Sunday, March 4, 2012

transcending kitsch

I've been truly privileged to share studio space with a group of people with a huge variety of interests. Even though (being that the studio space was, y'know, attached to a class) there was a lot of turnover, you could guarantee that every year there would be at least one person interested in doing more illustrative, fantastically inspired art. 

My final semester, there were three people who were overtly influenced in that direction, and I'd guess at at least two more who really wanted to work up the courage to do that sort of work. 

This is relevant because, despite making up a not insignificant portion of the class, these people could not seem to catch a break in any direction with the professors. For a couple of them, I would say that it's because they were legitimately making not good paintings. But then you've got Amber Scharf, who is one of the most technically proficient artists I have ever met in my life. (and also a personal friend so, yes, I am quite biased) 

Michigan state, for all its good qualities, is not a school that offers an illustration program. There's a heavy emphasis on making fine art objects, especially in the painting department. There's not really a good outlet for people who are interested primarily in making commercial works if you're also not interested in being a graphic designer. Either in fact or in reputation, fantastic art definitely has a reputation as a commercial venture. This is, mind, at best. For artists of a certain age, no painting with a dragon could ever transcend kitsch. 

Which is, of course, ridiculous. 

If there's anything the history of art can teach us it's that there is no subject matter that cannot transcend its connotations. Plus, more recently, there're the Spectrum books, so, I mean, evidence. Right there. 

And then on the flip side if you've got galleries full of really terrible landscapes, sooooooo... (I've been travelling; there are a lot of really good galleries around, but there are also ones that are full of no. 

But it got me thinking. Fantasy art is one of the first forms of art that I really focused in on, so it's one of those things that I've always known to be an influence on me. It's not always obvious; there've been a lot of other things thrown in to the mix over the years, but it is there. So, if I were to draw or paint a dragon, I thought to myself, and really really mean it, how would I do it? 

For now, all I've got are some drawings and preliminary thoughts, but I would very much like to spend some time exploring this idea in the near future. 

Actually, if you guys have any examples of really excellent fantasy art, I would really love to see them. Either yours or someone else's, both are good. Informed opinion is good opinion, after all.

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