New Tutorial Set: “Small Sparks”

Clara-Alex-Casey

Last weekend Art Prof TAs Lauryn Welch, Alex Rowe, Deepti Menon, and Casey Roonan came to my house for a 5 days of shooting. Our retreats are really intense, require serious concentration 24-7, are exhausting, but they are also a total blast.  All of us live in different places, so we really only get together a few times a year to shoot our video content. What’s been really exciting is that with every retreat, we’ve become noticeably more efficient with our time, and our work flow is much faster than before. It’s wonderful to see our team settling into a stable familiarity in the process that wasn’t there when we first got started.

Lauryn-Alex

It’s still incredible to me how much we managed to pack into 5 days.  Deepti shot a tutorial about how to create an animation piece using an eggplant, Alex did a tutorial on ink wash drawing which involved American colonial history and an on site visit to a farm to hang out with sheep, Lauryn showed us how to mix coffee grounds into acrylic paint to make a painting inspired by BBQ squid, and Casey showed us all kinds of ink technique that involved roadkill and toilet paper.

Lauryn

While we still want to include the basics on Artprof.org, we’re really excited about these quirkier tutorials that are a new hybrid of artist documentary and tutorial.  In our research, the video content out there is either exclusively a documentary (such as the PBS series art21) or a purely technical tutorial.  The idea of combining both documentary and tutorial in one is really exciting, as you’ll get the change to understand the initial inspiration for our work, but also have the opportunity to see every step of the process explained, using ordinary materials that are accessible and can be done in your own home.

We see Art Prof as a platform that is constantly growing, even since our site launch this past February so much of our mindset has changed. Ideas for new content formats keep coming up, which is exciting, but also frustrating at the same time.  With our extremely limited post-production staff (me, and Alex Hart occasionally) we just don’t have the man power to produce video content as quickly as we want to. We desperately need a sound designer, but without sustained funding that isn’t an option for us right now. (please consider a monthly donation to our Patreon!)

Clara

Now that Art Prof has been around for 3 years, we felt it was a good time to create a short “Making of Art Prof” documentary for people to see what happens behind the scenes.  Even thought our content is of professional quality, I’m not sure people realize how DIY Art Prof really is!  We shoot in a room right next to my kitchen, we scrape together whatever art supplies we own, we cook meals together, and make do with situations that are less than convenient. (I’m too cheap to buy comforters for everyone, so all the TAs have to bring their own comforter when they stay here)

Naturally, our retreat wouldn’t be half as fun without our guinea pigs, Bubba and Fluffy, who are now the official Art Prof mascots!

Deepti

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email

 

Advertisements

500 Sheets

deepti-screenshot_002

By Deepti Menon, Art Prof Teaching Assistant

During my junior year as a Film/Animation/Video student, I took a year-long animation course. Prior to this, I had taken the required introductory animation class, but this intermediate course was when I really discovered a new way to think.

Coming into this major, I had no prior experience animating, but knew it was a magical thing that I wanted to do. My prior artistic experiences and processes always involved a lot of meticulous planning and reworking of a single image until I saw it done. Additionally, my exposure to animation was pretty basic – character-based work with clean lines and seamlessly fluid movement. Therefore, this is how I approached my animations. I placed a lot of thought into creating the characters and story line and spent a ton of time on the details of each frame.

deepti_art3

However, this all changed during one day of this intermediate animation course. My professor gave us each 500 sheets of printer paper and set a timer for an hour. We weren’t given any light boxes or ways to see our progress, just the paper and our pens. Our only instruction was to finish animating the 500 pages before the timer was up. To me, this was absurd. I would usually complete five frames in an hour, maybe six. Realizing my usual methods were not going to cut it, I was forced to rethink what it meant to animate. By the end of the hour, I had create a frenzy of shapes and scribbles dancing across the white page. Watching the animation, I could see the points where panic set in and the decision-making unfold.

The animation wasn’t anything like I had made before. I was amazed. Primarily, I was amazed that I completed the task. However, I was also so drawn to how the animation embodied the pace and panic of the task itself. I found that watching my classmates also taught me a lot. One student penetrated the whole ream of paper with a sharp object, creating a hole in each piece of paper that varied slightly with each page. The variety in rips created a subtle yet stunning animation that reminded me a lot of an organism breathing. Another student allowed a marker to bleed through the entire ream of paper, creating a stunning transition of ink blots transitioning and fading. I was drawn to the simplicity of these ideas and how they can create connotations with such minimal imagery.

deepti_art11

Although my final product wasn’t something I was going to submit to film festivals, it changed the way I approached my ideas and the process of animation, paying more attention to how an artistic process can inform the content behind it. I also began to see how beneficial it was to challenge yourself with something like a time restraint. This led me to create another animation, “Shell”, where I had a time restraint and had to create movement from a static object.

