Do you keep your old drawings?

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  1. #1
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    Do you keep your old drawings?

    I used to keep track of everything I drew. But once I started art school I was drawing a ton and the drawings would pile up. Especially the life drawings, animation paper and brainstorm sketches. Most of it's crap since it's just sketching. Now the only stuff I keep is finished work and sketches I like or might use in the future. When I'm done with a sketchbook I throw it in a drawer, but I don't scan or photograph it anymore like I used to.

    Even with my Deviantart gallery, I deleted most of the old art because it was horrible compared to my recent stuff. I notice some people upload everything they do and have hundreds of images on their blog or website, but some of the best artist have only 10 or so. Sometimes a great artist uploads something bad and I wonder why they would do that, why not just move on to the next thing and try to do a better job?

    I feel like I'm better off not being attached to my drawings and keeping up the momentum to make the next project better. Even though the process work is important, once the project is finished it served it's purpose and is not needed anymore. For me the final is the most important.

    Do you guys like to keep track of your old art or toss it and move onto the next thing. And if you do keep it, for what reason? Maybe it's more useful for certain artists to keep old process work than others.

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  3. #2
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    I absolutely keep it.

    These aren't trading cards or toys...this is my fucking life. It's not really for anyone else but me to serve as a record of where I have been and where I will go as long as I keep learning.

    I have artwork from when I was 5 years old.

    The only art I am missing is from age 16 or so. I accidentally forgot it and left it with roommates from college when I moved away to get work. They said they'd go down into storage and send it to me, but after that point all of those people dispersed and went their own ways, conveniently forgetting to send the bag.

    So it probably sat and rotted in the storage unit until someone rented the place and got tossed in the trash because it was "left behind" by former tenants. That was probably 3 years of work in my most crucial period of learning.

    To this day, I am heartbroken that I can never get it back.
    I have shitty photocopies of some of it (as before the scanner days, I photocopied all of my work). So I have SOME record of it, but not all.

    I'd happily be called a "hoarder" if what I was hoarding was my life's dedication to art.

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    Some of my best memorabilia is my old drawings. If I had drawings from when I was like 8 or less that would really be a trip. I nostalgia bomb already from early high school alone.

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    Yeah I agree, it's nice to keep the really old stuff! I managed to keep some of the drawings I did as a kid and I have all of my highschool art at my parents house. But in college I just don't feel the same attachment to a 10 minute sketch as I do a finished project. Especially in animation class we were cranking out quick studies of motion or layout thumbnails and most people left those lying in the studio when they were finished. Maybe we are careless animation students. But never would I throw away a finished drawing.

    Just curious if you guys felt differently since most people here are illustrators or designers, so maybe there is a different feeling to your art. Cause I was shocked when my layout teacher told me they threw away their layouts after the show was over and those drawings were amazing, but looking back he did regret it.

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    Yeah, keep pretty much every sketch because it's usually in books. No reason to rip a page out and no way in hell would I through out an entire book of sketches. It's all a process, man. I suppose it might be different for an animator, but for me I consider every drawing, no matter how small, a step at learning. I feel that I can't learn to get better unless I can see the record of where I sucked.

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    Thanks for sharing your experience Dusty. It's interesting to get an alternate point of view.

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    Keep it manageable! There were times when I easily did at least 75 sheets of newsprint a week, most of them were quick gestures. I immediately trashed most of it, and kept a few for reviews. I used about two reams of newsprint every term, there is no way you should even think about keeping it all...

