Friday, May 16, 2014

The Power of Ideas

Muddy Colors' Howard Lyon just wrote a post on Ideas vs. Skills - what matters more in art. It's an extremely worthwhile, thought-provoking read (as pretty much anything on Muddy Colors is.)

What is it that makes you love a particular piece of art? Is it the technical skill on display in the piece? Or is it the idea, the emotion, the story behind it? Which do you value more in your own work? Lyon says it certainly doesn't have to be either/or, but it's worthwhile to consider what's important to you.

Everyone's answer will be different. But I realized a long time ago that for me, the idea is key. I actually remember the exact moment that I realized this. And you guys are gonna think it's way dumb.

Way back when I first started concentrating seriously on art (and thus was in a constant state of extreme frustration with my skill level), I was looking for fun geeky t-shirts and came across this one (link to shirt on Redbubble). I grew up infatuated with Pokémon and so I instantly loved it, but I also had another reaction - just being in awe of its simple brilliance. This isn't exactly a technical masterpiece. There's nothing wrong with it either - it's just simple. I can't imagine that making this image took more than an hour or two at most. But (if you know Pokémon at all) you know what it is instantly. The colors are perfect. The silhouettes are perfect. And most of all, it communicates perfectly what the game and the ideal of Pokémon is all about - evolution. Growing stronger. My two simultaneous reactions were "This is so simple that I could do it" and "That's brilliant and I love it." (I still haven't bought the shirt of course.)

By the way, none of this is meant to slight the artist - here is a link to lomm's profile on Redbubble (and if you love Pokémon I really recommend checking him out). I can't find any further info on him but he is clearly a VERY skilled artist.

Personally I am at a place where I'm trying to get my skills to catch up to my ideas. (I think all artists are always trying to do this, no matter how good you get... but I could do with a little more closing of the gap than most.) For me, there's a certain amount of technical skill that's necessary to express my ideas effectively. So what I am concentrating on, in the day-to-day, is leveling up my skills. However, it's always in the service of how I will execute my next idea.

I love, love, love beautiful pieces of art. I will stare for hours at certain technically masterful pieces trying to understand how they got everything to look just so right. But the pieces of art that linger in my head for a long time are the ones that fulfill me the most intellectually, emotionally through their ideas and their storytelling.

© Gina Florio 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

Self Portrait, Helen Chen style

I Helen Chen'd myself.

I've wanted a cartoon self-portrait to put in my Blogger profile for a while now. After I read Muddy Colors' recent post on Mingjue Helen Chen, I fell in love with her style and decided to try illustrating myself in that way. Ultimately it's not a style I'll be keeping (mostly because it's not mine to begin with!), but it was a great exercise in texture and I definitely think I will be adding more texture to future paintings.

Read the Muddy Colors post, Mingjue & Me, for insight as well as a real-time video of her process (I LOVE real-time videos!), and check out her blog for some truly great art. She also put up a post with links to the brushes she uses. I know it's not the brush that makes the artist, but as someone still building and experimenting with their Photoshop brush library, these helped me a lot - they handle very nicely.

Here's my favorite recent piece of hers - I love the idea of reinterpreting comic book costumes into casual outfits! Anything that appeals to my fangirl side and my "omg, clothes" side is a win in my book.

© Gina Florio 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Trees are Alive with the Sound of Music

Musician Bartholomäus Traubeck, for his latest album Years, placed cross-sections of trees on a modified record player. The data of the rings was captured through a camera and sent into a computer, which output it as the sound of a piano. The result is haunting and beautiful.

Just another example of how you can draw inspiration from anywhere! The greatest ideas can come from the unlikeliest places...

Happy Friday!

© Gina Florio 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Suzanne Helmigh's great advice

Quick announcement: someone emailed me directly about a blog post recently, and the email went straight to my spam folder! I normally never check my spam, but was checking it looking for something else when I saw it. So just fyi: the email address posted here is correct, and I WILL be checking my spam folder from now on, but if all else fails, leave a comment on the blog! Blogger emails me every time someone does and it always goes through.

On to today's post!

I met Dona in a Peter Han Viscomm reunion trip to the California Science Center. We only met that one time, but became Facebook friends afterwards, and often comment on each other's art-related links and Instagrammed sketches. She recently posted a link to one of Suzanne Helmigh's great deviantArt journal posts.

As an aside, I used to be on deviantArt in high school, and of course in addition to posting my terrible teenage art, wrote very angsty dA journal posts, similar to my LiveJournal (which I obliterated completely a few years ago when someone I dated as a teenager asked me to take it down, as a LiveJournal entry of mine was one of the top posts in a Google search for their name. That was a fun conversation to have.) Given all this I think you'll forgive me if I don't share my old username. But in any case, my point is that I tend to equate deviantArt journals with angsty teenage Livejournal posts, since they share that space in my head under a very hormone-laden box labeled 2003-2004. BUT Suzanne Helmigh dashed all those expectations with her well-worded, very astutely written series of posts on becoming a concept artist. They range from practical information to motivation and encouragement.

Practical: 5 bullshit myths of concept art
Where to get started before you can apply for work
     ^ This one had the huge bonus of including an ACTUAL, REAL-NUMBERS breakdown of a sample concept art pay rate.

Motivating: Fast lane to becoming a better artist
Are you being honest with yourself?

There are many more and it seems like a series that she wants to continue, so check those out and give her a follow if you're a fellow dA user. Suzanne's professional website can be found here. Also please check out Dona's blog and portfolio!

Here's a random sketch to add some visual interest to this post... a very happy, very belated Cinco de Mayo to you, from a galaxy far, far away.

© Gina Florio 2014

Friday, May 2, 2014

On Mediocrity

Anna is an artist I befriended in our Story Development Class with Louie del Carmen. She's a lovely person who makes beautiful, and certainly un-mediocre, art. Here's a sample!

Anyway, I was looking at her tumblr the other day and came across this very inspiring post. She begins with a quote from another artist:
the worst feeling about trying to draw is being a mediocre artist. You realize you’re not terrible and family and friends who can’t draw at all tell you all the time how amazing you are, but you, as the artist, have seen what amazing really is and you realize that it isn’t you.
Anna then chimes in: "Can I take a moment here just to say my thoughts? Because I see this sentiment a lot on my dash and I really just need to address it."

She goes on to say, "I would like to think most people realize that anything you post, no matter how accomplished or unaccomplished it is, is just a piece of a larger framework that is steadily growing. That framework is the skill you’re amassing and the knowledge you are pursuing. You are a person that’s fighting the good fight, the fight to become better than you are.

I reserve mediocre for a person that has given up the good fight. In my books, mediocre isn’t in the work itself. No work is mediocre... Mediocre is in the attitude of resignation. When you settle for less than your own expectations.

And it’s confusing. Because often you are settling for less each time you make work. Sometimes it feels as though you will never live up to your own expectations. Everything you do is in some sense a failure. But as long as you pick up your pencil again, you will never be the one who simply stops."

That's only a fraction of the truly inspiring post she wrote. Read the rest on her tumblr (and check out her art too, it's really beautiful!

Happy Friday friends, have a wonderful weekend!

© Gina Florio 2014

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Creative Process

We watched 'Adaptation' last weekend... I hadn't seen it since I was in highschool... what a phenomenal movie. In my mind, there is no better film about the act of creating art. Although feel free to challenge me on that...

© Gina Florio 2014