-Why don't you just take a photo and a bunch of other stupid yet justified questions-
After years of being bothered by the same question , I have finally decided to write down my feelings and thoughts about this issue. And I think the timing is perfect considering I've somehow reached a stage of finding satisfaction in my own work; which will hopefully result in this journal being informative, interesting, maybe even educational, but above all stop people from being prejudice.
If I had written it earlier it probably would have resulted in ranting and raging, at least to some degree.
I hope you will enjoy this read, but unless you think you can relate or learn more about some things, stop reading because this is going to be LONG
Let me start by asking you - what about your own work makes you feel like an artist? What makes any of us 'artists'? Many people imagine artists to be somewhat like mad scientists, but their tools are paints, brushes and canvases instead. And they usually imagine them to have a wizard-like ability to portray anything they imagine and beyond. I have to say that I was among those people, even after I had already been drawing for years. Mostly because I didn't know a lot about art and have been told (mostly by someone close to me) over and over again what you do isn't art, it's technique. Perhaps that person was right. Maybe still is?
Once you broaden your experience and stop looking only at what you do, you will see art is everywhere and in all forms. Literally. Why is Duchamp's fountain a work of art? To some of us it may be, to others it may not be. But different kinds of art deserve to be viewed from a different approach. Because it answers many questions, and only one
of them is 'what?
' The subject of 'what' that baffles many into demeaning their own work what I do isn't good enough,what I do isn't real enough, what I do isn't creative enough, isn't 'artistic' enough, etc. But not to deviate too much from my point and go into a different type of discussion ( I used the Fountain just as an example, not to actually discuss it), let's head over to another important question and how realism responds to it WHY?
? REALISM, PORTRAITS, TECHNIQUE, TALENT ?
That's really good, but what you do is technique, not art. - What do you mean? - Well, you just copy. Why don't you draw from life, or even better, from your head ? Why do you use references?
I can understand why someone would have this point of view and be bold enough to question someone's hard work by saying You just
copy. Even though it still somewhat enrages me that people don't have the slightest understanding in why I do what I do and are compelled to ask this. But obviously us realism portrait artists are an enigma to others so here goes COPYING AND REFERENCES Why do you use celebrity photos and copy them?
My answer, and let's start with the basics I love drawing portraits. It's a passion. Some people have passion for cars so they draw them. Some have for a certain fandom so they make fanart. Some have for fantasy so they draw dragons. Me, I like faces. In all seriousness, I love faces and I'm creepy in a way that noses and jaws turn me on. Don't ask me why, it's just what I do. So yes, that's why I draw portraits.
Why do I draw celebrities? From this point I will refer to them as 'famous people', as celebrity, for me at least, is defined as a stupid person who is famous for no reason. I draw people that I like for all kinds of reasons their acting, performance, singing, or just their looks, whatever, countless possibilities. So, while watching a good movie or listening to music, I get an urge to draw a person, as my personal way of showing my admiration. Be it just an intense scene, a wacky outfit, a beautiful face or whatever it's why I draw famous people. Also, choosing what to draw from is a lot easier when you have internet filled with photos of famous people. A quality photo reference is a BIG deal when it comes to realism.
So here we are : Your work is so good, but it's a copy of a photo, why didn't you just take one?
Again, let's start from the basics. First, why not take a photo. Because I am not a photographer and though I may enjoy photography in itself, it's not my favorite type of art. Not because I think it's not 'worth' enough or whatever other bollocks reason, it's simply not my kind of thing - at least not enough to make me pick up a camera and go make art. It takes skill for being a good photographer. So, as much cuteness and personal value I might find in taking pictures of my dog sleeping adorably in his doggy bed, they are not good photos so there you have it.
Next realism requires an immense amount of patience and time. The reason that we 'copy' every single detail is because it contributes to the final result, it's what needs to be there to make something REAL. That's why it's called realism. What is interesting in having an artwork depicting a person, which is so realistic that you could have just easily printed it out?
-Honestly, one day when you have kids (or if you already have them), which would you rather have? A unique pencil portrait, created completely from scratch with a medium so primitive it makes you wonder how the hell's it even possible or a print? It's a part of why it's so special. And it's not about just getting the likeness right. Getting the likeness is just a step in learning. Later it becomes catching someone's essence. For me it's worth the time spent. If you think it makes us unimaginative, have it your way, but if I drew tiny hearts instead of pores on someone's face, you'd surely ask me Dude, what the fuck
(come to think of it, what if ...
) That being said, you surely understand I haven't had the honor of meeting a 'famous person' and gotten them to sit statue-like in the same position for days or weeks, with the same light sources and so on and so on. Great old masters are known for having used Camera Obscura (a device, prequel to today's camera, google it, this journal is already long as it is
) to aid themselves while painting. Sooo, for me personally, I use photography as a tool and not as a final product. Photography is just one of many resources and tools that I use on my journey to create something, rather than a final form of art in itself.
I have also been asked: Why don't you draw from life?
Isn't using grids to get the best likeness cheating? A grid is a tool I strongly support when it comes to realism. Drawing realistic portraits isn't any close to doing studies
, at least not for me, so I don't think it's worth screwing up facial features even for a milimeter. It's what you won't notice when you make outlines but will be like a fist punch to an eye once you've spent hours and days on shading. Grids are a tool, which you created completely by yourself, to get the best possible result. It's not cheating. If you made something from scratch without stealing or tracing, no one can judge your methods. Grids are also all about coordination and seeing. I had no idea until I tried giving a lesson in drawing to my friend's bro, and saw that he missed some features by up to 2 squares. So just like with everything, even the 'easy way out' can be a hard way if you don't have practice and don't know what you're doing. Doesn't that make me less talented and without a grid I wouldn't be able to draw if my life depended on it?
