going against his principles. I still cannot believe that NC Wyeth is not included in fine arts databases but I guess it's kinda nice too, since we have that history all to ourselves.

WOAH WOAH WOAH apparently you opened something up there!

Thanks for reading and double thanks if you made it through that mess of a comment! :heart:
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:iconemla:
emla Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Professional
Thanks for the reply. :)

I agree, print media definitely played a part in making that gap. It made art a stronger commercial venture, and some people resented that. I feel like it's a huge leap forward, because to me art is about communication and publishing in all of its forms makes that so much more effective and available!

Aside from those who look down on commercial art there's another school of fine artists who use the word "illustration" derisively. When I was in art school there were a few abstract painters who looked down their noses and sniffed at any "illustrative" work - by which they meant any work that recognizably represented physical things. They liked to talk about how "limited" representational work was, but their drawing skills were also as "limited" as would be expected. Apparently the attitude was enough of a problem in the department that several fine art students who wanted to do representational work switched majors to illustration so they would be able to study it.

... and now I need to say that I rather enjoy and admire some abstract painting work, and there are a lot of very talented people who do it! Just so no one mistakes me for someone who hates all abstract art. ;)
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
Hahahahaha I forgot about that! That's so true, before we went our separate ways into majors, a lot of the future-painters etc. kept using "illustrative" as an insult! And I'm like....well, good! All that means is it's telling a story and you're getting something from it, as opposed to an image that's only stimulating on a visual level.

Another thing they would do which I never understood is tell the story of the creation of their work. "So I was painting this and then my cat threw up on my tube of cadmium red so I couldn't use it anymore and then this whole side emerged when the microwave going off shocked me and I made a splatter and sort of liked it so I just kept going and then I only slept a few hours so that's why this part looks different..."

I'm like, child, tell me something. When you have your work hanging in a gallery, are you going to be there to tell anyone who walks by why it's worth looking at? NO! It has to be WORTH LOOKING AT!

woooooah anyway yeah, I feel you. There were a bunch of painters who switched into illustration because they wanted to learn how to paint, not dick around with media all day.
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:icondeputee:
Deputee Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I think people tend to identify with their emotions more on a subconscious level if they're not aware of what's really going on behind the illustration. If you take movies people often align themselves with the protagonist(s) and feel what they feel, which is probably why people may develop a lot of misconceptions about the way the world works. But illustration doesn't have the whole moving image to convey that aspect and loading an image with emotion really has no rules other than the parameters of the artists subjective experiences. I think conveying an idea is easy enough but really selling it you have to be able to relate to the viewer on a deeper level.

There's two good books by James Guerney; 'Color and Light' and 'Imaginative Realism' that are worth looking at if you haven't already picked them up :)
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011
That's an interesting observation about film and illustration- I think in some ways it's easier for a person to project into the protagonist of an illustration because there are less clues about how the character "actually" is, and you're right, there definitely needs to be an emotional catch for that phenomenon to be possible.

Big Gurney fan, those and Scott McCloud's comics books are the only art books I've ever been motivated to actually read, not just look at the pictures haha

:heart: thanks for reading!
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:icondeputee:
Deputee Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I guess it all comes down to perspective, but thats the beauty of being involved in art, everyones got their own and willing to share. Gurney's books have definitely helped me understand the more important fundamentals in illustration.

Thanks for posting :)
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:iconnikki0417:
Nikki0417 Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Student General Artist
Interesting article and journal. I remember the tweet from Bryan Lee O'Malley you're talking about. I think the original comment had something to do with the large number of people who want to be character designers when character design is such a small step in the production of any game/cartoon/movie or what have you. Somehow, the topic changed to drawing characters in general. I think it exploded because it hit home with so many artists. I'm pretty sure any person who's ever had an idea for a story and likes drawing characters has been guilty of this. I know I have, in some ways I still am- forever planning ideas and drawing out characters to figure out their designs.

The article is really engaging. I meant to read one or two sentences and next thing I knew 20 minutes had passed, lol. I think emotion is definitely something my art tends to lack. So, I'll be taking this to heart.
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
You're right, and I wish I remembered his actual wording, I didn't save it cause I didn't imagine he was going to delete his account haha

Well it's totally awesome that you're open to examining your own tendencies, you're definitely not alone, I used to do that to the MAX. The difference is that the people who got really butthurt at O'Malley were NOT ready to see another path. They chose to interpret his words as saying "character design is not important" which is understandably upsetting...if that's at all what he had said haha.

Thanks for reading, especially that article, I know it's kind of a commitment! :heart:
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:iconhettie-young:
Hettie-Young Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
The reason I became an illustration student and not a fine art student was because I wanted desperately to tell a story. It didn't necessarily mean actually illustrating a story but bringing to life a piece with an expressive quality which would convey to the sitter the very emotion I wished to put forward. Ironically, since I became an illustration student, my art has become lifeless in it's 'emotion' or the emotion I felt when creating it. This has made me think again... it really is so vital! As for character design, what is the point of a sterile creation without journeying the character? Isn't exploring the best part?
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
That's an interesting observation that you feel like your work has become more sterile since you switched into illustration. I can totally understand how that would happen, though. With fine arts a lot of the expression is being translated directly from where the experience happens in your brain or heart or whatever into the piece, but with illustration you really have to take the time to figure out your message and craft the piece so that it is "reading" correctly- and it can take a lot of time to figure out how to do that successfully while still maintaining the vivacity of the emotion. Lord knows I'm still figuring it out.

