Friday, April 27, 2012

MoCCA Fest

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Hey guys!  This weekend, I'll be at MoCCAFest, in New York.  This afternoon, I hop on a plane, fly across the Mason-Dixon, and leave the land of Dixie to sell minicomics, charms, and more at table E6.  I'll be sharing this table with the fantastic Mr Eric Lide, who's work is as shonen as mine is shoujo, so I'm sure you'll find something to enjoy at our table.

 Feel free to print out this map, so you can locate our table as quickly as possible in order to give us all your money in return for all our comics.  It folds to a handy pocket size.

In case you don't believe me that my wares are fabulous, I have taken some teaser photos to entice you to hand over your hard won cash.

For three entire dollars, you can take home my 2011-2012 sketchbook, with over 40 pages of artwork!  There's concept work, sketches, inkwork, and even a color section.


Also for three bucks is the first artbook released by Rascals Rogues and Dames! 

Monster contributions  came from Heidi Black, Sarah Benkin, and myself.

For a single  dollar is a reprint of Ahoy!, a minicomic about a  vacationing schoolboy who becomes captain of a pirate ship.

For two bucks is the Momotaro, complete with a kraft paper cover.


Also for $2.00 is my mini comic anthology.


For an entire dollar, you can take home my Japan sketchbook.


Also for a dollar is one of the cutest mini mini comics you've ever seen.


I have five new charm designs- cupcake, cake, octopus, cherries, and pizza, plus existing charm designs (ramen and pot, ramune, rocketpops, macaron), at 2.50 each.
So many new chiyogami buttons, but I forgot to take a picture, so you'll have to come by and see!  This year's designs really sparkle.

I've also got sets- a charm, this year's sketchbook, LAST year's sketchbook (only way it's available this year!), the Japan sketchbook, and a copy of Ahoy! for $7 all neatly packaged for your con-vienance.

Oh, and just one more thing:

The secret project I've been hinting at all over my Twitter for months!

And for those of you who like free things and GAMES, Rascals Rogues and Dames has put together a MoCCA convention bingo card, and we'll be giving away two levels of prizes- a prize for a normal bingo and a super prize for a blackout bingo.  Sarah Benkin and Heidi Black will be at E15 (just further down the aisle), so please visit them too.  We even have free stickers, so make sure you pick yours up.

I can't wait to see you guys tomorrow, but if I don't, these things will be available in both my upcoming Etsy store and on my site's store.  Come by our table and say hi!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fluke Comic

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Here's a 2 page comic I whipped up for a 24 page anthology the FLUKE organizers were going to put together. Unfortunately, I saw neither hide nor hair of said anthology at the convention, so I'm going to go ahead and post it, so it doesn't languish in My Documents.

This thing was written and drawn on a pretty tight deadline, and I avoided the Disney/anime eyes in favor of dot-eyes as that tends to appeal to more people. I went about the process for this piece in a new way- I outlined it the night I heard about the anthology, did large thumbnail/rough hybrids in my sketchbook the next day, and inked the pages on Bristol the day after. Not bad turnaround. For speed, I relied on a fude pen and my Akashiya brushpen, and the white details were added with a Signo Gel-pen.

Monday, April 23, 2012

FLUKE Mini Comic Con Report

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Sarah B's setup.
Heidi's setup
And behind the scenes. Yes, I had one of those jangly neckscarves too.
The SEQALab table, with Squeezey (shown) and Larison (not shown) doing commentary and interviews. Should be up Monday!

The 40Watt was pretty dimly lit, and it took awhile for my eyes to adjust.

Trip and setup

Earlier this week, I posted that I'd be attending FLUKE mini comic convention at the 40 Watt in Athens, GA. I've been preparing for FLUKE and MoCCA festival (next weekend) since mid-March, collecting my mini comics, designing a paper doll set (card-stock version available at MoCCA fest), and ordering new charms so I could offer all new things. Last year, Heidi and Sarah attended FLUKE, and returned singing it's praises. Having never been to a mini comic convention I'd hoped to have similar success this year. Heidi's convention report is here.

FLUKE is a fairly inexpensive convention, it's $15 for a 3'x2' half table and the convention itself is hosted by the 40 Watt bar. We stayed in the nearby Holiday Inn Express, which was 60$ a night split between three people, and it's a four hour drive from Savannah, GA.