2016-dec-ta-retreat_003

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to art education for people of all ages and means.

Be notified of our 2017 site launch by subscribing to our email list.

subscribe


FB  Youtube   tumblr   Pinterest   LinkedIn   Instagram   Twitter   snap_chat  email  etsy


Portfolio Video Critiques for Art Students & Artists
Prof Clara Lieu offers 30 minute video critiques on 8-20 artworks for students working on a portfolio for art school admission, and for artists of any age working on their artwork. Watch a sample below, and get more info here.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories, and post select submissions on our Instagram  and other sites throughout the month. Use #artprofwip and Prof Clara Lieu might just stop by and give you some feedback! We have a special prize for art teachers who assign the Art Dare to one of their classes. More info is here.


Ask the Art Prof Live was a weekly live video broadcast on our Facebook page where Prof Clara Lieu provided professional advice for art students and professional artists. Ask the Art Prof began as a written column in 2013 and was featured in the Huffington Post from 2013-2015.  See the full archive of columns here. Prof Lieu discussed being an artist today, art technique & materials, work strategies for artists, career advice, teaching art, and more.

Art Hacks!


For the rest of our Kickstarter campaign, we’ll keep creating new video content to give you a small preview of what ART PROF will be like if we get fully funded! One of my favorite things about being a professor at an art school is the great tips and shortcuts that artists invent totally on the fly in order to make a project cooperate, or when they’re stuck at the airport with only napkins to draw on. Sometimes, as an artist, you’ll find yourself willing to do just about anything to make your work happen!

Today, hear from our Teaching Assistant Lauryn Welch above about why “hygiene” is important for artists.  Find out from Intern Janice Chun why you might want to skip that $100 light board purchase if you need to create animation on a budget!


Consider donating to our Kickstarter campaign and help us bring ART PROF: Visual Art Essentials with Clara Lieu  to people of all ages who want and need art education, but who have no means of access. Our prototype is finished, so our final step is to raise funds to make ART PROF free for all! Even the smallest donations add up. And if you can’t donate, please share our Kickstarter campaign!

Wading Through a Sea of Feedback

Accordion Book Binding Project

I think all artists are constantly craving feedback on their work.  It’s one thing to make the artwork, it’s another thing to test out the work and find out how your audience will react. I just read “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Stick and Others Die” by Chip and Dan Heath, and in the book they talk about the “Curse of Knowledge” meaning that you know too much about your project, which affects your ability to evaluate your work objectively.

Speaking of books, I’m currently reading Ed Catmull’s book “Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” which talks about the strategies they use at Pixar to strike a balance between management and creativity. In the book, there’s a point where he talks about how Pixar director Andrew Stanton says it’s best to “fail early and fail fast” and “be wrong as fast as you can.”  I’m constantly hounding my students to get feedback in the sketching stage, before they even lift a finger to begin the final artwork.  When you delay feedback and wait until your project is finished, it’s painful to confront problems that could have been so easily prevented within minutes in the early stages. At that point, it’s too late to start over, and there’s nothing you can do to fix those glaring problems.

Sometimes, you really have to work hard to figure out what to listen to. I am always eager and willing to improve my work, but at a certain point, you have to make decisions about what feedback you listen to, and what you tune out.  If you implement every single suggestion you receive, you’ll lose your original voice and focus.

Wading through so much feedback can be very confusing.  When I was a senior at RISD, I remember at one point feeling overwhelmed with the daily critiques in my classes.  I would talk to one professor who would tell me “you’ve got to stop using that red in your paintings”, only to be told by another professor the next day “the red is terrific, you need to use it more!” In previous years, I craved critiques on my artwork and savored every morsel of criticism.  That year,  I just wanted to be left alone and make the work, without stopping every six hours to get feedback. At that time, I found that the constant stream of contradictory feedback had become disruptive to making the artwork.

How do you decide what feedback to use?  I take extensive notes when I ask for feedback, which lets me review my notes later when my head is more clear. The first thing I do is throw out the extreme reactions at both ends: the people who have a negative reaction and are picking at every little thing, and the people who are massaging my ego and spoon feeding me what I want to hear. I weed out comments about minutiae.  While I do believe some small details can sometimes play a critical role, I’m amazed at how much some people can fuss about tiny aspects that really don’t matter. I have to be convinced that changing that tiny detail will have a noticeable change on the viewer’s experience with the project. If the difference is negligible, then I throw it out.

