Living Off Table Scraps
Here's a question for up and coming illustrators: who's your favourite artist? Think about that for a moment. I have to warn you though, if you are able to answer this question it could be a problem. What? How could having a favourite artist possibly be a problem?
A great thing about the internet is all the demo’s, tutorials, and process videos that you can find. If you have a favourite artist there’s a good chance you can find something on the internet that explains how they did it. Super! With time and lot’s and lot’s of practice you can do work just like your favourite artist! Dream come true right?
So let’s say you do this and you put all your time, heart and soul into becoming as good as the artist who's work you so admire. Now what? Wouldn’t all the praise, respect, and best jobs still go to the original? Maybe if that artist is too busy, or too expensive, you might get some overflow. But is it healthy to be living off of someone else’s table scraps?
We can’t live in a vacuum, so I’m not saying avoid tutorials. The opposite, watch as many as you can get your hands on! But watch ones that differ in style and approaches. Why start from scratch when you can stand on the shoulders of giants? It's a question of balance, standing on just one giant's shoulder can only get you so far – they'll notice and eat you up!
The same goes for art movements such as ... Manga. I don't know of anything that inspires young artists today more than Manga, and anythings that gets kids to draw is wonderful! But what if you mix it up and add some fresh ingredients. Mango's are best fresh, maybe Manga would be good fresh too? Ok, that's bad word play! But seriously here's another question. How many young artists out there want to do Manga? In high schools, in art colleges, in all of the United States, in Europe, in Japan, in Asia, in the whole damn world? If all those kids wanting to do Manga around the world are watching the same tutorials, the same how to books, and are inspired by the same artists, and they put in their 10,000 hours of practice, practice, practice. They will ALL be just as good at doing Manga ...
I am not saying don't follow your dreams, but make a road trip of it. If you have multiple roads to follow you can end up at a lot of different, surprising, and wonderful places. If a story has a very linear path and an obvious ending it’s not that good is it? But if it has lots of twists and turns and keeps you guessing, and especially if it has a surprise ending it’s going to be a lot more entertaining. And stick with you longer.
The more stuff you are interested in, the more interesting you will be.