This is in no way meant to be confrontational except that I really am curious:
If you say you suck at digital painting. Or if you suck at using the tools or whatever. Or if you say you can’t draw or if you’ll never be able to draw… what do you do to fix that?
How do you get better? I really want to know what people do. Or if they do anything? When I first started digital painting, I saw all the pretty stuff people were making, and I thought, “I want to figure out how they did that.” So I basically spent three or four years figuring out how they did that. I’m still figuring it out, every single day.
If something didn’t look right, I changed my technique until it did. Or I changed the tools until I got what I wanted. I’ve been doing that since forever. I can’t remember ever NOT thinking in those terms. I adjusted the tools to work for me, and I adjusted myself to use the tools more effectively. I still do it.
So I want to know what you guys do to fix “I can’t draw” or “I suck at this.” Do you even realize that you can do something about it? Or do you just… not think in those terms?
I am a hundred percent interested to know. I don’t want to accidentally condescend to someone.
Since I’m moody, it depends. If I am in a good mood, I try and I try until I make it, starting from scratch many times if needed. Otherwise, I just stop, have a cool drink, and watch some tv, because keep trying when I’m already in a bad mood will only make me more irritated. Overall I think that looking to other artists’ works helped me a lot in these years. Looking at how an artist I appreciate solves certain technical issues, how he or she uses colors, lights and shadows. I look closer and I often find solutions. Not always, but often.
hard cold advice from a fandom artist
So I love fanart. I think it’s fun. I think it’s a great way for someone to learn skills and build confidence in a relatively safe, amateur setting, but sometimes it’s not sunshine and butterflies. Fanartists, because of the very visible yet niche nature of their work, are destined to encounter shitbags on the internet.
Since I’ve been sharing fan art online since 2002, I thought I’d type up some notes. This is just my experience/angle on things, so ymmv.
- People will steal your art. The difference between fanart and regular art is that it’s recognizable by subject, and since you don’t own the subject, everyone will assume they have the right to it. They’ll put it on their blogs. They’ll try to pass it off as their own. They’ll sell it at conventions. They’ll sell it on Russian t-shirt sites, and you won’t be able to stop them because you won’t speak the language. They’ll sell it on Ebay. Someone will steal it, and you will have little if any power to stop them.
- People will appropriate your art for their own use. This may or may not bother you, but be prepared to see graphics, wallpapers, icons, backgrounds, etc. made from your work without your consent. Again, this is because people think they have a claim on the character, and they don’t recognize that your art is your property, even if the character is not. In many cases, people who make backgrounds don’t think they’re doing any harm (and some might assume you will be flattered). If you can, try to be clear about this. Post some rules on your blog or gallery. Have something you can link to. Or, if you’re me, ignore your own sensible advice and go have a drink.
- People will make fun of you. The more niche your art it is, the more likely they are to make fun of you. Shitbags will post your work on 9gag and rip it apart. The best thing to do is ignore it. Or you can rage a bit. Or you can do what I do, which is expect it. Take the piss out of yourself. Laugh at yourself. Draw unicorn porn. Send it to 9gag with a ribbon on it and tell those motherfuckers to have a ball. People have a harder time laughing at you when you’re already laughing at yourself.
- You will be embarrassed by your stuff. Guaranteed. Especially if you draw porn. Especially if you draw across several fandoms. The art you drew a year ago will suck. Again, just learn to expect it. If you post your art online, it’s pretty much there forever, so post it with a clear head.
- People will only care about your art. Everyone does this, even me. You follow people for their art. You don’t want a relationship beyond that; you just want to enjoy the work. If you’re an artist, don’t expect more from people. Respect what they’re willing to give.
- Fangirls and fanboys can be demanding as fuck. They will tell you what they think you should draw. You can choose to ignore them, but being in fandom can be tricky diplomacy—they might get pissed. You might get wank. If you don’t care about wank, then great. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself drawing things just because you know some fangirls will eat it up. There’s no harm in playing to the crowd.
- You won’t get the feedback you want. Most people in fandom are not artists. They don’t know how to talk about art. They’re excited to see a character they love, and that’s usually as far as it goes. You’ll be lucky if they comment at all, let along use complete sentences. So don’t expect more from them than they can give. When you do find the folks who like to write novels about your work, send those people bags of gold. BAGS OF GOLD.
- You will develop a very distorted view of your own work. Artists are self-conscious, and we assume everyone is looking at us. They might be, or they might not be. I haven’t figured out which is worse. But whatever feedback you’re getting, remember that 99% of exclamation points are not sincere. And that’s okay. People have split-second reactions to art, and emotional investment on the internet can be extremely superficial. Plus, again, most people in fandom don’t know how to talk about art, and they don’t care to. So if you’re in the middle of a freakout, worried that everyone hates you or whatever, take a deep breath and remember that people are probably not thinking about you and your work when they’re away from their computers (unless they are, in which case, congratulations, those are friends).
- Don’t waste a fandom. If you find the inspiration, draw the fuck out of it. Don’t apologize for your enthusiasm. Don’t apologize for your eighty-eight Castiels (shut up, it wasn’t that many). Fandom is a little bit like a sickness. One day, it hits you, and it’s all you can think about. And then, one day, just as quickly, it goes away. Enjoy the fandom buzz while you’ve got it.
