Interrogation Station is here to answer questions from YOU. To give it a go, just submit a question through my Formspring page. You can ask anything you like, it doesn’t have to be about style or art. All I request is that you check out my FAQ and previously asked questions beforehand. I can’t guarantee that I’ll get to every single question, but I will certainly try. You can see the first installment of I.S. here.
So, as it turns out you still have a lot of question. In the interest of keeping my answers interesting and more than one sentence long, I’m going to divide these into many small installments. There are over one hundred [srsly] questions in my inbox and attempting to answer too many at once would result in a whole lot of incoherent mishmash.
How did you learn to draw? How old were you?
I’ve always drawn and that’s the troof. Ever since my little fingers, sticky with black currant jam and rocket fuel, found their way to a my grandfather’s box of fancy European markers. Ever since my mother introduced me to the pre-Raphaelites and Dali and all that Moscow’s museums have to offer. As far back as I can remember, I’ve scribbled and doodled.
As far as the “how” goes, I suppose the timeline between the ages of two and ten went like this:
- Draw, draw draw.
- Be filled with hate at drawings not looking the way I want them to.
Tentacle love set in early on
- Receive book about basic anatomy in cartooning.
- Draw, draw, draw, draw.
- Get better. Slowly. Very, very slowly.
Vampire mermaid! In chains! Haunted by demon-hand!
I’m 18 years old. When I see all the incredible things you’ve accomplished I feel overwhelmed. What were your art skills like when you were 18? I’ve never had a chance to do creative things, but now that I do I just don’t know if it’s too late.
At 18 I was going to the LA County High School for the Arts. I had illustration classes, which I hated deeply but did alright in. A few examples from that time:
Everyone’s favorite moneygrub
Illustration for one of the final scenes of Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost
Poster concept for Edward Scissorhands
I believe that you already know what I’m going to say. It’s never too late! I’m 29 and you’re ONLY 18. Consider this: some people don’t decide what their Ultimate Destiny is until they’re well into the silver years, so really, you’re in luck.
If you think you want to make art, it might take a while to find your favorite medium, your style, whether you actually want to try and make a living at it, etc. My advice? Don’t burden yourself with all that anytime soon. Go to museums and art openings, look at art books and comics, soak up your favorite stuff and feed your budding art-brain. Spend some time at libraries and book stores if you don’t feel like shelling out dough just yet. The most important thing to remember is this: you cannot output without input. Get an anatomy book, look up a few tutorials online if need be, and once your brain is heavy with knowledge and power, get to making, constantly, as much as possible.
It is never, ever too late to learn and try new stuff! I didn’t even think about painting until I was 17 or 18.
Did you go to college? If so, what was your major? How important do you think a college major is to a career? I ask these things because I admire you. :D
Thank you, kind stranger! I did, indeed go to college and I majored in fine art with focus on painting. I dropped out after exactly one year. Let me preface the rest by saying that I can only speak with some certainty about careers in art. If you want to be an astrophysicist, or a doctor, or travel down any left-brain career path, the answer is yes. You need it, as a launch pad at the very least.
If you want to be a fine artist, the story changes drastically. College is good for building a portfolio, defining some of the ins and outs of your desired career path, meeting like-minded individuals and igniting a fire of competition under one’s ass, which, in turn lights a fire of creativity. All these things are important for a career. However, if you’re motivated enough, you can build a portfolio on your own, you can meet like-minded people at cultural functions, and you can feel competitive to hundreds of established peeps just by going online and researching whatever field you’re going into.
On the flipside, if you want to make films, be an animator, a photographer, etc., college is indispensable when it comes to resources – equipment, editing stations – all those things you might not have money or space for right now, but that you need to work with. The important aspect to understand in all of this is the kind of person you are, and whether you, right now, have the motivation and the resources and, most importantly, the proverbial balls to establish yourself as whatever it is you want to be on your own.
Another dull, but hideously important factor is money. If you live in the States and your family is anything less than loaded, school is really very expensive. You must think ahead, apply for as many scholarships as possible, and enlist your friends’ and relatives’ help if necessary. This is a massive pain in the ass, but check-a dis: I went to a 50k/year school and only owed maybe 3k for my one year there. That’s because my mom and I busted our determined butts applying for every grant and scholarship under the sun.
My tragic youth in Chicago, while at SAIC
I didn’t stay in college because mine only offered studio classes with almost no instruction when all I wanted was structure and for someone to actually teach me. At the time of my attendance, the painting department relied very heavily on windbaggery [the ability to convince people that your work is important] instead of skill, which, with me having already gone to an arts high school, was the opposite of what I wanted. However! I had access to one of the best museums in the country on a daly basis and got to do some incredibly fun stuff once I gave up on my actual department. I tried my hand at video and performance art, and I got to live in Chicago, which I love to this day.
Ultimately, there isn’t a magical definitive answer. Whether college will work for you depends entirely on you. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and if you’re able to give it a go, I say do it. Understand yourself, your work ethic, and the type of school you need, then research and find what works for you. But don’t be ever afraid to leave if it isn’t right.