The last two weeks, I’ve been coloring a comic for Marvel, for the Nation X anthology coming out in January of next year (sorry, no sneak peeks). I’ve colored comics before, but this is slightly different, and of course, it’s for Marvel. It’s been a great experience, as I finish up over the next few days. And it’s been a learning experience. In terms of what works, what doesn’t how to do things, how to do them quicker next time. All things I will take with me to the next thing I work on.
My art education, in terms of creating, is sadly lacking. I majored in art, but my teachers, all who were extremely talented people weren’t the best teachers. And in time, I realized they are artists who teach because it’s steady income, while giving them time to do what they love, and puts them in contact with a wide range of young artists, and keeps them fresh by that exposure.
But it also means that I didn’t any practical training in art. Regardless of what some people might think, there are practical elements in art. Material’s knowledge, composition building, even color theory. It’s very well to experiment and make discoveries, but you need some base to work from.
So these days, I’m always looking for information about these very subjects. While I might be a better artists if I had that training then I am now, I probably would still feel like I was still reaching towards something. I’m always looking at other artists sites. Which is good and dangerous.
It’s to easy to find someones work who makes it all seem so easy. It can lead to you trying to make your work more like theirs, which probably isn’t a good idea. Mostly I look for inspiration, problem solutions, new ways of looking at a problem. But at times, I feel that “Oh man, I want to do stuff like that!” I bet many artists do that.
But you know, you have to stay focused. There is always going to be an artist out there that does something that makes you drop your jaw. Sooner or later, someone will look at your stuff, and you’ll be on the other end. I’ve had that happen a few times, and you know, it’s a great way to get some perspective on things.
When someone is going on about my stuff, compared to their stuff, all I’m seeing in my stuff is the things I wanted to do, could have done better, mistakes I didn’t see then, but see now. So I’ve learned. What I see, what someone else sees, are often two different things. If a piece doesn’t come out the way I wanted, but still works, no one is going to know it’s not 100% what I had in my head, unless I tell them.
What I’ve also learned because of that, don’t hide what you are doing, because you feel it wasn’t what you wanted. One, you will never get feed back if you only show what you like. In fact, it’s sometimes good to show what you don’t like, maybe someone will provide some insight, some constructive criticism, that will help you next time to get closer to what you wanted.
I’ve known a few people like that, who hold everything back, and then get frustrated with the lack of growth in their art. One thing it does, when you feel you failed, is stops you from trying again. Success encourages you to do more, failure can make you want to stop. So the first thing I had to teach myself, redefine failure. Or eliminate the concept from your work.
If you are drawing for yourself, work a drawing to the end, even if it ends up not going where you wanted to. First it teaches you to work to an ending. A lot of people can’t do that, because they get frustrated. Also, learn to switch tracks. While coloring this comic, there would be times I would get stuck for what colors to use. Rather then sit there and stare at the screen, I would go color something I knew the color of. Eventually I would come back with a solution to the area that stumped me.
I think it’s important, as an artists, to not get frustrated on work that isn’t going like you want, and learn to complete, and try and fix along the way, or learn why it didn’t work.