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  1. #1
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    Is concept art kitsch?

    I've had a few teachers describe "concept art" esp. those related to computer/video games to be kitsch, baser, less serious than fine art, "real" design work and architecture. Are there any truth or basis in these views? By the way, I myself have nothing against concept art; in fact it was because of concept art that I got excited about art in general.


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    first of all i dont know what the hell kirch is or whatever lol and second i think fine art is less serious than concept art, concept art is one of the major factors that runs this planet, not fine art anymore, conceptart is design, its everything from the shoes you wear to the buildings you go in, everything must be designed therefore concepted.
    Nathan Campbells 3 steps to drawing like a pro, 1. Sketch 2. shade. 3. highlights and ur done

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    "kitsch" means pretentious superficial art, eye candy, art for the stupid masses (not saying the masses are stupid...)

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    i heard similar statments from teachers that i greatly admired. i chalk it up to a lack of understanding. gaming is a relatively new field so it is only natural for teachers who probably grew up before atari to not appreciate the art of gaming. this will change eventually. ultamaltly if you get paid to do something you love and are passionate about, i consider that career success.

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    Exclamation Real art just is...

    Some people who "live" in art (teachers, artists and reviewers) seem to become very precious about what constitutes art. When one breaks it down how often would what *they* think of as art only be a reflection of the art they create or specialise in? Seems a bit egotistical to me. If you put the time and effort into creating it, whether its concept or fine art (a distinction I am somewhat blurry on...perhaps the quality of the paint?) then surely it IS art. Isnt that enough?

    As someone on the cusp of changing my thinking from "I do a bit of drawing and stuff" to "I create art" its offputting in the extreme.

    Rant over

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    Cool. Field looks intresting, but there are a few problems. Firstly, I am a premed bio engineering freshman at UC berkeley. In the asian culture and family where I come from, it is very important that the career I commit to be a "serious" one (and art is definatly not serious from these cultural perspectives), such as law, medicine and perhaps engineering. Telling them that I want to be involved with the art in movie preproduction is unthinkable, telling them I am intrested in video game art will bring shame for generations. Any thoughts?

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    This argument is heard between fine artists and illustrators as well, it seems that the only things that constitute art to the snobby types is the "art for art's sake" type of work. While that's all fine and good, it doesn't mean that illustration or concept work is less valid. I think a lot of the fine artist types that act his way are deluding themselves in thinkg that they're not making art with a purpose too- they're trying to fill a certain niche, and they're trying to get paid to do it- just like illustrators and concept artists.

    It's a shame that a lot of highly talented and intelligent artists will be lost to history simply because of the bereaucracy that exists today, I don't think many illustrators beyond Norman Rockwell (or maybe Wyeth/Pyle) will make it into the Art History books... only because the gallery types are the people who make the books. Imagine all the great artists we don't know about now because of this in the past...

    But yeah, if your teacher is saying that concept work is kitchy, he has his opinion, and you know yours... Stephen King has a great quote along these lines, when people thought his subject matter was kitchy/sublevel- "If you set out to write, or paint, or sculpt, or whatever, someone will always want to make you feel bad about doing it."

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    The difference between fine art and illustration is that you get paid for one and not the other.

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    It's a difficult thing when your family has expectations for you when maybe you want to do something else. The standard answer is "Follow your dream! Don't let your parents plan your life for you!" but I think this ignores the real consequences that can come from a decision like this.
    If you decide to "follow your dream" I see two possible consequences. Either your family will be surprised/disappointed but eventually get over it and tolerate/support you. Or . . . they might just always be mad at you.
    I hate to say something like that, but it's a real possibility you have to face.
    Some people are willing to take that risk because their dream is so important to them. And, ideally, it IS your life and you should be able to make your own decisions no matter what your parents think.
    Have you thought about other art-related areas?
    Architecture is a pretty respected field.
    Medical illustration combines art with technical medical knowledge.
    Industrial design is pretty respected (design cars, appliances, etc.) Plus, quite a few concept artists studied industrial design so you could legitimately start using this skill to do work in the entertainment industry.
    It's a hard decision . . . maybe feel the situation out a little bit before deciding what to do. Do some research on the stability of different fields.
    I wish you luck,
    emily

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    Crazy pompus professors. Concept art, illustration and even sometimes comic art can be far more art than modern art. The big question is what is art for. My opnion is that it is for story telling. In which case 75% of the gallery art I see doesnt even fit as art. Toilet paper on a picket fence tells nothing. A concept artist job is to make art to convey a story. Weather the final product is game, movie or book thats our job.