FALSE. First of all, I do draw from life. I do studies. It trains the eye for 'looking' better, seeing better, helps me to place an object into space, to draw quickly and accurately, to understand anatomy better. As I said, those are studies, for me at least. As I have no real interest in drawing fruits and veggies and have already expressed how inconvenient it is to have a model turn to stone as I draw. That's why I use photos as a tool for what I eventually want to achieve. Realism portraitists are somewhat stigmatized into being boring and closed minded when it comes to media and styles let me just explain something briefly. My favorite type of art is realism but that doesn't make me a freak who thinks that realism is the best art that there could be, because it just looks real. I appreciate all forms of art, you can check my favorites and see what I mean. I also do A LOT of different types of art, which just so you know, includes drawing completely without any references. But my favorite type of art is realism, from which you can conclude I'm a perfectionist, which leads to why I don't post all of my art online
As simple as that. HOWEVER this leads me to ask YOU a question? why do you think that drawing from life is more praise-worthy than drawing from a photo? Photos are also used for studies. It's the same thing, only photos give better results given they're way more convenient (reasons already explained). Having a 2D image in front of you won't magically make it easier to get the proportions, likeness, perspective (distortion and all lovely things that follow) better. If you don't practice this way or another, your eyes will trick you into seeing things the way you think they are, not the way they really are. Which will make your object of study just as distorted or faulty as it would be if you were drawing it from life. IMAGINATION VS TECHNIQUEDespite your technique, I'm a better artist because I have my style and use no references.
I don't want to stereotype, but I have mostly been hearing this from doodlers who are just making themselves feel better. Do NOT kid yourself into thinking that just because you don't use references you're a better artist. Yes, you can claim that - after you've sweated your balls studying, looking, 'copying', sketching, practicing for so long that you simply no longer NEED references.
That's when you will know your way around objects and bodies and how they look, how they act, how they change when they move. Before that, do not make the mistake of justifying POOR SKILLS AS STYLE. Everyone has a style, even realism artists are all so different that you can spot someone's artwork from a mile away and say I know this one, this one belongs to Blabli Bliblu. Working with realism won't stop you from having a style. Also, developing a style completely of your own shouldn't suggest that if you draw imaginary characters they won't look completely creepy or distorted because of your lack of skills. No matter how stylized something is, it will still be obvious to the viewer if you effed something up. Even to a layman who may not be able to say why it's wrong, they will just know it is. If you're drawing people, portraits or full body or whatever, understand that just because you do manga or superheroes or whatever, doesn't mean anatomy no longer counts. It counts BIG time. Once you've learned your way with how a human body looks, and then learned some more and more about how to draw superheroes, then you'll know how to PROPERLY DISTORT anatomy and still make it look good. By that I mean, make super long sexy legs, tiny waist and big boobs (which are very unreal
) and make them look real by doing it the right way. Drawing a Frankenstein's monster and say you're allowed to because you're a 'real' artist cause you drew it completely out of your imagination doesn't make you a better artist, it makes you delusional.
It takes skill to do do ANY style of art. And using a reference doesn't make you a cheater, it makes you clever because you're making the best of it. Just because you use a reference doesn't mean you're not allowed to change it. Whichever style you choose, you will need to learn and learn and learn some more. No matter the style, skill counts. I don't care how awesome a concept is, if you don't have the skills to portray it, it is ruined. You need to accept that and get to work.
So, to resolve the silly issue of which requires more talent and artistic ability? It's not a question of what, it's a question of how. And when you see someone extraordinarily talented, know that they would probably tell you there is no such thing as talent, only blood, sweat and tears and years of hard work. We are not magicians. If you want to be called talented one day (it will compliment you and piss you off at the same time
) stop whining and start finding a way to improve your art, whatever you do, whichever style or media you use. It ALL counts
When it comes to art better stop judging what others are doing appreciate how they do it. And if you don't like it, mind your own bees-wax and work on improving your own skills
Click: How to feel miserable as an artist
, by Paul Arden. If you're miserable, stop doing these things
To add my final word to this verbal diarrhea, I don't by any means think that I am such a good realist that I was simply compelled to answer these questions. I was compelled to write it because, despite my level of skill, I HAVE been asked those questions. I was compelled to write it because I have finally learned all of these things myself, which made me accept my art, my style and my level of skill, and instead of despairing over them, I am joyful and motivated to IMPROVE them. Don't ever freak out when someone critiques your art. No matter how big of a slap in the face it might be, a side viewer can see mistakes you didn't notice. And don't be blind to your mistakes, don't be afraid to make them - question them so you could fix them. So when someone tells you that something looks wrong or how it might look better take their advice. The only time you're allowed to tell someone to fuck off is if they come and say this is shit. That's not a critique, that's begging to have the wrath of an artist unleashed upon them
Also, I apologize for making this so extremely long. I knew I had a lot to say about the issue, had no idea it was so gigantic. If you managed to read through, I am beyond thankful (and I congratulate you for not running away
Thank you for reading, have fun doing what you love to do