Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's Art

An Ongoing Battle for Street Artists

This piece is best worn while you are working on something huge and pushing yourself to the limit. You may get some paint on your clothes, tear your favorite jeans, or end up with some cuts and bruises, but it'll be worth the escapade. The marks of life add character. Go big, deviate from the norm if it feels right, and don't listen if people tell you that what you like or do isn't valid! Remember, if you love it and it flows from your creative mind, then It's Art.

This piece came to me after spending an evening drawing with a group of friends at an event. I wasn't the best artist in the circle, but I was very inspired by the opportunity to learn and watch new techniques while doing my best to keep up with these folks and make good work. There was a group of artists that were drawing in a cool, old-school cartoon fashion. The topic of conversation among the artists was mixing older subjects with contemporary ideas. I sketched out some full-page ideas, and this creation stood out on the paper.

Artists are always trying to put their own artistic thoughts out there in the world. Some art forms are so historical, traditional, and ingrained that viewers accept them without a second thought. However, art that's outside the canon of tradition and pushes artistic boundaries can often struggle for acceptance.
In graffiti, this is an ongoing battle. Some say it's art, while others consider it vandalism and may only see it as a crime. As I worked through ideas, the piece continued to evolve in my sketchbook.

I considered a number of characters that could appear in this scenario -- the graffiti artists, the intrigued viewers, the cops in chase, characters chilling and watching the world go by, and, of course, the buff (people who cover up graffiti).
Oftentimes, it takes several rounds to get the right feel. I tried this with artists running in various poses, all the while trying to depict the body moving fast without losing a cool graphic style in the piece. At one point, I was even debating adding a landscape so the piece of art could be showcased. It turned out to be a bit overwhelming and simplicity won the visual battle. 

After scanning the piece and pulling it into a cleaner digital format, I was able to make some more important design decisions. The wardrobes were key, and getting the right patterns and density of values in such a small composition was a fun challenge.


The characters are obviously in a chase scene, but there needed to be some additional narrative. In adding the searchlight, the characters suddenly popped out of the graphic. The flatness of the monochromatic color scheme and the animated word bubbles really tied the piece together.

Here's what that final glimpse looked like for me. It's incredibly exciting to see something you've created printed and being worn by a real human. It was a very rewarding endpoint to the artistic journey of the piece.

On a personal note, this one makes me laugh every time I see it. It reminds me of a number of artistic adventures I've had in the real world. 

What do you think? I would love to speak to you about any questions you may have regarding this piece, Art Not Bombs, or anything at all. Conversation helps us all educate, learn, and thrive as artists. Please submit your comments below.