Diversify Your Study

May 1, 2013

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31 Responses to Diversify Your Study

  1. Matthew Sample II on May 1, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    My alma mater had two real art degrees: graphic design and commercial art. You could tell who each crowd was. The designers tended to be good at fast, clean work. The painters tended to take more time but have some really impressive paintings as a result. Those that double-majored tended to be crazy! But their art had an edge above the others. They not only worked fast and tended to excel with clean compositions and depth to their work… they tend to make more meaningful work.

    I’ve always had a high regard for those who did well in multiple disciplines. They tend to be better for it!

  2. Traci on May 1, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I can’t tell you how much I love and agree with this! I have sometimes struggled to balance my passions of music, art, writing, photography…the list goes on (cooking, too!). Throughout the years I have learned that my desire to learn about EVERYTHING has helped every individual focus. I always tell my (music) students that learning about history, about literature, about art, and even just living life adventurously with an open, curious mind…will help their music.

    You portrayed this well in this comic. Congrats!

    • kaytlen on February 19, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      do u have a blog?

  3. Steve Crespo on May 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Absolutely, and completely true! Being open to and appreciating other forms of expression has had a significant impact on my work.

    But, I think what you said is true of life in general.

    No matter who or what you are, person with a curious mind that draws from a wide range of interests and influences tend to see the world in ways others don’t, and they inspire other minds around him/her. They are a joy to be around.

    Great stuff!

  4. unk on May 1, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Great job! It’s a good thing you didn’t go with my preference in the cone panel. While it may have been subtly more accurate (and definitely more weird), it would have communicated less clearly with your audience – which is why you’re a good conceptual artist and I’m not.

  5. Heydon on May 1, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    This is absolutely true. It reminded me of a great bit of advice I got from Jack Trujillo at UNM: “As a writer, if you want to learn how to master the flow of your writing, watch a dancer. Go to an opera and learn about composition. Look at art and learn style.”

    Everything is connected to everything else. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Jessie on May 2, 2013 at 12:51 am

    I realized this myself awhile ago! Well, kind of.
    I stuck with only one way of drawing awhile back, the manga/anime style, because I wanted to perfect it. That style of art was new to me, and I was young in making art (compared to what I know now, even though I know I don’t know everything)
    I still haven’t perfected it in absolutely everything, but that’s not my point.
    I stopped drawing for a long time, and when I started again I realized how much I loved it, and wondered why I suddenly stopped.
    I think it’s because I stopped trying different things.
    I look at different ways people create art, My Little Pony, chibi, abstract, ect.
    I just saw everything as really cool and I wanted to know how to draw it! So I took a swing at it, takes me forever, but I finally get it.
    But what I was doing, was copying. Like in your other comic, “Practice Does Not Make Perfect,” when you said that Picasso said, “Good artists copy, Great artists steal.”
    So I was Good artist, but then I realized, that I could take their base of it, and add my own twist. Such as, taking one of your poses that you drew, but then changing it into a girl (me), instead of drawing the exact same thing, (which would be the ‘you’ character) So now I’m a Great artist, according that poem, right?
    Everything I look at now, I see the possibilities of making it incorporate with something else.

    By the way, I almost peed myself in excitement of seeing a new comic up by you when I was browsing your website, yet again. (I like rereading your comics a lot when I feel like thinking and needing perspective) Thanks for being awesome!

  7. Ray on May 3, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Excellent wisdom here. I know you have alluded to publishing some of these in the past,and I want to emphatically encourage you to do just that! I teach Basic Design at a private college and these comics cover so many issues that these young students need to consider at this point in their lives… and that I still need to remember on a daily basis!

  8. Stan on June 13, 2013 at 2:57 am

    I just first want to say thank you. This webcomic really colors the struggle and growth as creators in an accessible fashion to a wider audience. Your comics are daily reminders of the challenges I have to face, especially one that involves planning. I am hoping to hear your thoughts about a problem I’ve created for myself.

    Someone above me mentioned that they realize how much they love to learn everything. I fallen under the same category as I have this infinite curiosity of the world (except finance >_<) but it leaves me hanging under this wide premise. I have this deep drive to learn as many different arts as possible. Sculpture, painting, drawing, animation, comics, films, dance, etc. I am called a Multipotentialite.

    The problem I am having is a lack of a single focus. I'm very glad is within the art field or else science, sports, politics, and other subjects would have driven me mad to be a master at all of them. Taste is what gotten me in the art field and I want to be as good as the artist who gave me that taste the first place. One of my major goals in life is simply to create and improve my craft with taste as my slave driver.

