Musician, writer, artist, gardener, Jane-of-all-trades.

I keep astonishingly busy with a wide variety of things and this blog may seem random in consequence. Expect Mass Effect fanfic (including the ongoing saga of pilot-lovin' Rhi Shepard), thoughts on disability, politics, and a liberal helping of goats. Especially baby goats.

 

songscloset:

tealin:

It’s not a complete BC Ferries experience until you’ve seen a seagull trying to eat a starfish.

I’ve seen this, and it’s hilarious.

songscloset:

tealin:

It’s not a complete BC Ferries experience until you’ve seen a seagull trying to eat a starfish.

I’ve seen this, and it’s hilarious.

I scanned it, uploaded it, and sat back for my usual episode of art angst—I painted something noxiously cute and relatively simple, without a background, that did not particularly stretch me in any way, merely because I thought it was funny and wanted to do a stripey design with my PITT pens, the shame, the shame.

I had a buyer within—I double checked the time stamps—six minutes.

I thought “Man, the thrill of selling it really goes a long way to negating the guilt of having done it in the first place.”

Then I thought, “Whoa, I’m letting commercial success overcome my art guilt! I have SOLD OUT! ARRGH! Get thee to art confession! Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned—I have painted simple and cute and sold it and felt less guilty for having sold it!”

Then I thought, “Is it actually possible for a commercial artist to sell out? I mean, without, y’know, hardcore porn or working for Disney or something?”

Then I thought, “No, that makes me feel less guilty, so it can’t be right.”

Then I thought, “Bunnychicken!” for no apparent reason. (That happens a lot.)

Then I thought, “If the measure of not selling out is forcing yourself to do things that nobody would put money down for, it’s dumb and in it’s own way just as reactionary as do things people do want, because you’re selling out to the mystique of not selling out, damnit, which is a total sell-out.”

Then I thought, “Yeah, but once you’ve thought of that, no matter what you do is selling out because everything could be percieved as selling out somehow, and the only way to avoid selling out is to do your own thing without even thinking about selling out, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead, and stop worrying about it.”

Then I stopped and ran that last bit through my head a few times to see if I could understand it the second time through, which I could, but only barely, and I really wasn’t sure whether that meant it was okay to paint mice in ponchoes or not.

Then I thought “Fireworks! The crow has FIREWORKS, not toilet paper!” which was important to something unrelated.

Then I thought, “Screw it, it’s a mouse wearing a poncho and a chicken. If that’s selling out, there is no hope for any of us.”

Then I thought, “Man, I could really use a nap.” And in this, at least, I was unanimous.

And that constituted my art angst moment for the day. Tune in next week for another exciting episode of “Ursula Wrestles With The Demons Of Art,” which, we predict, will end in another exciting nap.

Anonymous asked
Do you think there's a tendency in games to be very self-conscious about their status qua the 'art' debate? Do you think that some games try very self-consciously to be 'art' games by dressing themselves up in things we generally conceive of as artistic outside of the context of games e.g. classical-styled music?

mammon-machine:

Video games figured out they were art but they still don’t know that art is bullshit. Everyone else figured this out in 1915. They forgot it instantly, but you can look it up in a book to see how silly it is that not just games, but books, film, music and literally everything else is highly self-conscious about their status as art because art is art because someone says it is art and that is that. For example, my orchid has just told me that anime is art, and I must deffer to its beautiful purple flowers and PHD in art history. If you would like to be recognized as art by say, a mammal has tenure at an american university, chances are that you might want to appeal to what he thinks is art.

That’s the extremely cynical analysis of art and like most cynicism it’s true enough to convincingly mislead. While it’s true that mammalian professors are not nearly as open minded as my fabulous purple orchid, they’re usually smart enough to be able to tell at least 85% of the time whether art has created something original and true and whether the art is bullshitting everyone. If a game’s artistic aspirations are obvious and making you cringe, it is almost always because the work has  the signifiers of art and high culture (like the classical music you suggest) but it’s just sort of there without craft or meaning or intentionality.

