The Holy Mountain (1973) Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
today was an in rainbows sort of a day
Anonymous said: Hi John! I'm a recent graduate and the work that makes me happy in my sketchbook looks completely different than it did 8 months ago when I was in school. I have a better idea about my voice now, but I have no idea how to take these doodles and visual ideas and make them feel like "finals" anymore. Do you have any suggestions about how to take things out of your sketchbook and getting them to a professional level? As always, thanks for the wise words.
I forgot who said it at the Illustration Academy, but someone had offhandedly mentioned that James Jean ruined sketchbooks for everyone. We all laughed knowingly, candidly recognized that we too had gone through a “James Jean phase,” and then hid our ballpoint pens while no one was looking.
The point being James Jean’s sketchbooks are beautiful and wonderful, and we all want to have sketchbooks like that to show everyone and publish through Adhouse. However, the problem is that we are, shockingly, not all James Jean.
The majority of us have sketchbooks to help us figure things out. They’re probably not going to get published, and they probably don’t make a lot of sense to someone else thumbing through it. And that’s OK! That’s what they should be. As kind of backwards at it seems, think of your sketchbook as an additional computer. It’s ideal for:
- Visual problem solving (thumbnailing, sketching.)
- Making connections between the information that you input (writing, diagramming, juxtaposition, etc.)
- Experimentation (with media, subject matter, etc.)
Note that I don’t necessarily recommend going for more “finished” pieces, ala your instinct after thumbing through a Process Recess book. I think the strength of one’s sketchbook lies in its volume. Who do you think will have a more comprehensive knowledge of drawing? A guy who does 1 giant drawing, or a someone who does 100 small ones?
Now, what I think you’re really asking is: that’s great and all, but what constitutes a finished piece? I think my criterion for a final is if the piece “speaks for itself” (Again, stolen from the Illustration Academy.) Do the formal elements of the piece support what you’re trying to say? (Design) And is it executed in such a way so as none of those formal elements are lacking? (Craft)
For example, have you ever wondered why you love your sketches way more than the finals? How many times have you said, or heard someone else say, “I liked the sketch a lot better.”? If you placed the sketch next to final drawing and took a hard look at both, you’d probably see a few differences: perhaps the energy in the linework was more evocative in the sketch, or the value scheme you had planned fell apart, or maybe it’s just simply not as well drawn in the final! The point being is that they are separate drawings, with their own identities. If you (or others even) consider the final a failure, then somewhere in your process, there was a breakdown in either your craft or design.
So take a look at what you’ve got in your sketchbook. Take any of the little germinations of ideas, and ask those same questions: Do the formal elements of the piece support what you’re trying to say, and is it executed in such a way so as none of those formal elements are lacking?
If the design is good, but the craft is lacking, find the medium that fits the message. Maybe to make it representationally real, you need to paint and render the crap out of it. Or maybe to make it retain some looseness, you need to use a medium that forces you to lose control a bit, like monotype. If you’re not comfortable with any medium really, then use your sketchbook to do studies and practice!
If you feel pretty good about how you’re going to execute it, but the design is lacking, then you need to, you guessed it, use your sketchbook. Thumbnail, plan, research, and sketch until you get your composition working just the way you need it. And then be sure to retain your design throughout the execution (but you’re such a hotshot that you know how to do that, right?)
If neither is up to snuff, just go for it anyway. It’ll give you a benchmark from which to measure from. Remember: failure is your friend. He’s the friend you’re really embarrassed to know because he’s kind of loud and still wears cargo shorts, but he’s been there since like elementary school, and deep down you know he’s an important part of how you’ve turned out as a human being.
One last thing: for me, there is a pretty thin line between what constitutes a “sketch,” or an experiment, and a final piece. I’ll pull stuff from my sketchbook, and crank on it just to see what comes out pretty frequently (that last mouse piece, for example.) I think what really separates something like that from a final is intent. If my intent is to just mess around, then there are no real rules really; but if my intent is the conveyance of some specific information, emotion, narrative, etc. then I’m going to really need to work to find that sweet spot of craft and design so that my illustration can speak for itself.
These beautiful moths and butterflies look like they’re ready to flutter up and away, but they won’t be doing so because they’re wonderful textile sculptures painstakingly created by North Carolina-based artist Yumi Okita. She sews, embroiders and stitches all sorts of multi-colored fabrics to create these oversized insects, which measure nearly a foot wide. She also adds painted details along with feathers and artificial fur. With great care Okita has achieved an awesome balance between astonishing realism and fanciful invention.
Found out some of the pens I used are water soluble. One broke down into blue, the other, green. Trying to decide if I’m mad or if I like it.
Also started some bug flash which is more likely to actually get done. If my cat will let me
can we just start a movement where we go to male politicians events and we ask them sexist questions like “if you are elected who will take care of the kids” and “what designer are you wearing tonight” “do you think that your stunted and constipated male emotions will affect your decision making”
that last one tho
Moth face lines. File this also under “drawings nobody will get tattooed” and also “things that are not what I really oughta be working on”