Who doesn’t like watching an artist at work? Thanks to the web we can see how more and more people go about making their art and the ‘process’ video is now a YouTube staple. Illustrator Alex Pearson’s latest is well worth watching…
The web is full of these kinds of films. Here’s Hergé in the 1960s drawing Captain Haddock, for example, and another fuzzy snippet of him penning Tin Tin and Snowy. And here’s animator Peter Shin sketching the American football-headed Stewie from Family Guy.
Earlier this month one of my favourite comic book artists, Jim Woodring, also posted a process film online that showed fans how he constructs Frank, one of his most recognisable characters. As it’s more of a drawing ‘tutorial’ Woodring filmed himself in real time, narrating his progress and technique, whereas most process films play out at higher speeds in order to condense the hours of work into minutes.
What it reveals though is the exactness of Woodring’s method. Frank is always three heads high, apparently, with his eyes drawn over to one side to convey the fact that he’s thinking.
Being a fan of these kinds of clips, it was good to see that illustrator Alex Pearson had posted one this week. It shows the development of a lovely three-colour screenprint called A Ride Through Town, inspired by the the 1958 Jacques Tati film, Mon Oncle.
In Pearson’s film, you view the work in progress as he does, via the computer screen. He uses a Wacom Graphire pad to sketch and draw in Photoshop, and what’s great about it (aside from the artistic skill on show) is the way he uses reference material, continually, alongside the ongoing artwork. It’s sped up to five minutes in length but is, I think, captivating stuff.
With the focus on one individual artist at work, the process video becomes a kind of instructional ‘making of’, but one without the bells and whistles of the DVD extra, or the agency short.
Personally, I could watch anything being done well for hours, be it drawing, painting, wood-turning, or drumming. In fact here’s percussive legend Buddy Rich on the drums, telling the kids of the 1970s how it’s done.
It’s the same idea really: an artist just doing their thing.
Alex Pearson’s finished print is available from the Family Tree site for $35 (edition of 100, printed by Kangaroo Press).
Buddy Rich in the 1977 documentary series, All You Need is Love, linked above