Saturday, November 2, 2013

Educational Weekend


It's November 2nd. It's raining outside. And it's humid. It's also Saturday and a perfect opportunity for blogging about last weekend's incredibly enlightening workshops at Ringling College of Art & Design.

First, on Friday at lunch artist Bobby Chiu gave a lecture on what makes an image go viral. He used his own artwork as examples of which images appealed most to people and generated a reaction, and which ones did not. On average, the pictures with some sort of narrative idea, happy/funny/or awe-inspiring emotion/ or pre-established fan base did better than images that were just a nicely-painted character.

The one line that really stood out to me the most was when Bobby said, "Idea trumps technique every time". I have to admit that he's right! I came home that day and looked at a recent painting I did for fun that I was going to post on Facebook for Halloween. And then I had nice technique but there was no story, no emotion, no idea..well maybe a slight beginning of an idea. It was just a nicely-painted character in an environment doing the presentation pose. Uh oh.

So, the very next day I attended an SCBWI event on Visual Voice. My friend Fred Koehler talked about what makes an illustrator unique - things like your world view, how you choose to portray a character's body language, technical style, how you describe the scene and what palette to express the mood. 

The big takeaway for me was this: All your experiences affect your worldview and your voice (good excuse to TRAVEL!!!) Everyone has a unique voice. Get in touch with who you are, journal and capture the memories of life, and bring those details into your work and it will be authentic. 

We did a great exercise where we had to answer personal questions about our life, like "what is something that you saw that changed you forever". The purpose was to remind yourself about what makes you unique. The next exercise had us sketch from a prompt, and make two drawings. The first was how any old illustrator would illustrate the prompt, and the second was how I would illustrate it - being the unique, experienced individual that I am. It was a really thought-provoking exercise that again, made me come home and rethink my work and say to myself, "how can I make this more unique?" 

On Halloween Eve, I decided I would rethink my Halloween idea and make it into something more narrative and playful. So I sketched out this:

I didn't have time to paint it, so being inspired by Bobby Chiu, it occurred to me that I could offer it as a coloring page to my followers on Facebook as an experiment to see if it would generate any interaction. I went to bed and then it occurred to me again that I could make it better! So I got back up and reposted this:

The thought was, if I erase the pumpkin face, that will allow my audience to be creative and invent a face for the pumpkin character. And if they color it in and repost it on my wall, I'll give away the original painting that I made. I got two responses, maybe could have had more if I'd thought of it sooner? It was all a fun interactive experiment, and I feel like I really learned a lot from the process. 

Anyway, hope you found this helpful for your own creative process!