Indiecade is a different venue for art than the Louvre, but within the genre of art that fits in the venue there’s stuff that’s true and beautiful and stuff that’s less so and stuff that drastically isn’t. What is great art that is true and beautiful and what is great art that fits in a particular subculture or discourse community’s vision of art are two different questions that appear exactly the same to whoever is running said discourse community.

Specifically, games are embracing classical art because video games have embarrassed themselves so much with orcs and space marines that the safest antidote is the cool embrace of the classics. Games might go for classical imagery because it is recognizable As Art, unlike Dada and modernism and all that weird shit made by godless communists that snide jerks say their kids could paint. Like pretty much every philosophical or artistic movement ever, games are reacting against one thing (hideously corporate billion dollar entertainment industry) by going to another thing (the equivalent from a couple hundred years ago that’s actually good). Beneath what seems like a kind of shallow grab at the appearance of art is a sincere attempt to grasp the basics of art that appear so absent from so much of the vast body of the medium.

The mere fact you’re pointing it out, as others have, signifies that we’re probably going to see games move away from classical imagery the more tryhard and shallow the gestures appear. But one big problem is that the ways games tend to be visually interesting are either associated with retro nostalgia or with cutting edge hollywood SFX. So maybe games are having problems being confident in their imagery because what makes it unique is part of what gets it discounted as art. Sworcery more or less successfully made pixel art feel like “art” so maybe we’ll see stuff like that first. Lots of Dada games (vidiot game comes to mind) already exist; maybe when when Andi wins the IGF with a game you can complete in five seconds with no win condition we’ll get the modernism of games or something (that’s not a joke, I hope she does). 

Submission of Good Cheer

medievalpoc:

I apologize if you already have this, but I think you might want this cat licking its butt as a medieval reaction.

Thomas of Cantimpré, Liber de natura rerum, France ca. 1290.

Valenciennes, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 320, fol. 72r

image

I think this just stands on its own, to be honest. I know my day just got a little brighter.

isozyme:

stunt-muppet:

sueting:

inappropriateresponses:

A much more accurate “now” image for direct comparison would be a photograph. Abstract art came about as a direct result of the invention of photography, as paintings no longer need to be representative, as photographs are inherently better at that task. Accurately representative paintings were just the photography of the pre-photography era. Portraits of nobility have been replaced by Sears Portrait Studio. Self portraits have been replaced by Instagram selfies. Paintings of historical events have been replaced by photojournalism. Photography is the democratization of art and abstract paintings and sculpture are the most evolved form of art possible. These are not things to complain about.

