The thing I hate about going to the zoo is that I rarely see the animals because they’re always hiding or sleeping behind a rock or in a cave or something else. About the only things that can’t hide are large animals like giraffes, rhinos, and elephants, and half the time some of those are off somewhere being fed or washed or massaged or something. Consequently, the zoo turns out to be not quite as entertaining as, say, a trip to the dentist when you know they’ll be using nitro.


Anyhow, I’ve never actually gone to the zoo with the intent of sitting around and sketching, though I’ve always wanted to do that. When I needed to draw animals before the days of the internet, it required a trip to the library and checking out whatever reference material I could find. The internet changed all that and now I can just do a quick search to find reference. It’s amazing how easy it is to find proper reference material in this day and age. The downside? Well, the downside is that everyone is looking up the same reference. It’s like artistic inbreeding or something.


3 thoughts on “

  1. I so resonate with this. ‘Been working on my next storybook with my laptop next me for visual reference. But I still have my old files of magazine clippings of favorite references that I can’t part with. I probably only go to the library a couple of times a year now for visual reference.
    But…Dang. I thought I was the only illustrator searching the internet for reference. Do you really think it’s more than just the two of us doing this?


    • I used to have swipe files of reference I’d collected over the years, but I’ve ditched most of that by now (remember when it used to be called a “swipe” file? Nobody hid the fact that they were swiping images for reference. After all, we can’t all be pirates, so if you want to know what a pirate ship looked like, you had to swipe from some reference book or from another artist’s pirate illustration). Even a lot of the books I used to collect have been donated to the library (not the really cool art books, but the generic reference stuff). There’s just no need to have that stuff taking up space and collecting dust.

      And to your question, yeah, I suspect there are at least three of us using the internet to draw the same stuff over and over. But seriously, kids today have no idea what a headache it was having to collect and organize good swipe files. Research today is a no-brainer. I sometimes wonder if that’s made us better artists or just lazy.


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