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    I have a mixed approach. I generally keep most of my sketchbooks since they're bound and there aren't any loose pages to worry about keeping track of. They also make for a nice convenient means to look at my progress over a period of time, and to look back at ideas that I may want to come back to. Gestures done on sketch paper or large newsprint I generally toss since they're warm-ups and I don't have much investment in them. I'll occasionally keep one if it seems particularly good. I have kept my longer gestures and the images I've drawn in figure drawing classes or sessions because they are more of an investment for me, and I like them (I also don't have as many, so right now storing them is not a major investment). Illustrations that I do are generally kept, usually placed in small flat storage or a portfolio. Again, I don't have that many to contend with right now, and I will usually toss something immediately if I don't like it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty View Post
    Yeah, keep pretty much every sketch because it's usually in books. No reason to rip a page out and no way in hell would I through out an entire book of sketches. It's all a process, man. I suppose it might be different for an animator, but for me I consider every drawing, no matter how small, a step at learning. I feel that I can't learn to get better unless I can see the record of where I sucked.
    I once went through an entire sketchbook, ripping out each page after I finished a drawing and throwing it away. I got to the last pages and realized I had an empty book. What did I learn through those 200 something pages? I don't know... Because I don't have it.



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    I have a few old sketchbooks and all of the digital stuff is on the internet, but I paint over a lot of old paintings. I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff, too. It feels good for some reason. Some times I feel a bit of nostalgia looking through old sketchbooks, other times it doesn't bring much enjoyment...

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    Here's a good guideline...keep it if there is a reason to do so. I probably keep 95% of my stuff...but a crappy painting that I didn't wipe off isn't worth keeping around. I re-prime and paint over those. With figure stuff you just generate so much it should be culled.

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    I save most of mine for a few months. Then revise the pile and discard what I can see just won't serve much purpose neither in tracking my development nor be used as reference/idea/remake later, and not even provides fun looking at a poor attempt.
    Don't throw out right away, because in that moment you probably won't know how you will perceive it later.

    If in a sketchbook, you can always alter the pages if you don't like your first result

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  16. #13
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    I keep my sketchbooks archived so i can looked at them in the future, and amaze myself for the improvement made, but then again, the online sketchbooks in the sketchbook section could serve the same purpose so you dont have to keep a physical copy.

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    I'm an awful hoarder, though mostly because I never have time to archive and sort stuff. So it piles up. Occasionally I throw out a handful of really useless stuff, but mostly it joins the eternal piles. I do like to keep at least a selection of representative work from all stages of my life, because it's like a diary in a way. I can look back at old drawings and it's like a window into a past time and state of mind - I can remember me as I was then, and where I was, and what I was doing, and what I was thinking.

    And if drawings are in a sketchbook, they stay there. I like to keep my sketchbooks intact. Again, they're like a diary that way - I can flip through and remember the whole sequence of events that was happening at the time I filled the sketchbook... Even the crappy drawings are important because they fill out a complete picture of that particular stretch of time.

    I did ditch an awful lot of stuff from art school, because there was so much of it, and so much of it was uninteresting or just plain awful - piles of lame figure drawings, boring/stupid assignments I didn't care about, etc. Though I kept anything I really liked or that was representative of what I was doing then.

    There's some stuff from my childhood that's been lost or thrown out by other people that I really wish I still had... I still have a hoard of whatever childhood art I could get my hands on, though. That stuff seems especially valuable to me because it's the only really genuine record I have of a completely different time in my life. Family snapshots don't tell me much, but a drawing I did when I was six speaks volumes to me of a certain place and time. (I even have some messes I made when I was two, but I honestly don't remember making those...)

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  18. #15
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    The thing with me is I hate to keep any sort of junk I don't need like old clothes, books or whatever people tend to leave lying around the house. That might explains why I throw away a lot of my old sketches. But I am a digital hoarder, so I keep all the digital art I create (advantage is it takes up no physical space).

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  19. #16
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    I suppose how much you keep or toss depends on whether you see your art as an extension of yourself or as extraneous "junk"... To me most of the things I create are like my children: they might be ugly and stupid, but they're my babies.

    But other people may see most of what they make as disposable...

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  20. #17
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    Yeah as an art student most of it is junk because it's usually studies or brainstorm sketching, but if it's something I personally invest myself into then I would never throw that away. Hope it doesn't sound like I don't care about my art cause I do.

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  21. #18
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    How the fuck could you even consider throwing out your old drawings?