THANK YOU

#stunt muppet #muppet look #i believe this is a thing you like to talk about?
YES YES IT IS okay i have a whole lot of feelings about abstract and non-representational art
because yeah, once photography became more common and widely available, people who painted started to question what they painted for. They started to wonder what made something art, what distinguished a painting from a photograph - if photographs could depict “objective” reality (insofar as such a thing even exists), then maybe the strength of painting lay in what photography, in that day and age, couldn’t capture, like feelings or impressions or the tricks the eye plays when seeing an object.
and so they asked, well, why does this portrait feel so comfortable and warm and this one feel threatening and stiff? what elements of the picture suggest that? is it the lighting? the way people are posed? can you play up those elements, exaggerate them, make the figures express the feeling instead of the other way around? what would happen if you did?
and for that matter, people continued to ask, why do we find a certain change of lighting comforting? why do we respond to someone wearing a red shirt or a blue dress differently to someone wearing a white one? what is it about red? or black? or green? why does the shape that people are standing in, the way the figures are placed in a frame, change how we feel about it?
art in a way started to become about psychology - it became about thinking and about why we think and how. because photographs (again, at the time) weren’t engaging with that nearly as much, art started to move towards a “why” of photographs. why that pose? why that color?
that’s when you start to get art like the one under “art now”, right, because look at it. REALLY LOOK, okay, don’t just shrug and walk away because “anyone could do it”. look at that exact shade of orange. do you ever see just a big swath of one color in nature? no, you see hints of it. where have you seen it? what does it remind you of? for that matter, what about the little stripes on it? does that make you feel like there’s depth to the painting - something inside it? why? after all, the painting is a flat plane*, so if you do get a sense of depth from it that’s your brain interpreting signals its familiar with. isn’t that incredible, that all it takes is a few little lines on a single color? isn’t it strange how one person will see depth and another won’t?
*and for that matter it ISN’T a flat plane, there are variations in the height of the paint on the canvas and how much it’s built up, and it protrudes slightly from the wall instead of being recessed into it - does that do anything to the sensation of depth? while we’re on that note, do you ever look at a representational painting and think about how you, the viewer, are looking into it and see it as having space and depth when it really doesn’t - only it does, but not the same space and depth as is represented in the picture?
and that’s without even getting into larger cultural shifts like the World Wars - and it’s hard to overestimate the effect that WWI and WWII had on even the “mainstream” art world - and the greater voice of underrepresented and oppressed groups like women, POC, and LGBT artists and the increasing technological sophistication of photography and the advent of video and widely-available audio recording and the increasing use of galleries to display art rather than private residences and it is still art, okay, representative art is art too but that doesn’t mean this isn’t it’s just focusing on something different and if you dismiss non-representational art as lazy or a con i will sit your ass down in the nearest chair and yell at you about marcel duchamp for an hour

I have a lot of feelings about this, so I’m gonna just spew them everywhere.
Most critically!  The red piece isn’t art now.  It’s art 60 years ago — 1950, they great heyday of abstract expressionism in the USA!  All that abstract shit you hate, all that stuff that’s just splatters and giant dots?  1950-1960.  The United States.  A small, elitist movement shaped by maybe a dozen artists and two or three very influential critics.  In a decade abstract expressionism had pretty much said all there was to say about the action of painting and the canvas as an object rather than a representation, and it got stuck in the museum for people to be bewildered at.
The Rembrandt piece above it?  Also a snapshot of a very particular time and place.  Our view of art 400 years ago is blinkered by what we’ve bothered to preserve and focus on.  When people think “old-timey art” they think of bright white marble statues with no limbs and Da Vinci and Dutch still life.   Which is such a tiny fraction of things that have happened in art history, you know?  That’s like, three things!  Most of them done for rich dudes in Western Europe!
Bullshit!
I call such bullshit on someone trying to knock down all of contemporary art by comparing something made for the cultural elite in 1650 to something made for the cultural elite in 1950.
Art is huge, poorly defined, and it has always been that way, has always had elements that are democratic and has always had a thick vein of nasty elitism.  The carvings on the doors into Notre Dame tell the stories of the saints so that everyone could understand them, whether they had access to books or not.  Comic books and photorealism and murals in urban areas and fashion spreads — all this stuff is made to wow everyone, independent of how much time they’ve spent studying the deep philosophical circle-jerk of art criticism.
I love art criticism, I love Frank Stella and Ad Reinhardt and Eva Hesse, and I am still incandescently furious when people try to reduce the evolution of art to simply justifying or condemning their work.  Because that means we’ve fallen head-first into the trap of omission and framing that keeps art defined as only for the museum-attending.  There’s museum art — cerebral and obtuse and annoying and demanding of effort and education and money to appreciate — and then there’s literally a whole world of more art.  It is an appalling disservice to all the other artists making it out there (corporate designers and media hubs and scrappy little collectives and crafters and professional illustrators) to sweep them under the rug in favor of arguing about museum art as if it is the most important art, or, worse, the only art.
Don’t like Barnett Newman?  Fuck Barnett Newman.  Fuck his arrogance and his inaccessibility and his ego and his concept of the primitive.
But fuck you if you call him “Art now” while you do it.  Don’t make one man the measuring stick for a century of modern creative works.  That’s a bullshit premise and you know it.

