I recently read a piece over on Animation SA by SAE institute’s Riaan Theron on style and the idea of theft in art. It makes a strong case for assimilating the techniques of others, and discourages the idea students may have that doing this is theft.
Riaan is the head of animation at the SAE Insitute here in Capetown, and you can check out his article here. Although I disagree with a few of his points the central idea of the article rings true: Style is hard to invent on the spot. You need to be taught at least the basics of a craft before you can progress, and from there on you will need to learn more and more sophisticated techniques in order to fulfil your creative vision.
How? By trying them out. By copying the works of other artists you admire and combining them into something unrecognisable: Your own style.
I'm by no means saying that your style should be exclusively comprised of other peoples art: That would be stealing and would be highly artificial, and in my opinion, lacking genuine creativity.
Riffing on Riaan’s post, I’ll propose a definition for creativity. It’s a bizarre thing, but in essence it is the act of combining several things in order to make something new that fulfils a purpose. It covers a range of things from engineering to music to language to making a sandwich, but in all cases the components of the engine/song/language/lunch need to come from somewhere.
Using the example of visual art: it is comprised of technique and creativity(in varying ratios). The creation is a series of choices, about what technique, and with what content you will create something.
So what I’d really like to say, and I know you’ll agree, is that content is what’s going to sell you as an artist. What’s NOT going to sell you as an artist is the way you may or may not shade like Albrecht Dürer.
That said, good technique will go far to rendering your work in a way that makes sense to anyone other than you, but trying to understand the world and draw content from it* is far more important in the quest to come up with new and creative ideas.
So, that leaves the question: What is good content?
I’m afraid I can’t answer that in any absolute terms, but I think I can guarantee that the conception of “good” content will always change with the times, and to keep up your own creativity in the times you need to stick with them.
On a different note, for your convenience I’ve shifted the focus of my links to some of the awesome SA talent I have the good fortune of knowing and working with, so click the links up top to the right at any time to escape my ramblings and feel the awesomeness. ^-^
On that exact note, last week’s drawings are up on the UltimateDrawing Tigers blog, go check it out NAW!!
*My next post, should it ever come to be, is going to be on the topic of studying life in the name of making more effective shit.