We left Friday afternoon with the intention of attending the SEQA meet up at the Transmetropolitan (a pizza joint). We only popped in for a minute, as I still had stuff to cut out at the hotel room, and everyone was pretty tired.

Upstairs at the Transmetropolitan
Setup at the 40 Watt began at 10 Saturday morning. We've been working at getting our individual convention setups more compact, and I've been utilizing a small, rolling suitcase to haul my con stuff. Here's a breakdown of my setup (for the most part)

The current set up in action. The bunting across the table was hand sewn (by me, of course). There's at least two copies of each mini comic on the table--one on the vertical display, with prices, and at least one to flip through on the table itself. Not shown in this shot is the magnetic Kara paper doll setup, the easels I'd ordered to display the magnetic board didn't come in on time.

Everything but the cash box and the vertical display packs down into this small suitcase.


I haven't unpacked everything inside, but this'll function as an expanded view.

Swag

FLUKE was actually pretty disappointing. The crowd was entirely exhibitors and hipsters, and I have found that hipsters are a hard sell so if anyone has advice on how to market to this group it would be most appreciated. There was a lot of interest in the magnetic paper doll, but while people were intrigued they seemed more interested in creating their own for monetary gain. It's not an original idea, and I don't mind sharing what I know, but in this case, it put me off quite a bit. Luckily Sarah drew much of the attention I was unable to with my wares.

For FLUKE, I brought
  • 20 copies of Momotaro (2.00 each, 8 page comic book, cover is craft paper)
  • 20 copies of a mini comic anthology (a variety from my time at SCAD, black and white, color cover, 2.00)
  • 10 copies of a reprint of Ahoy at 1.00, 20 copies of the new ashcan, over 40 pages with a color section at 3.00
  • 10 copies of Chat (blue and black, 8 page comic book 1.00 each)
  • leftover copies of my Japan Trip Sketchbook (1.00 each)
  • the Little Book of Monsters (3.00 each)
  • Buttons were 1.50 each, or 4 for $5
  • Charms were 1.50 each
Unfortunately only my craft items sold rather than what's supposed to be my bread and butter, comic books. 1 copy of the Japan Trip Sketchbook, 1 charm, and several buttons sold. Sarah sold a fair amount of Rascals Rogues and Dames Little Book of Monsters, as it seemed to fit in her body of work better than either mine or Heidi's, but I enjoyed contributing to it. I had success trading Momotaro for other mini comics, and I spent my revenue on other people's comics.

The Haul


Reflections

So, do you guys do conventions? If so, which? How do your table setups differ from mine? Do you find conventions to be a successful revenue source, or do you find them disappointing? Any suggestions for me? I feel like I'm running out of audiences to approach. My demographic should be children but am unsure how to reach out to them.

If anyone is interested in purchasing my mini comic books I will be posting information about my online store shortly which accepts credit card, Paypal, and Google Checkout.

Hey! Emi Gennis's FLUKE experience was pretty much the exact opposite of mine! Check out what she has to say.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Using a Fude Brush to Ink

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I've tried a variety of inking tools, from nibs that cut up my paper to brushes that magnify every minor tremor of my hand.  Tech pens give deadlines unless you really work them, and brush pens may have trouble pulling a delicate line.   For awhile, I suffered in silence and made do with tech pens, my inking hours stretching into oblivion, until I discovered artistic salvation.

Fude Pens.

Or Japanese sign pens.

I've reviewed a few fude pens in the past, and Nemu*Nemu's reviewed a few I've missed, and The Pen Addict has reviewed some as well.

Most fude pens I've seen available in the US are disposable, much like commonly available ballpoint pens.  Unfortunately, this means you're stuck with the ink they're filled with.  The tip is a springy felt and has a give similar to rubber.  With an overenthusiastic hand (i.e. too much pressure) it can become mushy over time.  Not all fude pens are made equal- some are much stiffer than others and behave more like a fine tip marker than a brush pen, so it may take some experimentation to find one you like.  I am currently using a Kuretake Fudegokochi with black ink that I purchased while in Japan.  It's also available on Jetpens, and unfortunately, the ink is watersoluable.  Even with that in mind, its still the best fude pen I've used.

Before the addition of ink, fude pens look like this:

Image via Jetpens.  This is a Pentel Petit 3, a refillable fude pen (the first I've encountered).  I've used this before, but I don't care for the ink that comes in its cartrides.  I have not refilled it with the ink of my choice yet because I'm afraid it will clog.


