Violating the first rule of Commercial Art

As I was “meshing around” with one of my latest creations (a Canadian goose in illustrator), I was happily making my detailed avian manifesto to show off some now found skills.  My sketch looked very cool, but I decided (not being an expert on geese), to go more detailed and natural.  As the hours passed (meshes are fun but they can be very time-consuming) I had a nagging feeling creeping inside of me.

I continued for a while longer until, I had a half of a perfectly meshed goose.  And it looked like an Audubon painting.  But something was wrong.  It wasn’t what the client would really want.   The client and I discussed that we were going for a funny, biker look with a bit of cool thrown in.  And that, my friends is a big danger when doing art for a client.  When we create for someone else, it isn’t just about pleasing us and our egos.  Actually, very little is about that, at least directly.

When one creates for someone else, it is all about them.  The best thing an artist can do in such a situation is try to channel the client wishes, try to create something that will make them happy based on the skills that you lend for the task at hand. An artist is more like a savant in this case or perhaps something more akin to a psychologist with drawing skills.

And I knew this.  I knew what I was doing was wrong for the client.  But this time, since is one of my first works under the banner of my new company, I wanted to “show off”.   I don’t know if this is true for all artists, but in my experience many artists (ok, this artist), even pretty easy-going ones (ok, me) can nurture an ego the size of Mount Olympus, or try to.

There are many reasons for this.  An artists’ ego is by necessity trying to compensate from past or present verbal slings and arrows of others or even from the critic in oneself.   Artists also have to retain a bit of the wonderment of a child, and thus a little but of an immature nature in them to function properly.   This immaturity is needed so we can try new things without fear.  Our profession is after all creating drawings, painting and designs.   It’s something most “normal people” outgrow when they move on to “bigger and better things”.  We sometimes feel that we have to “prove” things to others.   There are moments in my life when I swing between thinking this profession is so cool, so creative, and other times when I have moments of doubt as to my place in it.   Sometimes doubt even gets the best of me.  The best thing for me to do in these moments is to bite the bullet (after playing a little Ukelele of course ;-)), push on, and remember why I love the soft spoken muse in my soul that sometimes whispers to me.

So.  Now I have a half-rendered Canadian goose on my desktop.  What am I to do?  I will do what any artist should do.  Put the prettyy goose away, start over again with the clients needs instead of my own.  Illustrate with exactly as much or as little detail as called for. Breath life into my new rendering.   Draw a funny badass biker goose and see a big smile on my client’s face when I present it to him.

And oh, show off a just a little if I can.  Hey, I never said I was perfect.


About Rhett Kennedy

An east coast transplant living in San Jose CA, and loving it. I am a master of useless trivia (medieval and ancient culture, a smattering of politics, ukulele and fan of most forms of music). I know life insurance, audio visual technology, commerical and fine art nd love to sing scottish ballads. I'm happily strange and enjoy strange people as a result.
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