    If you need convicing to believe that art is for storytellling look at how it started. Cavemen drawing on walls to portray the hunt. Shamen drawing in the dirt to pray to their god. So thats my take.

    You can go this way or you can just tell your teach to bite you. Either way he/she is wrong.
    Awww, man!! Sorry about that. Yeah,thats gonna stain.

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    i know how you feel oliver, my family was against my choices, but now after workin hard, they are taking my side and seeing success come from it, what you can do is finish your degree if your too worried about switching majors and just do art in your freetime, you dont need school or a degree to get good or to be in the film or game industry, just raw talent.
    Nathan Campbells 3 steps to drawing like a pro, 1. Sketch 2. shade. 3. highlights and ur done

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaPalida
    The difference between fine art and illustration is that you get paid for one and not the other.
    That's not necessarily true. Illustration is mainly for specific jobs, therefore your work is geared to specific clients. Fine Artists are in business just like everyone else, don't be fooled... they have to find a way to make their art seen and bought so that they can put food on the table like everyone else. They're trying to make their art viable and current, just like illustrators. I'm talking about the people who make a living creating art. Galleries function similarly to the Illustration world, if you're selling, then they'll want you. And most fine artists who do it for a living want to sell their work and support themselves that way... The two aren't so different as people think...which was my point, there's no need for people to act like one is better than the other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaPalida
    The difference between fine art and illustration is that you get paid for one and not the other.
    That pretty much sums it up right there. Most Fine Artist starve to death before they can sell their piece for thousands of dollars, and some actually die before seeing that money. Illustrators like most say are telling a story by their characters, and action and environment, your creating a world..creating a world is art. It's an expression of the utmost highest joy to build a world from scratch. Fine artist can do the same, like Boris Vallejo (I think I spelled his name wrong) and other fine artist that I don't know about. I hate artist that sells a garbage can full of garbage for thousands of dollars, and calling that art....I call that a get rich scheme.

    Time for me to put my butt and hand print on canvas and call it turkey and sell it for millions.....oh yeah
    "If you only heard one side of the story, then you must be deaf in the other ear." - Sok N. Wett

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oliver23
    I've had a few teachers describe "concept art" esp. those related to computer/video games to be kitsch, baser, less serious than fine art, "real" design work and architecture. Are there any truth or basis in these views? By the way, I myself have nothing against concept art; in fact it was because of concept art that I got excited about art in general.
    Perhaps the removal of the rod up their ass would help.

    One type of art isn't more important then the other. Demand may be different, but the result is the same.

    The appreciation of art, or being an artist just because its in you to create has nothing to do with money. I love conceptual art because it exposes me to, many times, different perspectives, different ideas (notice, I didn't say 'new'). If by 'fine art' we're talking actual 'fine art' and not inane, abstract tripe then what I love about fine art is the completeness of it (whatever that means).

    Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo and maybe not in the strictest terms, but Gerald Brom has some very 'fine' art.

    Its just a stupid argument from either side. Anyone who claims superiority of one over the other is just being arrogant. Only a fool would dismiss fine artists as starving relics of days passed. And only a twit would claim that concept art, the reliquary of imaginative creation, is 'pretentious.' The only thing I think we all can agree on is that umbrellas on the side of the road, paint spatters on canvas and a pile of glued cans is most definately BAD art.
    "They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through a brief blossoming period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle-aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and, above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds."

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    I had a lotta fellow students in ID be really snotty with me when me and my girlfriend were working on the whole 'DUNE' thesis... Like they couldn't understand design catered towards film.

    They would talk down to me when they only had to do ONE design of a product and ONE model of it ... when I was in front of them and I had created 7 different designs and a model and countelss countless development sketches...

    In production-art sometimes you're designs are catered towards a 'kitsch' audience and you have to dumb down some ideas (or blow some out of proportion) to reach some demographics.... but that still takes discipline and understanding of design...

