Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reinveting My Creative Self

The good news is I have already surpassed my entire blog output for 09 in a week.

Yeah it was that bad. What can I say 08-09 was crap for me.

I feel good about 2010. Bouncing back.

I was working for a toy company in late 08 and was tossed out with 150 other people on the same day. I won't lie I was happy to go. I had seen the writing on the wall for a couple of years and the day to day not knowing if the company was going to crash got on the tedious side.

I knew the minute I was sprung I was going to try some different things with my art. I had already expanded what I could do by leaps and bounds over the five years I spent working for the toy company. I was surrounded by an amazing group of talented and creative people so opportunities to learn were everywhere.

The first thing I wanted to tackle was drawing and painting digitally. I knew that the spots for 2d Illustrators were shrinking and to compete in that world I needed to be able to do more than just color in Photoshop. I needed to paint and be able to create stand alone images that could serve as inspiration for 3d and set the mood of a game or movie.

Coming from a background in Comics you are pushed to create a style that people like but that is also a visual short hand with lot's of systems built in so you can keep a monthly schedule. Stylization is encouraged.

I come from an era where all comics were hand penciled and hand inked and just in the last 20 years have they been computer colored in mass. I was brought up in an analog era. A tweener in the art world sucks.

For those of you that don't do art it may seem like no big deal to switch one tool for another but so much of your artistic identity is tied into how you create your work. Not to mention you spend most of the early part of your artistic development creating a decision making mental construct that you can reference to create the desired results in your art work with speed and confidence.

Old habits die hard. If you can't rely on the process you worked so hard to create than what is this jumble of work on the computer screen? Is it your work or just a bunch of random assumptions and decisions?

I was forced to reinvent my creative self.

I had to rebuild my work from the ground up.
Learn new tools.
Find new ways to get results.
Develop an aesthetic that can be produced with your digital tools.
Use the "undo" function till my finger fell off.

I should have seen this coming because I had been on a creative quest for the last 6 years to reinvent myself.

I had been taking life drawing classes and trying to drop all my old drawing habits.  The jump to doing more digital painting and drawing was just another small step in that direction. An important one but it was all part of the larger vision I had for my work.

Why did I want to change my work so much?

I get asked that from time to time. It's not like I can't do my old style. I can. In fact my ultimate goal is to find some common ground between what I did and what I'm doing and learning right now.

A best of both worlds situation.

Unfortunately sometimes you have to drop some things to make room for something new.

On a practical level I knew I had hit the ceiling as far as the type of jobs I could get and the amount I could get paid for those jobs. I didn't want to be like countless Comic "only" artists that reached a point in their career where nobody wanted their work anymore and it all ended just like that. No retirement parties for comic artists just dwindling job options.

Who want's to be the Allen Iverson of Comics?

I've seen countless artists fall out of a career and not have the energy to reinvent themselves later in life. It's a fact, companies are hiring younger and cheaper. They would rather build the artist they want from scratch than hire someone with preexisting ideas and experience. The only way as an older artist you can trump this is to have something only you can provide. You need to have a bankable ability and vision...but now on a level like never before.

There will be no handouts or cushy gigs.

You will have to fight to get them.

So you better have more than one weapon.

Time to go back to square one and learn how to fight again.


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