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Art is so DUMB.

April 9, 2012

Forgive the title oozing with personal frustration. There will be more frustration to come in this post.

Since I’ve started working, I’ve captured snippets of funny (well, I think they’re funny) conversations that have happened over the weeks. And I’ve kept them in an email draft, pruned of any sensitive identifying information. The goal: incubate them until I’m ready to draw my ACCOUNTING COMICS.

Over the weekend, I decided to work on some of them. I really liked how they turned out. There were a few chuckles had by all. I was feeling really great. So awesome. Art rocks!

But you know, I’m not just trying to create comics with stick figures (although I’m not dissing stick figures. XKCD has it down to a science.) I want to create a style that juxtaposes the unreal with the hyper-real — often to emphasize the punchline…or the after-punchline. As if the very drawing style supports the build up and climax.

No Man Can Serve Two Masters

Click for dramatically oversized original file

The problem with this is that to do that, the hyper-real has to be…you know…real. But since I can’t actually draw, this poses a bit of a problem.

Hands.

Faces.

Anatomy.

Proportion.

Backgrounds.

Scale.

Perspective.

All of these things (and my utter ignorance of these) get in the way.

I know I am an utter amateur here. I know that I should probably cloister myself for seven years in an intensive art program before I dare release something in public. But here’s the issue: I’m so bad I don’t even know how bad I am at this. It’s Dunning Kruger in full swing.

So I tried to sketch out a portrait sketch for one of the characters of the accounting comics (who may…or may not…be based on a real person.)

I could tell there was something wrong with the portrait…I just thought the features weren’t feminine enough…So, I posted on a message board that I go to for advice. I braced myself for major criticism, because I know this forum: it’s a den of cruel trolls. But hey, I’m also working on getting thicker skin, so why not.

I got some helpful advice from the board…but what I realized from the advice was that there was so much wrong with the sketch of which I was utterly unaware. Apparently, they were all rookie mistakes: drawing what you think is an eye, instead of an actual eye…not taking into account proportion, so that each part looks like a disparate part slapped on a face-shaped canvas, rather than looking that an entire, real head and face. And so on.

And you know what: it’s all true. I can’t see it, but I know that I’ve heard these critiques enough to know that EVEN IF I CAN’T SEE THE FLAWS MYSELF, I know I’m not above the flaws.

This is ultimately my main problem with so many creative pursuits…writing…drawing…singing…you name it. It’s that you aren’t born knowing what Good looks like. So, you can walk around without any clue of all of your mistakes, and consequently without any awareness that you have a lot of room for improvement.

How does someone move to the point where they can recognize their own flaws and self-correct? Or is there really no such thing as the self-taught expert? Must we always learn from someone else who has come before? 

Oh, for good measure, have another comic:

Intangible

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7 Comments
  1. Well, that woman in the first panel looks pretty good, except for the left leg.

  2. I will not be consoled, Chris. ;)

  3. Val permalink

    I’m an artist. And I can tell you that for comics you only need your own personality and personal style to show. Really. Make your characters yours and just stop worrying about whether they are ‘right’ or not. Your top pic is great – I thought it was drawn by a professional. Just do what feels right, eventually you’ll get where you want to be.

  4. Thanks, Val!

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