And since I”m on a style ramble, I’d like to make another point about style and techniques. It’s INCREDIBLY important to have groundbreaking artists who push the boundries and make new styles or techniques acceptable to the public.

An artist can only survive based on what the public will buy. When an artist, or group of artists, start a new movement into what’s ‘desired’ by the public, they open the doors for countless others who prefer to express themselves with similar techniques as well, but haven’t been able to get jobs because it’s not the ‘in’ thing right now. A good example of this is in the cover art industry. For the longest time the ONLY way to be a cover artist was to be an oil painter. If you were digital you were a hack, and terrible. But those in the digital community kept pushing and expressing themselves, and eventually have broken through to where digital art in a WIDE variety of styles is now highly sought after. Those artists who share that skillset are now able to get work more easily than before.

This can happen in large scale with entire artistic movements, or in small scale of one artist to another.

I personally would not be the artist I am today if my mentor, Mike Dringenberg, had not walked before me with his work with neil-gaiman on the sandman comics, his many, many book covers, and his work on things like Tori Amos’ calendar. He opened the door for me to be able to work with Garth Nix on some of his books, and be able to work for Baen with their magazines for several years *despite* being a watercolor artist. During a time when I was giving up because I was told that “digital is all anyone is hiring”, Mike took me to his studio and spent HOURS teaching me watercolor techniques, linework, inkwork, composition, anatomy, color theory and discussing the various art movements and how they affect the way you use your tools to create a mood or a feel in your art.

The artists who come before you are the ones who can show you the lessons they’ve learned, and from there you can leap off and try even new, crazy things. And who knows, maybe even start an art movement of your own.