    I personally consider fine art and production design to be two extremely different mediums.... each with techniques that reach towards the other.

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    OK Cotron it was a joke that I heard heh. Here is where I stand after a discussion I had this afternoon:

    Concept art - Art that is most like design. Someone tells you "I want creature/character/vehicle/environment" and you are the person who has to conceive this visually so that others are able to use it in the final product. Games and Movies employ concept art. This art is exclusively representational and involves things that you can readily recognize and utilize. Car design, architecture, and product design would also fall into the category of concept art (where the art is used to produce another product). You get paid for this art by the comissioner. By themselves concept drawings say nothing, together with the final product they are the visual essence of the thing designed.

    Illustration - Art that is both representational and/or conveys an idea. This is a type of art similar to concept art but with a difference. There is an aesthetic appeal as well as expression of an idea that is conveyed in an illustration. Someone asks you to "illustrate the .com crash" and you have to take that and convey the idea visually. This sort of art is used to illustrate books, magazines, comics, and many other things. It can be representational like a medical illustration or more geared to an idea like some political illustrations. This is comissioned by someone else to sell or promote a product or idea and the artists get paid for this art by the comissioner.

    Fine Art - Art that can be anything at all. Sculpture, drawings, experiences. This is a type of art that carries with it a message. It can be representational or not. It can be anything as long as it is made by you to express your ideas, vision or feelings on the subject and not dictated by someone else. If someone buys your fine art more power to you ... but that is not what drives it. Your end goal might be to eventually sell your art but you are not making it to sell or promote some kind of a product. Some people might like your vision some might not ... that's what makes a succesful fine artist (moneywise ofcourse!).

    You can't really label someone a particular artist unless that's their profession. Many illustrators made fine art and many fine artists made illustrations. So it depends on an actual piece of work.

    Guernica is a piece of fine art, Feng Zhu's environments are concepts, and John Tenniel's Alice in Wonderland are examples of illustrations.

    That's just me. Ofcourse it's not so clear cut in real life, there are many crossovers so I'm still muddy on this topic.

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    oliver i get what you're saying.I came fromt he same backbround and it took me a long time to convince my parents to do art too. My mom was pretty open but my dad was pretty traditional. Most asian parents have the idea of a typical "starving artist" when they think of art. You just have to really try and educate them. I got alot of people to talk with my dad, professionals in the field, my art teahers, and some art center grads. Eventually my dad realizes how much an artist now can potentially make. (no offense but alot of the commercial artist/designers now make more than doctors.)

    Seriously, the era of fine arts have passed, and i think since this concept stuff is relatively new most people dont know the potential within this field. But i'm sure pretty soon more people would discover it. In the end it's still up to you to convince your parents if you really want to do art.

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    palida- I think my point isn't catching.. I know what the terms are, and what they should mean, but at the same time, like you said, the boundaries aren't really there. Art is an abstract concept, and people get into all sorts of heated arguments by attaching labels to them. I wasn't talking about the categories the actual art fit in, but rather the people who make the art, what they call themselves.

    Usually a Fine Artist wants their work to be in galleries, and an Illustrator wants their stuff in print. A concept artist wants their work to contribute to a movie, game, etc. I think most people on these boards know that. Or at least, I hope so.

    The point I was trying to make was this- They all want to get PAID. Even the finest of fine artist has bills to pay. By having a need to get paid, each of these three categories has to sell to a particular market. Fine arts, they have to find the right crowd that will buy their stuff, or get grants from the gov't. Illustration has to cater the portfolio to the clients they want to do work for. And concept work, the portfolio needs to fit the project. See my meaning?

    Acting like they're all different is counterproductive, because once you strip off the superficial, all the arts are pretty damn similar.

    ps- there are a LOT of fine artists who are still alive who are making a living doing it, you don't need to be dead to make it in the fine arts world...but you do need to be marketable.

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    I dont care if some sucker looks down on me and is all hip about me not being a 'fine artist'

    I make a living drawing stuff and i have fun doing that. I dont care what anyone thinks about it.

    Let's go draw and let other people worry about having opinions about eachother and grading everyone and everything around them like they are god or something.
    Power is nothing without intelligence.