Three cheers for Isozyme!

isozyme:

stunt-muppet:

sueting:

inappropriateresponses:

A much more accurate “now” image for direct comparison would be a photograph. Abstract art came about as a direct result of the invention of photography, as paintings no longer need to be representative, as photographs are inherently better at that task. Accurately representative paintings were just the photography of the pre-photography era. Portraits of nobility have been replaced by Sears Portrait Studio. Self portraits have been replaced by Instagram selfies. Paintings of historical events have been replaced by photojournalism. Photography is the democratization of art and abstract paintings and sculpture are the most evolved form of art possible. These are not things to complain about.

THANK YOU

  

YES YES IT IS okay i have a whole lot of feelings about abstract and non-representational art

because yeah, once photography became more common and widely available, people who painted started to question what they painted for. They started to wonder what made something art, what distinguished a painting from a photograph - if photographs could depict “objective” reality (insofar as such a thing even exists), then maybe the strength of painting lay in what photography, in that day and age, couldn’t capture, like feelings or impressions or the tricks the eye plays when seeing an object.

and so they asked, well, why does this portrait feel so comfortable and warm and this one feel threatening and stiff? what elements of the picture suggest that? is it the lighting? the way people are posed? can you play up those elements, exaggerate them, make the figures express the feeling instead of the other way around? what would happen if you did?

and for that matter, people continued to ask, why do we find a certain change of lighting comforting? why do we respond to someone wearing a red shirt or a blue dress differently to someone wearing a white one? what is it about red? or black? or green? why does the shape that people are standing in, the way the figures are placed in a frame, change how we feel about it?

art in a way started to become about psychology - it became about thinking and about why we think and how. because photographs (again, at the time) weren’t engaging with that nearly as much, art started to move towards a “why” of photographs. why that pose? why that color?

that’s when you start to get art like the one under “art now”, right, because look at it. REALLY LOOK, okay, don’t just shrug and walk away because “anyone could do it”. look at that exact shade of orange. do you ever see just a big swath of one color in nature? no, you see hints of it. where have you seen it? what does it remind you of? for that matter, what about the little stripes on it? does that make you feel like there’s depth to the painting - something inside it? why? after all, the painting is a flat plane*, so if you do get a sense of depth from it that’s your brain interpreting signals its familiar with. isn’t that incredible, that all it takes is a few little lines on a single color? isn’t it strange how one person will see depth and another won’t?

*and for that matter it ISN’T a flat plane, there are variations in the height of the paint on the canvas and how much it’s built up, and it protrudes slightly from the wall instead of being recessed into it - does that do anything to the sensation of depth? while we’re on that note, do you ever look at a representational painting and think about how you, the viewer, are looking into it and see it as having space and depth when it really doesn’t - only it does, but not the same space and depth as is represented in the picture?

and that’s without even getting into larger cultural shifts like the World Wars - and it’s hard to overestimate the effect that WWI and WWII had on even the “mainstream” art world - and the greater voice of underrepresented and oppressed groups like women, POC, and LGBT artists and the increasing technological sophistication of photography and the advent of video and widely-available audio recording and the increasing use of galleries to display art rather than private residences and it is still art, okay, representative art is art too but that doesn’t mean this isn’t it’s just focusing on something different and if you dismiss non-representational art as lazy or a con i will sit your ass down in the nearest chair and yell at you about marcel duchamp for an hour

I have a lot of feelings about this, so I’m gonna just spew them everywhere.

Most critically!  The red piece isn’t art now.  It’s art 60 years ago — 1950, they great heyday of abstract expressionism in the USA!  All that abstract shit you hate, all that stuff that’s just splatters and giant dots?  1950-1960.  The United States.  A small, elitist movement shaped by maybe a dozen artists and two or three very influential critics.  In a decade abstract expressionism had pretty much said all there was to say about the action of painting and the canvas as an object rather than a representation, and it got stuck in the museum for people to be bewildered at.