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  22. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by visoutre View Post
    Yeah as an art student most of it is junk because it's usually studies or brainstorm sketching, but if it's something I personally invest myself into then I would never throw that away. Hope it doesn't sound like I don't care about my art cause I do.
    But... At least the brainstorm sketching, isn't that a lot about you, who you are, and investing not only skill but also personality into it?

    -The first lines that can either become a completed piece of painting, but regardless is a piece of you?

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  23. #20
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    Brainstorm sketches for me are really rough and quick; they are just a means to reaching the final image. Also what I mean by brainstorm sketch isn't just the thumbnails, but the little studies I do to refine a part of the image. So if I'm drawing an interior I like to draw up a floor plan and maybe elevations to show scale of props. Also design props and environmental elements on seperate sheets. But once I'm done with the project I don't see the need to keep all those studies and process work. If I think I need to revisit a design in the future I will scan the useful process work, but there is no need for the physical copies.

    I didn't think it was a big deal to throw away old drawings. I'm surprised how most of you feel. Makes me think I should invest more love into the process work so I don't view it as disposable.

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  24. #21
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    Eh, I encourage you to get a sketchbook.
    Then make something cool out of it so you don't feel like your stuff is a waste

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  25. #22
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    I give them to the fire in the winter when my oven needs food, and the rooms warmness.

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  26. #23
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    For a while I was tossing a lot of drawings, simply because I got tired of storing/moving all of them every damn year. Being an animation student, it was literally REAMS of paper.

    Honestly, I just stopped being attached to stuff that didn't matter - it was drawings created as part of the process, 90% of which didn't work. I even go through periods where I start purging life-drawing, again simply because I have no interest in keeping that much paper around. I didn't get rid of all of it, but certainly a decent percentage. The sketchbooks however, remain untouched.

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    I keep EVERYTHING!
    It's such a joy to look at your older drawings, I even found my really old stuff from when I was about 4.
    My sketchbooks and old drawings are all in order and I often look them up, sometimes to get new ideas or to motivate me.
    I will never throw them away. They show me how much I have grown and how much I still can go.

    Don't understand how people can throw they old artwork away.

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  29. #25
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    Whoohoo, another animation student who feels the same way! So my conclusion is animators are generally less attached to their drawings because they draw so many quickies, whereas other disciplines like illustration put more time into single images and feel more personal investment. Interesting stuff...

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  30. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by visoutre View Post
    Whoohoo, another animation student who feels the same way! So my conclusion is animators are generally less attached to their drawings because they draw so many quickies, whereas other disciplines like illustration put more time into single images and feel more personal investment. Interesting stuff...
    Well you know. Why keep 200+ pages of a leaf when the drawings ended up not working/being used in the final animation, and the paper is pretty much wrecked from erasing/flipping? If it had been animation paper I probably would have kept it as scratch paper for doodling, but at the time I was just using regular ol' copy paper.

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    I only have a few from when I was young because my Mum kept them, I gave up art for a lot of years and only started painting last year. Now I sketch designs for paintings I'm doing and keep all the sketches in a folder, most of my paintings are for other people so the only record of that work is the sketches and digital photos. The paintings I keep are my personal favourites.

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    I used to keep everything I did in a box. Then it became two boxes. Then three. Then a room. This summer actually I went and took high-resolution scans of EVERYTHING and stored them on both my harddrive and the cloud. Now I'm hoping to sell some of the sketches at some conventions and renaissance faires this summer.

    It'll be hard to let them go--- but I need more room!

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  33. #29
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    fuck no

    but I do take pictures of them before discarding

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  34. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by visoutre View Post
    Whoohoo, another animation student who feels the same way! So my conclusion is animators are generally less attached to their drawings because they draw so many quickies, whereas other disciplines like illustration put more time into single images and feel more personal investment. Interesting stuff...
    Depends... I still have all or most of the frames from several old multimedia animation jobs in big boxes... Actually, that's the only way I can view some of them now, none of those titles run on modern computers anymore. Sometimes I think I'll re-scan them so as to have working digital copies, but then I think when am I ever gonna have time to do that, soooo... big boxes, yep. :/

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