Anime's place in the world of fine art
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    Anime's place in the world of fine art

    I'm suddenly in a situation to give an hour presentation on "anime's place in the world of fine art," but am grasping a little for debate points, since I have to play both sides. I'd love to hear the conceptart community's opinion on the subject!
    For our purposes, I'd like to treat anime as a "fine art," not a storytelling medium. I guess all art really is, but I'm trying to avoid people justifying the simple faces because of manga deadlines or something. Besides, I believe there's a very apt reason for the simple faces (McCloud's "Masking Effect")...

    1.) What do you DISLIKE about anime art?
    (the problem of 9 faces, too fanservicey/robot-filled, too many crap copiers who inhibit their own development by obeying a predetermined style, and/orrr..?)

    2.) Are there any GOOD anime-inspired artists (preferably illustrators) you'd like to recommend I use as examples?
    (I've got a pretty good selection already, but am always looking for more. Fyi, they don't have to be Japanese.)

    And if you have anything else notable that comes to mind when you hear "anime as fine art," please do share.

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    Takashi Murakami is exactly what you're looking for if you want officially recognized "fine art".

    Last edited by Psychotime; July 10th, 2012 at 12:01 AM.
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    > Besides, I believe there's a very apt reason for the simple faces
    if you look at typical Asian facial expressions (especially prominent in children) and compare them to anime/manga emotional language, you will see literally portrait similarities. those simple faces just work better (and are cheaper to produce too.)

    > Are there any GOOD anime-inspired artists (preferably illustrators) you'd like to recommend I use as examples?

    http://artas1.com/
    and yep, look up Takashi Murakami, he makes most sense as anime/fine art crossover example. those LV ads

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    I'm not aware of many "fine arts" anime artists except for Murakami, who has already been mentioned. However I like kidchan's work, although she might be considered more of an illustrator: http://cyanparade.tumblr.com/archive The manga Dolis also had nice illustrations, though I have never read it. When anime artists focus more on design (rather than fanservice and expected cliches), that is personally when I consider it more successful aesthetically.

    I dislike a lot of the "anime" work coming out because it's derivative, saturated with cliches, and many of the characters are irritating tropes. That's anime in quotes because yes, most of it is a product designed to make money.

    Sure, you can do something artful with it, but, like most American cartoons, it's just filler for kids. The standout examples are as rare as you would expect in any other commercial medium.

    Addendum: I just remembered why I don't particularly like when someone says they work in a "style": it sort of acknowledges that the artist is subscribing to certain unbreakable 'tenets' they must follow to remain in that style. It's self-limiting and forced styles are all too easy to see. When you follow a formula without really thinking about its rules (or, as many young anime artists do, fail to study drawing from life) you get stuck in a cycle of tired artwork.

    Last edited by bodied; July 10th, 2012 at 03:18 AM.
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    1.) What do you DISLIKE about anime art?

    If we're talking about the simplified style that we're used to seeing from a given cartoon in Japan: it feels a bit too 'manufactured' for the most part if it makes sense. Sameface isn't much of an issue for me, as much as how much derivativeness is encouraged in general, due to the environment in which it was created and nurtured (which demands high output at lower cost).

    2.) Are there any GOOD anime-inspired artists (preferably illustrators) you'd like to recommend I use as examples?

    I don't know how good you want them to be exactly, but: early Masamune Shirow, Nagano Mamoru, Naoyuki Kato, Kentaro Miura, Range Murata, Katsuhiro Otomo, Hiroaki Samura, Tsutomu Nihei.

    IMO though, using "anime" as an umbrella term for something that has a really wide range of styles (and is as varied as western cartooning) is kind of strange. By what measure is a drawing 'anime', really? I could mention some Japanese artists with a realistic or semi-realistic style, and some people would peg them as 'anime' without a second thought.

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    Are there any GOOD anime-inspired artists (preferably illustrators) you'd like to recommend I use as examples?
    Yoshitaka Amano - Final Fantasy concept artist.
    Also take a look at Studio Ghibli's concept art
    Jiro Ishikawa and co-conspirators.

    I guess all art really is, but I'm trying to avoid people justifying the simple faces because of manga deadlines or something.

    I'd put it as a sophisticated system of stylization and caricature. One that makes it easier to trigger emotional responses in the reader and also helps boost pagecount. This would make it more of a positive rather than a negative. Here I'd mention the Belgian Ligne Claire style - a set of simplifications and artistic conventions which are different, but that are there for the same reasons. To get the job done, and for the sake of mood - imagine Schultz's Peanuts with realistic drawn children and dogs - it would blow the mood.

