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How to look at your own work

thestray
posted by thestray • 4 years ago

I stumbled upon this quote and I thought it was the perfect way to put it so I thought I’d share it
“Think of and look at your work as though it were done by your enemy. If you look at it to admire it, you are lost” – Samuel Butler

34 Replies

DV_Prints DV_Prints Artist from

I find that the more time I spend in Photoshop and Illustrator the more “professional looking” my work becomes. I still don’t think that you can reach the level of purity as you can from a simple unfinished sketch. Despite having this feeling, I am continuously compelled to take the work further because I feel that sometimes the only way to reach others is by reaching for the highest possible level of professionalism. It’s painfully obvious that the majority of people are so brainwashed that they won’t even look at something unless it somehow resembles the characters from Twilight…. sorry, bad joke

DV_Prints DV_Prints Artist from

zerobriant said: with DV_Prints thought, my favorite line form one of my fav movies came to light..Finding Forrester “No thinking – that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think! “ in our case…“we sketch with our hearts and then we trace it with our minds…detailing it satisfies our senses, perfecting it satisfies our morals..:)

very good point, and I think what I’m trying to say here is that I see the charm in the raw expression of the idea moreso than in the finished product. I still think it’s important for people to finish their work, but I like seeing the process before the work is complete.

thestray thestray Artist from United States

I don’t even understand what you mean by “purity”. I don’t know why you think an unfinished sketch is more “pure” then a finished piece. What is “purity”?

To me, I can’t call an unfinished sketch pure, because it isn’t really my vision, it’s not the idea. What’s pure to me, if anything, is the idea. The sketch isn’t a “raw expression”, it’s just part of the process. It’s no purer then first step in a flight of stairs to me, it’s just a step towards my destination. Sometimes there are a hundred sketches, and they can serve different functions, and be to varying degrees of detail. Sometimes a sketch isn’t even the first part of the process, sometimes it’s making a photoshop collage, or writing down words, sometimes there isn’t even a sketch, I just launch into the finished piece. Also sometimes when I draw there is no unfinished sketch at all, I start and I don’t stop until it’s fully finished, so at what point was it pure?

Obviously, you and I are very different in how we approach art and the process of creating it. It seems to me like you finish things more for the audience then for yourself and would rather stop at that pure raw expression you speak of. Whereas I finish things for myself because I want to get them as close to my vision as possible. So personally, for me, it’s hard to think of any part of the process as more pure than any other. It’s like building a house to me.

DV_Prints DV_Prints Artist from

Fair enough, I could just have a very short attention span and prefer starting something new rather than finishing something old. I honestly don’t really care much for an audience though. I’ve been drawing since I first picked up a pencil, and I love doing it because it has a special place in my heart for different reasons. It takes me to a place where anything is possible, it lets me be myself and makes me feel like I can explore a fresh and uncharted universe. That’s just me though, I think art should mean different things to everyone. One of my favourite artists of all time growing up and even to this day is comic book artist Sam Kieth (the Maxx, Zero Girl, Four Women, the Sandman, Scratch) mainly because I admire his ability to accept imperfection and embrace certain levels of discomfort in his artwork, not to mention that his writing is just as fluxuating as his art and as a whole creates perfection out of all the imperfections combined. Sometimes the way to get the best impact is by knowing when to put the pencil down and accept your work… and sometimes you can keep going and it only ever gets better. I don’t really associate art with building a house because there’s so many different approaches to creating art and there’s a lot more freedom allowed in how you go about doing it.

thestray thestray Artist from United States

I’ve never been talking about finishing something old. Just taking a piece where it needs to go.

If you’ve never cared much for an audience, I have to ask why t-shirt design? For that matter why show your artwork to anyone ever?

What I meant about art being like building a house wasn’t negating that there are different approaches and freedom, what I meant is simply that if you see an unfinished house you don’t say “That’s a pure house.” when you look at an unfinished house you’re not looking at the builder’s intention, it may be interesting to look at, it may tell you something about the intent, but you’re not looking at a raw expression of a house you’re just looking at a point in it’s progress.

I think, if you do a sketch, and it expresses what you want, and you feel no need to take it any further, then that is finished. So, I think there’s a big difference between an unfinished sketch, and a drawing that you feel has the best impact and is done. I think if something is pure and shows your raw expression, and you’re “happy” with it, it is done. Unfinished, to me, is just that, not finished, something that needs more. I like Sam Keith too, but I think his work is finished. It’s not like he just stopped working on it. That’s his style, that’s what he wants his artwork to look like. It’s not the beginning of a process that he abandoned. That’s the difference. Finished doesn’t mean it has to be ultra clean and realistic and detailed and so on and so forth.

I think there’s a fine line between putting the pencil down and accepting your work… and simply getting lazy and not finishing it, or accepting mediocrity. Personally, I don’t think “good enough” is anything anyone should ever settle for no matter what it is they’re doing. I accept my work and put down the pencil when it’s what I want it to be, never before. I believe in aiming to create something I feel is great. So I think it’s important to ask yourself (not you personally, just artists in general) if you’re stopping because it’s finished and it doesn’t need any more work, or if you’re just giving up.

