Today was the last day of the workshop. The sentiment from everyone was bittersweet but the urge to work, push, and advance was overwhelming. The workshops always provide the necessary encouragement, knowledge and tools to pursue all of our dreams of becoming great artists because it IS possible. Forget what everyone else tells you back home and forget the bullshit stereotype that we'll starve and never "make it." Personally, I'm sick of that attitude when people say, "Oh, you're an artist." Excuse my language but FUCK that sentiment. But that's enough ranting.
I'm always nervous and anxious when it comes to the portfolio review day. The thoughts of, "Are they going to hate my work? Am I even ready?!" constantly present themselves in my mind. I can attribute this attitude towards my first workshop experience when a certain president of a company (which will be unnamed) completely thrashed my portfolio and ego. What a way to influence an aspiring young artist, right? It's funny because the guy always mentioned never to burn bridges because those paths can cross again and you'll never know what kind of influence those affected can have against you. And then he destroyed those bridges that he helped build. Oh well.
We got to the venue and the portfolio reviews were well on their way. People were lining up, looking over each others shoulders and listening to the crits they were given and crits others were given. I was in a bit of an arm wrestling match with myself, trying to psych myself up and just go through with it. So I did. I watched Tim's review with David Kassan and lined up behind him. I wasn't sure what to expect with the review since I was burned at the first workshop experience in 2006. But the response was surprising. He said I could draw but needed to watch the turning of form within the figure. He also said that my compositions are fairly centralized and could venture onto bolder compositions to lead the eye. He mentioned that this piece was more visually interesting because of the strong diagonal formed by the shape of the bird which broke up the yellow shape in the background. It was just what I needed to hear and a great start to the rest of the reviews.
Afterwards was a review from fine artist and founder of the Safehouse Atelier, Carl Dobsky and Safehouse instructor/fine artist, Jeremy Mann. I love Carl and Jeremy's work so this review was a bit overwhelming. Little did I know that what they were about to say was going to blow my mind and put me on a level of elation that I've never felt before about my work... EVER. Carl said that I have drawing chops (and I quote, "for sure") and the way I render in graphite is great! Apparently, the way I work the middle values in a piece is strong. He also stated that I know where the focus is in a piece, by rendering and having certain sharper elements while leaving the rest soft and more visually quiet. I had my sketchbook out during this review and they looked through that, too. I wasn't sure if the instructors of the workshop wanted to see my sketchbook but I was proven wrong... in a good way. Both Carl and Jeremy pointed out things that they liked and thought were interesting. They asked what I wanted to do with my work and I nervously said, "I'm not really sure and thought that maybe you guys could give some direction with that." They both said that my work is definitely visually "cool" and more fine art based, less illustration and if I wanted to go into illustration that I would need to be able to tell a story or idea with my pictures. Both of them said that I was well on my way and just needed to continue forward. I cannot explain what I was feeling after this review. Elation elation elation. Giant confidence booster for sure!
Up next was a review from two illustration giants, Aleksi Briclot and Jean Sebastian Rossbach. The wait in line was about an hour and a half but well worth it. They took care in their reviews and gave everyone an equal amount of time. They said I could draw well, have strong rendering skills and along with Carl's sentiments, that my pencils were soft but focused. Rossbach also dug the lines from my ink drawings! But onto the crits... they said the pieces were lacking in story telling and presenting ideas visually if I wanted to head towards the illustration field. The two of them also liked seeing my sketchbook work and stated that the drawings were more pure than what was presented in my prints. They brought forth the idea to work larger and outside of my sketchbook if I wanted to do fine art. Their review was very direct and upfront, much respect. So awesome.
I was exhausted but extremely happy at this point... but I wanted more crits! So I headed over to Viktor Kalvachev, creator of the Blue Estate comics and Pherone. He was in the middle of working on a piece and I didn't want to bother him so I just waited a further aways until he looked up and I asked if he was reviewing (since he was sitting at the table.) I mentioned how I may want to do editorial illustration work and he said to just look through magazines I enjoy and articles that I would like to illustrate for. Then do mock illustrations as if they were commissioned and take everything professionally. He also said to take note of the styles of illustration and cater to whatever publications I was aiming for. Speed was emphasized since it's of the utmost importance when doing spot illustrations. Lastly, Viktor also said my work was more fine art based and was well on my way! Ecstatic at this point.
The workshop was winding down at this point and reviews were over. The last presentation was by the majority of the instructors together talking about their backgrounds, beginnings, struggles and how they got started in their respective fields- whether it be concept art, comics or illustration. It was really interesting hearing all of their varying stories. There was an underlying theme that all of them had an interest in drawing as kids, something that all of us can relate to.
And then that was it. The workshop was over. All of us took this as an invaluable experience that we will never forget. My favorite workshop for sure. I learned tons and the mental exhaustion from having that much information crammed in for 4 days was well worth it. I met tons of great people and re-living past workshop stories with old friends was great. We all had good experiences and will hopefully continue and we'll all grow as not only artists, but people. The workshops always build a sense of family and community that nothing else can replicate.
Lastly, I want to give a huge thank you to Massive Black, the instructors, and everyone that helped. This was amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Much respect!