First off, thanks so much to everyone that wrote a comment about the last post. I am glad it made sense to everyone and that people found it helpful. Also thanks to those that wrote comments disagreeing with me, I always appreciate that as well, and reading those comments inspired me to clarify a couple of things and to talk a bit about a topic I talk about often, namely the idea of "rules" and whether they exist in regards to art.
Obviously everything I write on my site is my opinion and my opinion only. Everything I write is based on my experience as an animator and storyboard artist.
I think it seemed to some readers that I was writing about every facet of art that exists when I talked in the previous post about staging things to get different effects. In general, I don't really write posts that relate to every facet of the visual arts...as it says on the banner at the top of this blog I mostly write about storyboarding unless I specify otherwise. Anyone is welcome to read this blog and comment about what I write but it's mostly about storyboarding. That's why I mentioned that I have had pitches of my own work fall flat when I ignored those staging rules...I am really talking specifically about storyboards which don't have the benefit of things like music and color, which are other strong clues a movie gives you to indicate whether a scene is comedic or serious. So I find it helpful to use whatever clues you can in storyboarding to set a context for your audience so that you get the desired response from them.
It's no accident that many movies take advantage of these concepts to help get a reaction out of the viewer as well; that's why I used examples from live-action movies to make my point. Of course, I always assume that it goes without saying that not every movie, comic book, TV show and other medium will follow each "rule" I discuss scrupulously.
Which brings up the often-discussed topic of "rules". Are there "rules" for artistic endeavors? If we follow these "rules" are we limiting our creativity and quashing our instincts?
I find it interesting that people ask this about some artistic fields and not others. Film and drawing have a strange thing in common: some people seem to think there's no reason to have to know anything about either discipline to succeed in them. Frankly, many people seem to think it's detrimental to the quality of their work to study their art. They seem to think that if you just "jump in" and "go with your gut" that you'll be better off than spending any time studying either discipline and learning a solid foundation of knowledge before you attempt to say, write a film or become a storyboard artist.
And yet nobody would ever think they could pick up a bassoon and play a Mozart concerto on it without years of study beforehand. Nobody would assume they could jump up on stage and "wing it" through Swan Lake and be as good as someone who studied ballet for ten years.
"The enemy of art is the absence of limitations." - Orson Welles
The "rules" don't exist to quash your artistic freedom; they are there to liberate you. Art has limitless possibilities so artists use the "rules" to organize and give their work control and, therefore, beauty as well as meaning.
If I gave you a box of 64 crayons and told you to draw a picture, would you assume that the best way to approach it would be to make sure you used every color at least once in your drawing? Would you say you feel "limited" by only having 64 colors and say you needed 128? Of course not - we all know that the best way to approach the drawing would be to pick a small number of colors - 5, 7 or 8 or so - that look good in conjunction with each other and stick with those, using them in a balanced way. Some of the greatest works of art ever created were created only using one color...
...or no color at all, even (check out any drawing by Rembrandt).
The last thing to say about the "rules", of course, is that of course they can - and should - be broken. They exist to be experimented with, pushed, bent and broken. But the problem comes when people don't want to take the trouble to learn them first. The only way to really know how to break them is to learn them and follow them until you know them inside out. Then you have the sensitivity and the understanding to know under what circumstances they can and should be broken.
I can't tell you how many times I have looked at a great drawing and thought to myself that what makes the drawing great is the careful application of the most basic and fundamental "rules", and nothing else. The "rules" can take you really far, if you are humble and patient enough to learn them. I hate to see people expend so much energy denying this truth and making things so much more difficult than they have to be by rejecting the idea of "rules" and turning their backs on hundreds of years of knowledge passed down from every artist who has gone before us....but so be it, obviously we all have to find our own way, and I wish everyone luck on their journey.
Okay, I know this is always an inflammatory topic and, like any subject that makes for great debate, I will never convince people on the other side of this that I am right just as they will never convince me that they are right...but I had to say all this anyway.
Something else more interesting coming soon, I promise!