So, the second trimester just began and every student in my university had to choose one module – it could be basically anything, related to graphic design or not. Most of the students in my class chose illustration – that was the default one. I chose video development. Some people asked me why and I here I will explain.
The first reason is, I already have some decent skills in drawing and illustration, I’m already educating myself online in the arts. The skill level expected in the illustration module is below my own, so I expect that I wont learn a lot of new things and will be too easy. On the other hand I don’t have much experience with video editing in general and its a subject I find interesting. I will be challenged and probably will struggle to create things I (and my tutors) like. But that’s fine – if you’re struggling, failing and having a hard time, you’re doing it right.
The second reason is, I am a person interested in pretty much everything, and I have no intention at all at this point to go in one certain direction, to put myself in a box, so to speak. Some people are like this and that’s fine – “I want to be a logo designer, so logo design is what I do 90% of the time”. They become really good at the only thing they do and make a lot of money. But that’s not me – I want more than this, I want to explore, learn and become better in as many fields as possible. I learn new things even if I have no reason to do so. And well, one never knows – maybe video will really attract me and will choose to concentrate on it and make a career out of it later on.
The third reason for me not to choose the illustration module is… the illustration module itself. I believe the tutor went in the wrongest direction possible with this one. To understand why, just ask yourself the question “what is illustration”. I’ll answer it for you – it is essentially a drawing or a painting (very stylized, very realistic and everything in between), sometimes a photograph that tells some kind of a visual story. So yeah, Rembrandt and Caravaggio were also illustrators in a way, when they painted their religious paintings – they told people stories from the Bible.
Anyway, there will be no photographs in this particular module, it’s all drawings and paintings. Now, the problem is – there are no drawing classes. Last year we had something called a drawing class, but it was a joke and not even a funny one. Most people in the class can’t draw and paint. Even worse, some of them have no interested in this. That’s fine – I’m not saying that they should – but to illustrate things beautifully, to really do it well you have to have many hours of classical life drawing behind your back. To my surprise some people disagree with this – they think one can do good illustration with no drawing skills. And this is so wrong…
I challenge you to find me a professional illustrator, a really good one, dead or alive who doesn’t draw on a regular basis, who never did a classical life drawing. I dare you to find one. Or better yet – look at this illustration portfolio. And if you don’t have good drawing skills, just try to copy the illustrations there. Or to do something as good as the them. If you don’t have excellent drawing skills, there is no way in hell you can do it. The artists who made them are professionals and they draw every single day to get to this level. They know color theory, they understand lighting, proportion, spaces, anatomy, composition and they have worked very had for many years to achieve this, and they are still learning. Art and design are not things you learn for a few years – you never, ever stop to learn and study.
Now, of course sometimes some people can get some mediocre or decent results in illustration without being able to draw well. Sometimes it’s even “good enough” to get a one time illustration job. Some good icon designers have no drawing skills at all, but that’s different – a good icon is a good idea, aesthetics and a lot of psychology. Software nowadays is powerful enough to compensate if you can’t draw a perfect circle. But even then you have to have at the very least some understanding of perspective and lighting – otherwise it won’t work.
Also, some people might say that the goal of an illustration class in a graphic design course is different, is not to teach students to draw correctly, is to make students draw in some “illustrative style” that doesn’t require good drawing skills. I say this is nonsense.
Why? Because you either do things right or don’t do them at all. Otherwise you end up in a sea of mediocrity. And that’s certainly not something I want.