Old art from my late teens and what I learned from it


Hope you've had a great week.

Last week I took a trip down to Arizona to visited my mother, who isn't feeling very well. We got to catch up, and I took some time to clean up her shed. In it, I found a bunch of old artwork I had done in high school that I haven't seen since I packed up the box back in 2002.

I thought I'd share them with you and talk a little about what I was trying to learn with each piece.

This was one of many attempts to start a comic strip. There's a lot going on here. I was trying on a new style, and tried to learn what I could from the successful comic strips I followed in the 90's. I was figuring out how to do inking, panel structure, and storytelling.

I remember seeing an amazing ink drawing of Predator in a comic book I had. I wanted to ink like that so I came up with my own pose, but tried to copy the inking style. Not content enough to just draw a predator I had to mash it with Star Wars, so I gave him a light saber and some Mandalorian inspired armor. 


One of my final projects senior art class was this inked Boba Fett with colored pencils. I felt like I had inking down at this point, but my coloring skills weren't there yet. I didn't know how to use Photoshop yet, otherwise I would've colored this digitally. Basically colored pencils were the best coloring option I had at the time.


Another senior project was a cut out 3D paper assignment. I did Missile Mouse battling a space hydra over a barren moon. This monster was based on a bunch of Bill Watterson aliens. I remember I copied the pose of Missile Mouse from an X-Men comic drawn by Jim Lee. This was me putting a bunch of influences together to try and make something new. Skills that would become very valuable later on in my career.


My friend came up with a character called Jet-Dog and this was my fan art of him. I was big into Appleseed and Superpatriot so I learned a lot about mechanics from those comics.


I don't remember what this was for, but Hellboy had just came out and I was learning how to draw tentacles from those first few issues.

Here's some Star Wars letterhead I made when I was about 20 years old. This was in the late nineties when there wasn't as much Star Wars stuff all over the place. I saw a cool Spider-man letterhead that all these characters on it and I wanted something like that for Star Wars. So I drew my own! I made copies of this and wrote letters to people on them. (Also before email!) I learned a lot about graphic design and how to put a bunch of elements together. This would be soooo much easier with Photoshop now.


And lastly, here's a Batman drawing I did when I was about 5. I was a BIG fan of the Adam West Batman series. I remember drawing this from a batmobile toy I had. What's cool is to see how my 5 year old brain simplified the shapes and only drew what was necessary to get the point across.

It's been fun to go through these, I haven't looked at this art in 16 years!

There's THREE take-aways from all of this:

1) Learning happens from experimentation. I did a lot of experimentation in my early years. I experimented with style, tools, subject matter, techniques, etc. This is how you find out how you make your own work. You take pieces of all of these and find what works for you.

2) Learning also happens from just A LOT of copying. I found pieces that really spoke to me and copied what I could from them to make my own pieces. Copying helps you close the gap between idea and execution.

3) Use each piece you do to focus on one skill. Even though your piece might be pushing you abilities in a bunch of different skill sets, have the main thrust of the piece be about learning one particular skill.

Alright, that's it for this blogpost. Thanks for reading!


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