I'm able to achieve a fair variety of lineweight with a single pass, as long as I vary the pressure.    
 Fude pens are capable of very fine lines, but are not capable of the same huge variations in lineweight that regular brushes and brushpens can achieve.  For the widest variety of lineweight, I recommend using a fude pen and a brush pen.  For filling in large areas, I recommend using either a refillable brushpen or a brush and ink.
The tip of my Kuretake Fudegokochi.  The pen itself looks very similar to common felt tip and ballpoint pens.

And here's a closeup of the variety in lineweight you can achieve with a fude pen.
Because most fude pens are disposable, there's very little in terms of upkeep, although I have read some reviews which state that there's a tendency toward leaking.  I find that fude pens give a very expressive line, and I enjoy using them for general inking (including delicate things such as faces), lettering, and creating dynamic word balloons, although I do not find it suited for ruling out pages or covering large expanses.  I have not encountered a fude pen ink that has trouble covering blue lead lines, nor have I encountered one that is particularly prone to bleeding.  Many fude pen inks are not waterproof or Copic proof, so please test before committing.

If there is any interest, I can do a fude pen test in the near future.

Fluke was yesterday, I'll have a post up soon letting you guys know how it went.

Are there any comic or art supplies that you feel have gone overlooked for too long?  Please drop me a comment and let me know!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fluke!

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I'll be in Athens this weekend, selling minicomics and more at Fluke!  I've been working on a lot of cool stuff that hasn't gone up on the blog, so if you're going to be in the area, you should check Fluke out.  SEQALab is a sponsor, and there's a lot of cool stuff planned.

In other news, I've been interviewed by Beautifully Pure, so please go check it out!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Akashiya Natural Bamboo Brush-pen Review

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EDIT: If you enjoyed this review, please consider donating! Donations go towards the purchase of additional art supplies, which may include more markers for testing. If you found this review useful, please consider sharing it on your social networks.


A few months ago, Brad Dowdy of The Pen Addict (a fantastic resource for stationary lovers and artists alike) contacted me about reviewing an Akashiya Natural Bamboo Barrel Brush pen.  I'd already done an abbreviated review of several brush pens, including the Akashiya, but I was more than happy to give it a run for its money.  I'm always excited to play with new art tools, especially Japanese brush pens.

A new contender

After my last brush pen review tested several Japanese brush pens, I switched from a Pentel Pocket Brush to a Kuretake brush pen filled with Winsor Newton Bombay Ink, and I was fairly satisfied with it.  A habitual abuser of brush pens, I had to replace the splayed out brush tip, and though the pen felt a bit light for a metal brush pen, I enjoyed the preciseness of it's fine brush tip, especially compared to the relative coarseness of the Pocket Brush.  I prefer not to use felt tipped brush pens (with exception of fude style pens) as they lose their snap quickly and produce mushy lines.  After I received my Akashiya, I decided to put it through the same trials that I put my Kuretake through, and it entered regular rotation in my pencil case.



Size comparison between a Kuretake brush-pen (top) and an Akashiya brush-pen (bottom).  Akashiya is huge (and classy!)

Tip comparison between Akashiya (top) and Kuretake (bottom).

And ink cartridge comparison between the Akashiya (top) and the Kuretake (bottom)

Specifications

I've used the Akashiya every day since its joined my regular sketching ranks.  It has a more substantial feel than the Kuretake, but does not feel heavy, and it has a nice balance.  The pen itself is slightly longer than most commercial brush-pens, and may not fit in all pencil cases (which is what initially turned me off to it) and may be a little pricey to those used to using a Pentel Pocket Brush.  I feel like the Akashiya beats both the Kuretake and the Pentel Pocket Brush for continual use, and like the Kuretake, replacement brush tips are available.

Versatility

I haven't been particularly choosy about what I've inked on, I've used this pen with equal success on sketchbook paper (not even the good stuff, Strathmore 300 series yellow cover sketchbooks) and Strathmore 500 series plate finish Bristol with near equal results.  I'm not a fan of drybrushing, so I don't utilize it in my work, and I don't recommend it with this pen, as to achieve this affect, you risk ruining a nice brush pen.  The standard ink can get a bit bleedy, and if you've a wobbly inking hand, the line can get out of control, but that's the fault of the artist, not the pen itself. This pen and a disposable Kuretake fude pen have all but replaced my Multiliner technical pens for my inking needs.


Drawn over Eno Color lead (which has been Photoshopped out).  There was no wax resist or difference in drying time with the standard ink.

