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Why do I bother doing this? by Dharken

That's a question I've asked myself over the years since finding the furry community via the Internet, but a LOT moreso in the past year. I've developed something of a love/hate relationship during that time. There's still the aspects of it that drew (no pun intended) to creating fur art to begin with:

1. It's not something everyone does. Actually in the days before the Internet I didn't know anyone else did it at all outside of some independently published comics and the occasional "funny animal" comic or movie project like Disney's Robin Hood or Animalympics. Unlike still life or landscapes or sketching humans, fur characters can't simply be photographed (except for fursuits but that's a bit different).

2. It can be a challenge (in the good kind of way, not in the bad can't get past some obstacles kind of way like I run into with most video games) to create characters from certain species (moreso if you're not working in a cartoonish style) and design things for them to use and wear, for example, sunglasses for a hammerhead shark. Of course making a sexy hammerhead shark character to wear them in the first place was a challenge too. (Oooh, a Heather fursuit on the right kind of body could be rather nice to see).

3. When I'm really focused on drawing, the rest of the muddled chaos I would call my life drops away and it's all about the drawing at the times I'm focused on it. It can also provide some sense of accomplisment when it feels like most things I do are repeatitive and pointless. Or at least it used to and still does on very rare occasions.

In short it's fun for all of these reasons and perhaps more I haven't written about, but then I put the pencil down and the experience goes south from there:

-1. I am slow. In the time it takes me to straighten out the majority of my sketches, today's digital artists can whip out finished work. And what it takes for me to do finished colored work? Several days into weeks. And the process is usually quite involved. So I have a bit of digital envy there. I have tried digital work. I'm decent enough with manipulation of things like photographs thanks to what I've had to do for work but for creation, not nearly so much. And I just never seem to get faster at it no matter how much I practice.

-2. My brain works so much faster than my hands ever will. Sometimes while drawing something, my mind will get an inspiration that changes things so that what I'm drawing isn't going to match the new idea. It's one of the reasons I've never done many comics. It only gets worse with prose. I'm constantly rewriting and editing that and can't finish anything but the shortest story snippets. It probably doesn't help that I don't follow the usual story writing rules everyone else does but I find those too restrictive. I don't usually end up sharing my written work with anyone because I feel extremely self concious about it.

-3. I used to be happy with sketches/images after I was done with them only noticing anatomical and other issues over a gradual period of time. Now I have a tendency to dislike things immediately. I've tried overcoming this by resketching something just as immediately but it tends to lead to enormous frustration when I can't get things to turn out looking correctly right away. I've ruined a couple of sketchbooks for anything but really crappy scrappy sketches because of this. I guess that'll teach me to stick to regular copy paper for sketches which is what I usually use.

-4. Sharing work has proved to be an underwhelming experience, especially for pieces that I've really liked when I've finished them. It seems the more I've liked a piece, the more lackluster its reception has been. I've kept much more of my work to myself lately as a result.

-5. I suffered some additional disillusionment in the form of a huge personal inspiration turning out to be nothing at all like I thought it was. Actually the same could be said for the business of comic books in general, which was one of the big reasons I had chosen to be an artist in the first place. Had I known about that and how slow I am, I'd likely be a research scientist now. Or drift directionless from job to job trying to find something I'd be able to do. But I did a lot of self-study into how to create comics and I do wish I was more capable of putting that knowledge to actual use.

It has become very much like an addiction to continually draw just to keep going with the more positive creation process and try to avoid the more reflective phase afterward. It's all about the picture I'm working on and the next and so on rather than being happy with what I've done or the extreme frustration when it feels like there's no viable thing to work on next despite having literally hundreds of ideas that I haven't even put on paper yet. Apparently most people seem to think that's how an artist is supposed to view their work but it's not how I used to be and I find myself wishing to go back to how I was but not knowing how. It's a bit like once Pandora's box is open and the monsters get out, there's no getting them back in.

All of this really doesn't answer that one question up there though, at least not satisfactorily. I guess for now I keep doing it because I don't know what else I'd be doing with my time.

Why do I bother doing this?


10 August 2013 at 12:11:49 MDT

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    I've heard a lot of artists go through a similar phase. As for the "-4", in the words of someone wise, "There's no accounting for taste". I've spent $60 on a beautiful drawing, only to have it get 20 or so favs...then I turn around and get some $20 sketch, and it has fifty favs by the next day. You never know. You have to keep in mind that it's important that -you- like it. Other people will like whatever they want, even when it makes no sense to you. :)

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      Isn't that akin to not knowing my 'target market' so to speak?

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    Sharing work with the masses can be shitty, yes. I have said in the past that you can't create for the general population, or even the 'general furry population' as it were, you need to narrow your focus to very few people, or just one. Or none! Sometimes, I thought you should just create for yourself.. but I realize how important sharing work can be, so I offer the following alternative:

    Maybe you need a select group to which you have a more direct connection. Fellow artists with whom you can really converse on a near-equal basis. Perhaps someone who shares some of the concerns you have about your own art in the concerns they have with their own.

    As for you being 'slow'.. Who needs speed, anyway?

    Also, unfortunately, almost everyone's brains work faster than their hands. >_>

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      I've tried mailing before. I'm not sure that worked so well so I never kept it up.

      I've met people whose mouths worked much faster than their brain. Why can't the hands learn to do that?

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        You don't mean when you emailed me/we emailed back and forth a bit, did you? I meant you need a group of fellow visual artists as a peer group. I can't provide that, unfortunately.

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          I doubt I'd get much out of that group of fellow visual artists. Most of my comments come from watchers or casual hobby type artists. I've tried mailing more than once. It turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, much like my original personal website, even FA at its worst was better than that.

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            Wouldn't 'casual hobby type-artists' fall into the category of visual artists?

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    You should really only draw for yourself, man. Do what makes you happy and if other people like it to, that's just a bonus!

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      Years ago before the Internet, I used to do this exclusively for my own amusement. I lierally didn't know anyone else who was interested in it. I wish I could turn my mind back to those days but somehow knowing there's an audience for it changes things, kind of like when animals know they're being watched by people. There are ideas that I think people will enjoy and when they don't even seem to notice, it can be a real let down on that piece no matter how much I liked it.