Monday, November 2, 2015

Forget paying huge money for Art College now, you have ALL you need right before you!

Lately in the past two years, a lot of friends and fans ask me about if their child should attend art college. Most of the time, I generally get to meet some very, very talented young kids ages 10-14 on average when their parents stop by my various booths at various comic conventions that really have the desire to be a better artists.

Well, we live in a completely different world than I grew up with in 1970's and 80's. There was not real internet, no online videos or really in-depth training for a good price from various famous and extremely talented fine artists that are in the illustration field, the computer animation field and of course the comic book industry. In the past 40 years of my life as I've seen art unfold each year, I am more and more and more amazed at the skill level these young kids are demonstrating. At the same time, I get stunned when these young kids and young adults say, they need help, bored, they need teachers, etc.

Sorry colleges and art schools, but the wheels have turned as of the past 10 years and the rules are changing. 17 years ago, I graduated from one of the most prestigious art colleges in the world with honors. Various major companies like Disney, ILM and Interplay along with Pixar, etc. were all choosing me and my work to actually interview me. I was interviewed by Disney several times either for being an animator or a background painter. I even made the top 4 choices for Animation Boot Camp where they select the best possible candidates. I decided then and there that character animation really wasn't my "bag" and my good friend Peter Choe was one of the candidates and he had character animation and figure drawing down. He's an amazing artist that blew me away with his, what seems so easy for him, amazing talent, when I met him in college. He deserved to go, not me. He did. I, however, like creating worlds, environments, life, so background painting and matte painting really, really appealed to me along with concept and industrial design. I still do create worlds and only now I'm starting to add in people as I've learned architectural perspective drawing and painting, environmental painting, various starships and gadgets along with mythological elements in my paintings that tell a story. I also love Conceptual Design and Painting! I am only now (in the past few years) adding the final layer of the paintings, people. People that look good in the painting and not "disjointed", average or the same as everyone else. That's really hard for me and a real challenge. The levels of knowledge a true master must have starts from Anatomy, physiology, philosophy, gesture, motion, line(very important), form, value and mathematical theory, sacred geometry and accurate perspective to a final believable and stunning composition with using various numerical calculations focusing on the Fibonacci sequence, golden mean, rules of 3, etc. The hundreds of years of learned knowledge and practice and skill can now be amazingly condensed in just several years apparently, as I marvel at the modern sci-fi/fantasy illustrators that bless Illuxcon. These are the modern masters. My inspirations are Frank Frazetta, Boris and Julie Valejo, Giger, Syd Mead, John Berkey, Jeffery Jones (CJ), Joe Johnston, Ralph McQuarie, Donato Giancola, Patrick Jones, Tom Fleming, Tom Wood and my great friend Tom Durham along with the new modern masters of digital and traditional painting techniques that would blow the masters away combined with numerous other amazing and show stopping artists that I discover every day and am humbled by their stunning work. It's the bar I'm trying hard to achieve.

Here's the problem as I get to the point of my ramble of the greats and what inspired me as a child and inspires me now. The artist Brom wrote a great article a couple of years ago that would probably piss off a lot of art colleges now, but the truth has to be told. When I add up the cost of going to art college after giving up a $50,000 a year (average sum and conservative estimate) job during the early 90's to attend Ringling, after graduating, I had spent an estimated $350,000 from 1994 - 1998 as a conservative cost analysis, i.e. a penny saved is a penny earned. That was 17 years ago. Now a good art college like Ringling cost about $37,000 a year to attend from what I heard from several friends who have attended lately. When you take into account living expenses, food, etc, books, lab fees, tools of the trade you are studying, you will have probably spent about $200,000 just for college alone to become an artist and get a job.

Many years ago, Art College was essential for so many beside the rare exceptions of gifted geniuses, but they still had a master to teach them the skills and hone them to become great artists. A young person now that graduates from Art College faces a very uncertain future as digital technology and serious competition from all angles along with so many artists not following ethical pricing and guidelines and demanding what they are worth and working for pennies on the dollar or gladly giving up their rights to a creation they made in a corporate "logo" contest or doing work for $10 an hour when one used to be paid $90-$100 an hour back in the 80's! Bottom line, the competition is bloody and fierce.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying any young person can't make it successfully, I'm just saying the rules have changed since the 70's and 80's and no one is wanting to pay an artist what they are really worth as they think it's "fun" and easy when it's one of the most challenging and soul-wrenching journeys one could make in their lifetime. We artists are called to be artists, we really don't have a choice. No we can easily get a job as a computer programmer, doctor, lawyer and pay the same amount for college and make great money, but it's not in our programming and our soul.

So what's the solution!?!? Simple, I tell young people and their parents now; if the kids are self-disciplined, willing to learn each day, take constructive criticism ONLY when they ask for it, and want to grow and become better along with a driving fire and passion that God gives us; as we can not ignore any more than a Shaman can ignore their calling. It's in our soul and blood. We HAVE to be an artist for a reason. The real trick of life is finding out why?!? Another trick to bypass expensive schools that leave kids in huge debt and launched into a formidable world of amazing competition from every angle along with luck, fate, destiny, life; is and has been laid right before our eyes now. Opportunities I never knew when I drew and sketched from 5 years on....growing up in an artistic town, but still a rather repressed and remote region isolated from real artistic mastery, Kids now can and do have access to incredible, unbelievable resources from every angle to exponentially accelerate the learning curve that we, during the 70's on never had before.

Here's the bottom line, unless you or your parents are well off, forget art college, as if you want to be a successful artist, take business and time management along with financial management courses instead. Get a degree in that and then go make art, music, etc. Mick Jagger has a Masters Degree in Financial and Business Management. He is one of the reasons the Rolling Stones (all members, David Bowie and other friends are so rich). He taught them financial marketing and planning. They made their music, but they were mindful of the money that it takes to become financially and solid successful millionaires for the rest of their lives.

Artists can do the same. Now kids have access just by clicking you-tube and getting literally thousands, possibly millions of online tutorials, videos and more from generous and very gifted masters willing to share their learned secrets for a penny on the dollar for the knowledge. Here are some of the the greatest resources for learning - The Digital Academy, The Gnomon Workshop $500 a year for full access to all of their thousands of hours of learning from industry professionals directly, Ponko -, Feng Zhu, We never had this resource before! Books, DVD training, Libraries with Dvd's you can check out that teach from the basics to advanced knowledge. When I hear an excuse from a younger person of they don't have any way to learn, etc. I immediately tell them to take heart, save their money and just watch the videos and learn by watching the masters demonstrate live how they do their magic! is another great master named Patrick Jones that can teach you far more. Then there are training (how to) dvd's from Tom Fleming, Donata Giancola, Syd Mead, and many, many more. This is a whole lot cheaper than art college sorry to say, but it's the way to go, but ONLY if you have the drive, passion, fire and calling to be an artist. Only then you will succeed, but now, there is NO reason you can't learn more each day and become a master even at an early age of 10 years old! I see 16 year old that can paint and draw circles around successful artists but be mindful to listen and learn from the older masters for they have the lifetime of knowledge to teach you more. Learn Art History, (Libraries - yes, REAL art books and read, read, read). Always sketch, build your visual vocabulary and rather than play video games, give yourself an hour each day to learn by watching a great online or purchased video. All the information you need is out their for the taking now! Finally, don't be intimidated to ask and show an artist you look up to to critique and give you pointers. True artists love to talk and share their skills and their knowledge with all. It's a true compliment! Now, go forth, change the world!

This course is approachable enough for beginners and detailed enough for advanced artists. My philosophy is to teach timeless concepts in an…

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