Tried and true

I've abused the brush tip on this pen almost as much as I abused my Kuretake (I am rough on brush pens), so a new tip may be in order.  I am not fond of the standard ink that comes with it, but I haven't yet found it necessary to refill the cartridges with my own ink (though that is fast approaching, and I will let you guys know how that endeavor turns out).
This panel (blue-lines donated by the awesome Eric Lide, inks by me) has not been tweaked to increase contrast.  This is the actual 'black' produced by the Akashiya standard ink cartridges.  This was inked on plate Bristol.
This is after the contrast has been bumped up in Photoshop.

All in all, I highly recommend this brush pen, and my only concerns are that the cap presents an opportunity to ruin the brush, so please be careful when recapping. You also cannot store the cap on the back of the pen, so it may be cumbersome for on-the-go sketching.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Little on Rejection

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I try to push myself to try new things and accept new challenges.  This piece was no exception, so I was disappointed when a form-letter notified me I hadn't made the cut.  All artists deal with rejection but many don't share because it's embarrassing and may come off as unprofessional. So I decided to share my story in an effort to paint a more complete picture of the artist's journey.

Rejection

I struggle between accepting myself as being 'good enough' as an artist and outright hating myself and wanting to crawl under a rock and hide.  Modcloth recently had a design contest, and I thought I'd throw my hat into the ring even though I was busy with convention preparation and am not trained in fashion.  I spent a fair amount of time on this, and thought it was good, but received a generic rejection informing me that I wouldn't even make it to the voting round.  The letter was so impersonal that it said 'entry(s)' instead of 'entry'.  Unfortunately, I've grown used to critique so this took me by surprise.  I have no problem with rejection, in fact I'm thrilled editors will take the time to assess me, but I can't stand not knowing why and how I can improve.

Resolution

Modcloth arguably didn't do anything wrong, yet I asked myself if there was anything I should try to salvage the situation. I debated writing an email requesting their criteria for judging so I could better tailor my next attempt, but decided against it, as:
  • Art critique from non-artists often leads to "I don't know, I just don't like it..."  This is nearly useless.
  • Some of the entries were better than mine, so I can only assume some really gifted artists threw their hats into the ring this round.

I'm sharing this with you guys not to complain, but because people don't talk about rejection.  They write about successes, about jobs they hope to have, but they gloss over being told they didn't make the cut.  I have low expectations from the lack of response from the anthologies I've approached , and for a long time shirked away from applying to any jobs until I was 'good enough', but that's another story.  I recently read a blog post I've misplaced about making it a goal to receive 100 'no's' this year, and if being ignored counts, I am well on my way.  That doesn't mean I've given up.  I'll get those 100 no's yet.

Growth

I've learned a lot this year, knowledge that extends beyond composition and color.  I'm slowly learning how to deal with people, what people not to deal with, and how to put my pride aside and take a chance.  I am constantly watching girls who are less technically proficient than I am at drawing succeed. Partially because they are charismatic and partially because they refuse to take 'no' for an answer.  Like so many other aspiring artists, I too wonder when my break will come. When I'll be worthy of a personal rejection that requires face-time. When the anthologies I take the time to apply to can take the time to write me an email telling me they're all full, or I'm not what they're looking for, or that I applied too late.  When that day arrives, I can look forward to the day where instead of rejection, I'm told 'maybe', and possibly even the occasional 'yes'.

Bounce back

I face a lot of frustration and battle with depression.  I struggle to keep my head above water, and often fail to see the virtue in what I've done.  I try to be positive for others because that's what I like to see, but occasionally someone I admire admitting they've had a rough day makes me admire them even more.  I've had a rough week this week.  This particular instance isn't the only one, nor is it even an important one, but I feel it's symptomatic of my work so far.  You're going to hear a lot of 'no's' as an artist.  The key is not to believe them.

In more positive news, I've been spending all my spare time preparing for Fluke this weekend.  Fluke's in Athens, GA, and it's a minicomics con.  I'll have a half table there, and lots of fresh, exclusive material.  The week after Fluke is MoCCA, so I'm considering Fluke a bit of a test run, and if I need to reprint things, I'll have a week to do so.

EDIT:  
The Make the Cut contest is in it's Facebook voting stage, so if you've friended them on FB, you should mosey over and take a gander at the contestants who have made the cut.  Maybe even vote if you're feeling so inclined. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest Post- Heidi Black- Giving and Recieving Critique

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Critiques: the artist's worst nightmare.