- Keep a pseudonym. I’m on thin ice with Euclase. There’s a point when it just doesn’t matter anymore, and everybody knows your fucking art. But pseudonyms, especially if you’re a beginning artist, are useful, and they offer protection. They allow you the opportunity to escape if you need to. If you’re like me, and you have no shame, and whatever, I drew his peen IDGAF, then maybe you don’t need one. But they’re still useful. If you’re under 18, definitely have one. Protect your identity.
- Imagine your mom finding your art. Or better yet, your grandma. Ask yourself: Is this masterpiece of slash porn something I wouldn’t mind explaining to my mother? You can avoid a lot of the problems associated with fanart simply by not posting it in the first place. Or by making damn well and bloody sure mom never ever sees it.
- Find other fanartists. DEMAND TO HANG OUT WITH THEM ON THREAT OF BLOODSHED. This tactic totally works.
- Have fun. When it stops being fun, change your routine until it’s fun again. Remember: Everyone is a nerd about something. The one thing shitbags can’t beat is a contribution from a fangirl having a blast. The only thing you have to do is make fanart and respect other people who make fanart. Hate and wank have got nothing on enthusiasm. You beat everyone just by drawing.The end. :)
Feel free to add your own advice, observations, etc.
Then there is the opposite of 5. People will cry their brains out because you can’t be insta-friends with them. Or they will be scared of you because you are an alien from another planet.
I’m a bit of an alien too, so I don’t mind if people follow me only for my art. In fact, I find it kinda flattering.
You will be embarrassed by your stuff/You will develop a very distorted view of your own work: This is very true, but applies also to non-fanart related artwork. I am CONSTANTLY embarassed by my own stuff, because I don’t like the subject/composition/theme anymore, because I thought it was brilliant while I was drawing it and now I see a million flaws in it, because I suddenly realize the concept was lame as hell, because I simply see that the technical level isn’t good enough. I tend to interpret it as a sign that I’m improving, or at least changing my tastes and my style. Yes, it can be double awkward if you draw porn, but I don’t. Not anymore.
I have thoughts, but they are a mess, so I present questions: Should fanart be held to the same standards as [regular/mainstream] art, or does the fact that it’s fanart make it exempt from the rules? In other words, how “art” does the fanart have to be before you’re allowed to hold it to the same standards as regular art? Or is fanart simply not art?
I think the only difference between “fanart” and “art” is that fanart depicts characters and scenes about which the viewer is supposed to already be familiar. Fanart relies on a shared knowledge base, instead of telling the whole story. I mean, I consider “The Birth of Venus” to be fanart because that painting makes no sense if you don’t know who Venus is and why she’s being born from a giant shell instead of a vagina. ”The Last Supper” only works if you know who’s eating the supper and what happens next. Those paintings of Judith that Artemisia did only make sense if you know what the story is there.
And the Sistine Chapel is basically just fanart of the Bible. “Hey look guys I drew my favorite scenes!”
In my opinion the very concept of “fanart” is basically a product of our contemporary times. Until 150 years ago, lots of artists (I daresay “all of them”, at some point of their artistic careers) used to take inspiration from fictional characters and stories. If you consider “fictional” the Bible, or the Christian iconography, or the Greek mythology, then you have basically redefined 90% of art history as “fanart”. Because those are pre-existent, well known characters, and the artists simply gave his personal spin to an already existent story. Then you have the books, which have always been inspiring artists (for example, the Divine Comedy).
And what about Pop Art? Wasn’t Andy Warhol taking advantage of Marilyn’s popularity, when he used her as subject of his works? What about fairytales? Is an illustration based on Red Riding Hood to be called a fanart?
Basically, everything is fanart, because most artists draw and paint what they like, what inspires them, and since we live in a world where the fiction and the fantasy have been infiltrating the reality since, I don’t know, Ancient Egypt, then it’s very likely that the things you like are a product of someone else’s creativity.
So yeah, imo fanart can be considered art by the same standards as any other creation. It depends on the quality of the execution, the concept behind it, the power of the representation, whether you can call it “art” or “doodle”.
I don’t understand.
Are people under the misapprehension that artists just sit down and try to imagine really, really hard what stuff looks like? That Real Artists don’t use references or models or work from photos?
I mean, not like no one does this, but usually, it’s coming after a whole lot of the other stuff. Unless you’re some sort of autistic genius, lemme tell you, if you draw just what you THINK people/ships/birds/whatever look like, you’re gonna come out with something like this:
Even if you mostly “just draw,” even if your work is highly stylized, at some point, you have to actually, really look at something real. Or your work looks awkward and wrong.
And photographs/screencaps are great for that, by the way. They’re cheap. They don’t get tired, or need to go to their dentist appointment. It’s never awkward asking a photo if you can work from it. The lighting is always the same, and they don’t wiggle or drop things.
Without careful use of models and other references, half the great art we have today would not exist. And if you want some examples of what was going on before people were like, “Oh, hey, let’s actually observe stuff when we’re drawing,” go check out some Medieval European art. Especially babies.
And finally, don’t be such a dick.
If you have a legit concern that someone is taking another’s art and claiming it as their own, you should pipe up. But if you just think that someone should be able to pull a photorealistic depiction out of their ass, and are Very Disappointed that they are working from an image, go fuck yourself.
Nothing to add. Just nodding my head vehemently. You know what? Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael. None of those fucking amazing geniuses came to birth with any knowledge of how to draw or paint. They just… learnt. By practice. By studying real life and human anatomy. By spending one hell of a lot of time copying, and copying, and copying, from nature or from their masters’ works, until they had enough control of the technique. And also, surprise! They used models! Shocker! Does that make them any less brilliant than what they are?