Here's my artist statement for my Senior Studio class. It's a fine-artsy way of saying I want to work in vis-dev for cartoons.
My art deals with inspiring stories in other people. Rather than directly feeding narratives to my audience, I use visual imagery to help others engage directly with the subject matter and to create their own content that builds on top of what I have shown.
I prefer to show “moment in time” illustrations that beg the questions either “What just happened?” or “What is about to happen?” In this way people are drawn into my worlds, and given the liberty to take ownership of these imaginary places and make them their own.
I take a cinematic approach to this, although not necessarily a realistic one. In many ways, cartoons and idealized views of a world create an easier path of entry than realistic or more fully realized visuals.
Whether the world is happy, scary, bleak or utopic, I want to tap into the inner child of the viewer, engaging their imaginations and introducing them to entirely new playgrounds within their minds.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."
Oh Frank Herbert, how right you were. Fear has been my constant companion since I started down this artistic path, and it has done more to hamper my growth than any bad teacher, class or missed opportunity.
You can't be creative when you are afraid....or at least, I can't. When I am afraid, I fall back on the same solutions as I have used in the path - Which, in a setting where you are trying to learn NEW things, is not usually very effective!
My whole life I internalized the message that fear was a sign of weakness, and must be stamped out and overcome - usually by getting angry.
It hasn't worked. Herbert was right, for me to conquer fear, first I have to let it pass *through me* as well as over me. When I can acknowledge that I'm feeling anxious about a project, or my skills, or my future, only then can I grow and move on. Fear is not vanquished by repressing it or masking it with anger. Fear must be faced, it must be accepted and watched, and when that happens, it tends to go away.
I'm starting a new career in my mid-30s, and I want to work as a Vis-Dev artist for one of the top animation houses. THAT IS SCARY. I need to remember that, because it doen't make me a failure or a bad artist to be anxious when I try new things or try to put my stuff out there for the public.
Maybe I'll expand this from just my art posts to where I talk about my experiences as a student. I figure I'll start with something I've seen a lot of lately:
"My school wasn't tailored for the industry I want to get into."
Between IlluxCon, CTN-Expo and various Facebook posts, I've heard this a lot lately. I'm not picking on anyone, I get the frustration, I feel like my school has the exact same problem....BUT:
Your education is your responsibility. You can't blame your school when you don't know something. That's like blaming your driving instructor because you drive badly.
If you know you have a weakness, you know enough to fix it. Pros don't care why you don't know something, they just care that you get better.
If you want to work in the video game industry, it's UP TO YOU to learn what a AAA Title is, and what the roles of a concept artist/3d artist are. If you find that you need to learn 3D, go to the bookstore and pick up a book. Maya is FREE for students, you have no excuse.
If you want to work in cartoons, do the same thing. Figure out what studios want what skills. Find your weaknesses and fix them, don't blame someone else. The world doesn't need your excuses.
Google is your friend. Blogs are your friend. Go do some research, don't wait until you are a senior/recent graduate and then cry "Poor Me" because you don't feel like your school gave you what you needed. That may be true, but it just means you were an idiot for not getting it yourself or changing schools.
Only you are responsible for making you an employable artist.
Hmmm...I don't normally type much on my blog, it's pretty much a spot for dumping pictures, but I've been spending some time recently thinking about my artistic goals, and I don't think I've been narcissistic enough lately,I need to share!
Last year was amazing for me and my growth. I really felt like I started on the path to being the creator I want to be. I did a ton of photoshop painting, and solidified my goals to be an environment concept artist/vis-dev artist of some kind.
The biggest thing I got out of the entire year was that I had been trying to be someone else for entirely too long. I started wanting to be Dylan Cole, then moved on to Jim Lee, then Mike Mignola and Arthur Rackham, Frank Stockton and Tomer Hanuka.
It was all a waste of time. I make a very poor version of any of those guys. I'm just beginning to realize that I make a much better Seth Rutledge than I do anyone else. There's a part of me that loves to paint fantastic landscapes, and that's great! There's another part of me that is having a great time drawing sketchy cartoon characters, and that's fine too :)
The other thing that is starting to penetrate my thick skull is that medium isn't really that important. I like using Photoshop. I also like watercolour, gouache, pencil, ink, sculpy and china marker! Sure, I need to be good enough with one or more of those that I can work "professionally", whatever that means, but the idea and the core principles of design are far more important than how tight I can render a character's arm (at least for me.)
Anatomy is important. Rules are important. Perspective is important.
They just aren't as important to me as the story I want to tell, and the mood I want to convey. In many respects, I have the online class I took with Chris Oatley to thank for helping me think about these things and come to this conclusion. If your piece evokes a mood, people will overlook incredible amounts of technical imperfections. If your piece doesn't have a mood, you had better be PERFECT technically, because it's all people will judge your work on. That's the trap of technique, it's very seductive to think you just need to learn this one more *thing*,and then you'll be better. You don't. You have to be able to help the viewer feel something when they look at your work, and that's both much easier, and much harder than knowing the exact colour your bounce-light should be.
Maybe for some people, that level of realism is important. I certainly don't mean to negate the need for study, observation and improvement. I picked this career because I wanted something that I could never learn all there was to learn. For me though, I want to tell stories with pictures. I don't want to show reality, if that were enough for me, I'd have stayed with photography!
As I move into 2013 and my last year of school at Emily Carr, there are a couple of things I want to remind myself every day:
1: I am an artist, and a storyteller, I'm not faking it.
2: My way of seeing things has value, even if it doesn't quite work yet.
3: My teachers exist to help *me* achieve *my* goals. They should be listened to but not necessarily agreed with simply because they draw a paycheque.
4: I want to remember what Pascal Campion told me at CTN-Expo "You need to decide how to apply them, but you clearly have the skills."
5: It is within my grasp to work in the industry I love for the companies I think are doing amazing things.
6: It's still going to take a lot of hard work and discovery, but that's what I love in the first place!
Seth Rutledge is a visual developer and concept artist for the animation and video game industries, a photographer and a coffee snob living in Vancouver, British Columbia. Before he discovered illustration, he received a CSCI/Math degree from UNC-Charlotte, and has lived and worked all over the United States and Canada. He has run marathons, taught English in Japan, been CTO for a pharma marketing company and done fashion photography in NYC. Seth has two albums he wrote and played keyboards on, and he plays the theramin whenever he gets the chance. Seth spends so much time in coffee shops drawing that he is mentioned in online reviews. He would love a career drawing elves and goblins for a living.