    These well defined conventions may also make it easier for a child or teen to get into drawing, by providing a sort of lego make-a-face kit, albeit with the same drawbacks if the person doesn't develop as an artist in certain ways.

    It's not a monolith - there are mangaka that don't embrace all the conventions of generic manga - If you take a look at Takehiko Inoue's Vagabond or Hanazawa Kengo's I am a Hero, they're not stylizing the faces much. Most of the time.

    Dowman Sayman (nsfw), on the other hand, uses all the visual stylizations of manga, but puts them together to make stories that really play games with the usual storytelling mechanics and conventions of generic fiction.

    Regarding the generic drawing style, if you look at Space Ship EE, or the award-winning Takemitsu Zamurai, or at the Atypical Art Style Category here:
    http://www.mangaupdates.com/series.h...ical+Art+Style
    you can find other examples of people who have just wandered away and done their own thing.

    I would say that much of it is fine art, constrained and also spurred by the necessity to tell a story. If you want to get florid, some of it would be what you get when you bolt a narrative onto fine art.

    Oh, and some of it is crap.

    1.) What do you DISLIKE about anime art?
    Some of the porn seems to have a real contempt for women. This I say as someone who regards himself as sex-positive and porn-friendly. "Does this author really feel this way, or is this tone just here as part of the fantasy and fetish material for the person who's reading it one-handedly, and the author doesn't feel this way about women in general, anymore than most cartoonists don't think Superman can fly in real life ... boy, some people really get off on fantasies of inflating people like balloons ... huh ... ok, I understand in principle but that is not a sexy balloon."

    Much of it seems to reinforce unhealthy or unrealistic attitudes regarding women in society, and as partners in relationships. Japanese men tend to have no idea what Japanese women are thinking, and I don't think this stuff helps.

    Generic contemporary Fine Art tends not to have these issues, at least not to such an extent.

    It's fodder for a debate, perhaps.

    IMO though, using "anime" as an umbrella term for something that has a really wide range of styles (and is as varied as western cartooning) is kind of strange. By what measure is a drawing 'anime', really? I could mention some Japanese artists with a realistic or semi-realistic style, and some people would peg them as 'anime' without a second thought.
    Yup. Similarly, define "Fine Art". In the debate, you can point out that we're to some extent arguing definitions, and arguing about whether manga/anime is Fine Art is like arguing whether Duchamp, Kincaid, Worhol, or Schultz etc. are fine art.

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    2.) Are there any GOOD anime-inspired artists (preferably illustrators) you'd like to recommend I use as examples?
    Spend some time researching the anime you find at experimental film festivals.

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    I'm suddenly in a situation to give an hour presentation on "anime's place in the world of fine art,"
    I'm sorry, but...who the **** stuck you in this corner (corner being this topic) for an hour long presentation!?

    Last edited by Koudee; July 10th, 2012 at 11:15 AM. Reason: *
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    Quote Originally Posted by JesseM View Post
    but I'm trying to avoid people justifying the simple faces because of manga deadlines or something. Besides, I believe there's a very apt reason for the simple faces (McCloud's "Masking Effect")...
    Seriously, it can be that simple sometimes. How do you think American cartoons developed it's own styles? A rubber hose dog is gonna be much faster and easier to animate than a realistic one. It was a means to an end. McCloud himself brings this up in one of his books.

    But just because it came from necessity doesn't mean that people can't love a certain look for it's own sake.

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    "I'm suddenly in a situation to give an hour presentation on "anime's place in the world of fine art"

    Wait, is this a debate or a presentation? and for who? and why?

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    The Japan Society has had a few exhibits that may be a good starting point for finding anime-influenced fine artists (and there are a fair number of those...)

    This exhibit was specifically about the cross-influence of modern Japanese pop culture (i.e., anime,) on Japanese fine art:
    http://www.japansociety.org/event/li...kashi-murakami

    These are less specifically about anime, but some of the artists listed may be useful to support your theme:
    http://www.japansociety.org/event/by...y-japanese-art

    http://www.japansociety.org/event/ma...ts-in-new-york

    They also had an exhibit on plain old anime:
    http://www.japansociety.org/event/kr...ga-video-games

    Most of these have related publications you could look up as well...

    EDIT: I just remembered, the Asia Society had a big exhibit of Yoshitomo Nara that might be pertinent as well:
    http://asiasociety.org/arts/asia-soc...a-nobodys-fool

    Last edited by QueenGwenevere; July 10th, 2012 at 11:14 AM.
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    "Anime" in Asian countries is pretty much equivalent to "cartoons" in the Western world. It's that prevalent, that broad. So try looking at it as "fine art that happens to utilize anime" rather than "anime that also happens to be fine art".


