Tuesday, August 05, 2008
So I was just talking with my friend Luan and flipping through the internet. I found these pages I did last year fully digitally. I was on a kick for a month of doing all digital stuff. It really did help with things because I pushed myself to do things I normally wouldn't. It also helped me get of my shell in terms of storytelling.
It can be tough to get out of that comfort zone of doing pin-ups for fun...it's easy, and it lulls you into a false sense of security. I was also talking with Luan about sketchbooks after seeing the post by Eric Canete, except we went even further with the conversation. There are sketchbooks that are a great way to get an insight into the approach of an artist, there are ones that make a statement, and there are ones that are just plain lazy.
Sketchbooks are like a cheeseburger...there's a large variety of types you'll run into, some are lacking on ingredients and volume, but are extremely flavorful. Some are packed with ingredients but they just don't work. Some are the right mix of meat and fix-ins, but then there are those ones you get at a bad picnic that are spartan, overly dry, and tasteless.
Much like the booming anthology business of the past few years, sketchbooks are a resurgent art form. Outside of actually watching an artist go to work in person, a sketchbook for me is like looking at their soul. But I've seen a lot of sketchbooks recently that are just empty white space. Seriously, with most artists charging 25-30, or even more for sketchbooks, you really aren't getting a lot...but you should be!!!
Luan brought up a good point that you really shouldn't be producing work just for the sketchbook, it taints the level of genuine introspection going on in the book. For me, I think that the medium can go further. I love the quality of Japanese artbooks and sketchbooks. My favorites being the ones of Yasuomi Umetsu (infamous director of such films as Mezzo Forte, Kite, and Kite Liberator). There's a lot of thought and design that goes into it. I love to see things that are polished as well as things that are progress sketches. To not have sketches in a sketchbook defeats the purpose...then you have an artbook. I think a lot of people don't understand the difference, and end up failing on both ends of the spectrum.
Luan also brought up the point that free is the new marketing ploy (internet-wise). I've had discussions with my crew about knowing what you're worth as an artist. You have to establish that you can't be stepped on, however, as an up and comer, you have to be willing to put some work up for free, to bring in an audience. It's a fine balance, and it's tough to find the middle ground...it doesn't happen over night. There are some professionals that when I hear how little they charge it makes me feel bad, but then I think of how much they make on their other jobs and I don't feel so bad. But as the little guy, you can't over-charge and alienate your crowd, nor can you charge too little. You also have to get your format right. I did a full color sketchbook in 2006 that I put everything into, and I think I've mentioned it before, but it did horribly. There were multiple places that I went wrong with it. One was that I charged too much for it at the time, the second was that I should have done black and white, third was that I let "friends" walk all over me (I was absolutely green to the business) and get free copies.
I've learned that you really shouldn't give free copies. You can post free artwork on the internet, but don't give free copies of the materials you're trying to sell at a con...unless you're trying to talk to an editor...but the general public...your "friends"...they should respect you enough to buy your work. You should be able to trade off and buy each others work, thats the respectable thing to do. It's like friends that buy things for each other and don't keep a tab, it ends up working out in the end. But you have to feel that your art is worth something, or it's hard for others to see the worth in your art.
I like to know what other artists do, whether they watch movies or tv, or listen to music while they're working...BTW, I'm listening to the Streets of Rage 2 Soundtrack. Don't know if you guys played that on the Genesis back in the day, but I sure did, and I loved the music. Knowledge like that lets you know what kind of approach a person brings to the table, what their background is. You have to feel comfortable as an artist, and know what kind of artist you are. That is where I feel that a sketchbook can make a STATEMENT. It lets others know what kind of intensity you bring to your artwork. You're the one putting it together (read: if someone else is putting it together, it's an artbook!!!!) so you've bled to make it all work. You want people to see it, you're putting your heart out there to be crushed, but you do it for yourself more than anybody (or at least you should). A sketchbook is like convention graffitti, it lets people know where you've been, it's more telling than a print, a portfolio, or a business card.
A sketchbook should go deeper into your personality, and allow the real you to burst forward and take center stage without writers or anyone else but you.
Anyways, I should have some more artwork to put up tomorrow or the next day, so keep posted, and let me know your thoughts on sketchbooks. I always want to know what everyone else thinks!