About three years ago, I was trying to set up a web design business. I had a full time job but it wasn’t very fulfilling. I was working on my website and I thought I had the look all worked out, I wanted an illustration-based design for my site.
I didn’t want to use my picture, I wanted a drawing of me at the computer. So I asked my sister who is a mixed-media artist if she could draw me. At that time the only drawing I’d made of myself was a comic book version. I had just discovered fashion illustration and I was infatuated with Garance Doré’s work so I asked my sister if she could draw me in that style.
She did but I didn’t end up using the illustration because I got caught up in the never-ending process of coding from scratch. By the time I was ready to launch I didn’t like my brand name, I didn’t like the color scheme and the drawing was cut and pasted many times because my sister is completely analogue in her work. She doesn’t do any digital editing so I had to build the illustration with my very limited Photoshop skills which made it look weird.
The thing with this story is that I found the act of drawing incredibly mysterious and out of my reach. In my head, my sister was the artist, I couldn’t draw. I was the writer in the family.
How is it that today I can draw? And that I am getting better at it? I didn’t go to art school, I’ve learned most of what I’m drawing right now through books, tutorials and a few paid classes.
Is it talent?
One of the questions that has haunted me from the beginning of time is what part does talent play in any artistic discipline? If you want to play the violin but you are not dexterous will you ever play well enough? And then what is well enough? Do you want to give concerts or play in a band? or just sit for a few hours every week and enjoy the flow of your music?
Is it talent that pushes you from good to great? Or is it discipline and constant work and experimentation?
I’m reading this book and it is phenomenal. I’d always believed that artists knew from a very young age what they were destined to do. That they got a very specific signal from somewhere that told them: this is your talent, now go and use it.
It’s not the case. It varies widely. Some people are born with it and know immediately, others follow a traditional path of family and work and suddenly discover a passion, others work their whole life before feeling they have “arrived”.
Not to minimize anyone’s effort but the people in this book have lived things that many self-proclaimed artists in the 21st century will never imagine. And these thoughts are conflicting for me. Can I call myself an artist? When? Do I have the right? Why am I conflicted?
I have no problem considering anyone who creates an artist. For years I have been in awe with certain watercolor artists, and when I cracked the technique to paint flowy flowers I thought…hmm then maybe they aren’t so good. Yup… that’s the gremlin in my head.
Beyond Clip Art
In between my graphics I am trying to develop in traditional media. So far I’ve tried colored pencils, watercolor, markers, acrylic, pencil and ink. But the main task is to improve my drawing. I’ve tried sketching buildings, sketching animals, imaginary animals, food and people, my favorite subject continues to be people and, most of all, faces.
I have a lot of inspiration sources, many are from fashion magazines and many come from vintage photos, but lately, I’ve started to draw from imagination and that… THAT has been my breakthrough.
All this started because I liked the simple, yet beautiful illustrations by Garance Doré; what I was doing in her blog is a mystery to me because I couldn’t care less about what NY city women are concerned about these days, but for some reason I saw this illustration and the desire to draw sparked in me. (The illustration used to be on her blog but now I can’t find it except on this product).
So inspiration aside, I’ve started a furious sketchbook of “imaginative faces” here are some of those:
A year from now where will these drawings be? What part do you think talent takes in art making? 50% 60%?
Let me know in the comments.