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    i am not sure if fine art and concept art (also illustration and the like) are the same game at all.
    they may play in the same stadium (the one with pencils, colors, canvas, paper and wacoms in it) but they moved so far apart that they hardly share anything in common.

    the kitsch-factor, however, is a scale that is totally unrelated to the whole fine art versus unfine art thing.
    there of course is concept art that is pure kitsch - most likely because the project needs something kitschy. imagine a game playing in the flash gordon universe with non-kitschy spaceships.. a total failure, design-wise.
    thats the main difference to fine art: everything is geared towards a specific goal: representing a universe, telling stories, evoking associated emotions through design.. basically displaying what stuff looks like.
    saying that working out the looks of things that are shown in a part of the entertainment industry ends up in kitsch only shows that there were close to no thoughts spent on the whole thing - sadly, something quite common for artsy people.

    fine arts nowadays is completely free of any rules and goals. you make your rules and you set your goals. so, there is a certain possibility that fine art ends up with a quite high kitsch-factor, no matter how much the artist thought about his work or how intellectual he/she approached the whole matter.
    you may just throw paint on with a shovel or you may write a monography about the placement of color blobs on your canvas - and you can make both ways look kitschy.

    however, the issue about unfine art being less serious than fine arts is plain bullshit. apples arent more serious than oranges, baseball isnt more serious than soccer and a formula 1 car isnt more or less serious than a le mans car.
    either no thoughts spent about the whole matter or the usual "olol noob i pwnz yoo"-behaviour of elitist members of both camps.

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    very cool thread..one of those good reads I must say...

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    Yeah I guess it's like comparing different movie genres. Like Sci-fi versus WWII drama. Popularly Sci-fi is considered childish and kitsch and Drama more serious but both have their stinkers (Lost in Space and Pearl Harbour) and gems (Bladerunner and All Quiet on The Western Front). So while you can say that some piece of art is better than another you can't label an art "genre" as good or bad ... it's too much of a generalization.

    So you're right in the fact that they all want to get paid, I'm just saying that fine art is not the best road to monetary success as opposed to illustration, concept art, graphic design etc. It's not as in demand as these other art "genres". This could be a misconception, I don't really know the statistics on this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaPalida
    Fine Art - Art that can be anything at all. Sculpture, drawings, experiences. This is a type of art that carries with it a message. It can be representational or not. It can be anything as long as it is made by you to express your ideas, vision or feelings on the subject and not dictated by someone else. If someone buys your fine art more power to you ... but that is not what drives it. Your end goal might be to eventually sell your art but you are not making it to sell or promote some kind of a product. Some people might like your vision some might not ... that's what makes a succesful fine artist (moneywise ofcourse!).
    The 'end goal' of alot of fine artists is to get across a message whether it be social, political or just emotional. Its emotionally driven material. Fine art might be selfish art (not in a bad way), but its clearly not intended for the masses; hence that alot of (certianly not all) fine artists aren't as concerned with making something perfect from their vision, their viewpoint, their ideas, structure, emotion, imagination. So, like you said, there's no dictation (where there is commerciallism in anything there is always dictation) for someone who's doing it just to do it. Success for a fine artist, for one that creates from the heart, is not about money. Reaching people is real success, because you expose them to something they might never have seen or thought of. Its a totally alien mindset to most people who grade, price and categorize every piece they do.

    Frankly, space slugs, star-fighters, rail guns, aliens and a vast array of concept and illustrative art isn't going to 'say' anything. It might contribute to a product that wants to say something, but its only very small pieces of that puzzle. Its not good or bad, its just nuetral. Blowing zombies away is fun as all heck, but its not a statement; unless you really have it in for the undead. I love conceptual art and there are alot of incredibly magnificent, epic artists that do it. But in the end, someone will remember JW Waterhouse a little more then the guy who designed a_knight_07 in Land of the Dungeons IV.

    As an illustrator you'll make money. As a fine artist you'll make statements on a soapbox and live broke for a while. But both points are irrelevant. There is no distinction when it comes down to the raw data in the mind; that humans have the ability to translate abstract ideas from their mind onto paper.