    This guy I stalk, "JNTHED", recently had an exhibition in Tokyo showcasing anime expressionist paintings. He's got several blogs, some of them on tumblr: here, here, here, here, here.

    (The exhibition I'm talking about:)

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    ...Huh?

    A Nightmare Is A Dream Come True:
    Anime Expressionist Painting
    Yeah, I'm confused.

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    The problem with this topic is it's in the word itself. Anime. Animation. Manga also being comics. It's not built for fine art. Fine art is fine art. Anime is anime. You can have some animation companies with background artists that produce things that could probably be considered fine art since they literally just paint like a normal artist probably would only considering animation that will be built on it.

    Literally everything Studio Ghibli made (companies done making films I heard?) makes me drool.






    This ones a bit too big
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    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_sy3UEYGx4H...1600/howls.jpg




    Also anime 'inspired' illustrators.
    Gezfry comes to mind.

    Last edited by JFierce; July 10th, 2012 at 01:31 PM.
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    *Throws 2cp into the bucket*

    People have mentioned Murakami. I would throw in Yoshimoto Nara and Colin Davison, I've seen all three in exhibition and they were all interesting and very Manga in style.

    You could also mention the importance of manga as a source of inspiration for many fine artists, even if they don't produce manga-esque work themselves. The older classic mangas have dealt with a lot of themes to do with the human condition and people themselves, which fine artists tend to pick up on and respond to.

    This article might be of interest to you ^ ^
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesi...edaymangaasart

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    I think the topic is fine and has many interesting facets. Anime imagery (along with robots, cartoons, zombies, monsters, spacemen, ponies, toys, porn, etc.) has long been appropriated by the "fine art" community (just pick up a copy of Juxtapose magazine). That's the sort of angle I would take anyway, but I suppose it depends on how you want to define "fine art" to begin with.

    Edit: After a more careful reading of your questions...I think it is a mistake to take the position "anime is fine art" to begin with...it makes it somehting it isn't and shifts the discussion points away from making some interesting connections between the two things. But that's just me.

    Last edited by JeffX99; July 10th, 2012 at 04:55 PM.
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    1.) What do you DISLIKE about anime art?
    The same thing I dislike about WoW - it's a fad. Also, it's very often misunderstood by folks who don't understand why their fanart is not up to part with the professional level work done in the books they buy.

    I can't answer the second question because I don't consider really any anime to be up to the standards of a professional level illustrator. To me, Anime is a simple art form. Faces are typically plain, although sometimes it can be pretty detailed. It can also have very nasty ulterior motives (such as Battle Royale).

    Doctors heal you, Artists immortalize you.

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    Why are you trying to a round peg into a square hole? Is the square hole somehow better?

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    Lets get something straight here:

    There is Anime and there is Manga:

    Anime = Japanese Animation (or Animated Manga in most cases)

    Manga = Japanese comics.

    So calling it all Anime kind of tells me that you don't know much about these things.
    Also there are various drawing styles so not all of them conform to the stereotype the west calls 'anime style'
    with some manga being as close to correct anatomy as american comics.

    So at the end of the day art is art and yes there are Japanese fine artists with a Japanese style though I doubt they use Manga or Anime (Japanese Comics or Animation) as a medium.

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    My daughter is a huge anime fan, she's very gifted artistically but spends most of her time drawing and painting anime and watching it and interacting with other fans on fan pages on facebook.
    I don't really dislike anime but don't really like how huge an impact it has on my daughter at the minute, so I guess my opinion is very personal.
    You didn't ask what people like about anime, I would have thought that's as important a question as what people dislike.

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    It's a huge mistake when someone confuses an unaffiliated fan subculture/single work/popular style as representative of a medium, or in this case, the specific area that we want to look at an existing medium through. It's bad enough when people do that with genres.

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    Range Murata and Okama might serve as examples.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDSart View Post
    Okama


    Sorry, I had to. He's the best character.

    You can't get better than an insane 7 foot tall shapeshifting crossdresser with a deadly ballet influenced kungfu who fights in the name of friendship and proves to be the most loyal and courageous supporting character you'll ever see.

    Last edited by Psychotime; July 10th, 2012 at 11:09 PM.
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    Forget "anime," I think you really need to define what you mean by "the world of fine art." Because honestly, as things are phrased now, it's just going to be "Murakami, Murakami, Murakami, Murakami," and I don't know how you're going to keep that up for an hour.

    (Not really, of course: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superflat)



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    Quote Originally Posted by Koudee View Post
    I'm sorry, but...who the **** stuck you in this corner (corner being this topic) for an hour long presentation!?

    Not stuck in a corner! I have 2 months, and I've been musing on this topic for a while. I'm the one who suggested it, anyway. I'm gonna go on some tangents about style and do some art history and have fun with it. And I like giving presentations, so I'm excited for it...

