Emulating others to get better
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    Emulating others to get better

    Over the past few years I've heard professionals say over an over that its a good exercise to emulate artists you like so that you pick up a few of their tricks. I went to a workshop with Kekai Kotaki and he literally said "It's okay to rip everyone off in the beginning until you find your own style".

    For some reason this makes no sense to me. I am not sure what it means exactly to "emulate" others. Is it just analyzing their work? I don't know if this is a stupid thread, but does anyone have a few thoughts on this to share?

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    Well, I'm not sure why this idea doesn't make sense? Artists have always tended to work under a mentor or "master" to learn their craft...sometimes more than one. You find someone whose work excites and inspires and you follow their lead. The risk is following their lead for too long or following so closely you don't branch out and find your own path.

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    OmenSpirits is offline Commercial-Illustrator in-training, NOT an artist. Level 13 Gladiator: Retiarius
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    I was a Bart Sears clone when I was a kid for a long time. Expanding my horizons and aelf-education exposed me to more than aping any one artist did.

    You grow out of it if you desire so.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
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    I've learned more from copying my favorite artists work than any other method. In fact, when I was 15, I thought I had developed a secret way of stealing their techniques by copying them. Later, I found out that this was one of the primary methods of learning art for centuries. Seriously though, you can't always just look at their work and understand how they did it. By attempting to copy them, you take a guided tour through their thought process of creating pieces. You can learn a lot through reverse engineering other artist's work... and it's ok.

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    f you look at the big picture of things every time someone puts a pencil mark on a piece of paper we or Emulating some one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saraiva View Post
    For some reason this makes no sense to me. I am not sure what it means exactly to "emulate" others. Is it just analyzing their work? I don't know if this is a stupid thread, but does anyone have a few thoughts on this to share?
    em·u·late/ˈemyəˌlāt/
    Verb:

    Match or surpass (a person or achievement), typically by imitation.
    Imitate.

    Ever said to yourself I really like this cartoon/ comicbook character, I'm gonna draw them? If you did you were emulating someone.
    If you drew a super hero, you copied the idea of someone, and you "emulated" their idea.

    I'm going to assume your teacher(s) (referring to whoever is advising you) wants you to do more indepth study of someone's work. Analyze the work, synthesize the work, and possibly even recreate the work. figure out why you like an art piece. figure out why you dislike other pieces. ask your self questions as you study each idea. Would others like this? why might some not?
    then figure out how they made the piece. Did they overlay colors? did they premix a pallet? did they push tone passed it's true values? did they map out their composition, or did the construction happen more organically? did they blend their brushstrokes/ use a paper stump, or are their brushstrokes rough/ did they use hatching?
    and again ask yourself why?

    as Jeff explained, the most traditional means of education is the apprentice/ master route. It worked for hundreds of years, and would still work pretty well today (if you can find/ afford someone). Does this mean you need to copy them precisely? no, but, If you can ask them directly why they are doing something, they can answer you.
    and nowadays with the internet and video tutorials being made by every "tom dick and harry" you can basically learn straight from the artist's mouth.

    I see in your sketchbook that you have some really good bridgeman studies.
    what you did when copying his images was an emulation. If the next time you draw a person, you think of the rules and patterns you learned while drawing from bridgeman, you will see the usefulness of emulation at work.

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    Well, if you "rip off" more than one style, it makes sense you're going to end up with something quite different and unique, right?
    Anyway, I believe this is about learning the fundamentals more than style. "Style" isn't something you find, but it finds you.
    What you do is trying to figure out how your art idols approach and use the fundamentals, because that's what makes their work strong. That's why you emulate and copy.

    When I was a teenager I tended to believe that a certain style would make my work instantly awesome so I tried to emulate this or that one perfectly, copying a lot from these artists. But even when I managed a few good copies it didn't make my work stronger because I lacked basics (and I'm still working on those!)

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    "For some reason this makes no sense to me. I am not sure what it means exactly to "emulate" others."

    Saravia, not sure if trolling. But yea it sounds like you pretty much got the idea, analyze other people's work to get better, and pick up a few new tricks. Consider it like artistic cross training. You might not like particular style, but you might give it a try so that you might learn something and improve your own performance overall.

    Last edited by Pigeonkill; December 3rd, 2012 at 04:33 AM.
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    It ultimately depends on what you emulate.

    If you just copy the pictures, you'll end up a clueless copyist or, in the best case, a clone of someone else.

    But if you emulate the method - and copying another artist's work is only useful exactly for that: figuring out his method - then you'll learn and grow as an artist.

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    First copy others, then work from life (you should always work from life) and try to interpret life in your own way. Everyone has his/her own way to interpret life and that's were you will find your own style.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post
    First copy others, then work from life (you should always work from life) and try to interpret life in your own way. Everyone has his/her own way to interpret life and that's were you will find your own style.
    What? No...this is just, IDK, shooting in the dark/parroting what others say about things. It all depends. It depends on the individual, what they want to do and what they want to say. Art is a bigger thing than "do this...do that". I didn't see any indication that the OP was talking about working from life or how to interpret it. John Berkey often worked from life for his landscapes...but certainly did not for his epic spacecraft. Andy Goldsworthy doesn't work "from life"...he works with life. Get over this notion that art is "this", and this is how to do it.

    Also, on style, no need to worry about it...you already have it. The time to worry about it is when you don't like it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Art is a bigger thing than "do this...do that". I didn't see any indication that the OP was talking about working from life or how to interpret it. John Berkey often worked from life for his landscapes...but certainly did not for his epic spacecraft. Andy Goldsworthy doesn't work "from life"...he works with life. Get over this notion that art is "this", and this is how to do it.
    .
    this is good stuff imho.

    You and Dpaint should get together and write a book. Again imho.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie D View Post
    this is good stuff imho.

    You and Dpaint should get together and write a book. Again imho.
    Again? what book lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    What? No...this is just, IDK, shooting in the dark/parroting what others say about things. It all depends. It depends on the individual, what they want to do and what they want to say. Art is a bigger thing than "do this...do that". I didn't see any indication that the OP was talking about working from life or how to interpret it. John Berkey often worked from life for his landscapes...but certainly did not for his epic spacecraft. Andy Goldsworthy doesn't work "from life"...he works with life. Get over this notion that art is "this", and this is how to do it.

    Also, on style, no need to worry about it...you already have it. The time to worry about it is when you don't like it.
    When I say work from life is because it helps develop your style, just that. I'm not talking about anything generic here.
    Work from life and learn to interpret it your way because it helps create a more unique style. I don't see any parroting here, but then again, what do I know..
    Edit: When working from life you are interpreting reality and making your own decisions about everything. What this does is it gives your very own knowledge, by experiencing and analyzing life your own way. Every knowledge you get helps to mold your style but the knowledge you get from life is your own. You can than implement the conclusions you make from life into your imagination work..thats what I believe anyway.

    Last edited by pegasi; December 3rd, 2012 at 07:50 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saraiva View Post
    . I went to a workshop with Kekai Kotaki and he literally said "It's okay to rip everyone off in the beginning until you find your own style".
    Is that why we have a million Kotaki clones?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Saraiva View Post
    Over the past few years I've heard professionals say over an over that its a good exercise to emulate artists you like so that you pick up a few of their tricks.
    Not to emulate, but to blatantly copy the piece.
    That used to be a prime method of learning for the apprentices in bottegas throughout the Europe.
    Personally, I think there's no way like your own way...true, takes some more time, but the results are generally spectacular (if you're into that).

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