I was recently asked by a young reader to visit his blog and offer comments on his art. I encouraged him and let him know that he ought not ever be discouraged because of criticism or rejection.
The reality is that, in this business, one can expect rejection over 90% of the time, so it’s nothing with which an artist should concern himself. I had to point out that getting work is like fishing; there are a countless number of fish in the sea, and out of all those you’re only likely to catch a handful. Those handful, however, make for good eatin’, so it’s worth plugging ahead.
The following is a design which was rejected because, while the client originally had asked for an alien creature with a lion’s head, he later changed his mind and asked for something different. I’m no prima donna, so I happily followed my marching orders. In my mind, the client should get what he wants (within reason), and it’s my job to revise things accordingly until the customer is happy. In any case, rejection shouldn’t be taken personally. It’s all part of the job, and anyone wanting to do art professionally ought to have the thick skin to handle criticism and rejection.
Ever wonder why artists have these mannequins? I certainly never use mine. Perhaps they provide a very rough idea of perspective to some, but the anatomy is so vague and nondescript that it’s less than useless. So why do I own one? Well, because the Intergalactic Federation of Artist Standards requires all artists to prominently display one of these articulated dust-collectors near their work-space. It’s how we in-the-know identify each other, like a secret handshake. Of course, one would think the old-underwear-turned-paint-rags, poor sleep habits, and empty bank-account would be sufficient to identify one as an artist, but, no, apparently only a dingus like this is sufficient to convey to the world that one occupies the ranks of creative minds. Ever noticed how artists who have died in obscurity failed to get one of these? Laugh if you will, but my little wooden-head has performed wonders for me. As long as I’ve owned mine, I’ve never had a million-dollar deal go sour. Of course, I’ve never had a million-dollar deal, but that’s besides the point.
Another Monday morning color sketch.
While artists try to be as original as possible, we don’t operate in a vacuum, nor can we know every detail about everything we’re asked to illustrate.
Before the internet age, artists had to work from life or they had to take from those things with which they were familiar and make up the rest. After that, they may have borrowed from one another for reference, and when photography and print were finally available, they may have photographed their own reference or worked from photographs in books or magazines.
Today, the internet provides a mine of reference from which to work (unfortunately, it also provides a mine from which unscrupulous persons will steal your work, but that’s another topic altogether). So there’s no reason artists can’t find reference from which to work these days.
Still, there are plenty of times you’ll come across things in life that you realize will make for interesting reference, so you can make a note of going back to it later or you can take a picture and file it away. Sometimes I’ll do some sketch to file away for future reference as well.
Recently I attended a local play put on by a children’s drama group. One boy looked interesting in his oversized clothing and goatee, so I had my wife take a snapshot with her iPod and I did a colored sketch to have as future reference.
So what I’m showing you here is the blurry photo (which I’ll discard) of the kid in the play and my colored sketch I’ll be keeping for some future project where it might come in handy (though it may get tweaked to accommodate any future use).
And there you have it. A little insight into my work. So what do y’all do for inspiration or reference?
Honestly, if I had to spend half of my day in traffic driving to work, I wouldn’t do it. Life is just too short to waste that much time and be away from my family.