    Huge thanks to everyone who posted! That was a.. much bigger response than I expected. And so many great artists linked to!
    Thanks for being patient with my terminology. A lot of this discussion is about definitions and categories, which inevitably don't really exist. You can't put art in a box any more than you can put people in a box. I'll be sure to define my terms and purpose clearly before giving the presentation.. but discussions like these do require some suspension of belief, if you will. You have to be a little forgiving and make some generalizations or else you can't draw any conclusions.
    Do bear in mind, though, that my original question isn't "Is anime fine art?" but "What is anime's place in, or relationship with, fine art?"
    I'm not trying to shoehorn anything into anything - just ask a question to prompt discussion.

    Not going to respond to everyone because of time, but..

    Elwell - You always have valuable input, thank you. Good point.. By "fine art," I mean single images that are an end in and of themselves; not sequential panels, or preproduction work, but something that might go in a snotty gallery. In the end everything overlaps and it gets really messy, but..
    Wikipedia to the rescue!
    One definition of fine art is "a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture."
    The word "fine" does not so much denote the quality of the artwork in question, but the purity of the discipline. This definition tends to exclude visual art forms that could be considered craftwork or applied art, such as textiles.
    lightanddark - ..I speak Japanese. Manga is why I started drawing. I'm an otaku at my core. :P But I'm too busy these days to write out anime/manga every time I want to refer to Japanese cartoons and animations, so I just stick with the more common "anime."

    Marion - I considered asking for "likes" too, but my audience for this presentation is going to have a huge bias towards anime, so I don't really need to give them any reason for that side. Thanks for your input! You have an interesting situation to be looking at anime from..

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    Quote Originally Posted by JesseM View Post
    ..I speak Japanese. Manga is why I started drawing. I'm an otaku at my core. :P
    How much do you hate kanji?

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    from Wikipedia
    Fine art or the fine arts encompass art forms developed primarily for aesthetics and/or concept rather than practical application.
    So that is pretty simple in solving your questions..

    Quote Originally Posted by JesseM
    ..I speak Japanese. Manga is why I started drawing. I'm an otaku at my core. But I'm too busy these days to write out anime/manga every time I want to refer to Japanese cartoons and animations, so I just stick with the more common "anime."
    You say that but the distinction between these and their western counterparts is insignificant to the matter of your question.

    You might as well ask :Are Powerpuff girls fine art?

    The Criteria for fine art quoted above imply that any Art-form is valid as fine art depending on the purpose behind it.

    Comics and Animation(or Manga and Anime, same difference) are two very effective art-forms and so their purpose can range between commercial practical applications such as propaganda or advertising to purely aesthetic/conceptual pursuits that have no practical value whatsoever.

    If people in the west hate on "anime" its mostly because of the works that bring a bad name to the genre and its soaring popularity with the average young westren anime-fans who become content with drawing minimalistic figures of poor proportions.
    That hate on anime is probably an excuse on part of western traditionalists to refuse to recognize a popular art form that they feel threatened by.

    Over the years I found that there are several types of Art snobs, they generalize and hate on other schools of art mostly out of ignorance from what I encountered so far, nothing to get excited about really and there is nothing you can do to change it.

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    JesseM, do you have an outline?
    Since, I'm assuming you're doing this school or university work.

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    Arshes Nei is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
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    Anyone who is a fan of Japanese culture should know better than to use "otaku" D:

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    Quote Originally Posted by JesseM View Post
    "What is anime's place in, or relationship with, fine art?"
    In that case, take a look at the widespread proliferation of graffiti styles being implemented into "fine art". Does having a weird cartoon character on a canvas instead of a concrete wall make it more fine art? (Speaking here of the recent explosion of pop-surrealism, which always struck me as very faddish and not likely to last another 15 years at this point).

    Or you could rephrase the question: what are cartoons in relation to fine art? Because that's really what anime is. If you take a generic anime character from a TV show and put it in a gallery, does that make it more art than if you had left it on a TV screen?

    I think many people are infatuated with the style right now (especially Western anime artists) and they simply reuse the cliches they find on the TV screen. Think about all the furry artists who redraw dogs in a Disney style - maybe use it as a comparison. Why is the anthro art not held in a higher esteem in relation to this question - why not the current Cartoon Network restylization of its characters? It's the style, not the substance, that more people are paying attention to with anime. I also think part of anime's appeal is the fact that it comes from a foreign culture. We're on a trend of reappropriating popular culture and putting it into the fine art box. Is that good or bad? Who can say at this time.

    Overall I think the question you may want to address is - does anime become fine art if you stick it in a gallery/museum?

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