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I started seriously practicing my drawing skills about two months ago and I know I have a long way to go. But even at just two months in, and simply because of my own personality, I tend to be over critical about the stuff I draw to a point that it becomes counter productive to my goal. I keep telling myself that I'm never going to be good and looking through all the incredible works that are put up on CA daily, I wonder how the hell am I ever going to get to that level of skill?
I am writing this because I really want to know your your journey into art. I want to know what your biggest challenges were, how long you've been drawing, and what you've done to get yourself past those tough hurdles, and probably most importantly, what is your motivation for starting art, and continuing it through as your profession. I am hoping that with your stories, it will not only inspire myself but also others that might read this. Granted, I do not know if a thread like this has been made so I apologize if it has.
Scratchings from my desk - Sketchbook
There's a saying I'm sure you've heard.[...]I tend to be over critical about the stuff I draw to a point that it becomes counter productive to my goal. I keep telling myself that I'm never going to be good and looking through all the incredible works that are put up on CA daily, I wonder how the hell am I ever going to get to that level of skill?
"You are your own worst critic."
What you have to do is turn that around. Instead of thinking "Good lord I stink", think "I can do better dammit!"
Remember, all 1st rate artists were 3rd rates once.
Anyway, if you want to know my story here's how it goes:
I've been drawing since forever. Through high school, everyone always told me I was a good artist. I thought, "cool, awesome", yet in spite of all this, I decided to go to a tech school and learn programming. The reason was that I knew I wanted to make video games, and I rocked a Visual Basic class in high school, so I figured I could easily pick up C++, Java, etc.
Unfortunately, I sucked at coding. Math was freaking hard, and all the syntax and rules in code were driving me insane. After two years of poor grades and a lot of misery, my mother out right told me "Maybe you should go to art school instead..."
She was right. Math and hard logic weren't my strengths. Drawing was. So I prepped up a portfolio and started looking at art schools. I'm now going on my final year at Ai-Chicago and it's been an amazing experience. My art has vastly improved and I'm getting better by the day. Going to art school was the best move I could have made.
Short term goals: Graduate and get an entry level art position in a game studio.
Long term goals: Be a Character Concept Artist in a major game studio (ideally Valve)
Check out my sketchbook.
Unlike others, I was never even considered a "good artist" by anybody and nor did anybody care about art; all my friends and family are going to be/are engineers, doctors, businessmen, etc. I was drawing Anime/Manga as a hobby up to grade 11 (which was like 2 years ago). I was copying Anime off store-bought Anime tutorial books and websites. I thought drawing nudes were "not cool" and basically did drawing in my spare time. I did have a very big ego, though, when it came to my "art".
I had excellent grades in the sciences and maths in high school but it didn't help my situation.
Something clicked in my mind during my grade 11 year that made me question myself critically. "Do I actually enjoy science and math?". Most importantly, I've finally questioned my skill (or lack of). I was very annoyed that all my "training" with Anime/Manga copying isn't doing jackshit in my art course; I couldn't portray my messages in the way I wanted to (and still can't, but much better than in the past). When I saw things with a critical eye and began to research, for example, what a body SHOULD look like, I started to punch myself in the face. I was never more motivated in my life though. Despite all of this, I still kept it to myself and made everyone continue to think I was going to a math/science program for university.
The twelth grade got me into a high school course which consists of life drawing. At that point, I knew I wanted to continue drawing. I outright told everyone my intentions which shocked every single one of them. Few supported, most started calling me an idiot. The "most" crowd had people who laughed at me, saying I wasn't good enough for art school.
It was absolutely true. Portfolio interviews/hand-ins were in early Feb 2008 and I had 0 portfolio pieces in Oct 2007. Nobody really knew what I was capable of. Long story short, I worked my ass off, doing 7-10 hours of painting/studying per day for a few months and managed to land a spot in OCAD (whether or not that's actually an accomplishment is really not my concern). I've vastly improved since then and I'm still working my ass off everyday.
I'm far from done considering the time frame since I've started to draw seriously. Quite obviously I'm no professional.
TL;DR version: My biggest challenges were to overcome the reactions (to me going to art school) of my family and friends as well as creating 12 works for my portfolio which were decent enough to get into an art school in 3-4 months. I overcame them by having the balls to stand up to my beliefs rather than be controlled by others and worked hard to back up my words. I've been drawing for a long time but only started to take things seriously in late 2006 (prior to that, it was all Anime/Manga)
Last edited by Alex Chow; August 28th, 2008 at 12:34 AM.
been drawing since I developed motor skills only started really studying art less than two years ago. I have learned more in that time than 3 + years of college.
"There aren't any shortcuts. You've got to dig in – study and draw the world around you. This is the only way to hone your skill and develop a style that is your own". GREG CAPULLO
Art always came easy to me as a kid. Mainly because I was not HYPER CRITICAL about it. In turn, people encouraged me, feeding the whole concept that art was FUN and EASY. You learn and grow one step at a time.
Give yourself a break. And enjoy the process of learning.