Or so it is often thought.  But it should never be.


In art school, you tend two get two different types of young artists: people who are infatuated with their work, and people who have no confidence in it at all.  But really, it all boils down to the same thing: as artists, we are incredibly reliant on other people's judgement of our work for our self-esteem.  It sounds a bit stupid, but I don't know that I've talked to any serious business artists who say otherwise (though if you do, please tell me).  Artists often view their work as an extension of themselves, or their soul, poured out on paper.  We seek other people's approval, because in a sense, it means the approval of our own self.  And I think we have a hard time separating that our art is NOT us - it is what we do, and it is often emotional work, but you can like or dislike a piece of art without feeling the same way about the person.  So lets take some time and look at what critiques are and are not, and how to give and receive them.


Critiques are not a personal attack.

When someone critiques your artwork, it should not be a personal attack against you (if they ARE making a personal attack, they are not critiquing.)  A good critique should point out both the things you do well and the things you may need improvement on.  But if someone says "the structure of that arm seems somewhat off, I think when you foreshortened it you should have made the hand bigger," they are not saying "you obviously can't draw arms."  What they are saying is that you may need to revisit the visual language you use to convey foreshortening.  Or if someone says "the skin color you used seems very yellow and draws a lot of attention away from the focus of your piece," they are not saying "you are a failure as a colorist," they are trying to give you help that will improve your work.



Critiques ARE designed to help you as an artist.

The scariest thing about art to me is not necessarily being bad, its never improving.  Stagnation seems liek a silly thing to be afraid of, but a bad artist always has the capacity to improve, where a stagnant artist, an artist who refuses to learn, will never get better.  Nothing will be new or exciting or fresh; its the playing it safe of the art world.  Sure, you may be able to do one thing well, but if your entire career is based upon doing that one thing REALLY well, what happens when that one thing is gone?

Tangent aside, critiques are what keeps us from stagnating as an artist, even if it is only self-critique.  The drive to do better in your own art is important, but so is hearing what your fellow artists have to say.  A good critique should help you pinpoint areas of study that you need work on - and lets be honest, EVERY artist, no matter how good, needs work.  There's always something we can't do, or some way we can be better.  Even if you think you are better than the artists giving you advice, listen to them.  Sometimes they point out things you don't always see in your own work.  You don't have to necessarily CHANGE it, and sometimes other artists ARE wrong.  But the advice of someone who is looking at your work who is not so personally invested is an asset, not a hindrance.

If there was nothing left to critique on someone's work, if there was nothing that person could not draw, and every piece was the perfect expression of what they wanted to convey . . . if there was no room for someone to grow, the journey would be over.  The end point woudl be reached.  There would be no reason to continue as an artist, because nothing new and exciting would ever come from their hands.


Critiques are not absolute truth, and not every professional will agree.

Sure, there will be some things that are fact in critiques - like if you give someone wrong musculature, thats an objective.  Or if your perspective does not follow the laws of perspective, thats also an objective.  But there are also parts of critiques that are subjective.  For example, I received a critique on a work because I used inkwash.  One editor of a publishing company said he disliked the inkwash, that it was hard to reproduce, and that it muddied up my work.  A different editor said she loved the inkwash, that it would look amazing in reproduction, and that helped define things.  So who is right?  Well, like and dislike are subjective terms, so we can throw that part out.  As for reproduction?  That depends on the equipment you use - the way it scans, who scans it, the printers you print it on, and so forth.  So both are right.  And as for whether it muddies or strengthens my work?  Once again, both can be right - there are areas (and I agree) where the inkwash was a bad choice, and it can make everything a grey tone with little distinguishing charateristics.  Other places, the ink was helped define atmospheric perspective, giving a strong sense of depth to a landscape, or really creating a three-dimensional form.

Thats not the only time I've had professionals disagree.  But every artist and editor who looks at your work is bringing a different experience to the table, as well as a different set of skills.  Sometimes your job as an artist is not necessarily to change everything they point out, but just to look critically at your own work, and decide for yourself (and you are allowed to change your mind).



Critiques are not an ass-pat.

