Top- James Montgomery Flagg. Bottom - Charles Dana Gibson
I have no problem with imitating other people’s styles initially. How many of us started drawing in earnest because we wanted to replicate a comic book, or an animated show? I remember some of my very first drawings were trying to redraw the Battle of Endor or Samus Aran’s spaceship. When I first got out of school, I ripped off James Jean on a daily basis.
I’d posit that this manner of investigation is not wholly separate from distinguishing yourself through your voice though. Copying other people’s styles is a great way to get inside their head and figure out not only how they solve problems design-wise, but also how they execute it technically. It’s why art schools around the world assign master copies as homework. It gets you out of your own skin for a bit, and is a good way to get more “tools in your toolbox” technically.
What it will never do though, is give you “success.” I think this quote from Austin Briggs is especially relevant here. Even if you were able to expertly recreate every stroke, every line, every nuance of someone else’s style, you will always be, by definition, a second-rate copy of them. You cannot BE them, and therefore you can never replicate their motivations, ideas, and inspirations. And even worse than that: you are ignoring your own.
James Montgomery Flagg was one of several artists who made a living undercutting Charles Dana Gibson’s distinctive pen and ink style in the early 1900s. He did it for years; as Gibson’s popularity soared, so did his prices, and Flagg filled a lower-tier niche.
Does that in any way affect Gibson’s legacy as one of the most influential American illustrators of the early 20th century? Absolutely not. Would it have affected Flagg’s legacy if that’s all he did with his career? You bet. Lucky for us, and for Flagg, he was talented and driven enough to eventually do his own thing, which resulted in one of the most iconic images in American history.
Learn what you can from others and be happy when they do well. But at the end of the day, you are your own person. Success is an illusion, and it almost never means what you think it means.
my final series for my junior illustration II class- narrative series for the book A Separate Peace by John Knowles
three pieces done for a pattern-based illustration. our themes to pick from were either “journeys” or “unusual specimens”. I chose to do some weird plants for the latter including the pitcher plant, bleeding tooth fungus and venus fly trap
re-post! this was a piece i did for a juried show at my school calling for colorful, sweet candy-themed work! I was a little unsure but it apparently got in and i’m feeling a bit more confident, so i’m putting it back up now!
some work for my type I class- working with type outside the computer
thanks to stella for taking photos for me
first assignment of the semester!
illustrate a prized possession
i did my hand cause i’m pretty glad to have it since it helps me draw so much and everything. hands are pretty neat tools of communication and agency too!
Ah thank you! I hardly sketched at all until this semester, but I love seeing other peoples’ sketches so much, since the thought process is so evident!
I hope you have a great holiday as well.
My final series of illustrations for my Junior I class at MICA, all together.
I had taken a class about this history of Buddhism and there’s a story about the Buddha before he becomes the Buddha, dealing with his first experiences of human suffering, including old age, sickness and death. In the end, he seeks a spiritual life in order to help alleviate the suffering of himself and others in the world.
I think these concepts are pretty universal and I tried to approach them in a way that that felt authentic to the way that I work and the imagery I prefer as well as the place where the story actually comes from.