Monthly Archives: February 2010

Passion

I’ve spent the last 4 weeks basically in non-stop work. And that won’t really stop for another few weeks, and I’m fine with that. The more I work the more my passion for drawing grows, the more I want to do. The more I do, the faster and better I get, allowing me to do even more.

Recently, I’ve had conversations with people that say they want to do something, but just can’t find the time, or don’t have the energy. Frankly, I find that to be an excuse. A fellow cartoonist, Melody Often, once told me about how she lived in a van for many months when she first moved to LA. She had a drawing desk, a light, a CD player, and a battery hooked up to run those. And she drew all the time. That’s pretty amazing. So when someone says they don’t have enough room to work, I just think it’s an excuse.

My friend Marc, tries to spend all his time painting and creating. I find that inspiring. We send each other screen shots of what we are working on, for feedback. Because we are both passionate about doing the best work we can, so we use each other (and other people) as checks. Sometimes you are just to close to see objectively, so having someone else give input helps a lot.

I’m a doer. Unless I’m actually doing something, I generally don’t talk about the things I want to do. I’ve got lots of ideas. But I only talk about that which I’m actually working on, and only in limited amounts. I’m a firm believer in putting the energy into doing the work, not talking about the work.

Passion allows me to accomplish a lot. I think it’s a real mark if a person is serious about being a creative type. At this point, even though it would be nice not to have deadlines, I can’t see myself not drawing. This morning, I finished the last details on a project, and then sent the final files off to the client. I said I would give myself an hour to read, before I get started on the next job, but that lasted on 20 minutes, before I started writing this. I really can’t just walk away from the drawing board (so to speak, since I work digitally).

Passion for what you do, is an amazing force.

Oh and here is the final version of that sketch of the guy breaking out of the ropes from my last post. Enjoy.

Putting practice into action

Picasso was in a park when a women approached him and asked him to draw her portrait.

Picasso agrees and quickly sketches her.

After handing the sketch to her, she is pleased with the likeness and asked how much she owed to him.

Picasso replied, $5,000.

The women screamed, “But it only took you five minutes!”

“No madam, it took me all my life.” Replied Picasso.

Recently my idea of what it means to be an artist/writer/dancer/actor/musician has changed. To be an artist/writer/dancer/actor/musician you must always practice your passion. Only the rare prodigy comes forth as a fully functional artist. The rest of us talented folk have to sharpen our skills. For me being a cartoonist means drawing all the time, and not just comics. Drawing sharpens my eye and hand. Much how you learned to write your letters, drawing them over and over, till now it’s so built into you, you don’t even realize it.

I’ve mentioned that I attend a weekly figure drawing session. (if you live in or near Brooklyn, I suggest checking it out.) It’s been about a year, and I’ve definitely noticed improvements in my figure drawing. Other benefits I’ve seen is I’m able to sketch out a layout or a thumbnail for an illustration idea quicker and cleaner. That kind of benefits comes over time, and is some what passive, it just happens.

I’m in the middle of a project (which I got with the help of my good friend, Marc, an amazing artist), working on the pencils. I’ve got a lot of reference material on the human figure, which I refer to, when doing action poses. But one panel, I really didn’t need to refer to anything, because I knew how the figure was going to look. It was a straight forward shot of the character busting out of the ropes holding him. I knew how the shoulders connected into the pecs, where the line between them and the biceps would be, how the arm would connect to the chest.

I’ve drawn similar poses in the course of the drawing session. What I had been practicing, I was putting into action, in an active way. It was very clear that what I was doing in the drawing sessions was having a direct impact on what I was doing, both passively and actively. It was pretty cool to have a moment where I could see both happening.

Some one once asked me, “Does anyone ever get good enough to not have to use references?” I seriously doubt it, save for the prodigy mentioned earlier, or people who draw the same thing over and over. And even then, all that happens is that you probably rely less and less on reference material for what you know. But if you have to draw something such as Washington Square Park, wouldn’t you look at a picture?

Also, this project has been a good one for re-evaluating my composition. Take the above image again. That is not how I originally drew the inset panel. This is how I drew it:

How boring. Very boring. The same idea is in both, that hasn’t changed, but how I executed the idea has changed. This in fact happened several times. One panel in particular, I redrew about 5 times, over the course of many hours. I had a lot of trouble finding a pose to reference* that I really liked. Eventually I found something that lead me to the final solution.

For me, being a cartoonist and illustrator doesn’t mean that I make money doing that. It means the way I think about it, the way I approach it. I need to always look for ways to expand my talents, what I know, and the information I can bring to each project. Being an illustrator/cartoonist is more then a full time job, since all the work I do to be a better illustrator isn’t done for direct pay, and comes on my own time, after the time spent on paying work.

*When I reference an image, for me that doesn’t mean copying it, but using it for a guide on how things line up on the body. Especially for hands and feet.

Development

Yesterday I worked on site at a company drawing graphs for a Math book. As with many temp jobs, there is some sitting around doing nothing. During my downtime, I sketched ideas for how I want the kids to look in my Son of Kool Aid story for my book. I came to a design that I really like. The red checks mean parts I like and will develop further or try and use.

Here is the basic shape of the boys that I am going with. Sure there will be variations but the basic average boy is based on this sketch.

When I’m working on my comics, it amazes me the amount of pre-development you need to do for any given aspect. It’s easy enough to write down “SoKA being picked on by school mates”. What do all those school mates look like? I think that’s often were I spend the most time staring at the screen. It’s a good process, as I will get an idea. It might be “Fat Kid”, then I start working out what kind of fat kid. “Mean Girl” or “Nose picker”

A friend on facebook recently asked, should he plan out all the aspects of a website, sketching it out, or a few parts, and then just start to building pages, making things up as he goes along. The over all response was, sketch it out, keeping it flexible, that making it up as you go along doesn’t really work.

Planning out your art and creative process, more often then people realize, determines if you will succeed or fail.