The Rembrandt piece above it?  Also a snapshot of a very particular time and place.  Our view of art 400 years ago is blinkered by what we’ve bothered to preserve and focus on.  When people think “old-timey art” they think of bright white marble statues with no limbs and Da Vinci and Dutch still life.   Which is such a tiny fraction of things that have happened in art history, you know?  That’s like, three things!  Most of them done for rich dudes in Western Europe!

Bullshit!

I call such bullshit on someone trying to knock down all of contemporary art by comparing something made for the cultural elite in 1650 to something made for the cultural elite in 1950.

Art is huge, poorly defined, and it has always been that way, has always had elements that are democratic and has always had a thick vein of nasty elitism.  The carvings on the doors into Notre Dame tell the stories of the saints so that everyone could understand them, whether they had access to books or not.  Comic books and photorealism and murals in urban areas and fashion spreads — all this stuff is made to wow everyone, independent of how much time they’ve spent studying the deep philosophical circle-jerk of art criticism.

love art criticism, I love Frank Stella and Ad Reinhardt and Eva Hesse, and I am still incandescently furious when people try to reduce the evolution of art to simply justifying or condemning their work.  Because that means we’ve fallen head-first into the trap of omission and framing that keeps art defined as only for the museum-attending.  There’s museum art — cerebral and obtuse and annoying and demanding of effort and education and money to appreciate — and then there’s literally a whole world of more art.  It is an appalling disservice to all the other artists making it out there (corporate designers and media hubs and scrappy little collectives and crafters and professional illustrators) to sweep them under the rug in favor of arguing about museum art as if it is the most important art, or, worse, the only art.

Don’t like Barnett Newman?  Fuck Barnett Newman.  Fuck his arrogance and his inaccessibility and his ego and his concept of the primitive.

But fuck you if you call him “Art now” while you do it.  Don’t make one man the measuring stick for a century of modern creative works.  That’s a bullshit premise and you know it.

Three cheers for Isozyme!

(Source: memecollection)

hifructosemag:

A self-proclaimed aficionado of tiny things, Diem Chau currently has a show on view at Seattle’s G. Gibson Gallery that pays homage to her adoptive home of Washington (the artist is originally from Vietnam). Titled “A – Z: Northwest Natives,” the show features a series of miniature sculptures carved from crayons and pencils. Chau created an alphabet series that pairs each letter with a different native species of the Northwest and pays homage to the Quinault tribe, the indigenous inhabitants of Western Washington. “A – Z: Northwest Natives” runs through October 12. Take a look at her superbly-detailed alphabet series after the jump:
http://hifructose.com/2013/09/10/on-view-diem-chaus-a-z-northwest-natives/

hifructosemag:

A self-proclaimed aficionado of tiny things, Diem Chau currently has a show on view at Seattle’s G. Gibson Gallery that pays homage to her adoptive home of Washington (the artist is originally from Vietnam). Titled “A – Z: Northwest Natives,” the show features a series of miniature sculptures carved from crayons and pencils. Chau created an alphabet series that pairs each letter with a different native species of the Northwest and pays homage to the Quinault tribe, the indigenous inhabitants of Western Washington. “A – Z: Northwest Natives” runs through October 12. Take a look at her superbly-detailed alphabet series after the jump:

http://hifructose.com/2013/09/10/on-view-diem-chaus-a-z-northwest-natives/

lesstitsnass:

Hi guys, I missed you and I missed doing this! 
I got this question sometime last week, and I had to mull it over for a while because whether it’s intended or not, this is a loaded question, and I had a hard time finding the words to properly respond. Then, I got somewhat caught up on Laci Green’s videos and tumblr, and that’s when it hit me: how to answer this question. 
Your question confuses Sexism, Sexiness and Sexualisation. While related because they are all questions about sex and society, they are not the same thing. 
In the following text, I’m using “she” to make the text lighter, and because this blog is mainly about the sexualisation of female characters in comics. People of any gender can experience the following states.
Sexism is disparaging someone because of their sexual or gender identity. Clothes are not inherently sexist. People can be. Drawing a woman with sexy clothing is not sexist if you’re doing it because that’s the way your character is - her personality, her motivation, her story. 
Sexiness is something a person feels and expresses about themselves. A person who is sexy is a person who is confident in her body, mind, attitude, whether she’s acting in a sexual mindset or not. She is attractive, people may find her sexy even if she’s smudged and dirty wearing unshapely coveralls while drywalling a room, because she exudes confidence and accomplishment. A person might feel sexy because they’re wearing a set of frilly underwear even if no one else gets to see them. Even a person who messes up can be sexy, if they feel like it’s okay to mess up and know they can fix it or do better the next time. Sexy is something a person is, for themselves, that can be noticed and appreciated by other people.
Some examples of my art, where I’ve drawn sexy women:
In a sexual context: 