I simply want to encourage fellow artists to be honest about their own work and pursue excellence.

DV_Prints DV_Prints Artist from

I wasn’t saying that Sam Kieth’s artwork was unfinished, just imperfect. A lot of the times he draws characters with mutilated proportions or draws a fist as a circle or something really far out like that. The point is that perfection isn’t what completes a picture. I’m just saying that once you’ve captured a mood or a feeling, your work is pretty much done. Everything beyond that point is extra curricular. I just think that people are too caught up in creating perfection and they forget that the effectiveness of a design comes from the impact it creates. Some designs can only achieve that impact through perfection and rich detail, so it really basically comes down to the idea. A good idea can be worth more than the work you put into it. I totally understand your point, and I agree fully with it, I just think that instead of the word “work”, Mr.Butler should have used the word “idea”. There are plenty of designs out there that I really appreciate for the work, but do not get my vote because I may not like the idea as much. I’m most likely guilty of the opposite where my ideas are sound but I often don’t work on it enough.

thestray thestray Artist from United States

You’re using the word perfection in a weird way. You’re using it as if being detailed and clean and etc equals perfection. It doesn’t. Perfection is what completes a picture, because perfection is when you’ve executed your idea as effectively as possible. You’re not done when you’ve captured a mood or a feeling unless capturing a mood or a feeling was your only objective. Since art is a visual medium mood/feeling is almost never REALLY the only objective, because we’re all aiming to create something that’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye. There are of course lots of ways to do that, it doesn’t need to entail detail. A mood or a feeling is just one aspect of the piece. There are also things like composition, balance, value, color, etc etc. There’s nothing extra curricular, anything and everything that completes your vision is absolutely necessary. If it’s copious amounts of detail and realism, that’s necessary, even if the mood is already there.

Butler’s words are spot on. An idea is an idea, you can keep that in your head, mull it over, think about it, talk about it, but once you start expressing that through art you’re creating something tangible, that’s your “work”. He’s talking about the actual piece of art and being able to evaluate honestly if it is effective or not. Not just the idea, but the execution. Your execution serves your idea. So it’s up to the artist to figure out if their execution has done their idea justice. A good idea is worth nothing if you can’t execute it effectively.

DV_Prints DV_Prints Artist from

perfection is just an illusionary concept to begin with. It’s like how nature is always striving to achieve the golden ratio, and still it never does. You can always get closer and closer to that perfection, but in reality that ratio does not exist because it simply goes on forever. It’s the same with art, imagine your idea as the golden ratio, and the execution of the idea is like nature constantly trying to achieve this golden ratio, you can get it very close, but you’ll NEVER get it perfectly the way you envision it. How can you define an irrational number? it’s just a concept that we can only represent with a symbol, completely undefined, yet it’s the basis of all life.

zebra4 zebra4 Artist from United States

I….just found this quote in DBH’s FB Contest #10, and i immediately remembered seeing it here.

BeeryMethod BeeryMethod Artist from United States

Hmmmm …. NWA – straight outta compton – Express Yourself!

thestray thestray Artist from United States
DV_Prints said: perfection is just an illusionary concept to begin with. It’s like how nature is always striving to achieve the golden ratio, and still it never does. You can always get closer and closer to that perfection, but in reality that ratio does not exist because it simply goes on forever. It’s the same with art, imagine your idea as the golden ratio, and the execution of the idea is like nature constantly trying to achieve this golden ratio, you can get it very close, but you’ll NEVER get it perfectly the way you envision it. How can you define an irrational number? it’s just a concept that we can only represent with a symbol, completely undefined, yet it’s the basis of all life.

Exactly. All you can do is the best you can, and a good way to do that is to look at your work (or your concept if that’s the way you’d prefer) as if it were done by your enemy.

DV_Prints DV_Prints Artist from

I dunno, all that really does for me is make me want to sabotage my own work. ;)

thestray thestray Artist from United States

Then apparently you have a lot of work to do.

Rompetelcuero Rompetelcuero Artist from Colombia

I prefer to start admiring the work of my enemy, of course, if you considered that you have enemies.
I also believe that you should´n admire your work as if it were perfect, however, you must show that you admire it, because this is what you know-how and is what you do for a living. Imagine a Surgeon telling you that he dont´t know how make surgeries, of course I don´t want to compare design with medicine, but only in a reasonable scale means the same thing professionally.
If you end up neglecting your work before others when you really think you do it well, you looks like a self-centered, also if is the only thing you can talk about.
Finally, in this world you survive with that know-how thing and hopefully if that thing is what you enjoy to do the most and also to do well just must have to love it and admire it.
Excuse my writing, I do not speak very good English I am using a translator´s help.

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