Dogma and the Art of Pursuing your Goal

Years ago, when I was in art school and doing a lot of watercolour painting, I got into an argument with Jaime Jones about mediums and working in studios.  I told him that I didn't see any reason for the "digital bias" in concept art, and it was possible to do great pieces traditionally that would totally meet the needs of the studio.  Jaime is a great guy, and he agreed that it was possible in theory, but wouldn't work for 99% of people based on available time.  I'll never forget his logic.  "Even if I paint on one layer with one brush, the ability to colour pick instead of mixing paint will make me faster, and in this industry, every second counts."

Dude had a point.  I still love watercolours, but I do my professional work digitally.  My school was highly dogmatic about the benefits of so-called "traditional" methods, and I had absorbed that.  It was time to be flexible.

On the flip-side, I know digital artists who never go out to do plein air painting, because they have desktops, and "studios don't care about traditional painting skills."  They are missing out of a great technique for improvement, and besides that, it's *fun*.  Dogma can strike both sides.

I'm a huge believer in switching up your techniques, your locations, your time structure - particularly for personal work, those things can bump you out of ruts and send you to the next level.  I went to Cynthia Shepherd's oil painting show last weekend, and I'm *really* curious to see if the act of doing so many finished oil paintings will impact her digital work.  I'm pretty sure it would change mine.

ON THE OTHER HAND - You do need to recognize the realities of the industries you want to participate in.  If you want to work in a studio, in 2016, you must work digitally. I'm sure you can point out one or two people who don't, but I'll hazard a guess that of those handful, 99% are older, established artists who have been doing pastels et al their entire life.  The odds of you being "The person who shows the studios the POWER of traditional work!" are basically nil.  The studios know traditional work, that's what they did before Cintiqs.  Go learn Photoshop - it's a medium, just like any other one, and it takes practice to get good at.

If you want to be a freelance illustrator working in the fantasy field, consider traditional painting.  You'll probably have the time (at least compared to the 2-4 paintings a day demands of studios), and while the payment for illustrations is low, selling oil paintings is a nice secondary market that in many cases will pay FAR more than the actual book did.  It also targets you to be able to do more gallery work and private commissions.

If you spend 90% of your time working in your industry's medium and 10% branching out, you'll get the benefits of both, and avoid a dogmatic approach that only sees certain works as "legitimate" simply because of how they were made.

If you don't know *what* you want to do...go work digitally.  It's the current universal cross-over that lets you do work in any field. Oh - and at this stage, that means a real computer and probably Photoshop.  While they are getting close, iPads aren't there yet...and if you do get into a studio, you'll be using their computers and their software - and it will be Photoshop.

Thanks for reading another one, please share if it spoke to you :)