Sexy in a NOT sexual context (because she just doesn’t give a crap what people think and rocks that corset): 

Sexualisation is using sex-appeal for the viewer’s gaze only. It’s not about the person anymore, it’s about showing choice bits of a person like she’s a thing to titillate the audience. It’s about boobs and butt in the same shot, making sure you break that spine so “dat ass” is up there. It’s about ripping clothes strategically to make viewers horny. It’s about the things done so people see it and go “I’d tap that” instead of “I’d make love to her”. See there? “That” instead of “her”. 
Sexualisation is also very much about adding sexual content without sexual context. “Oh noes! We are being attacked by a horde of zombies! This must be why I’m thrusting my ass at them while turning at the swivel-hip so both my gravity-defying boobs can be seen practically bursting out of my ripped top!” Um, no. 
This is sexualisation: 

As is this: 

Because the poses are exaggerated and don’t make any sense story-wise. 
So go ahead and draw your sexy girls in crop tops: if they own their looks, if they as a character do it for themselves, and not just because you want people to ogle your art and see sexual attributes without being interested in finding the character underneath, then you shouldn’t worry. 
A last piece of art to close this. This is fan art I did for a series of comics made by friends of mine called L’Académie des chasseurs de primes. You could say all three characters are sexy in their own way. All three show their personality through their clothing and their attitudes. Only the last one uses her sex appeal as part of her sexiness, and that works. 

lesstitsnass:

Hi guys, I missed you and I missed doing this! 

I got this question sometime last week, and I had to mull it over for a while because whether it’s intended or not, this is a loaded question, and I had a hard time finding the words to properly respond. Then, I got somewhat caught up on Laci Green’s videos and tumblr, and that’s when it hit me: how to answer this question. 

Your question confuses Sexism, Sexiness and Sexualisation. While related because they are all questions about sex and society, they are not the same thing. 

In the following text, I’m using “she” to make the text lighter, and because this blog is mainly about the sexualisation of female characters in comics. People of any gender can experience the following states.

Sexism is disparaging someone because of their sexual or gender identity. Clothes are not inherently sexist. People can be. Drawing a woman with sexy clothing is not sexist if you’re doing it because that’s the way your character is - her personality, her motivation, her story. 

Sexiness is something a person feels and expresses about themselves. A person who is sexy is a person who is confident in her body, mind, attitude, whether she’s acting in a sexual mindset or not. She is attractive, people may find her sexy even if she’s smudged and dirty wearing unshapely coveralls while drywalling a room, because she exudes confidence and accomplishment. A person might feel sexy because they’re wearing a set of frilly underwear even if no one else gets to see them. Even a person who messes up can be sexy, if they feel like it’s okay to mess up and know they can fix it or do better the next time. Sexy is something a person is, for themselves, that can be noticed and appreciated by other people.

Some examples of my art, where I’ve drawn sexy women:

In a sexual context: 

Sexy in a NOT sexual context (because she just doesn’t give a crap what people think and rocks that corset): 

Sexualisation is using sex-appeal for the viewer’s gaze only. It’s not about the person anymore, it’s about showing choice bits of a person like she’s a thing to titillate the audience. It’s about boobs and butt in the same shot, making sure you break that spine so “dat ass” is up there. It’s about ripping clothes strategically to make viewers horny. It’s about the things done so people see it and go “I’d tap that” instead of “I’d make love to her”. See there? “That” instead of “her”. 

