Being an artistic polymath
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  1. #1
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    Being an artistic polymath

    I wonder if it's okay to be a jack of all trades in art. I am an art student, and I don't really know what field I want to focus my art on. I've been training traditionally for figurative fine art now, but I also want to do concept art and illustration too. Lately, I've been kind of disappointed with figurative fine art now, because of the lack of storytelling and creativity in it. I am thinking about going to illustration and concept art because of there is more thought behind making a picture. There are more considerations for design, character, setting, mood, and intent for a picture, and you have the freedom to use your imagination. However I still want to do fine art and paint like the old masters with contemporary contexts and stories. Also fine art and illustration and concept art seem to have different aspects that make shifting your focus around a bit more confusing. Once you have to do a story for illustration your not doing your work from life anymore as you did in fine art. I was thinking about doing all of them, but then I feel that if I do all three of them without a main focus I will not be good at any of them, the jack of all trades, but the master of none. I know that there are a lot of artist here who work in diverse artistic fields, but at the same time they have some sort of focus, how do they balance it?

    Last edited by FallenGodX11; October 1st, 2009 at 06:54 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Many of the Old Masters were polymaths, in the true sense of being involved with other sciences and disciplines not directly related to painting- engineering especially. Bramante and Donatello were involved in a scheme to redirect a river to flood an enemy city, for example (which didn't work).

    The difference between fine art and illustration, meanwhile, is a fairly meaningless modern construct. There again it's also been said that if you chase two rabbits you catch neither, so it may be wise to concentrate on one priority at a time.

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    Just my 2 cents, but:

    Illustration / concept art = food, shelter and job

    Fine arts = Don't throw away your old clothes cos' you need them to be a beggar on the streets

    In this increasingly practical and realistic work where millions of artists all over the world are fighting in a competitive environment to land a job (even one that pays US$3 per hour), it's not practical to go down the fine arts route unless you're the best of the best to the extent that the world cannot do without you.

    For a start, artists in developing nations are more than happy to work on the same job for less than half the salary of what an artist in a developed nation will receive.

    Start with a specialization and then build up yourself from there.
    Like dashinvaine above says, you could try to catch the hare and the deer, but end up with neither.

    To conclude, you could get a job in illustration / concept art and do fine arts in your spare time. This way, you can draw from imagination and draw from life too.


    PS: I would probably be throwing my extra coins into <insert name of any Old Master here>'s alm bowl on the streets if they were still alive today, assuming they survive solely on fine arts.

    Nah, just an exaggeration.

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    Yeah, it's a good idea to have something to fall back on if the art career takes a while.

    Doctors heal you, Artists immortalize you.

    "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach" - bullshit.

    The usual staples for anatomy:
    George Bridgman
    Joseph Sheppard
    Andrew Loomis
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    there's nothing wrong with having a lot of interests. just make sure that you invest in one or two as fully as possible. you will find that when you REALLY excel at one thing... other things are easy to pick up because you have developed the most critical part of doing well in all things: judgement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FallenGodX11 View Post
    Lately, I've been kind of disappointed with figurative fine art now, because of the lack of storytelling and creativity in it.
    Why don't you add storytelling and creativity into your figurative fine art? Just because narrative isn't widely used in the figurative art you may be inspired by at the moment, that doesn't mean that you can't include it in your own. Seems very silly to not include all those things you enjoy (such as design, character, setting, mood, intent for a picture, and freedom to use your imagination) in your fine art! Be careful not to just play "follow the leader" with any art - i.e. seeing what is already popular and trying to emulate that - rather try to imagine what your ideal art would look like, and make that.

    Fine art, Illustration and Concept art all have large areas of overlap in the skills required, so I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea to try to pursue all three. But keep in mind that if you want to survive and prosper, you'll probably end up putting one above the rest simply to be able to compete against your peers. The artists that you see that have a diverse range of practices probably started by focusing in one area, keeping their other passions as 'hobbies', and then when they had more freedom and experience they gradually started bringing their other pursuits into focus. Trying to succeed at more than one career simultaneously would be crazy difficult, even if you are super skilled, simply because of the time requirements of pursing any one path fully. Start with the one that makes money in my opinion.

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