Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Is Art School Worth it?

Spider-Man: Senior year of high school   Spider-Man: Junior year of college
A little while ago I came across an article by Noah Bradley in which he says "Don't go to art school". I highly recommend reading his article because he really does have some very good points that are important to consider while trying to decide if you should attend art school. At the end of his article he also suggests a much cheaper ($10,000.00 instead of $245,000.00) alternative to a 4 year art school. An alternative that I think could actually really work for certain people. His article however, although it motivated me, is not the only reason I'm making this post. It's more that I've been seeing this topic crop up a lot lately and every time it shows its head I cringe a little and wonder if I made the right choice by going to art school. Yet at the same time I feel a need to defend art school. So here are my thoughts on the matter.

As someone who graduated just over a year ago I have to say that it's very easy to look at the amount of debt that I now have and let it sour my opinion of art school. We all know debt sucks. No one wants it and since you'll probably be getting a good amount of debt upon graduating it's easy to say "Art school (or any college really) equals debt so it's not worth it or necessary". I mean who wants to have upwards of $25,000 dollars of debt? I definitely didn't, I still don't, and I'm probably going to have a party when I finally pay it off. That being said I think art school was the right place for me to become the artist/illustrator/comic artist I wanted to be. This is obviously only coming from my experience and sure you can argue that I'm justifying my attendance because I have no way of going back on that decision but hear me out.

What I Got From Art School
(in addition to learning how to create a good illustration)
While at art school I made a LOT of valuable connections and made some great friends. Some of those valuable connections have become good friends as well. These are people that I wouldn't have met had I not gone to school. One could make the argument that I could just email and schmooze to get these connections but I don't know if it would be the same. I truly bonded with many of these people. We have a shared experience. My teachers/mentors are still available for me to email or call about potential jobs, critiques, uncertainties, or anything else that I may need in terms of professional advice. This is a relationship that although not impossible is not one that I feel would be easy to form without college. 

It broadened my horizons and shrank my ego
Along with getting connections I became a lot less close minded. Before college I really only liked comic book art and wanted to be a penciler. I never really cared about color or other types/styles of art and somehow I thought that I knew almost everything about it. Art school exposed me to a lot of styles, techniques, mediums, etc. that I never even knew existed. That coupled with daily critiques on my work both from my peers and my teachers shrank my ego and allowed me to see and appreciate art I never thought I would. It made me want to incorporate and try new things in my own work. Things that have helped me change, grow, and evolve as an artist.

Two pieces from senior year that I almost definitely would never have done without art school.
I learned to manage deadlines
Going to school taught me to handle and manage deadlines. Most of the time for not one but usually at least 3 projects at a time plus my other classwork. This is one of the most important skills you need as an illustrator and I know that when I get multiple projects I can handle it because I've already done it for 4 years. Sometimes without much sleep if any. 

I learned about the business side of art
This one is very important and often overlooked by a lot of schools so I'm glad that my teachers took some time to educate me and my classmates. They taught us about contracts, our rights as creators, the distinction between trademark and copyright, the difference between contract and work for hire projects, etc. This is information that is readily available online but if you don't know what you're looking for it it can be hard to find. It's also a topic that, if ignorant about, can really screw you. 

I could go on but you get the point. It worked for me and I learned more than how to create a good illustration. Are there successful artists that didn't go to school? Absolutely. Just as there are those that did who also have good careers. If you're seriously considering going to art school this is the question I'll ask you. Are you self motivated enough as a person to achieve all the skills and knowledge you need in order to have a successful career as an artist? Think about it. Think about it again and be honest with yourself. If the answer is yes then you can probably get by without going to school. Everything that you need to know is definitely somewhere on the internet or in a book and everything else comes down to practice since at the end of the day what matters most is your portfolio. I have friends that either dropped out or didn't attend school and are doing pretty well. But that's because they are very driven and if they want to learn something or do something they will not stop until they find the answer. Nothing gets in their way. They absorb all the information they can, don't make excuses, and they don't get chronically lazy. 

If the answer is no, then if you can afford it art school would probably help you. Keep in mind I'm not saying that art school is going to hold your hand (it isn't high school) you need to at least be driven enough to get your projects done, be creative, and try really hard to improve on your own. But it will provide you with life long teachers, friends, and resources that are there to guide you and lend a helping hand. Yes it's expensive but as long as you are careful to pick the right school for you it will be worth it and help you grow as an artist. I wouldn't trade my time in college for anything even if it meant that I would be debt free.

If you read this far here's the bottom line. Becoming a professional artist/illustrator takes a lot of hard work and dedication. There will be struggles regardless of if you have debt or not so, although it is an important one, don't allow money to be you're only deciding factor.

What's your opinion on this whole topic? Leave it in the comments.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

First Time Offended

I've been sitting on this for a while but now I can finally announce and show my work. A few months ago I did a 3 page story for Grayhaven Comics which is featured in The Gathering: Crime Issue. I admit it's not the biggest news in the world but this one was special for a few reasons. 1) I finally collaborated with writer and I had a blast! We had a great working dynamic and I think we made a pretty awesome short story. We'll also be collaborating on a bigger project in the future but that's all I'll say for now. 2) Although it's small press Grayhaven is still a publisher. Which means this was the first time I've released a comic and had it not be self published. Nothing against self publishing, I love it but it's a nice change of pace. 3) I rediscovered inking and realized how much I missed it. Making this comic gave me a great opportunity to experiment with techniques that I've been meaning to try for a while. All in all it was a great experience and I'm pretty proud of the comic that came out of it.

Here's the comic. First Time Offended: Written by Nicholas Chervanek  with art by me. Have a great day guys!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

New Book Illustrations!

Good news everyone! Today I get to share three illustrations that I created for a Dominican book of short stories called El Polvo Del Camino. As far as I know the book is still being published but I've been given permission to post the images. In addition to myself, there were three more illustrations and a cover provided by the super talented Crystal Ben. You can see her images for the book here.

This is the first of several projects that I've had in the works. So keep your eyes peeled for more!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spaceman "Pin Up" Inks

This is my first real attempt at digitally inking a drawing that I've penciled by hand and I'm really happy with the results. I like this process a lot for several reasons. First and foremost It's definitely much faster and more easily editable. Secondly, drawing first on actual paper allows me to preserve the way I draw so that when I "ink" the final still looks like my work. This is something that I often loose when doing a whole piece digitally from start to finish. Finally, being able to work in layers lets me try techniques and add effects that I would have difficulty with if I were inking traditionally. 

I'll still be experimenting with both traditional and digital inking. But digital inking is definitely giving me results that I've been striving to get for a long time.
Finished Digital "Inks"

Detail Shot of the final inks

Finished red pencils. (Drawn on paper)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hellboy Warm Up

Here's a 2 hour warm up of Hellboy. This one's all drawn in Photoshop. Normally I'm not as fond of drawing on the computer but this one turned out pretty nicely.
Blue lines
Digital Inks

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Link: Ink and Pencil

It's been a while since I've posted anything so here's a quick portrait sketch of Link I did while I was watching my girlfriend play Twilight Princess. I've been busy on a couple of projects this past month so expect some more updates soon. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Batman Pin Up Inks

I've been getting back into inking recently and I have to say I'm really enjoying it. Adding the ink straight on top of my red lines is adding a freshness to my drawings that I feel I've been lacking. Most importantly I'm having a blast drawing in my sketchbook again. I inked this with a pentel stylo pen and various markers. With this image in particular I stylized a bit more than I usually do but I like it.

Here are the red lines for comparison