January 18, 2013


Taking what we see and stripping it to its core.

One thing that I hear a lot is that cartoons are easy to draw.
It's a really interesting point of view because they are deceptively simple in appearance but study it for any length of time and you open up a deep well of secrets that wind on and on forever after. It's something I wanted to blog about as I've got some experience with it now. Before that though- wanted to blab a little about how much cartoons and comics mean to me.

In my short lifetime (I'm 25), I've often experienced people who look down their noses at Cartoons. I had a primary school teacher who would make fun of me because I wanted to be a cartoonist. His mocking taunts still stick with me, not as a reminder of failure but as fuel for the fire of success.

Some though, some that one would expect to be more informed, go even further, dismissing cartoons as some sort of juvenile form of art adding the same distaste towards Comics or Animation- two fields of creativity that are already looked down on and never given their full due credit.

Truth is, for me- cartooning is much more difficult than any other form of art I've explored and as extension of that, one of the most impressive. I've studied art at a 'fine art' level because when I left school to pursue art, my only option was to enroll in a class that examined and took all of the 'mediums' of Art on board, except digital mediums or ironically; anything I use now to earn a living.

As such, Instead of learning how to draw storyboards or crafting character designs, we were looking at Fine Art History and its influence on culture as well as questioning the true meaning behind Modern Art, the only class I enjoyed was our weekly life drawing class, because it was freedom to interpret the body as you see it. And interpretation is something I'd later learn is key to being a cartoonist. It was during these two years of study that I met so much of the negativity facing any piece of art requiring imagination.

As a result, I struggled to even pass my classes because I fought tooth and nail for comics to be considered worthy as 'Art', writing dissertations on their worth and impact on culture and examining the process behind them. I know now, it was certainly the wrong place to be vocal about the art of imagination but it is still something that upsets me to this day- the lack of respect for the heroes of the comic world.

It could be born out of a sense of duty to the cartoons and comics that raised me- As a kid, I would  read a comic book and it would inspire my imagination to a world beyond wonder, I saw cartoon shows and wanted with all my heart for them to be a real place I could explore. When I got older, practically every authority figure over me scolded me for drawing things that weren't real, for using imagination- this always made me fight harder for my right to do so.

This was probably because of the incredible base of confidence my parents established in me as a child, they believed in my dreams and supported my efforts- especially if I drew something that didn't exist. I come from a talented family of artists, both on my mothers side (My grandmother was a tremendous poet) and my fathers side (My Grandfather painted beautifully)and so art is something our family has always respected and admired, a respect I perhaps mirrored onto my love for everything comics and cartoons.

I don't really know why I was so stubborn about comics getting respect when I was younger. I got a B- in my Art GCSE exam, the lowest grade any one in my family ever got for Art class because the teacher and I locked horns from the moment we were together. Art at GCSE was basically projects that were centered around a single word and up to the student to produce work inspired by what that word meant to them. She never liked what I turned in because I'd always find some way to twist that word to my favour- to allow me to draw planets or animals or something other than a flowerpot on a table. I know now she was trying to guide me to getting the grade I deserved, by setting me particular tasks or dismissing my own ideas for hers but I never backed down.

Silly goat, I was.

I'm very happy to say I've long since eradicated that stubborn streak but I think it speaks volumes about how I feel about cartoons and comics and informs my own opinion on the matter.

Now that I've my first years under my belt, I think cartooning is so impressive to me because of the sheer challenge. Drawing is a skill, as is every aspect of what we consider 'art.' It all requires discipline and practice, studying everything we might otherwise take forgranted. With a cartoon though, I feel there's that added challenge- you can't just reference the object or person, you have to draw from your minds eye. It's about reconstructing what we all see and recognise then stripping that down to its bare core, it's essence, so you can reimagine it as something new. And it's in that process, that I marvel at the skill of others I admire, their ability to create imagery that awes and inspires because it's not real- but it's informed by reality and brought to life by their unique vision.  So maybe That's why I love comics and cartoons, that's why I fought in education to have them earn some respect- there's a whole world we can't see. With comics and cartoons- suddenly, we can.



Matías Hannecke said...

Really great post. I can definitely relate.

Adam Law said...

@Matias Hannecke

Thanks for checking it out!