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Interview with the Art Portal: Defining Art - Part 1

Posted by TheInterviewer - June 7th, 2012


Interview No. 99

Interview By: @The-Great-One

Special Thanks to @liljim without whom this interview would not be possible.

For those of you who read the Interview with the Audio Portal: Defining Music, we learned what defines music and why people make it by asking esteemed members of the Audio Portal and Audio Forum. Today we're going to be doing it again except this time we'll be looking at a topic more controversial than that of music, I am of course speaking of art.

I decided to question the Art Forum on what the definition of art is. You can read their responses within this thread. So you can gather a wider scope if you want one.

The following artists I have decided to ask further questions on the subject. They are @Flowers10, @Lucky, @Morthagg, @Luwano, and @ZaneZansorrow. These are the fine artists of the Newgrounds Art Portal and they are here to define art and share their stories with us.

[ PART 1 | PART 2 ]


Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?


Flowers10: As a kid I used to watch silly movies and play adult games (even tough i wasn't 18!) on newgrounds. Some years later i joined the website in a quest to get on the frontpage with my art. Which i was successful in btw, twice!

Lucky: I found it... i think when I was 13, about 10 years ago and I just loved the cartoons on it back then, the clock stuff, the matrix has you, the madness/stick/games were all loads of fun!

Morthagg: I guess the first time I came to newgrounds was around 2005-2006, when a friend showed me Retarded Animal Babies on here, which we used to quote from a lot during our D&D sessions. I never really got into the website then though, and kind of forgot about it until my little brother (Breaktroll here) started spending a lot of time on it. He was also the reason I joined, by bugging me to make a profile and start my own art thread. So I did!

Luwano: I once found Newgrounds while looking for flash games. It was one of the older versions in the year 2000 or 2001, I played the Police Bike game for a while and unfortunately couldn't find the site again when I looked for it some days later, because I didn't remember which search term led me there.

At the end of 2002, someone showed me the game "Bloody Rage" shortly after it's release and after that I discovered many funny toons and games on the site and got hooked. Since then I was checking Newgrounds more or less regularly, but only the frontpage and the collections really.

Chluaid's first Brackenwood movies made me sign up in 2004 then. Because they made me really understand the scope of NG and the portal. I wanted to be a part of that somehow.

ZaneZansorrow: I find Newgrounds when I was a middle schooler, me and my brother was at my friend's house and my brother was looking at metal gear awesome and I notice that he was laughing pretty hard. He show it to me and I laugh my ass off at the piss joke. Skipping to my sophomore year in high school, I recently finish playing Castle Crasher on my friend's Xbox and I was getting pretty tired achievement hunting through my friend's games, so I was exploring through for some addicting games to play online. Eventually I made it to Newgrounds and notice the medal system, made an account so that I can get the medals.

Q: When did you first become introduced to art and in what form?


Flowers10: I have been drawing and painting on all and everything since childhood, so i really don't know.

Lucky: I've always had art in my life, I suppose I just never noticed it until i started pursuing it as a carreer. But my father was a painter and loved crafting so art came into my life quite early on. I just never chose to pursue it at that point.

Morthagg: Hm, let's see. My parents had a couple art books lying around, and since I was a young child I spend a lot of time with my nose in one or the other. They were of the big, more classical masters, like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, .. Actually, Rubens was my favourite when I was a child, his fleshy women and biblical scenes could really capture my attention and make me want to try the same. He was one of the influences that made me want to be a classical artist too, and reintroduce realism and little fat flying angels into modern art. That didn't quite happen, but I'm okay with that. I also read a heap of comics, if that counts.

Luwano: I used to draw as a kid, like most people. But I haven't picked up a pen really until I became more involved in the Newgrounds art forum. I can honestly say, I have learned everything that I know now, from the art forum regulars' tips and helpful links.

ZaneZansorrow: I was first introduced to art when I was 6 and my dad had these attach green white papers; me, my brother, and my sister doodle all over those with crayons and pencils. The things that came in my mind when doodling those were video games and anime.

Q: What first inspired you to create art?


Flowers10: I'm very competitive. I couldn't take it if other kids would get attention if they made pretty drawings,I always had to make a better drawing. This might also be one of my biggest motivations to draw, because whenever im not drawing there's someone els who is, and he might be getting better than me.

Lucky: I've always had art in my life, I suppose I just never noticed it until i started pursuing it as a carreer. But my father was a painter and loved crafting so art came into my life quite early on. I just never chose to pursue it at that point.

Morthagg: Well.. First of all I don't really like calling the stuff I make art, because it has very little to do with art. I just draw.

But err, no sematics. I honestly wasn't really 'inspired', it was more of an itch I needed to scratch. It's an enormous cliché, but I've been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil and I never really stopped, or started. I was just something I did, something that defined me as a person, since 'drawing' was the first thing that popped into most people's heads when they saw me. There were a lot of influences but one of my biggest must be the Belgian comics, specifically "Suske & Wiske", which showed itself a lot in my early drawings. I remember drawing comics in preschool, even. When I was young I used to think drawing comics wasn't honourable enough as a profession (see the: "I want to introduce fat angels in art again"-stuff), but I obviously changed my mind, having started my own webcomic and all. In fact, I'm really getting into graphic novels and other comics now, which are huuuge inspirations.

