Albrecht, Da Vinci, O’Keeffee, Picasso, Rembrant, Van Gough, all of these are legendary artists who have created unforgettable pieces. All of them have very different styles which makes everyone of them unique. Yet they have paved the way and set the standard for the artists of today. However in the modern art world there seems to be confusion between what should be considered as art and what is really the dog’s dinner.
In this article we will explore the definition of art and how the theory of Chris Solarski (author of the great “Video Game Art”) should be applied to when looking at a piece.
When I was in secondary school I used to draw a lot of Manga (Japanese style illustrations) that were often looked down upon because they weren’t realistic. Back then I didn’t really care and I used to think that anyone who thought Manga wasn’t an art was just an elitist douchebag. Almost a decade later, I still feel the same way but for different reasons (I don’t call them douchebags, I call them ignorant).
Before we carry on into why I feel this way, let’s first take a look at the different definitions of the term “art” for all types of still visualization from multiple sources:
1) the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. - Google
2) Artwork, such as painting, photography, or sculpture, that appeals primarily to the visual sense and typically exists in permanent form. Often visual arts Any of the art forms used to create such art. - The Free Dictionary
3) the arts created primarily for visual perception, as drawing, graphics,painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. Dictionary Reference
Taking these definitions into consideration we can find from the analysis that visual art is an expressive form to translate the thoughts from the imagination to a visual medium. I must ask, do any of the definitions mention anything about a particular style to be the correct style?
This is also confirmed by Chris Solarski, who informs the reader in his book that art is also known as “Visual Grammar”.To call a piece Visual Grammar is to translate the vision from the imagination to a live still medium (with the exception of animation but that’s for another article).
Everyone has a different mindset which helps form culture and our humanity, meaning that everyone has a different art style as your brain functions differently from everyone else. The way how you may perceive the subject in question may be viewed with an entirely different perspective from somebody else.
For example let’s say you wish to draw a tree, take a look at these links and you will see that these artists have successfully illustrated a picture of a tree
I’m sure without me having to tell you that you can recognize that all of these images are of a tree right? Exactly, as I have mentioned earlier, art is visual grammar! The style isn’t important but what these artists have done is shown you their version of what a tree looks like, by applying the basic foundations of what makes a tree.
Taking everything thus far into consideration, the theory of
“if it looks like the subject and is recognizable, then the artist has successfully drawn the subject, regardless of style” makes all visuals an artstyle.
Taking us back to the point I made earlier, I did stop drawing manga for a while to focus on learning to understand the body. I can imagine that this will contradict everything I have said so far, but please bare with me. I chose to learn a new style so I can understand the basics of the humanoid anatomy and art in general as it seemed to be though as I was getting no-where with my original style.
Because of the results from my studies I personally believe that all artists (who wish to illustrate the anatomy well in their style), should take some time to learn how to draw the human body in a realistic manner. This will also help artists learn to draw from the imagination more effectively thus helping the artist translate their vision with more accurate visual grammar.
I do understand now why my teachers were concerned with my style. No artist should simply focus on one particular style! Just like living organisms, art will evolve into new forms so it’s a good idea for all illustrators to try out portraying their vision through a different form so they can adapt and evolve.
To conclude this article, every picture should have some meaning behind the picture whether it is a small art gift from someone on DeviantART or a massive canvas piece, there has to be the following or otherwise it loses the right to be called art:
1) A specific style of art that the artists has stayed true too throughout the process (The tools used i.e mixed media, watercolour, crayons and texture e.g paper, clay, card, digital)
2) A theme behind the piece (is it a gift for someone? what is the message you are trying to portray?)
3) All the elements and themes of a piece either relate or contrast the message getting the viewer to think and possible feel different emotions
If each piece follows this then it should be considered as Art. No matter if it is a highly detailed like Da Vinci or the rebellious style of the MS paint web-comic HomeStuck (which I personally dislike). As a friendly reminder, all of this is a theory so feel free to disagree!
When looking at a piece, ask yourself “has the artist executed their message like their vision”, “have they stayed true to their piece?”. There are only two people who can answer that question, the informer (the artist/you) and the observer (the audience/you). To sum this up, the less the artist has to explain about their piece the better the job they have done.
Nevertheless no matter which view point you look at it, I think we can all agree that art is an expressive medium (that takes many forms) where we can turn thoughts and ideas into visual grammar for the eyes. Also it takes a lot of skill to be able to take a vision and turn it into a live image using the appropriate tools!
There are just as many artstyles as there are people, we just need to unlock our own personal style! All artstyles don’t have to be liked, just respected at least.
Thank you for reading!