Sexualisation is also very much about adding sexual content without sexual context. “Oh noes! We are being attacked by a horde of zombies! This must be why I’m thrusting my ass at them while turning at the swivel-hip so both my gravity-defying boobs can be seen practically bursting out of my ripped top!” Um, no. 

This is sexualisation: 

As is this: 

Because the poses are exaggerated and don’t make any sense story-wise. 

So go ahead and draw your sexy girls in crop tops: if they own their looks, if they as a character do it for themselves, and not just because you want people to ogle your art and see sexual attributes without being interested in finding the character underneath, then you shouldn’t worry. 

A last piece of art to close this. This is fan art I did for a series of comics made by friends of mine called L’Académie des chasseurs de primes. You could say all three characters are sexy in their own way. All three show their personality through their clothing and their attitudes. Only the last one uses her sex appeal as part of her sexiness, and that works. 

The arting, it goes WELL tonight!

Joker is starting to look like Joker and Rhi is starting to look like Rhi! IT’S AWESOME! \o/

I’m really kind of upset that I have to go to bed within the hour. Dammit, clock, STOP for awhile, okay? THERE IS ART TO BE DONE.

metaraymek:

Made a spreadsheet of all my Copics thus far this morning -mostly to avoid buying duplicates when looking at sets or going to the art store-, and I found out a few things:

1) I have a huge amount of Copics that I’ve accumulated over the last 2-3 years and will probably have to invest in better storage.

2) I only have 2 violet colors. D=

And on an unrelated note, I’m redrawing Ophidian-Larfleeze, and I’ve suddenly realized that I subconsciously push the ‘why boner’ envelope every single time I draw him that way. Well.

Ha, I started doing the same thing (for the same ‘can never remember what I already have when at the store’ reason) with my prismacolor pencils. Then I discovered that someone online had already made an awesome coloring chart with all the ID numbers and spots to ‘sample’ each color (so you have a good idea of your palette). It works really well — you might try something similar.

Also, I admit, sometimes a nice brainless color-in-the-lines task is kind of a nice way to wind down.

On Art and Application

coelasquid:

emilykcomicsmith:

I draw in public a great deal; on the train, waiting for my bus, at a café with my friends. I like having something to do with my hands, and since the options of a lengthy period of sitting still are either a page full of sketches or a lapful of napkin confetti, I find it pays to have my art gear on me.

As a consequence I always end up with at least one curious rubbernecker eyeballing my sketchbook. I don’t mind. I’m a comic artist for godssakes – my business is creating art for public consumption, to entertain and enthrall. It’d be pretty damn hypocritical of me to hide my scrawls. Half the most delightful, vivid and insane encounters I’ve ever had were with perfect strangers over the contents of my sketchbook. Art’s a powerful uniting force, a basic language we can all share regardless of race, creed or gender. I love to engage with people over art.

What I love less is the inevitable conversation that follows:

“That’s so lovely. I wish I could draw like that.”
“Well, there’s no reason you can’t! Do you practice much?”
“Oh, no. I’m not as talented as you.”

Pardon me, strangers, but that’s a giant load of poo.

Everyone begins life as an artist. When we were kids, we were allowed to run wild with our crayons and imaginations. Nothing was off limits, no creative barriers were built around us. We had no concept of our own limitations, so there weren’t any.

But then, somewhere along the line, we learned we could be bad at stuff. Remember that day? The first time you were told you couldn’t play tee-ball for interschool tournament because you weren’t as good as the other kids? When the loudmouthed kid in the back row looked at your painting (or worse, your teacher) looked at your collage and asked why the hell your dog looked like a squashed weasel? Somehow, through environmental pressure or cultural conditioning, we developed the idea that to excel at something, you had to be talented from the get go.

Bollocks.

