(Note from Byron: Tom Falco is a contributor here at he Alliance and today he chats about what is art and what makes an artist great. This is to open up a conversation on these subjects, so feel free to chime in one way or another with your opinions)
I saw this article on Medium.com about becoming a great artist. Ryan Estrada explains that the way to become a great artist is to do your own thing.
To be a good Artist, he says focus on making good art; don’t’ show weakness. He says if you can’t draw hands, put them in pockets. If you can’t draw feet; crop them off at the bottom of the page. This is sort of true in a way in that there are so many stick figure comics these days that you really don’t know how to draw at all. But, he goes on to say, if you want to be a GREAT artist, then draw, even if it’s crappy.
He continued by saying you need to deal with rejection, which is true and that you should try everything because what do you have to lose? The main thing is having your own style. I spent so much of last week at Art Basel and Art Miami going from pop up gallery to pop up gallery seeing all sorts of art. There were the masters, Van Gogh, Monet and Warhol (is Warhol considered a master?) and there were pieces that looked like a three-year-old child could do them, which sold for thousands of dollars. Who is to say what art is.
I see so many comics that I like, I love their style, you know, the way they are drawn, and I wish I could draw like that, but of course, I have my own style. I cultivated my style by being drawn (no pun intended) to certain comics and cartoons when I was young, like The Flintstones, Charlie Brown, etc. So my style emulates that but it’s not an exact replica and you may or may not see those famous characters in my work.
If you look at my “weight/wait” comic, you can almost see a little of Charles Schulz in the faces, especially of the nurse. This is not deliberate; it’s just in my repertoire. The other comic of the “wrecking ball guy” has its own look. So the style changes, yet it still says my name when you look at them.
At times I see blatant rip offs of famous classic comics. There is one out there you would swear is done by Hanna-Barbera, but it’s not. It’s just that the person who was influenced by them was maybe too influenced and his art is an exact duplicate. I know for years cartoon syndicates were getting submissions of wannabe Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side. There was a huge gap when they stopped being published daily, so people felt the need to step in, only it wasn’t organic, it was forced and copied, the creators weren’t being original. They just saw a format that worked and wanted to go with it. That’s not being real. I am guilty of this myself. I got a rejection slip one time with a note that said I was “too much like the Far Side,” which I took as a total compliment, but it was rejected. A few years later, there was a new comic widely syndicated that is a blatant rip off of The Far Side. Guess the timing was just right.
I think the main thing is to try things. With webcomics, there is no set format; you are not confined to a certain size each day like printed comics are, so you can go wild if you want. My style changes a bit with different comics and I sort of wonder if this is good or not. But I’m sure there are elements of my style in each one in that people know it’s my work. You really can’t get away from your hand and your drawing style.
But Ryan says to experiment, do things differently. I saw another story on Medium.com by Kyle Lokar, titled: “Is it going to suck? Probably, but I’m doing it any way.” Love that.
How many crazy You Tube videos make it viral by accident? They don’t have a great filming style or great lighting, directing or the elements involved in making of a $20 million movie, yet they get millions of viewers. It’s really about the tipping point, I feel, not so much the style, but the content and the draw to the viewer. Something attracts them and hits home with them and that is art and that draws an audience, a large audience, which is what we all want. An audience brought on by the tipping point.
Tom Falco, creator of the webcomic www.Tomversation.com has been doing cartoons and illustrations for many years. His comics have appeared in newspapers, magazines, books and online. Tom is also a journalist whose work appears in various publications including the Miami Herald, Huffington Post, Examiner and now the Webcomic Alliance.