The suggestions I try to concentrate on are the comments that recur in more than one person, and that seem to have the potential to have a positive contribution towards emphasizing the fundamental purpose of a project. Time and distance also helps me reflect more before I make hasty decisions.  My first reaction when I get criticism is to fix problems immediately, but I find that if I make changes the same day I hear the suggestions, those changes just become a knee jerk reaction that haven’t been fully considered.

Having too much feedback is a good problem to have, but that doesn’t make sorting through it any easier!


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

Ask the Art Prof: How Do I Choose a Field for A Graduate Program in Visual Arts?

Skeleton Drawing Assignment

“I am a junior art major, and I cannot really tell what I would like to focus on if I go on to graduate school. It makes it even harder for me to choose schools because I don’t know what field of art I want to pursue. I just love everything about art to be honest. For such people like me, feeling lost in what we’ve been doing, yet longing for higher education in graduate school, what advice do you have?”

For many art students, choosing their major in order to apply to a specific graduate school is a tremendous source of stress. Being required to select a major when applying to graduate school can feel like being asked to make a permanent declaration of your artistic identity. In reality, your field of study in graduate school does not have to set your artistic future in stone.

While a school may ask you to choose a specific field, the truth is that many professional artists work fluidly in a number of fields. Many of my favorite artists are the ones whose works defy categorization, and who are extraordinarily prolific in a number of contrasting art media.

Take someone like the contemporary South African artist William Kentridge, who has worked in everything from drawing, animation, sculpture, and printmaking, to stage design. Picasso began his career as a painter, but experimented tremendously with found objects, drawing, and printmaking. The 18th century Italian printmaker Piranesi began as an architect who later created etchings which depicted imagined architectural spaces. These artists may have started out studying one specific field, but eventually their work in multiple fields blended together into one cohesive vision.

art21-wkaip-films-003-540x356

William Kentridge,

When it came time for me to go to graduate school, I intentionally chose sculpture, a field that I had very little experience with at the time. My primary interest and background was actually in painting, but I was curious to see how studying a different field could influence my paintings. Not only did I end up discovering a new passion for sculpture, but I found myself in the print shop for days on end. Eventually, I dropped painting altogether and emerged as a sculptor and printmaker who specialized in drawing. In this way, I created an interdisciplinary approach for myself that embraced a broad range of fields. My major might have been initially declared as sculpture, but that did not prevent me from branching out into other media.

You can approach this process as an opportunity to study an area you’ve always been curious about, but haven’t done much work in. Or, choose an area that you already have a strong interest in and would like to develop a deeper understanding of. Think about the major you select for graduate school as a departure point. From there, you’ll be able to spread out into other media as your interest and ideas dictate.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


Related articles
“Is graduate school worth it?”
“How are European MFA degrees viewed in the United States?”
“How do I find the right graduate school for fine arts?”

Ask the Art Prof: What Does it Take to Get a Job at an Animation Studio?

pixar-logo

I’m a beginning art student studying graphic design, and I’ve always wanted to work in a cartoon studio setting. Places like Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network that are not your normal work places per say. All my life, my family has always said that it was impossible to get a job like that, and to not even try.

Well, here I am going into graphic design, but I want to know: What exactly does it take to land that kind of job, what should my art portfolio have, and is it even worth trying???”

Animation studio jobs are insanely competitive, as there are thousands and thousands of people out there who desperately want to be working in that field. You would be competing with people who have completed professional degrees in animation and illustration, and many others who not only have degrees, but who have been working professionally in the field for some time.

Getting a job would require an enormous commitment on your part, and would require years of hard work and rigorous training. I have a number of acquaintances from RISD who went on to work at studios like Pixar, Disney, and Nickelodeon.  My memories of them during my undergraduate years at RISD is that they obsessively did gesture drawings around the clock like there was no tomorrow, and were both highly disciplined and incredibly industrious workers. You have to be prepared to devote every part of your life to this initiative, it’s that competitive.

Gesture Drawing

Gesture drawing from a life model


If all of the above sounds intimidating to you, then I would say that it’s not worth trying.  If hearing that makes you feel enthusiastic, motivated, and revved up to go, then I think it’s totally worth trying.  Do your research in advance and make sure that you know what you would be getting yourself into. This is not a job that you can work towards occasionally, it practically has to be in your blood.

