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  1. #1
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    What are the goals of a Professional Illustrator?

    What are the goals of an illustrator?

    Making illustrations is a "business" where you have to satisfy a client, but I'm trying to find answers to a more detailed reasons for goals. There are obviously different goals for different areas of illustration too (sci fi /fantasy comparied to more coporate type of illustrations or comics for example). But there does seem to be a lot of similarities of goals for the type of artist that are presented on the main page of CA.

    The first thing would seem to be the "story" that the picture is trying to give. What your trying to transend through the painting. It seems the type of pictures we're trying to make need to be visually read almost instantly. Like book covers for instance... They need to graphically catch your attention and draw you in, cause you to pause and wonder. But can any professionals tell me an even more detailed goals for scif-fi/fantasy art? In other forms of art like music or writing, time is a stronger element. In visual art, unless there's sequential art (cartoons, comics) the time it takes to tell the story is pretty much instant. Within the composition the time that is taking place is always different (a warrior slashing fast, or a woman standing along a calm ocean), but the amount of time it takes for a single picture to be read is obviously instant. So is our goal in sci-fi/fantasy typically a figure(s) within an enviroment that's easily visually read, instantly?

    So you have story telling goals and then techical goals that gives you the skills to effectivlly tell the stories.
    For instance, it seems to me that one of the biggest techincal goals that doesn't seem to get talked about in great lenghts is LIGHTING. Color and Values are determined by lighting, so shouldn't an illustrator aim at: 'Strong skills in COMPOSITION, FORM and LIGHTING'? It seems there are a lot of professionals that have an adequate skill at forms and composition, but if they exceed at lighting, this is often overlooked. Meaning that a better focus of lighting helps give a more often a professional feel than other art elements.

    Is there any professionals that could give their opinion on how we should set our goals to become illustrators? Is there something specific that art directors like Irene Gallo are looking for? for illustrations or perhaps what we could aim this new direction of "concept art" at? Is there some new type of storying or new direction we should/could be taking?
    Last edited by Bowlin; April 30th, 2005 at 03:53 PM.


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  3. #2
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    good question.
    as a professional artist i have two types of goals;
    personal and business.

    personal: i want to work on my weak points by creating a challenging image, something that will last longer than me.
    i try to make an interesting picture that is true to the story i am depicting. but more importantly, adds to the story.
    i try to fill in the parts about a character that the author left out.
    (i love character imperfections)
    i always imagine a kid reading a book i did a cover for.
    as he/she reads, he has a constant movie going on in his imagination.
    i supplied the image of the main character in his head!
    kind of like reading a book after you see the movie, and just keep picturing the actors face.
    i love it, and try to be as honest and interesting as possible for the readers sake.

    business: make a picture my competitors envy. make an image that will draw a potentiall buyer in from 50 feet away.
    but most importantly, make an image that keeps the art director happy! (even if that means making yourself unhappy sometimes)
    otherwise, you cant pay your bills... and THAT is the true goal.
    - Dan Dos Santos
    www.dandossantos.com

  4. #3
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    Awesome, DSillustration! Thank you so much for your comments!

    Personal and buisness.
    So you try to make it look like a scene from a movie... a type of movie that you made up? Now that's the kind of response i was looking for. I think that's often what I look for, a picture that has a cinimatic climax (not necessarily dramatic, but a climactic moment). That's what causes me to wonder what the story is about. That's what we do when we go to blockbuster, isn't it? We instantly can tell if it's a movie we feel we'd be intrested in.

    You also mentioned that it's a buisness goal to try and make an image that makes the art director happy. That's exactly the type of answer i've always wanted to know, and what bugs me. In one of your threads you said that w.o.c. and every comic company you can think of has turned you down. Not to sound like i'm brown nosing, but that just sounds almost impossible! Your work looks as proffesional as it gets! In other words, for an ametuer like myself it seems so dishearting to work so hard only to get rejected and to keep spending long hours to make more paintings making yourself worry silly wiether this or that is what is needed in the buisness your submitting it too. It "appears" like a hit or miss situation, where the professional often misses, no matter how good they are.

    Your paintings are incredible, dsillustration. Would love to see them in person sometime.

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    great answer DS

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    Interesting question, Bowlin.

    I can always tell when an artist took on a job as "just a job." In those cases, they usually answers the problem, but it comes across as flat an uninspired. I'm always working on so many books at one time that I really need the artist to do a lot of my thinking. I used to feel guilty about this until I heard Steven Heller say the same thing. "Jobbers" will answer the problem I gave them, but bring nothing of themselves to the plate. It's very disappointing to see a great portfolio and then get something in that you know the artist just tossed off.

    On the other hand, it IS a job and there are various requirements -- deadlines, needing to see X, Y or Z, etc. So I also need to know that the artist is willing to be responsible to the project at hand. If an artist is ONLY concerned about their personal vision...then invite me to the gallery opening but don't ask me to hire you. Illustration is it's own art form - make it answer someone else's problem, get it through Sales/Marketing departments, AND make it great -- now that's a special accomplishment.

    (The Illustrators Partnership of America has some great articles on this in their "Art of Illustration" topic.)

    As for what's an art director looking forward? Well, it all depends, of course. I can only speak for myself and book publishing. I need artists that can paint great figures first and foremost. You can kinda fudge backgrounds, but the people have to be dead on. Monsters, dragons, etc, are all super cool, but in publishing they are almost always in conjunction with a human (or near human) character. One way in which an art director is lucky is that they don't have to have a style. Marketing is always kinda hit and miss, and good timing...hopefully proceeded by good research.

  7. #6
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    Wow... Thank you so much for answering Irene Gallo.

    I assume that what you meant/implying was that an artist that has goals to look at an illustration job in a way that he trys to transcend something .... instead of just drawing a figure and dragon in a decent composition, well rendered ... just so it gets the job done. I believe that's what your saying? An illustrator is trying to answer someone else's problem, but it needs to trandsend something personal from them also for it to really work?

    Plus your comment on ... creating a human character for book cover illustration is the most important priority? Well that really helps put things in better perspective!! Thank you! That's something that gives me an ametuer a goal to focus on in so many directions. In comparison of rendering other creatures to the human character(s), to the background and so on. That gives me a lot to think about...

    Again, thanks!

  8. #7
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    Awsome question Bowlin. Thanks for the responses DS and Irene!
    "Every generation sees the past though the lens of its own time." - Thom Hartmann

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