[ Fantasy & Comic vs. Contemporary ]

Posted on March 18th, 2012 at 10:31pm

[nggtags gallery=falling, ]

It’s true, I’m a geek. Every since I was young I loved drawing dragons and made up creatures and I have be often found doodling. Throughout school & into my foundation I was heavily discouraged away from fantasy work and pretty much was told that it wasn’t “real” art. I did end up just falling into line, annoyingly o_O.

This question comes up for me again and again throughout my life. Why are some forms of art seen as more valid then others?

To try and answer, I first ask more questions, the first and most important is, what is art? This is prob. quite a complex question to ask, and if I think about it too long it would prob. start to hurt. But if I go on my gut feeling and say as quickly as possible, I’d say art was the ability to make real thoughts, ideas or concepts through creative making skills. I’m also interested to see what my Apple computer’s dictionary says:

art 1 |ärt|

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.
• works produced by such skill and imagination.
• creative activity resulting in the production of paintings, drawings, or sculpture.

That was pretty dammed close to what I’d thought art was as well.

I have to admit, coming through essentially an art degree/masters where we were always asked to find something “meaningful” to do art about it, in some ways that process took away some of my child like passion for just creating & making for no other reason then just “because”. Of course I hugely appreciate my education cos it helped me understand the power of art & how to focus that voice into something co-herent. However since leaving uni it has been so rare for me to just sit and create just for fun as I feel guilty for not finding something deep and socially meaningful every time.

It’s taken years to shake off this feeling of having to make “high art” for exhibitions & screenings etc. Don’t get me wrong I still do it from time to time and enjoy it, but my focus has changed from exhibition work to freelance & commercial work. It was a hard transition because I always got the impression through my education that commercial artists weren’t seen as “pure” artists and only in it for the money… it has taken me a long time to shake off that dated and frankly unfounded idea that you can only call yourself a true artist if you have shown your work in X number of galleries, shows, screenings etc or some how been at the forefront of cultural commentary. Also I got the distinct impression from the “Art World” that commercial work is seen as “lesser”.

Finally I’ve been able to reject the idea that commercial art is some how inferior to contemporary art. I also really have gained such a sense of satisfaction and usefulness since doing more freelance work, more than I never came close to as a conceptual exhibition artist.

So here I’m back at my original thought. It’s clear to me that there is a sense of art hierarchies that many people, including creatives themselves have. First it’s the Art world … then the commercial creative/design industry… then right at the bottom is fantasy/sci-fi/comic art. I never have understood why. All my life people in education basically disregarded it as if it was almost medico tack. This is why it shocked me so much to find that the comic I created about adoption (adoptedthecomic.com), which I know isn’t the most skilled illustration, has prob had a bigger and more poignant global impact then identical issues voiced through my “serious” contemporary adoption art work. I see countless impressive, expressive & thought provoking works & illustrations by comic & fantasy/sci-fi artists.

There seems to be such rigid criteria on what constitutes as “art”. Does it matter if a piece is exhibited in a gallery to rave reviews, or fulfils the need of a paying client, or makes someone laugh, or fits into a small demographic? To me it’s all art, different forms and execution platforms of art yes, but none better than the other.

With all this pressure on artists both having to prove their skills and wit on a daily basis, it’s easy to forget the fun in art. After reading a manga (Japanese graphic novel/comic) last night for the first time in ages I was inspired to do just that, art for fun, just for myself but decided to share it above… and yes I proudly call it art! =D

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