Welcome to my first post on my website! There are many possible subjects which I may touch on from the past, present, and the future, not limited to:
- various experiences I’ve had in my 40 years of making a living as a working commercial artist in many art fields (comics, animation, illustration, advertising)
- specific projects and their “back stories”
- the current environment for artists
- art technique & how to become, and improve as, an artist
Also, if there is a topic you wish me to cover or a question you wish to ask, please let me know in the comments or via email and I will do my best to address it.
Now, below are some starter thoughts as to how to improve as an artist. Of course, as with all these subjects, there is so much that can be said since the topic can be viewed from many perspectives; so this will, of course, not be exhaustive. But to start at the obvious: you have to practice, and practice regularly.
Yes, this is obvious, but it must be repeated over and over.
Practise does many things: it keeps our ‘art muscles’ warm. It establishes a habit-pattern within those muscles. Eventually, our accumulated sketches and attempts, taken together and later reviewed, may reveal patterns of success or failure in our work, thus prompting us to more often identify, and avoid, the failed approaches and missing notions, and to more frequently tread the pathways leading to success.
As with many human endeavours, though, psychology often gets in the way. And one aspect of this is the “all or nothing” approach. We try to go from zero to one hundred, without understanding that it is in the very nature of things that one must take steps: first learn to roll over, then to sit up, then crawl, toddle, walk, and finally -- run! But no, attempting to contradict laws which even toddlers must obey, we stubbornly insist on running straight away. And so we try to immediately run, fail at it, then give up and stop completely. A much better approach is to set a very small daily goal, and try to fulfill this regularly, regarding anything past this target as “bonus” or “gravy”. But if we manage to make this a habit, we soon find that it becomes much easier to get started, and get going!
So it is better to take small steps, daily, than once-a-week giant leaps which ultimately end up in a big, ignominious pavement-splatter. This is as true in art, as it is in, say, learning to run, or many other occupations. In art practice, this is where a sketchbook comes in: get one, draw in it regularly, push your limits as much as you are able to, and don’t feel obliged to show it to anyone. Why this last point, all the more relevant in the ‘social media’ era? You keep it private so that it can be a “safe space” for you to experiment, fail, learn, and then improve, without worrying about showing it off to anyone or getting comments from others. That’s the advice given to me by Alex Toth (more about him, in a later part) at the start of my career--and excellent advice it was. I followed it!
And this is also good to always remember: as any parent knows, the toddler eventually learns to walk by ignoring the painful “splat” as he falls down hard, over and over. He wins by standing back up, again and again! He or she does not make excuses, and does not give up, and thus succeeds! Again, all this is obvious, but for some strange reason we adults often completely forget this ‘obvious knowledge’ which we all knew in those halcyon days of being new migrants to this world...