Sunday, March 03, 2013

Adventures in Art Time!

Sometimes, when I would like my kids to do something, I don't ask them to do it. I do it myself.

This morning, I sat down and drew this sketch that I copied from this totally rhombus cover:

Then I left the table, with my pen and paper behind, and did something else on that lazy Sunday morning. And later that morning, I found this:

This trick doesn't always work. But it works many times when asking, offering or cajoling doesn't. Sometimes my meme seeding doesn't work on the first pass. Sometimes it takes time.

(I made this last week. My son made this a week later.)

And many times this trick doesn't work at all. But it works much more often than you might have guessed. It is a lesson that I find myself learning and re-learning over and over again: parenting is not lecturing.

*  *  * 

Here is my lecture on fanart and fanfic.

*  *  * 

A couple of weeks ago I was returning home from Toronto by train, and for four hours I was able to watch the screen of the laptop of a passenger that was sitting  in front of me, just across the aisle.  I had my own laptop screen to entertain me, but I have to admit that on more than one occasion I stole glances at what my fellow passenger was doing on her computer. Because beside doing normal young adult things like looking at Facebook and reading web comics online - she was doing awesome things. She made her own version of a Japanese wave pattern with a graphics program. She used a wacom tablet to take a photo of a woman and transform it into a surreal dark illustration of some sort of half-woman, half crow). She made beautiful things.

I watched her.  And then I realized that I wanted to do the same. 

* * * 

I didn't grow up with an affection for comics books, role-playing games, or science fiction and I don't really have a strong affection for those things now. I have never been to a con and I have never engaged in cosplay. I still feel a tinge weird when I go into a comic book shop. It's just not my tribe.

But - I am jealous of those communities. I am jealous that these 'interests and hobbies' have become large and strong enough to support its own ecosystem of economies and local businesses; large enough for media coverage and to have their own TV shows on local and national levels; and large enough to have an entire conference circuit that wraps around the world. 

And I admire these communities. And in particular, I admire how they lay a path for fans to become to move from being a consumer to conference organizer or from a fan to an artist. 

Here's an example. Adventure Time is a cartoon on The Cartoon Network that I am currently in love with.

Adventure Time is well known for it’s open relationship between staff and the fans. The official Adventure Time blog [6] shares official artwork, early drafts and storyboards before new episodes air. Some of the writers and animators are open to fan questions about the show, its development and its universe. They often reply to fans via Formspring accounts. [Knowyourmeme]

I love that these shows respond to fan art work with mutual admiration and even love. I love that the artists and the other creators who work on these shows are visible and public as themselves as artists. And it's really really interesting when the interactions between artists and the fanart changes the art altogether:

In 2010, just months after the premiere of Adventure Time on Cartoon Network, character designer Natasha Allegri designed gender-swapped versions of Finn and Jake called Fiona (now renamed Fionna) and Cake, a cat. (See also: Rule 63)
These versions of the protagonist resulted quite popular that many fans wanted more and made fanart that proved that.     
On December 29th, 2010, Natasha Allegri confirmed on her Tumblr[11] that an episode of Adventure Time starring Fionna and Cake was on the works. On September 5th, the episode titled “Fionna & Cake” premiered on Cartoon Network[12] scoring a total of 3.3 million viewers[13]. [Knowyourmeme]

There is a lot of Adventure Time fan art. 

I suspect that cartoonists don't mind young aspiring cartoonists trying to copy their work because that's probably how they started themselves as young artists. It's understood to many that when you start out as an artist that you learn the rules of your genre by copying your favourite things and making homages to your favourite heroes.

You copy the art that you love because you don't know how to make it.

Then, in time,  you make DeviantArt as you stretch your own skills  and ideas as you try to make your own contributions of work. In doing so, you develop your own style.  

I'm not there yet myself. I'm still in the copying stage. 

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