Art StatusWorks in Progress
1Blogs in progress
So, here's a pretty interesting art topic that I seldom find to be discussed.
Basically, there's this idea that the art industry just absolutely needs a tsunami of tutorials from everyone and their mother. Not just from the masters of their craft, but anyone who yesterday held a pencil in their hand. Everyone is in a fervor to EDUCATE, it seems. Unfortunately, without the credentials to do so.
Yesterday I saw a tutorial on the front page, on how to draw flames and fire. What struck me was how abysmal it was - not only the presentation of the process looked bad, but the result, which the author toted as a "flame", сame out to be very, very poor. This prompted me to reflect back on all the previous shit-tutorials I've seen, and how they're not only unhelpful, but damaging to other, young artists. There recently had been a flood of them - how to draw water, how to draw this, how to draw anime eyes, etc - pathetic in quality, utterly unhelpful and presenting a result that is anything, but competent.
To be honest, I am as guilty of that as any other from this point of view. I've done about 2 tutorials on how to paint, one on coloring and one materials (not counting one where I just showed my process), and looking back on it I realize shit is really pretty horrid. On top, there's also a sense of pride and euphoria clouding your better judgement. You think "oh my god! I'm so totally good at this, look at those FUCKING HYPERREALISTIC REFLECTIONS MAN! I need to share with everyone how to do this, and not only is it an altruistic thing to do, but there's also EXPOSURE MOFUKA!"
That line of thinking, though, is a delusion. Mostly because at any given moment, especially after finishing a big complex piece, as an artist, no matter how self-aware you are, you think that you are at the pinnacle of your skill. But - if you strive for improvement - that is no so. You're in a PROCESS. And what today seems totally fine and dandy and the only conceivable way to paint, tomorrow becomes outdated. Me, personally? I cringe at my "how to draw metal" tutorial, because not only is the technique dubious in it's effeciency as I see it now, the execution of it is shaky at best.
Point is - TODAY I would've given different pointers how to paint metal. And most likely, in a few months, those would change too. That's why I don't do any more tutorials or don't plan on doing them in the forceeable future: I'm a consumer of knowledge, not an educator. I don't yet know enough about art or handle it to the point where I could make it helpful to anybody.
Being able to dish out advice requires a high degree of skill and self-awareness. The reason we have so much incompetence flowing around is because artists are not self-aware - they often don't see the limitations of their skill and therefore, cannot assess if the technique they like, or skillset they have, provides a satisfactory result in a finished artwork to begin with.
There's also the conceitedness and social-media fueled desire for constant loop of exposure-feedback gratification. Many of the "artists" use tutorial-making as an extension of their grab for popularity and monetary refunds. That, by itself, isn't bad - as far as I understand, is done in the professional art industry - but at least there you KNOW what you pay, when it's a Massive Black studio director teaching you how to paint on a 9hr DVD walkthrough sections. Not some kid who just yesterday traced their first Naruto screenshot and now takes a bite at doing "anatomy tuts".
So, you get incompetence. Critiques, for example, are arguably less tied to the critic's manual skill in the chosen field. If we go with the analogy that "it doesn't take a chef to know that the steak was burned", a restaurant critic doesn't need to be a good cook himself - he needs to have the ability to decipher what his tastebuds tell him, and then put it into words.
But giving out actual technical advice and education in the forms of tutorials is a different beast all-together. It implies that one is so good at what he does, that he is able to teach others. If we continue the previous analogy, a person who cannot make scrambled eggs to save their life, shouldn't start a "How to cook with style" show.
Being able to teach a process is a skill like any other. There are a lot of professional industry artists that make absolutely mindblowing works, but that cannot relegate their knowledge in any comprehensible form - simply because it's not their thing. So when you look out for a good tutorial, it's about this rare combination of a talent in teaching and an artistic skill developed enough to be universal and not prone to growth problems and development fluctuations that I've talked about before. You need someone who has "solidified", so to speak. And more often than not, those are older, or at least, vastly experienced people, who's knowledge had been tested by time and clientelle.
If that doesn't happen... Well, then you just have what happens here on dA, what I observe: sharing and spread of incompetence, when people don't take the time to think about their skill, and just rush to share their techniques with bystanders. Or get some "street cred". I can't even count the times when I had seen "redlines" that were more messed up than the original product, yet the both parties were totally satisfied by the outcome - one feeling that they gained some knowledge on how to improve, and the other - that they're good at helping people.
Of course, it's all good intentions. And I'm absolutely sure that such internet tools, in form of various art-sites and all, and the fact that a lot of people got access to art and to tutorial-making, made people improve leaps and bounds faster than they could have without them. But as with ANYTHING ELSE, there should be self-awareness and drive for quality. Don't do stuff because everyone does it. Think - "do I have credentials to educate? Why do I think I do? What's to back it up? Am I finished in developing the technique that I want to share the process for? Is the technique GOOD? Is my understanding of art principles FULL and encompassing to a degree that I'm not constrained by glaring problems in my work?"
Then, the level of competence will rise out of a sea of sludge.