My Top Five Artistic Influences

Just a little post I wrote up at the Hyatt Art Forums….

I gotta say that my five biggest artistic influences have been…

1. Bruce Timm; he’s the guy behind the Batman Animated Series. There’s quite a few techniques I picked up from him, namely how I do female eyelashes.

2. Yukito Kishiro; writer/artist behind my favorite manga series, Battle Angel Alita. His action styles, robot designs and attention to detail has been a foundation for my more “serious” styles. Yukito Kishiro, in turn, was influenced by Frank Miller.

3. My dad; in turn, Pops was influenced by Frank Frazetta and Robert Crumb… seeing my dad’s work when I was a little kid gave me something to learn drawing from.

4. Jeffrey Brown; author of his super-personal “girlfriend trilogy” graphic novels: Clumsy, Unlikely and Any Easy Intimacy. His minimalistic style single-handedly allowed me to realize that you don’t need to be a high-quality artist to put out a book, and that, when it comes down to it, the story is more valueable than the art.

5. Wes Anderson; writer/director of the films The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited. His writing styles and subject matter, as well as the general Mise-en-scène of his films really clicks with me, and I’ve added a lot of his styles to my tool belt.

Honestly though, that’s pretty much it. I really don’t read and watch a whole lot of stuff. People who claim to be quote-unquote “art buffs” think they are so because they watch a lot of movies, read a lot of books, listen to a lot of music and try to know everything there is to know about them. Me, I consider myself to be an “art buff”, but it’s not because of my breadth of what I’ve seen, but more of what I feel I’m capable of and what I feel I can add to the world of art. Now I’ll read something, I’ll watch something… but I really don’t have much of an interest in being an expert about, say… the Beatles’ entire discography including when each album was released. If I happen to know certain bits of information, it’s not really because I exclusively sought out that knowledge…. it’s just that I happen to know it.

Avoiding people’s work isn’t something I deliberately do, but more like something I naturally graviate towards. If I DO have a deliberate motive, I guess it’s because I believe that if you have little to no influences, you’re forced to create stuff out of nowhere, and in doing so, you run a good chance of creating something new and unique. Take for example Homer’s epics Iliad and Odyssey; Star Wars took cues from it, O Brother, Where Art Thou? was based on it… but what other writer did Homer copy from to write Odyssey? Then consider the pioneers of cinema, like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, or Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera; modern films use their styles and content as an almost standard for filmmaking, but who did they copy from? With no influences, you gain the freedom of, well, ignorance! If you don’t know anything about a particular style, then you won’t know what to copy of that style, whether you’re doing it consciously or unconsciously. This in turn will help your work to start looking less like “oh, it’s like he combined Bruce Timm and Yukito Kishiro together” and more like “wait… this looks really new and unique!”

At least, that’s my angle.

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