Océane (petite_tomate) wrote in aubedelune,

#55 II Where to find inspiration - Tutorial

Here's the first tutorial requested for Ask the Maker, kindly asked by the lovely nightbulbs :) For all the images in this tutorial, hover for the source/maker.

In the light of recent events, should we call it this way, I think this « guide » (here again a loose term) was much needed. I wanted to write it for my own personal needs first because I have strong opinions on inspiration in the artistic field. But I also wanted to write it for everyone out there who struggles with this, who maybe doesn’t know better, who faces the same problem that I did when I started iconing, the same problem everyone of us faces in art in general I think.

So here we go guys, I’m sharing a little bit of my head with you. I hope you’ll find this insightful, and I really want YOUR opinion on the matter. Maybe we don’t talk about this enough, I feel like inspiration and its opposite, copying, reproducing, is something mysterious and/or taboo. We don’t talk about it but we sure judge it.

[English is not my native language so I apologize in advance if you find any mistakes in this thing!]

I’m going to reduce inspiration in 3 E words : exploring, experimenting, existing.

First of all, I’m not an artist. God knows I wish to be one. I guess the definition of « being an artist » is different to everyone, but for my part, I’m not feeling like an artist when I’m doing icons. So I won’t pretend to be one. I’m going to take basic examples to make the point I’m trying to make. I read a sociological study one time : it pretended that the less people read, the less words people know (okay, it does make sense doesn’t it). But, our ideas exist because we have words to express them. In other terms, we know anger because we have a word for it and a definition that goes with it. Nobody knows what happiness really is because the world itself doesn’t have a straight definition. These are basic feelings so everyone knows the word for it of course and how it feels. But the less words you have, the less precise about your feelings you are, because you don’t have a name for it. Maybe you’re not even experiencing it because you can’t have an idea without words to express it! Then the less precise you are about the mechanics of the activities you’re doing, about what the environment around you is made of, etc. Your ideas are limited. That’s why education is so important. It gives young people the means to express themselves and to form ideas.

I think it’s the same in art. The less art you see, the less imagination you’ll have. Art is made to be seen by other people. There is no purpose to a piece of art that cannot be seen by others. Even when you do something for yourself, inside you still think about someone seeing it. It’s a sharing process. Basically, artists share a piece of them with you, just as when they talk to you or write a book. Reading a book is receiving what the author wanted to give to the reader. So when you see all the different styles, the way different people have a different view of life, you take aaaaall of that into your own being. You see art with your own eyes, you take with you what you see, what you interpret in them. We always say « there isn’t one interpretation to a piece of art » because indeed there are milions of different eyes, different beings looking at it. They take what resonates within them in that piece.

-> Go explore and see art. There are the basic ways of doing it : browsing the internet. Websites like tumblr, behance, flickr, pinterest, are amazing for that. Go for all types of art : typography, painting, illustrating, photography, etc etc... But there are also the traditional ways. Go out and watch the world around you. We’re so busy in our daily lives, we don’t take the time to sit and enjoy the world anymore. Look at how pretty the sky is tonight. Look at that flower with beautiful colors. Look at that architecture, with all these sculptures and strange forms. Go to a museum. Listen to music (it’s scientifically proven that music inspires us). Go to a classical concert. Eat somewhere fun. Get out of your daily dull life. Maybe being an artist is simply being able to see the wonders in the boring.

And of course, there is our own community: livejournal and icon making. I love iconpraise, and I have a folder full of beautiful icons. What is exciting about making icons is showing them to the community, discussing about it. In other words: sharing. There are so many different styles of icons, how can you not be inspired by looking at them?

Kacper Kiec Olly Moss Selman Hosgor

theotherayn raiindust calikalie lemonzter akilah92
Vincent Van Gogh Catherine Ilyushkina
naginis fouroux daynawashere phaust_ dashberlin
dashberlin schryosel second_love astrokitties applepips16

Do not be afraid of experimenting. Being an artist is burning conventional ways of thinking. It’s thinking differently, maybe with more freedom. Do not be afraid of testing strange coloring, of trying weird composition and stuffs. Do 5 versions of the same icon if you want. Do not stick to the basic-everyone-stuff. For example, several screencaps are very used in certain fandoms because they’re pretty, colorful, well shot. You need to ask yourself that simple question : is it artistically interesting for me to make another icon for that screencap if I’m going to reproduce what other makers have done with it ? In a world where artists would just copy each other, would I want to buy a painting done a thousand time with slight modifications ? My own answer is no.

