Friday, August 29, 2008

The thing about t-shirts

It was suggested in the comments that I might make t-shirts of some of the images here. My first reaction was excitement - that would be very cool. I went browsing through the archives and it went something like this -

No, that's crap. That too. That too. Crap. Crap. Crap.

I'd be embarrassed to put anything on a shirt. Yikes. That's a bad sign.

When I started this blog, it wasn't going to be an art blog. It still isn't. In fact, the images were a kind of side thing that happened. The first few were scribbled so ridiculously fast on a wacom (which, at the time, I didn't have the hang of at all), with the first free fonts I could find, that they couldn't be anything other than complete shit. That didn't bother me at the time - it wasn't the point and, well, who was ever going to see it?

I wonder now if part of that was simply the idea that it is easier not to try than to try and make a complete tit of yourself.

But now, almost a year on, one of the regrets I have of this blog is that I didn't actually sit down and figure out what way I wanted these illustrations to look like. No design process happened. No thought process whatsoever. They just evolved. I have no idea why it looks like I have three big tumours out the back of my head - it was originally hair I think and something went weird along the way. There is no design sense in the images. And there should have been.

I've been in animation for something like 15 years now. Almost anyway. One of the things about animation is that you have to be able to take on anyone's style, follow a model sheet and make sure nobody notices any sense of your individual style. And, in animation college, I very much felt any hint of a style of my own was eliminated. It's part of the process - you copy and emulate, you don't innovate. I look back at drawings I did as a teenager and, yeah, most of them are cack but there is a sense of being their own thing. And I lost that.

Had I sat down to design what this blog was going to look like, I would have taken a load of reference I liked and then used that as my starting point. It would have come from someone elses style, because that, as an animator, is what I have been trained to do.

And now I look at the images on this blog, which had no design thought whatsoever, and I look at how they evolved and I wonder - have I found some of my own style in there? Is this what my drawings look like when I'm not copying someone elses work? After all, the reason these drawings evolved as they did is that they are so quick to do (I usually do these blog images while waiting for stuff to copy over the network or while I'm looking at the Windows hourglass).

They just come naturally to me. For better or worse.

I have no idea where I was going with this... I think it's that I look at work on places like Drawn! and it makes me embarrassed by my own drawings. But it's not a bad thing. You see, for at least ten years of the (almost) fifteen I have been in animation, I took no pride in my work. Or embarrassment. I didn't care. I didn't draw for pleasure at all during that time - not one little sketch.

But I enjoy drawing these little blog cartoons. And they don't serve a purpose. I just like doing them. And perhaps the embarrassment I feel is actually coming from the brand new need to take pride in what I do.

I think that's a good thing.


Andy Latham said...

The way I see it, embarrassment means you have produced something that you care about and are attached to. You fear someone thinking it's crap and demolishing that little sparkle of love you have for your work.

It's a fear I have every time I show any drawings to anyone, which is very rare.

So although embarrassment is uncomfortable, I'd rather be embarrassed and care about what I'm doing than being entirely detached from it.

Mark said...

I for one like your drawings on your blog. If by some chance you've stumbled on to your own style, then good on you. I don't have a style and wish I could stumble upon it.