I've been out of school for 5 years now (a modest milestone), so I've been doing some thinking about how I'm developing as an artist. New interests have gripped me even though I'm basically on the same track as I was when I left school. My formal training is in Illustration, but my influences are predominantly derived from the worlds of Animation and Comics, and maybe Graphic Design to a lesser degree. I've dabbled in all these artforms, but I don't consider myself truly competent in any of them. A lot of the blogs I read are geared towards animators and comic artists, which leads me to question how interested I really am in Illustration. I don't do a ton of formal illustration these days (whatever that means) unless it's for freelance work. So what am I?
I'm most comfortable making pictures—that I can be certain of. But when I want to tell a story or a narrative, I'm increasingly more enamored with the frameworks of animation and comics—in essence, not wanting to rely on a single image to deliver an idea. Is this a failing of me as an Illustrator?
While filling up sketchbooks and exploring a variety ways of making lines and constructing images, I'm comfortable with what I guess is my developing style. And while I recognize my influences, I can't help but wonder why it is that I am so profoundly drawn towards comics and cartoons. The visual languages are definitely similar, and they both arrived in popular culture at around the same time (turn of the 20th century, give or take...animation a decade or so later). I work in flat color and line, but do I value them for their intrinsic characteristics or because I love cartoons and comics?
Without trailing on too long here, I've decided that maybe the word to best describe my trade is "cartooning," making me a Cartoonist. This is what a lot of the earlier pioneers described themselves as (artists like Winsor McCay, T.S. Sullivant, Otto Mesmer, and Milt Gross come to mind). And most of them dabbled in the realms that I'm interested in (Illustration, Animation, and Comics). Not that I need to label myself anything. Perhaps it's more of a exercise in knowing where I fit it in with my predecessors and contemporaries.
Funny, though, because I wouldn't consider any of these guys direct influences—who with the exception of Max Fleischer and George Herriman, are predominantly contemporary. So for now, I guess I'm a Cartoonist. That may change tomorrow.
UPDATE: D.B. Dowd furthers this discussion over at Graphic Tales. A new blog all of you should get acquainted with.
5 days ago