For example, here’s THE screencap used for making Agent Carter icons. I absolutely love it, it’s a very pretty one. The obvious choice would be to go with the darkness all around her, and putting accent on her red hat and the way her face is light. If that screencap wasn’t so used, it would be a good idea. But a lot of makers have already used it. Is it necessary for me to use it again ? Let me reassure you, most of the time the answer is YES. Because possibilities here are... ENDLESS! The cropping can be very different from an icon to another. Coloring can be VERY different too, without talking about the composition. You can do anything! So why reproducing something already done ? it’s not interesting or challenging in any ways! Some elements are bound to happen again. For example, this screencap makes the negative crop reaaaally easy and fun. But there are a million ways to make a similar crop very different with other elements. None of these icons are the same! Why not go in the opposite direction all together? This screencaps is delicious for red and blue. In the first icon, the maker used pink and purple. Awesome!!

-> Don't get lazy with composition. It’s the way everyone is : we find something that works, that pleases us, so we stick with it and reproduce it. It’s normal, and it’s not wrong. But to stay creative, you need to try new stuff. As said in the first E, get out of your usual ways! Out of your comfort zone! Try other things!
I’m not saying : try stuff you don’t like. Do what you like in different ways. For example, I LOVE negative space (it’s obvious xD). I like seeing close crop icons from other makers, but I hate doing them. Not because I don’t know how to make them (even if that’s debatable?) but because they’re not interesting to make for me. I’m not creative with them. If you absolutely love one type of cropping, one type of composition, that’s totally cool! The trick is to stay creative within this type of cropping/composition. How can I make a negative space new and pretty without repeating myself, without using the same textures, the same lightbulb, etc.

Okay what does she mean by this, why is this word even here lol. What I want to say is : BE YOURSELF. This has everything to do with your style. Your style is YOU, the same way you choose your clothes and express yourself. Everything you do is talking about your personality, your beliefs, your view on life, your likes.
I’m going to take a basic example. Some of you noticed I do a lot of reds icons

Red is my favorite color. What does it say about me ? I’m a passionate person. I’m not saying this in the good sense of the word necessary. I can be brash, cruel, insensitive, quick to anger, irritated, full of nerves. That’s who I am and that’s what red means to me. I have it everywhere, my car is red, my phone is red, my room is red. It’s not necessary a conscious choice. I don’t buy everything in red because I want to have everything in red. I just like the color, it speaks to me.
Take makers who like to make colorful stuffs, it does tell something about them. Now take makers who make muted icons, it also says something about them. Makers who like text a lot are maybe more talkative than those who do not use it. Maybe makers who like to busy their composition tend to complicate things, whereas makers who keep it simple are more down to earth and see life without complication. IDK, it's just shots in the dark. All of this to say that we ALL have our own style.
When you start in a field, you won’t have it right away. It builds over time. It brings me back to the first «E». The things you like will build up your style. Example : I love bright colorful art. When I look at a painting, I love to see the big splashes of brush. When I see a watercolor, I’m attracted to bright colors and simple sketches, more than drawing made with paper pen for example. It shows in my icons : I can’t do a muted icon to save my life, I don’t want to do them. I love to see them from other makers (just as I like seeing paper pen drawings) but I don’t want to make them. I play the piano, I love listening to pop songs, but I want to be able to play classical pieces because that’s who I am.
-> So that brings the questions : who are you? What do you like? What do you want to see in your art? And you go from there.

Copying is taking one’s art, reproducing what makes it unique and putting into our own piece of art. First, why is it so wrong and not welcomed? Because basically, you’re taking a piece of someone’s else personality (as seen in the «E - Existing») and claims it to be your own. Art is sharing (cf «E - Exploring»), you’re sharing a piece of you with the world. Someone takes that piece, and makes others believe it’s theirs. It’s a farce, it’s a lie, it’s a fake. Also, you’re just reproducing something, what everyone can do. You’re not an artist by doing this, you’re not trying to challenge yourself, to change yourself, to progress (cf «E - Experimenting»). What is wrong is the relation you’re building with others and yourself.

By publishing your ripped off art, you’re trying to make people have a certain representation of you. I won’t explain to you what really means « Hell is other people ». You need other people to make you look at yourself. They mirror you your own self. Without them, you don’t have a sense of self because to know the self, you have to know « the other ». In other words, what is worst about it all, is that by making people think you have created an original piece of art, they make you believe that you indeed created it. And you did not. People crave acknowledgment, that’s what our social behavior is built upon. But being recognized for something you didn’t do, for a « self » you took from someone else, also makes YOU suffer. Because we crave acknowledgment for our own self and not a lie.