Comic art isn’t about talent. I’ve never met anyone who fell out of the womb with an ames tool in one hand an a hunt crowquill in the other, ready to wow the scene with their perfect Jim Lee crosshatching. Comic art isn’t about sloshing paint about on an easel to pin down the colour of your emotions, while wearing chunky earrings and blasting Orinoco Flow. Comic art isn’t something you can pick up in a vacuum. You can’t wake up one day and be good at comic art.

Comics are a skill, and every skill has to be honed and perfected.

Every comic artist currently sweating over deadlines spent hour upon hour cultivating their skills. They studied anatomy books, attended life drawing, talked to other artists, swallowed their pride and begged for critique, and they spent most of their waking hours drawing. I’m good at art, and I’m grateful when people express a liking for my work. But I’m good at art because I spent hours upon hours hunched over a sketchpad, dissecting techniques from the masters of my craft and trying to replicate them for myself. I’m good at art because I took every criticism as a challenge, and proved naysayers wrong by isolating my shortfalls and mastering them. I’m good at what I do because I’ve dedicated my life to it since the age of seventeen. It’s an unpopular opinion, but I honestly don’t believe in talent.  I believe in application.

If you wake up in the morning, switch on your art brain, buy a sketchbook and spend the next four years doodling in every spare moment, you’ll be a better artist than when you started. If you wake up in the morning, compile a huge folder of stock reference images and tutorials, borrow art books from your library and study the crap out of them while doodling in every spare moment, you’ll be a better artist than you would have been merely by sketching. If you wake up in the morning, grab your reference file and work on things that challenge you, drawing hands or ankles over and over again until you nail them; if you talk to other artists, get your work critiqued and surround yourself in an environment that forces you to think, breathe and live art, you’ll be a better artist than you could ever dream.

Every comic artist I admire and respect worked hard to get where they are now. There’s no comic book cinderella story. In this fairy tale, the princess’s fairy-god-editor took one look at her handful of scribbles and kicked her backside from here to the palace, and made her redraw the whole lot from scratch because she can ALWAYS do better. In this fairy tale, the princess is covered in ink and exhausted from a four-day convention spent kissing up to other artists in an effort to learn new techniques. In this fairy tale, there’s no happily ever after because if you’re ever content with where you are, you won’t strive to be better.

I’m glad people like my art, but I’m not talented. I just draw all the damn time. I’d challenge anyone who doubts their own ability to do the same – push past that initial ‘can’t’, and I guarantee you’ll be impressed with what you can do. 

It’s like Natalie Dee put it “The only things you know how to do when you’re born are eat and complain.

That said, usually when people say “I don’t have the talent for it” it’s code for “I am politely recognizing your skill but don’t actually care enough to want to learn it myself.” It’s like telling someone they could learn to speak Polish, yes, theoretically, they could, but they probably won’t unless they really want it and have a particular use in mind.

I always disagree with people who say “talent” isn’t real, because to me, talent represents aptitude, inclination, or drive towards a certain skill set. You have to put in the effort no matter what, but everyone is wired differently and some things will just click with people. You know, the ol’ “Nobody’s good at everything but everybody’s good at something”.

I encounter this with both art and music, and I always wince when I hear ‘talent.’ I’m willing to to believe that some people are naturally better at a given pursuit from the get-go, but that only puts them perhaps one rung up the ladder from everyone else — and it’s a long ladder.

The problem with starting any of this as an adult is that you’re more aware that you suck when you start. Of course you suck when you start. That’s what beginning is all about. The only reason children learning an instrument don’t have this problem is they’re usually totally thrilled to be making noise. The other place kids benefit is awareness of time and responsibility. As a grown-up it’s harder justify putting in the hours at something you’re bad at because you have so much else to do — and if you don’t put in the hours, you don’t become better. (This is the problem that’s driving me batty with art at the moment — I need time and have too may obligations).

For my part, when I see someone with a skill I admire but don’t share (like sewing, for example) I usually say “That’s amazing. I’d love to learn, but I’d need another lifetime.” or something similar. Or, y’know, just compliment them on their work. :P