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Incompetence sharing

Journal Entry: Thu Jul 17, 2014, 12:51 AM

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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 And what today seems totally fine and dandy and the only conceivable way to paint, tomorrow becomes outdated.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.


Artist | Hobbyist | Digital Art
I'm 28, own 2 сats and a hardtail bike. I'm Russian, proud Muscovite and a nationalist. Love to devour science fiction, and consider myself an adept of post-cyberpunk. Workwise, I'm a professional (both in terms of education and current job) journalist. Digital painting for me is a hobby which I deeply care for and strive to improve - while it may not be something I'd make a living from, I still strive to achieve industrial standards. I'm a neophyte gourmand and a seasoned audiophile. Anti-misanthropist and ex-military firearms enthusiast. Overall, I'm just a rather average, politically-incorrect dude with an insulting sense of humor and a knack for disillusionment.



Add a Comment:
Bumsy Featured By Owner May 25, 2014
So what do you make of that shooter in California who went on a rampage 'cus he wasn't getting no poon?
Zauberlich Featured By Owner May 19, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Utterly stunning gallery, an inspiration to us all.
Joe128 Featured By Owner May 19, 2014
thanks for the fav! ;)
torture-device Featured By Owner May 19, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No prob, outstanding work you got!
Eighties-Matt Featured By Owner May 16, 2014
Dude, where's all your kickass Blood Pact stuff gone?
torture-device Featured By Owner May 19, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Mostly its there jn the gallery.
Scourge-Eagle Featured By Owner May 11, 2014
what happened to your colouring-tutorial?. Im looking for it, but cant find jack-shit! Wanted to learn colouring from you, great Master.
torture-device Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I put all of lower qual work in storage. and I'm no great master either, I hate to get my ass licked
Scourge-Eagle Featured By Owner May 12, 2014
Ok, the "great master" was rethorical and a bit over the top, I apologize. Thank you for the reply.
Magna17 Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Mr. Torture-device. I am unsure what is wrong with me tonight, and this is perhaps gibberish, but seeing as I am still able to write properly, it might not be so. I am aware of the fact that you care not for many of the people on this site, but I simply wish to say that I appreciate you quite a bit. You are such an... open individual. An open - but not a foolish individual. You have an aura of immunity, as if you are untouchable and perhaps, to a large extent, you aren't. You are much more alive, much more thinking than others and I find this so very fun. Thank you for being who you are, never change, and continue to present more of your amazing, quality artwork. Please, have a nice day.
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