If you don't make the process enjoyable, then every new obstacle or lesson will seem impossible.
"If one advances confidently in the direction of
his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he
has imagined, he will meet with a success
unexpected in common hours."
- H.D. Thoreau
Always drew as a kid, i was the one who everyone wanted to do their posters or presentation work in primary school, spent a lot of time making my own comics and magazines ( this was in the days before photoshop) which were godawful and never shown to anyone despite the immense amount of effort i put into em. I loved the idea of having a finished object in my hands which i had made, be it a book or a model made out of paper and sellotape.
At secondary school things werent much different, in GCSE i was personally headhunted by my ex-english teacher while in a maths class to go and draw some big pictures of winnie the pooh and the pied piper for her year 7 class display. I was by no means the best in the school- i never once was even nominated for the school awards in art, and i never thought of it as anything more than a bit of fun.
I wasnt exactly 'in the shadows' though. I couldnt shade, i couldnt draw from life even if you paid me- but something still caught the eye of my teachers which always boggled my mind. Every now and then they would grab a piece of work from under me while half-finished to go show it to their co-workers. This came with a dollop of praise and sometimes some advice, like checking out a certain book or other artists work. I think they were impressed that i could draw from my mind,without ref, but i mean..it still confuses me now when people say they cant do that, it just comes so naturally i assumed everyone could :s.
Despite this, right up until the last few moments of GCSE and applying for college, Art was not going to be my future. I've always been interested in biology, zoology, evolution and all that jazz, as well as creature anatomy and i mean..if i hadnt restrained myself for the past few months my sketchbook here would be filled almost entirely with creatures, i cannot get enough of them .
At the time my interest in the natural side of things- and anatomy in particular- made me think i wanted to be a vet. I guess most kids have that dream at some point- i think i only stuck to it for so long because i had a friend who had a similar desire. I knew i wanted to do something with animals, but i couldnt really think of much i could do. The idea of being in school for 7 years to be a vet wasnt really encouraging, and after seeing reality TV shows about the lives of vets, or rather lack thereof- the long nights, the pressure,the lifetime of learning, the stress- i knew it wasnt really going to be for me.
OH GOD THE IRONY.
Rambling a bit now. To cut it a bit short- I began to get serious when a met a couple of people on an internet forum who kind of opened my eyes to the idea that art was not just something you did for the lulz, and that improvement was not something that 'just came naturally'. I had an awesome mentor who really changed the way i thought and drilled into me the concept of professionalism and having as few weak points as possible. It helped that he absolutley HATED every single piece of work i ever did, even the stuff i liked. I saw this as a challenge, and since i can get super competitive It really kept me going until we eventually stopped speaking so much- but by then i was competing against myself anyways.
My drive to improve was spurred on by deviantart..back before it was shitty (deviantart was ALWAYS shitty). I was eager to prove myself by getting a DD, back when DDs meant something and werent just shoved at the bottom of the page where noone can see them. I wanted watchers, i wanted pageviews. It consumed me for a bit, but i grew out of it as the site took a nosedive into sucksville in '04-'05. Which is funny because just as i started to give up on 'playing the game', i got my first DD.
At the end of college i didnt know where to go next. I knew a fine arts course wouldnt teach me drawing, wouldnt give me acess to life models and i really didnt see the point in going to uni to do abstract stuff which has nothing to do with anything. I didnt exactly leap straight into an illustration course either, though i dont know what was stopping me..confidence i guess, and just plain nerves. I took a foundation degree to try and figure it out, and still didnt have a clue. I was planning on applying for route B just because it meant i had a few more months of not thinking about it.
Then, just for a day out, i went along to the teesside open day with a group of people i knew who were into programming. While there one of the talks mentioned the computer games art course, which i kind of snubbed when a friend who i wasnt exactly fond of suggested that it was the course for me and that i could draw mario all day. But It stuck in my mind, i was interested in picking up some 3D in the first place, and concept art- making up characters, environments etc- was pretty much what i did in my spare time anyways.
Oh god that was all so exhausting to type out. The thing thats important, i think, is to look at what you enjoy, what you're good at and elaborate on it. You might not even know what that is- but trying out as much as you can, looking into everything and never turning your nose up or wussing out of things ( you can grumble and moan, but still do it! ) will eventually have you getting into the groove and knowing where you stand as a person, as an artist, whatever.
Oh yeah, and draw. All the time. set up your own learning pattern and stick to it, dont rely on others to teach you, because they wont. they can give you advice, they can give you crits, but its all down to you.
Last edited by ALH; August 29th, 2008 at 02:32 PM. Reason: EDIT: OH GOD ITS AN ESSAY
I’ve only got back into art in the last few months, after a long break, and the difference life drawing has made has been vast. Each time I improve, I try to push the bench mark that much higher because I’m nowhere near where I once was in terms of confidence of line. I’m taking it slowly and enjoying every minute I can fit in of it. I look back at the stuff I did in June and wonder why I was pleased with it then. I reckon if I keep up improving at this rate I’ll hit the moon and beyond.