Left to our own devices - we doodled endlessly. Neither my brother or I ever took it seriously it seemed. We had made characters, whole worlds, built cardboard replications of this stuff - but we never pursued schooling in the field of design, art, painting, etc.
Through college, I thought I wanted to be an engineer. I had always viewed arts and craft as a hobby of mine. I was young and a little aimless in some ways. My first foray into art as something other than a hobby was after I had moved back home and my friend had mentioned there was an artist position on the marketing team for Whole Foods. I was a bit puzzled to say the least that carrots needed an artist, but nevertheless, I needed a job.
I was pretty straightforward with the marketing team/interview panel. I have no formal art training and I am a doodler by nature but at least artistically inclined it seemed. Graciously, the team gave me a chance and hired me as a part time artist for them.
Holy shit was I bad. I know everyone's first work is bad, but damn, I was 5th Underworld movie bad. The job revolved around graphic design and using paint pens to create meaningful art, representation and intrigue to the company. The only problem is - I hate color. I was just god awful at color. There's no easy way to put it - I just didn't understand how it worked. I would look at a picture, a costume, a painting - and not understand how the colors were made. It turns out - you just add brown to everything. Just kidding, but anyway, my early attempts at 'art' displays were just so awful.
I know most people are embarrassed to show their 'bad' art. But if you're anything like me who thinks they can keep improving, well it's all shit then, isn't it?
|I mean, it doesn't even make sense? Does it? It's so scatterbrained|
I've learned a great deal of humility, acceptance and overall ambivalence to my art. I know I'm not the best. No one really is, right? It's subjective and we're our own harshest critics, so I've finally become comfortable with sharing it all.
Something I like to do is encourage people to try. It can be daunting when the majority of work that is published is refined, polished and professional looking. Hopefully by bridging the gaps of my early work to my current work - you'll see that we all sucked at one point and feel more comfortable giving it a try.
So here I am, raising eyebrows at my job, as they begin to question my friend with things like 'You said he's an artist...right?'
I panic. On the one hand, I haven't mislead them by explaining I'm some color bending wizard. I am simply someone trying to learn a new medium and apply it in a helpful way to my job. Luckily, they stick with me and I begin to practice and practice. I started to get better at blending colors, layouts, minimizing clutter and attempting to paint things I'm awful at, like faces.
|The blank space was for a price!|
During my tenure at this job, I had retained my sketching ways. I was constantly being inspired by video games such as Halo and Devil May Cry and also movies like District 9. I had a certain affinity for angelic creatures as well as samurai and regal sort of glamorously shiny looks. I had one day sketched a culmination of those into something.
|The earliest sketch I have of this design|
|Another early rendition|
Somewhere along the way, I began to grow fond of tan sketch books. I picked up a set of copic pens, some paint pens and some watercolor. I learn a lot from watching how other artists do things, and my friend Juli had a pattern of doing sketches with hints of color and shading to compliment her sketch. I began to try to adapt some of those ideas into my work, with varying degrees of success as I tried to work out my own style.
I liked the idea that the creature's wings weren't exactly tangible. It could summon them into existence in a blinking flash of light and when it would flap its wings, a shockwave of this same light would be left behind as a remnant shadow of spent energy. I think I got the concept from watching Chronicles of Riddick... when the Lord Marshall would move about, he would leave behind a shadow of himself and it would slowly follow suit. Kind of like that.
|One of my first tan paper sketches with some color|
|I didn't realize my monitor was so fucked up and that green looked blue on the monitor... soo|
|Starting to use watercolor for the blue|
I had always subconsciously decided that the creature's face wasn't a face but rather a helmet. I wanted to put a face to the person inside instead. The only reason I hadn't done it before is I was still very bad at drawing faces. Without any real art training, I just didn't know where to start. I had watched all sorts of youtube timelapses of art being made so I could see how people drew faces, proportions, limbs, anything that I had problems with. Beyond that, it was just tons of practice. Like I've said before - I was bad. I was SO bad. I couldn't get the orientation right. Before, when I had done paintings, I would trace a face of a photograph or do a very simple, non realistic face. Drawing it with fine pencils as opposed to blobs of color proved to be harder. I couldn't use a dab of slightly darker pale paint to illustrate the subtle face shadings. Not to mention, with no face to go off of, I had no idea where to start creating a face from scratch.
|It just...didn't look right|
|Left to right. Sketch - Pen - Minor shading/lighting - Watercolor|
I've started to narrow down how she looks. A little bit. I'm still learning every day how to art better. In every manner of the word. Lighting, proportions, limbs, facial structure/composition, shading. I don't need to be perfect at any of it, I just want to make some cool shit. I don't even know what I intend to do with the character if I ever really flesh out all the little details and get it right. I just know that I learned from the great artist, Aaron Beck, that Creative Procrastination is a surefire way to keep yourself engaged creatively and who knows, maybe you'll make something that is worthwhile.
So wait, what was the point of all this?
I just want everyone to keep in mind how I know how daunting some skills and talents can be. Just remember that I've learned everything I've done from trying it, asking about it and enjoying every step of the process and learning.
Oh, and every now and again, you're going to struggle to get pen to paper and create something. I solve this by playing drinking games in an elevator with your friends. It really clears the mind.