One basic requirement of an animation studio position is a solid grounding in traditional art. That means having really strong drawing skills, especially in gesture drawings of the human figure and of animals. The expectation is that all of the drawings are executed from direct observation, which means multiple trips to the zoo to draw animals in person, and countless hours drawing from a live nude model. Most animation degree programs require that students take courses in all areas of animation, to build a basic grounding of the overall process of making animation.

Inside Out by Pixar

Inside Out by Pixar

Jobs in animation studios are often times very specialized, so you would apply for a position in a specific area, like storyboards, character design, backgrounds, animation, etc. Technically speaking a portfolio would generally consist of artwork that highlights that area of specialization, as well as a reel of a number of your animated works. I’m not in the field, so I’m not able to provide accurate specifics, but that’s a fairly good approximation of what would be expected in an application.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


Related Videos
Youtube Playlist: Video Critiques on Art School Admissions Portfolios
Youtube Playlist:  How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching
Youtube Playlist:  Crit Quickies, 1 min. critiques on artworks


Related articles
“How do I become a children’s book illustrator?”
“Can I make a respectable income on freelance illustration?”
“Where is a good place to start with graphic novels?”

Ask the Art Prof: What are the Career Opportunities in the Fine Arts?

RISD Section 19

“I’m studying architecture and visuals art in college which I am about to finish this fall. I took courses in graphic design, typography, illustration, and print production but I am more passionate and interested in painting, drawing, sculpting and crafting.

I don’t know any jobs that involve my interests. I’ve been having a hard time finding career path in art other than graphic design or web design. What are the career opportunities in fine art?”

If you want to work in fine arts, you have to take the self-initiative to carve your own path. The possibilities are endless, and it’s up to each person to find a balance that allows for them to maintain their studio practice while paying the bills. In order to find that path, you have to figure out just how much you want to involve your art in your paying job.  Some people like to keep their art completely separate from their paying job, while others like their art to be a part of their paying job. There are disadvantages and advantages to both options.

A former professor of mine wanted to be a fine art painter, so he opted to work as a professional portrait painter. You would think that this job would be great, since you essentially get paid to be making oil paintings all day.  However, the reality is that being a portrait painter can be nightmarish.  His clients always seemed to have a vision of themselves that had nothing to do with what they actually physically looked like, and they complained left and right about every single petty detail. He found himself creatively bound by unreasonable demands made by clients, and having to pander to their desires. This basically dispelled any shred of creativity from the portrait paintings, making the process very mechanical and constrained.

Portrait Drawing

One of my peers went to art school for animation and upon graduation landed a full-time job at a small, independent animation studio.  Sounds perfect, right? Well, it turned out that his job animating all day long (and many times all night long)  was so demanding and exhausting that by the time he got home at the end of the work day, the last thing he wanted to do was animate more. The job was consuming to the point that he couldn’t muster up the mental space or the time he needed to work on his own animation projects outside of his day job. Within a year, he had left the studio.  On the flip side, I know plenty of people who work at animation or production studios who are plenty satisfied with their work there.

There can be advantages to separating your art from your paying job. If your paying job is completely unrelated to art, you’ll have more mental space and energy for your own studio practice.  One of my former professors told me that he was a movie theater manager when he first got out of school.  He said it was a great schedule because he could focus all of his energy on painting all day, and then go to work at night. A department head at an art school told me that he was a waiter for 15 years, and during that time, produced tons of paintings.  By contrast, he now paints very little due to the administrative demands in his position as a department head and professor of fine arts. While having a job that is completed unrelated to art works for some people, there are many of us who would not be willing to be a waiter for 15 years.

Intaglio Printmaking Project

One of the most popular options for many fine artists is to teach.  Teaching works for many fine artists because it’s a paying job that involves art without any hands-on labor.  There are many benefits to teaching:  you’re instantly plugged into an academic community, and you have all of the resources and facilities of the school at your fingertips.  I’m learning from my students all the time, I enjoy connecting with my colleagues when I’m on campus, and I milk the facilities and resources every chance I get.  Teaching keeps your mind active, getting you to process and think about artistic ideas which can in turn positively influence your own art.

Just remember that making your art is a lifelong pursuit, while jobs and careers come and go. You don’t have to give up making your art to pay the bills.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

FB    Youtube    Pinterest     Instagram    Twitter    email    etsy


PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


Related articles
“How do I change careers to pursue my passion for art?”
“How long did it take you to jump start your career after graduation?  What was your first job?”
“Should I pursue a career in fine art?”