I talk with other artists all of the time; I'm surrounded by them on a daily basis.  And what we often notice is that there are some artists who use critiques as a time for circle-jerking - they will all get together, say nice things about each other's work, get some nice compliments, and go away feeling good about themselves and their work.  While it is important in critiques to also receive positive feedback, these circle-jerks and ass-pats are not what critiques are all about.  As pointed out earlier, that kind of attitude will cause you to stagnate - no longer are you looking to improve your art because all your close art friends say its good enough.  But even beyond that, with too much of this ass-pat attitude, you begin to think that anyone outside of your circle is wrong.  You lose your ability to receive constructive feedback, and with it your ability to grow.  Even worse, people involved in these circles tend to have very bad attitudes, and this causes publishers, editors, and other artists not to want to work with them.

I'm not saying that there isn 't a time and place for a feel-good on your art.  We all need those.  There is nothing like someone coming to you and telling you that you did an amazing job, that they love your work, or how it inspires them.  And we all need those moments from time to time.  But it can't happen all the time.  Critiques should be about the good AND the bad.


Critiques should be a welcome thing.

Lets face it, when we complete a work, we're all proud of it.  We all want to post it online or show it off and have everyone tell us how good it is, and we don't want to hear someone say that we messed up something we spent two weeks on.  And yeah, when you hear that "wow, his head is really small," or "these panels really need a background," or "you have the characters speaking out of order," we're ready to punch someone in the face.  After all, we just spent so much time on something, how dare they only notice the bad things and not the good?  But in reality, the mistakes are always going to show up before the good things - like a soundtrack in a movie, you don't notice when things work, when the music is purposefully subtle or exciting  to help strengthen the mood.  But you notice immediately when they play loud obnoxious music during a tender love scene, or forget to add exciting music during an intense battle, or even just if someone hits a wrong note.  The wrong tends to stand out to us far more than the right.

But as I said earlier, critiques are designed to help you.  If your goal as an artist ISN'T to work professionally, then specify that - say that you dont' want critique, or that this is just a hobby for you.  But there are a lot of us who DO intend to use our art in order to pay rent and buy groceries, and so for us not just being good, but improvement is necessary.  AFter all, it IS a competition.  So helpful critiques shoudl be welcome, as they give a basis for improvement, a level you can obtain to help keep your work new and exciting and fresh.  They help keep you in the running for jobs.


Giving critique: be specific.

Saying "I like it." or "I don't like it." to a piece of work is not a critique, its an opinion.  This is not helpful to other artists - your likes and dislikes are irrelevant, unless you're paying them.   Instead, be sure to point out WHY.   You can like something or dislike something because of the style its rendered in, but this is again an opinion.  Or you can dislike a piece becasue the linework on the character is too heavy, the anatomy is wrong, the pose is static, etc.  These are specifics - and the more specific you can be the better.  This gives the artist something they can definitely look to improve.


Giving critique: objective versus subjective

Subjective is a matter of taste, whereas objective is a matter of fact.  Good critiques shoudl focus around the objectives - things liek perspective, anatomy, and other defined things.  When you do have to look to the subjective, such as style, try to describe it in objective terms.  For example, "I don't like anime eyes," is a subjective and an opinion.  Good for you.  But "your work would benefit more if you looked into tryign to combine actual eye structure with your current anime inspirations" is a far more objective critique.  Note how it gives the artist something definite - the actual eye structure.  Likewise, saying "this lineweight is too thick" is still subjective, but saying "this lineweight is thick and pulls the background objects too far into the foreground, flattening out your image" has more objective points to it.  This also helps an artist understand WHY, and therefore can be utilized in future work.


Giving critique: offer positive alternatives

When you give critique, if someone is doing something poorly, giving them reference to pull from and specific ways to help is a good idea.  For example, for anatomy problems, looking at athletic body types and at Andrew Loomis's work is a great suggestion.


Giving critique: look for positives too.

There's some kind of unspoken guideline somewhere that you can find three good thigns about anyone's work, even if its just their perserverance, their heart, and their willingness to try.  Even if that's all you can find, point it out.

Positive critiques are a necessity, for one because they are the 'spoonful of sugar' that helps the medicine of necessary critique go down, but also because it helps you as an artist and a person.  Seeing the bad in someone's art can be easy, but seeing the good can be harder.  But people need to know the good too - they need to know what IS working as much as what isn't.


Receiving critique: listen with an open mind and a closed mouth.

Just because you dont' agree with someone's critique doesn't mean it's time to argue.  Even if you did something on purpose, if its not obvious enough it may not be effective.  Listen to what people have to say, but that doesn't mean you have to follow it.  But critiques are not arguments.

