I blame the internet

When I started to really take drawing seriously, in my early teens, I couldn’t get enough tasty artwork in front of my hungry young eyeballs. I grew up in the pre-video age in a small country town with no comics shop. So for visual stimulation I had whatever movies came to the local cinema or the two local TV channels, and the other random eye-food I could gobble-down at the newspaper store (which amounted to Mad Magazine and Heavy Metal magazine). There certainly weren’t any other kids (or adults) interested in drawing that I knew, so I had nobody to bounce ideas off of, or to be inspired by artistically. I didn’t find a creative community until I left my home town to start work.

I was single minded about getting into animation but I wasn’t aware of any courses that taught it back then. Thankfully, the animation studios in Sydney were prepared to hire people based solely on some pretty sparse portfolios. In those days, the typical young cartoonist’s portfolio consisted of lumpy drawings of awkwardly posed, axe-wielding barbarians, usually accompanied by equally lumpy warrior maidens wearing brass bikinis that barely contained their doughy warrior buttocks. You get the picture; Acres of flesh, but no anatomy in sight. Thankfully, against this backdrop, my crappy sheaf of scribbly cartoon drawings stood half a chance, and I got a job as an in-betweener, working happily on some truly attrocious cartoons. I am glad that I got into the industry when I did because it wouldn’t be so easy these days…

The calibre of young artists has shot up, way up. Students just getting out of art school have portfolios full of good drawings, and paintings, all beautifully done and displaying a broad range of influences, not just Mad magazine and TV cartoons. I see some of these folios submitted at the studios I work at, and they impress me no end. I wouldn’t dream of being able to assemble a folio like that even now, let alone in my twenties. Curse these young pups! They are so much better than I remember any of my peers being at a similar age, and I blame the pernicious influences of the damn internet! I am convinced that part of the reason for the hike in talent has something to do with the wealth of inspiration and community the web now provides for budding artists.

I wish it was available when I was in my teens. Exchanging ideas with other artists, including my artist-heroes, via email or message boards and forums would have been like a protein-shake for my creative development…

The amount of great artwork online from around the world, viewable at just the click of a mouse amazes me… Illustrators, fine-art painters, cartoonists, designers, animators… I can see art by artists of all ages and experience levels, from people who perform a behind the scenes role at media companies, to those who may still be in school. Without the web how would we ever have seen all this stuff?

Which may also explain my perception of an increase in talent: Whereas before I was only seeing the artwork of people that I met face to face, now I can see artwork by top talents from all over the planet?

Whatever the case may be, I am glad of my access to all this stuff out there. I find fresh inspiration every day.

8 thoughts on “I blame the internet”

  1. I agree. The wealth of readily available inspiration is nearly infinite on the internet. I remember a time in high school (before I even learned that there was such a thing as animation school) where I would search high and low for my next artistic inspiration in hopes that whatever discovery it might be would push me to the next level of artistic achievement… they were few, and far between. In college I had some amazing classmates that would inspire me to improve, and dazzle me with some stallar new drawing, but even those days weren’t consistent. Even during my first professional job as an in-betweener I found myself on certain days just looking for something to inspire, something that would spark me and get me down the path of drawing discovery again. Eventually, the internet got bigger, and then Shane’s board showed up. Now a days, if I’m in need of inspiration, I just turn on my computer and boom, I can almost find something every time that gets those juices flowing. I would have killed to have that during my young impressionable years…

  2. I couldn’t agree more! I feel so lucky to be growing up with the internet, so that I can just sit down and get a full dose of inspiration from anywhere in the world. How would I know Enrico, Ronnie, you, even Monkeyfeather? No SketchCrawls? HOW? Great post!


  3. This seems to be tied into something I’ve thought about that almost seems contrary to what you’ve written. I’ve often wondered “How come people back in the 40’s and 50’s could illustate and draw so much better than the guys in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s?” One reason: exposure. In the 50’s you could pick any Saturday Evening Post and find beautiful drawings and paintings HUGE and from cover to cover. Advertising used ART in addition to photography. The sunday funnies were big and beautiful. In other words, people were surrounded by art. When I was young, during the 70’s and 80’s illustration was all but dead, and you really had to look around for a good drawing and think hard about spending $ for a book you’d never read–just for the cover illo.) Now in the 21st century, access is so much easier and this new generation has a lot to potentially inspire them. LUCKY BASTARDS!

    • Agree with you totally Benton Jew. But not just exposure…training as well.Artists trained for the industry studied the classic way…no books! There was a level of basic draftsmanship that you had to have to work for the publications on Madison avenue.Nowadays a lot of people rely on gimmicks in their drawing…and Photoshop.Like the line in Amadeus,,,”too many notes!” in this case…”too many books!”

    • Jean Morel> yes, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about sketching and drawing from life, and on paper. And as to draftmanship, sometimes I really do wish I’d gotten a proper art education, like in days of old. My art education was MAD magazine and Warner Bros cartoons.. which always skewed my abilities, but at least it was cheap ! ha ha

  4. John>>Glad that you agree. I think that when “the internet” comes up in conversation it is often in a negative context but it really can be a wonderful thing too.

    Amelia>>Thanks for coming by with your thoughts on the subject; you are one of those lucky young ‘uns that i was talking about!

    Benton>> Oh, I don’t think that what you are saying is contrary to what I’ve said at all (unless you mean that you don’t agree about younger artists these days seeming better?) In any case, I agree with YOUR observations 100%. I thought about that issue of “exposure” that you mention when I was in Europe. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that so many of the artists that blow me away come from countries where you are still surrounded by great artwork, walking through it and living with it.

  5. Jaime

    That was a real interesting post you made. I’m glad that with a click of my mouse I can see literally an infinite number of artists and their work! Sure, there is more art to be seen in magazines and television for example, but the fact that every type of artist, of any age, can post their artwork for all to see affords me a wealth of inspiration.

    I have a Message Board on my website and I love when the boardies post their own art. It’s literally a community art board, where people share their art and others are exposed to artwork.

    Yep, that gosh-darned internet has made the world much smaller, or at least more accesible.

    And by the way, I absolutely love those elephant color pieces you drew. You have such a beautiful way of modeling the forms. It just feels that you sculpted those pieces, with the angles and volume you give the drawings. Bravo!

  6. hi jaime,
    hello there.
    yeah, i agree. young, whippersnapper art students are very lucky to have the internet. why just a few years ago, i remember fumbling through faded, dusty art books at the studio library, only to find missing plates. it’s totally mindboggling how much it’s changed in just 10 years.


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