Author’s note: This is not an account of anything that has happened to me recently at all. So please do not let that assumption cloud the true message of this post. Thank you.
Webcomics today is mostly about experimentation and showing your work as you progress in your skill and craft. To be honest it’s been like that for the better part of the existence of the internet, and it’s not just webcomics, most creative projects that have found a home on the internet have been like this. In reality this is what art is across all forms of media. Artists are not born with Michelangeloeon skill. All artists must hone their craft, skill and knowledge over time and the only way to do this is work hard and show your work.
Honing craft and skill does not happen over night. In many cases it won’t happen for decades and in some cases artistic talent never comes to fruition, but this is not to say that the endeavor is a waste of time. This is why it pains me at times to still see that we, as a community, are still engaging in petty bullying.
In all fairness, I don’t see it as frequently as I saw it back in 2000, but I still see it. I feel like over time I have been able to hone my craft to the point where I find myself in company with a higher skill set and a more professional attitude than in the past, but I still find people who call themselves professionals still engaging in petty bullying for no other reason than to raise their own low self-esteem. The biggest fear I have of this kind of behavior is that we are hurting the arts in general.
I know that the arts have always been a highly competitive arena, as well they should be. I know that petty bullying isn’t anything new either. But with the move to a connected world via the internet, petty bullying in the arts has been able to grow exponentially in the past decade. As new artists build up the courage to show their work to the world it can seem that you’re being attacked on all sides at once. What I fear this will do is stifle creativity and force others to abandon a life in the arts all together which will serve only to stagnate the pool of art in general.
Everyone in the arts must feel that they have the freedom to do anything they want, no matter how experimental or controversial it is if art in general is ever to progress. Fascist governments and fascist organizations over the course of hundreds of years of history have done their best to stifle the creativity of the arts as one of their first moves to come into power because these entities understand that if you break the arts you can break the will of the people! And this is the very thing that happens everyday in the world wide art community on the internet. But it’s not governments that are doing it – for the most part – it’s our own peers. And they are doing it just to make themselves feel better in most cases.
Of course I am not saying that there cannot be legitimate discussion, debate and critique about a person’s art, there should always be discussion about art and we should expect that when we show it. But just as it takes time and skill to perfect our art, it also takes time and skill to perfect critiquing. For a group of people that takes pride in the ability to effectively express ourselves we have a pretty poor way of doing it when it comes to critiquing art. Much of the time our critiques come off as bitter and lazy, couple this with the fact that there are a lot of young artists on the web that haven’t been fortunate enough to study under someone who have good critiquing skills and you have a lot of venom being thrown around the web.
So my point is this, art has a place for EVERYONE. Art is a method of free expression that we all have the right to pursue as WE see fit. The artist should always feel FREE. Free to explore themselves with their art. Free to make a living if they so choose. Free to make art for sheer enjoyment as well and free to talk about their own art however they feel like doing so. Freedom is what art is. Freedom is the human spirit and art is the voice of that spirit. So, the next time you feel like berating someone because they don’t understand Kerning at this point in their art career or they have no concept of color theory or you just don’t like their art for some reason, ask yourself first, “What would Hitler do?” And then carry on.