Here’s a little madlib for you, “The Illustrator’s Lament”:
No matter how many ( cool objects, people, or scenarios ) I draw, I will still be a ( self adjective ) ( self noun ) who will never ( fanciful action ).
No matter how many tough lady space marines I draw, I will still be a cautious nerd who will never fire an interstellar harpoon.
I think Kali is hitting on something vital here, albeit jokingly. At a recent panel on The Art Department/Illustration Academy (and I forget exactly who was addressing this issue, perhaps Sterling Hundley), it was proposed that one of the largest problems facing young illustrators today is that our worldviews and experiences are essentially filtered out and spoon-fed to us through various media outlets. We don’t dance, we watch people dance on youtube. We don’t fight, we play fighting games.
Compared to say, Frederic Remington roughing it on the frontier, or Harvey Dunn being sent as an artist-correspondant on the Western Front, my life has been pretty sheltered and tame—does this mean my art is sheltered and tame?
I mean, I don’t think everyone needs to go to war, or go exploring into some untamed wilderness (although both of those things would be quite the character builders), but I do think it’s important to get outside of the studio and just do things for oneself. At one of the subsequent panels after the TAD one, James Gurney talked about “feeling” your reference, instead of just relying on photographs; he said he would often put on costumes and act out the situation he was about to draw/paint, just to get a better sense of what essential emotion needed to be emphasized. He lives by a mantra of Howard Pyle’s: “Throw your heart into a picture and jump in after it.”
We need hearts that are our own; ones that we’ve built up, broken, and shared willingly on our own terms.
All this to say: Kali Ciesemier has some badass work and I love her space marine.