The most important thing though is not to say 'well, thats my style."  Drawing someone's head in their armpit may be your style, but that doesn't mean its not anatomically wrong.


Receiving critique: ask if you don't understand

I know I seem to be contradicting the last one, but arguing and asking are not the same.  If you don't understand why something you did doesn't work, ask.  Hopefully the critiquer will be able to elaborate, so you can avoid doing thigns that don't work well on future works.  If they don't know, maybe its time to ask a different opinion.

In addition, artists sometimes are more able to draw somethign out than to explain with words.  While critiques do help us with our verbal communication skills, lets be honest - we're artist.  We draw as a method of communication.  So if someone can draw what they mean, let them.


Receiving critique:   cry, and move on

I'll admit it, sometimes critiques are painful.  There will be times when other artists rip your work to shreds, and it hurts even more because you know they're right.  So all you want to do is cry.

Well, go for it.  I've cried over critiques.  Other artists cry over critiques.  It is a personal thing sometimes, even if we tell ourselves its not, just becasue of how personal art itself is.  But if you're serious about wanting to make a living from art, then you should be serious about improving.  Even if you have to break it down into one step at a time, you should always look to improve.  And improvement can be a slow and painful process.  But someone who sees your work on a consistent basis will notice the improvements, and should help you keep going.




I'm sure there's much more to say about critiques.  I'm also sure not everyone will agree with me.  This is just what I can say about the subject, and I'm no expert.  But these points have helped me with critique. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hey, You Don't Need Art School! Part 1

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My time at SCAD has been the most artistically productive time in my entire life.  My work has seen massive improvement in a variety of areas, I've made like-minded friends, I've had the opportunity to meet editors and industry professionals, and I attend classes led by professional artists with field experience.  I finally enjoy school, after 22 years of attending.  Unfortunately, SCAD is prohibitively expensive, and many can't justify the cost of an art school just in the service of learning how to create comics.  While no self-taught experience will emulate all aspects of attending an actual art school (and you won't walk away with a diploma), self guided education is a worthwhile endeavor.

While I was attending the University of New Orleans, I had to become a self motivated learner.  My art education classes at UNO were not nearly in depth enough to encourage improvement, and our critiques were more asspats than actual criticism.  During this time, I ferreted out many online resources to help me improve my art  enough to apply to SCAD as a grad student.

In this sporadic blog series, I hope to point out several useful resources that will attend to many of the needs of the self-taught artist.  These needs are:

Education- Education includes  art instruction as well as material use and recommendations.  Many self taught artists don't know where to buy quality materials for a reasonable price, and may spend money on subpar tools that hinder their development.  We all know it's a poor artist who blames his tools for his failure, but poor tools often yield poor results.
Inspiration- Art  is not created in a vacuum, artists need inspiration from a variety of sources.  The more an artist leaves their comfort zone in terms of inspiration, the more their work becomes their own.
Motivation- For a self taught artist, this is one of the hardests parts.  I can rely on school deadlines to set a fire beneath my rear end and get me drawing, but self taught artists may not have this luxury.  A self taught artist will need to learn how to set goals and abide by self-imposed deadlines for improvement to happen.
Communication-  This is often hard to find when you're striking out on your own.  Sure, your parents and friends will look at your work, and many will point out obvious flaws, but an artist needs insightful critique to improve, especially if rapid improvement is the goal.   Forming a community is a key step towards receiving the support vital to improvement.
Profession-   An education from a private art academy or a university specializing in art can not provide you with a profession carte blanche.  You work for this profession.  It can, however, provide opportunities and contacts that will aid the student artist in acquiring a job in their desired field.  Many of the tips taught at SCAD can be applied by any motivated artist, particularly sequential artists.

For this series, I will try to cover aspects that attend to all of these needs.  As a brief overview, here are a few of the types of resources I will be recommending:


Community college classes
Gnomon lectures
Podcasts
Livecasts
conceptart.org
Khan Academy
Ape Dogs
Forums such as SA's Creative Convention (can provide insightful criticism in a positive environment)
Art Books
Learn how to learn by example
Expand your reading
Expand your interests
Follow other art blogs

For many of these, I intend to recommend specific instances, and as always, I intend to continue providing whatever insight and information I can on this blog.  Unfortunately, these posts will be sporadic for the time being, as convention season is upon us, and I am busy trying to make ends meet.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Art Dump

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It's convention season, and that means I've been cranking out sketches like crazy.  Here's another art dump!











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