Thanks for reading!
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:iconcommoner-pocky:
commoner-pocky Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
I cannot say how much I agree with this journal.

Also, I feel like I know I'm guilty of drawing simple fanart and repeated headshots because they get a lot more attention and 'insta-faves' on dA, but I am working on making my original art just as emotionally rich, without the audience knowing the context of the scene.
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
The "insta-fave" phenomenon is its own kind of fulfilling experience, and it's totally understandable how that feeling of accomplishment could become a substitute for personally challenging work. I'm not trying to criticize DA culture, which I love, but I think there's a lot more we can be doing to reach our personal bests!

Thanks for reading! :heart:
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:iconraezing16:
Raezing16 Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Student General Artist
This may seem like a strange question to pose here but here goes... I've been interested in becoming an illustrator ever since I was around 16 years old (and have known pretty much my whole life that I want to pursue a career that was art-based), and drawing scenes that create an emotional impact or tell a story is one of my favorite things to do. This year is my first in college, and I ended up going to a college that wasn't exclusively art. In your experience, is it possible to break into the illustration business without having gone to an art college to get an illustration major?
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
Well there are two sides to that coin: industry jobs and freelancing. If we're talking about an industry job, there definitely IS a real advantage to going to an art school, which is that your teachers will have a real understanding and focus on the real-world applications, not only skills. In addition, going to an art school gives you an extended network to work out from upon graduation, and art directors will recognize the name of your school.

For freelancing, it makes less of a difference. Networking is still very important, but since so much work these days is done without ever speaking to a client face-to-face, you can do a lot of your own networking by making connections here and through friends etc. The real clincher for getting freelance work is the quality of your portfolio, which brings me to my last point-

In terns of general knowledge and quality art education, there's just no substitute for going to an actual art school. It's just science that the serious teachers are going to be attracted to the serious schools and it will be a much better experience if you're really serious about making a career out of illustration. In addition, a school with a fine arts program but no illustration major is more likely to focus on the expressive side of art, and less of the communication side. The ability to be able to think critically and communicate through images is what an illustration major will teach you, as opposed to what kind of paint thinner has what effect.

There are some pretty gross generalizations in there and obviously I don't know your exact situation, but I hope that can be a little helpful!
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:iconraezing16:
Raezing16 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Student General Artist
I just remembered that I asked this question and honestly I wish that I'd asked it when I was still in high school! After two trimesters at my university, I applied for a transfer to MCAD - Minneapolis College of Art and Design, received a scholarship and can't wait to go there in the fall! I'm so excited for the fall and starting new, but I'm especially thrilled to be going somewhere where I can take more then one art class at a time! I know this is quite a bit later then when you replied to my question, but thank you for all the honesty and encouragement.

As always, I absolutely love your work!
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:iconcaliphone:
Caliphone Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Good message, though it's hard to know what I should take from it. Character design itself is my passion. Illustration is just the frosting on the cake I occasionally indulge in. Is it against my best interest to not make myself illustrate more?
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
Character design is such a tricky one. The truth is, there are so few people in the world who do EXCLUSIVELY character design, and that's not a position you can count on landing straight out of training.

I mean, that's an economical standpoint which wasn't really the point of this article and from an artistic standpoint, I suppose if you're fulfilled then there's really no need. I know that at a certain time I definitely thought I wanted to be a character designer, but it's because I was infatuated with the charm and ease of it, and when I stepped out of my comfort zone I found it really rewarding. But seriously, I'm not judging, cause character design is super fun and rewarding on its own.
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:iconcaliphone:
Caliphone Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
See for me, character design is like my bread and butter. Occasionally I can take something beyond that and make a story out of it or an illustration. But illustrating is hard and not fun at all for me. Whereas I could do nothing but character design from sun up to sundown every day and be happy as a hamster. I play with character building games for hours or days at a time and only stop because I have responsibilities. I always worry that I'm allowing myself to get too limited and it'll interfere with my ability to get a job though...
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
Yeah I mean, I think that's a real worry. It's one thing to do the thing that really gives you enjoyment all day, but it's really hard to get a design position with an exclusively character design portfolio. But it's a balance, and you have to figure out what's right for you!
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:iconjjak:
jjak Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
People on deviantArt are too concerned about pageviews and positive feedback....
Eventually they believe that if their illustrations are mainstream enough they can get a quick buck out of it.

And if you call them out on it >_o; mass angry mob forms.
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:icontoerning:
toerning Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011
It's actually really interesting to look at objectively because DA has an economy entirely its own- we have a set of aesthetic standards and a functional marketplace of commissions based off these standards which you don't find anywhere else! It's an incredible phenomenon! However, I think you're right and that people don't realize that this style doesn't quite translate to the wider world of art-for-hire.
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