I’m going to share some personal experience with you. I won’t say I never copied someone’s else work. I didn’t understand what it meant at that time (waaaay back at the beginnings of my internet days, i feel so old saying this), I had never experienced the opposite either : someone else copying my work. So that’s why maybe some people copying others don’t understand what it means either. You don’t show admiration for the maker you’re imitating. You’re insulting them. You take their creativity, their personality, their work, the time they spent on that stuff, and you make them yours. You’re stealing something. And trust me, we’re all smart enough to recognize a copy. Our brain is that way, we have such a powerful memory, similar patterns, similar colors, we’re all going to remember seeing that thing somewhere. If a few people don’t, one will. You’re not being transparent really. You’re always going to be recognized, and people won’t treat you kindly, because it’s badly seen as it should be. Taking someone’s work and enjoying the benefit of it, be it in art or in any other field is wrong and selfish. Okay, some of you will think « but that’s only pixels!! » and I agree. It’s « just » pixels. But what you do here, the behavior you have, it’s YOU. What you do here, you’re going to reproduce it in real life. So if it’s « just » pixels, can you imagine the length you would go to if this was important?

Copying CAN be a way of learning. I’ve been reflecting on this for a while now. It’s very difficult for me to create something. I never could learn how to draw, I’ve been playing the piano for years now but I’m completely unable to write a single piece of music. I can’t create. I don’t know why, but creating is incredibly difficult for me. But I was always good at reproducing. When we had art class when I was little and we had to reproduce a painting, I was the best of my class. I can reproduce movements and sounds when I see/hear them. But creating? Pulling something off the void? In some field it’s impossible to me. Most of what I know, I've learnt from copying, imitating, reproducing. That’s how everyone learns : you imitate the behavior of your parents, you reproduce the sounds they make to talk. The problem with reproducing in Art is, as I said, the relationship it creates with others. So basically, you CAN copy to LEARN...... only to learn. These icons should never see the « light of the day », never published. To understand how things works, you have to see how they’re created. You have to understand the ways it is done, and then you have to reinvent that, to make it your own. But you can’t talk credit for it. You can’t lie to yourself, you can’t tell « I’ve done these » because in reality, you didn’t. You have to be HONEST with yourself, and admit that, yes, you’re copying this, but only to learn and to make your own things, and not publish it.
-> Stop copying and taking credit for something you haven't done. Be honest with yourself, true to yourself. And start inspiring, start creating.

I’m going to reduce « to be inspired of »  by « inspiring ». I thought, maybe people don’t know how to use inspiration they draw from other medias. Maybe they don’t know how to take it for themselves and make something new. I think pictures speak better than words. So I’m going to take examples in my icons and I’ll create different versions of it to show you what I mean.

[Okay these are awful but I did them quickly to get my point across]
As you see, in the « copying » version, everything is reproduced. What makes the original icon unique is copied. For example, in the FMA icon, the vibrant pink and its combination with vibrant cyan and yellow is what makes it what it is. Even if you change some things (for example the color of the background, the text...) it’s still a rip off. Now, you can be inspired by the big strong text and try playing with that. You can be inspired by the color schedule (here again, do not take the exact same color... There are millions of colors so please be creative), the font use (the number of fonts out of there is just???), the composition, everything basically. And you have to find a new way to put this thing into your icons. Sometimes, the line is very thin between copying and heavy inspiring. Be careful!
Now here I’m talking about ripping off / be inspired by someone’s else icon. How can I inspire myself with other medias? Here an example:

Nicoline Patricia

raiiindust pamkips kwerkee

Obvious : the colorscheme.
The less obvious :
- the composition : See that woman on her shoulder ? Looks fun!
- the form : lots of circles here, the three elements form one too.
- the pattern : mixing old flowers pattern, circles, crossed lines...
- the cropping : american shot
- the atmosphere : looks like an old poster isn't it? Not a lot of contrast, soft vibrant colors...
Leta Sobierajski




Obvious : the colorscheme.
The less obvious :
- the composition : very simple and clean, the solid background, no shadows on the decorations....
- the form : looks like splashes or paint
- the pattern : the straight colored line from her sticks
- the cropping : another american shot
- the atmosphere : here again it’s very colorful but also soft. Mixing green and blue is ALWAYS a good idea.

theotherayn talipuu starkwars

Obvious : the colorscheme.
The less obvious :
- the composition : very simple here again, a solid background.
- the form : the circles of course, and the colorful simple typography.
- the pattern : here again the circles.
- the cropping : an intense portrait, half of his face in the shadows.
- the atmosphere : it has an old/muted feels to it.

And that's the end of this "guide" so to speak, I hope it can be as inspiring as it was for me to make it! :) Don't hesitate to speak about your own experience in the comments, what inspires you and everything. The debate is open!

So now, copycats out of there, you're warned. You won't have any excuses anymore. Next time, I won't hesitate to take action.
Tags: activity, tutorial
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