    Is a guy who just plays a guitar a musician? No. He's a guitarist. A musician is like Sammy Davis who played EVERY instrument AND sang. That is a musician.

    And what about a symphony? Is the conductor the musician? No. His art involves the direction of a chorus. Is his job as hard to him as the first chair solo violinist? They probably both think that at the least they are equally hard; to be depended on to act and to be needed to guide.

    In the end if you separate and divide then you take away from the reality; that they are all, deep down the same. That one needs the other, one is born from the other.
    "They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through a brief blossoming period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle-aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and, above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds."

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    Isn't concept art design?

    Design isn't fine art. But who cares anyway.

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    Thanks guys for your wisdom and support. I've gained a much better picture of the industry. I love this forum.

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    When I was in colleage I always found it ironic that the place that was supposed to be about freedom of expression, exploration, and learning was full of people who were narrow minded, arrogant, and condescending.

    The attitude there was "how dare I try to make a living with something as pure and refined as art." God, how I hate them!
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    This may sound a bit harsh, but if (and only if) your passion is
    for art, then it shouldn't matter a lick what your family thinks.
    I come from an Asian upbringing myself, and had many creative
    interests growing up -- however, when it came down to choosing
    art and a 'serious' career, I opted for the safe, financially viable one (computers), because (consciously and unconsciously) I wanted my parents' approval. And now, at the age of 30, I am planning to go back to art school (and often wondering how good I'd be now if I started out in my 20's instead)

    It is ultimately painful when you live and make decisions
    based on approval of your family -- it may
    create harmony for the time being, but the erosion of self
    that results from such a compromise may haunt you for many, many
    years. If it is important to YOU, YOURSELF to have a 'serious' career, then
    that's totally cool. But if your heart and your talent is in art, then don't make compromises to please them -- they are from a different society and upbringing, and may never truly understand the lure of a career in art.
    Only you yourself know what is right for you. And noone else.

    Sorry for the rant, but I've seen the consequences in myself, and in too many other Asians that I know, of life decisions made to maintain family harmony.
    Excuse the bluntless of this statement, but just remember that when your family is long gone, and no longer around to be happy/unhappy about your decisions, this is the path that you will be stuck with, along with any accompanying regrets ... so choose wisely.



    Quote Originally Posted by Oliver23
    Cool. Field looks intresting, but there are a few problems. Firstly, I am a premed bio engineering freshman at UC berkeley. In the asian culture and family where I come from, it is very important that the career I commit to be a "serious" one (and art is definatly not serious from these cultural perspectives), such as law, medicine and perhaps engineering. Telling them that I want to be involved with the art in movie preproduction is unthinkable, telling them I am intrested in video game art will bring shame for generations. Any thoughts?

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    I too come from an asian family, throughout school my mom never gave me any credits towards my art achievement, it was all about getting good grades, and learning everything else except art, but that never stopped me from drawing while in class, and filling my homework with nothing but scribbles. Even my dad, who I haven't seen since I was 5, after I told him what I wanted to be, he straight out told me no, be a doctor, a lawyer, go to college, get a degree, that pissed me off because I've never seen this guy for all my life, and suddenly he's telling me what to do. My mom never did say anything about my art, as she thought it was really nothing. But if I can show her that I'll be making a decent living off of it, I think I can gain her confidence. She's not a bad mom, cause she did raise 3 boys by herself for 10 years. She believes that only an education and hard labor will get you where you want to be.
    "If you only heard one side of the story, then you must be deaf in the other ear." - Sok N. Wett

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    my two cents..

    Success for a fine artist, for one that creates from the heart, is not about money. Reaching people is real success, because you expose them to something they might never have seen or thought of. Its a totally alien mindset to most people who grade, price and categorize every piece they do.

    yeah i like that statement..i myself planned to be a graphic designer, i quit after a year...illustration only i semester..i said f..d.. i want just to paint..so here i am..i pretty much dont like people telling me what to do..and it does apply to my art in which im the creator hehe..i dont like the termn fine artist..i rather be a painter..even though i have a crappy job..i paint and draw what i like..im going to a fine arts school. soon .to better my skills..then try my luck at galleries (is not my goal but i will need to eat) as well as an art teacher..but i dont know..see how it goes..

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