    What ended up happening when I graduate college was I become Jack-of-All-Knives, All Knives Dull. I learn over 20 different art subjects but the taste on each subject is bland, amateurish because I only accomplished the beginner level of it. I know for taste to improve I need to focus my energy and time into this one subject but I love alot of them is hard to pin it down. Is like having multiple spouses that are demanding your time to improve our relationship but you give each so little the whole thing collapses. Do you have advice or remedies to this?

    • stephen on June 13, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      There are probably many routes for you to take–

      You might try picking your top 3 favorites and practicing those and then try to find a common ground between them. If you can successfully create some kind of sculpture/painting/animation hybrid or something, you will probably have a niche in the art market that no one else occupies, which is a very powerful position to be in! Maybe the type of art you are interested in creating doesn’t have a name, and you need to be the one to go out and breath it into existence!

      Or, you may need to practice restraint– you can’t be greedy for everything. By the end of my career, I want to have drawn a pile of graphic novels about nearly every subject. But I recently had to tell myself “Sure, your going to make graphic novels about everything, but for now let’s just make this one graphic novel about this one thing, and then go from there.” It’s neat– the more restraints you put on yourself, the more creative you will become. What if you were only allowed to draw circles on a piece of paper. What kind of art could come out of that?

      Or, you may want to imitate the artist who got you into art in the first place– study them until you can mimic them really well, and then go from there.

      Just some ideas!

      • Richard on October 30, 2013 at 8:11 pm

        “What if you were only allowed to draw circles on a piece of paper. What kind of art could come out of that?”
        Mickey Mouse?
        Just teasing.

        • stephen on October 31, 2013 at 8:23 pm

          Ha ha– I gave that very presentation today at an elementary school. “What can we draw with circles everybody?”

  9. Nick Ramsay on July 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Great post, thanks Stephen! Just discovered you and your work through a podcast interview… Best of luck in Japan!

    • stephen on July 26, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks! Nice to meet you!

  10. emily on October 17, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    I just read all of your comics and am feeling really inspired right now, thanks stephen :-) I just wanted to say, ‘base line’ should be corrected to ‘bass’
    ~a music school dropout

    • stephen on October 17, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      Thanks so much! I’ll fix that!

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  13. John Smith on November 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    That should be “how many useful things” in the last panel. Or “How much useful stuff”. Probably a good idea to tweak that before you send it off to be printed :). Great essay – developing a broad knowledge and skill set is so important for creatives. Everything feeds into everything else in some way, and makes you a more interesting and well rounded person in general!

    • stephen on November 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      Great catch– I’ll look into that. Thank you!

  14. Hyperborean on November 9, 2013 at 9:12 pm


    • stephen on November 11, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Huh, never heard to that before. That’s interesting the ancient greeks thought about all this stuff before.

  15. Mary on November 13, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I have been trying to explain this for so long and not known how to verbalize the idea! I’m in a graduate program for physics at a state school, but my undergraduate degree is from a liberal arts school. I was required to take classes from all the other disciplines the school offered and everyone else was required to take a math and science class, even the loudly complaining English majors. The school I go to now doesn’t have any ‘core’ curriculum common to all disciplines of study. Physics students study physics and maybe some chemistry if their adviser is particularly fond of academic diversity. My fellow students can’t imagine having friends outside their field, much less study non science classes. I’m constantly asked what use my philosophy courses have been. I told a fellow TA that one of my friends was working on an MFA, after I clarified that an MFA is a masters of fine arts he informed me that he wasn’t really into fine art. I was speechless. I can’t imagine how small the world must be if you can’t find a single aspect of the arts that interests you. As under prepared as I may have been for the (in my opinion largely unnecessary) academic rigor of a PhD program at a State school I would not give up one second of my diverse undergrad background and would encourage anyone, especial a technical student, to spend time studying crazy diverse disciplines. Those art and philosophy classes I took have given me a much broader perspective on math and physics. I have many more tools to understand physics even if I have fewer physics specific tools. Knowing what other fields have to offer is so important to me I can’t imagine living my entire life in the bubble of physics.

    • stephen on November 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      Great point, Mary! Sometimes a good scientist needs to think like an artist, and a good artist needs to think like a scientist. We are diverse creatures– we should not specialize to the point of myopic ideological inbreeding.

  16. Me on December 3, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Completely agree. I am a dancer which helps me with creating appealing shapes and flow, along with instilling a strong sense of physicality and motion that I (at least try to) carry over to my art. I love whenever I have the opportunity to watch a dance class because when I draw my peers, I practice gesture drawing and the like, but also gain a re-appreciation for dancing. It’s pretty great.

    • stephen on December 6, 2013 at 6:23 pm

      That’s cool!

  17. Apricot on March 8, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Proffesional work :)I totally agree with You. My dream is to create an animation one day. It would involve lot of disciplines (including the sound, music and the scenario):)

    • stephen on March 9, 2014 at 3:56 am

      Good luck with that! That’s awesome.

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