Luwano: It's a long story, I hope you don't mind. The inspiration came from a webcomic called "Savage Chickens" actually. The creator Doug Savage, wanted to become a cartoonist as a kid, but as he grew up he stopped drawing and found himself in a monotonous job. On a bad day at work he started drawing chickens on a post-it note and the creative outlet made him feel better. I, myself, could identify with that story, because I was studying maths at that time and that's kinda monotonous too. So I went to the most creative site I could think of, Newgrounds. I haven't noticed the art portal before, but there I found Sabtastic's Art. I initially fell in love with "Nighthawk Nanabush" (http://www.newgrounds.com/art/view/sabtastic/ni ghthawk-nanabush) and one of her other pieces mentioned the "Level's Collab" in the art forum. I went there to check it out and there was so much creativity and fun stuff going on, so I felt like it was the right place to revive my own creativity.

ZaneZansorrow: Encouragement that the things that I drew look cool and nice, classmates and teachers always did say the things I drew look nice.

Q: What is in your opinion, the definition of art?


Flowers10: An act of emotion.

Lucky: To me it's the equivalent of talking about something that happened to you in real life to a bunch of friends. But using drawings, which can have a lot more detail, a lot more mood, a lot more emotions which can be portrayed as opposed to if you just verbally described what happened.

Morthagg: Oh dear. Not this question. I really, really don't like this question, and this is going to make me ramble. WARNING: rambling ahead, it's going to sound retarded and I suggest not reading it, honestly.

An attempt to put it simply: Art is what 'they' say art is. Getting taught art history and silly stuff like that has lead me to believe the definition of art is not 'different for every person' or 'something that appeals to you' or whatever, but simply what is being called art at this moment, or what is made by a recognised artist. What is Art fluctuates over the years, seeing how many artists were only discovered after they were six feet under, but one thing is certain: it is divided into streams that reflect a certain state of mind of a culture in a certain time, and constantly reflects on itself in following periods. (ß THIS IS KIND OF MY DEFINITION, I guess)

It might have to do with my difference in language, but Art with the big A is not really for anyone to simply choose based on their own preferences of aesthetics. I get a serious case of the shits when people still get 'angry' over a piece of modernist art made 50 years ago, yelling THIS AINT ART. Shaddap. Yes it is. That doesn't mean it's suddenly wonderful or beautiful or priceless. Not at all. Art can be absolute crap and not appeal to you at all. Doesn't make it any less Art though. But that aside, there is still art with the little a. The one you find appealing, that speaks to you, that you think deserves more of a pedestal than anything modern, and that is completely fine. Lots and lots of art with a little 'a' has eventually made it into the Art-league, by people who were willing to stand by their tastes and push them further, as long as it has certain aspects that make it a reflection of it's time in some significant way. Also there is art that is kind of a combination of the two that is actually recognised art but on a smaller scale and those artists might not make the history books unless in a paragraph about a larger stream of art linked to a cultural overtone of a certain period oh god why are you making me do this I'm going to shut up now

Luwano: I can't answer that question properly. Even if you narrow it down to visual art in form of traditional or digital drawings, there is so much variation that I can't think of a coherent definition. Some hints however are the skills of the artist behind it, the thought he put into it and the effort it took.

ZaneZansorrow: The definition of art to me is........

{X}= The form of media use

{Y}= The Concept and a bunch of fancy literature words


Q: The Art Forum was introduced on September 15th, 2006. There you would all have your own Art Threads, Flowers Art*, Morthagg makes things., Lucky's Art stuff, Zanezansorrow's Personal Art Thread, and Luwano learned a little lot!. What is the purpose of having an art thread in your own words and how much experience do you think you have acquired since making your thread?


Flowers10: At first the purpose of my art thread was to show off my art, and maybe get scouted. Over time it became somewhat of a progress chart, i often find myself looking back at my old work and seeing how much i progressed makes me happy. Its also a great way to generate criticism, which is very important for an artist trying to improve.

Lucky: Well documenting progress for the most part, to keep the art growing and to see improvement over time of your art can be really satisfying. Having people give feedback on your art is great and to that extend you can meet a great number of people who are into the same type of art as you which is a great plus. Also if you have art on your site that can go down, if one year you decide to stop the hosting but the art thread's art stays there forever(or until NG goes down) so it's perfect to use to look back like an old sketchbook!

Morthagg: An art thread is in my opinion a wonderful way of getting feedback and making a little real-time timeline of how you progress and how you use the feedback you get. I have no doubt that many people will progress, having a wide arrangement of opinions ready. I have made some pretty okay things because of Newgrounds' feedback in my art thread and new things I saw here, but honestly I don't think I myself have progressed much. I'm afraid I'm already kind of rusted stuck in my drawing habits. Maybe I have mostly learned to try new things.

Luwano: The purpose of an art thread is to have your art in one place. It's a good way to get better at drawing, because most of the times, other users will post useful tips and pointers for you. You are supposed to post works in progress there and ask if you need advice on anything. The reason why it should happen in one thread is, that visitors can see your progress, they can see what you have done before and how you have improved over time. When you spread your art over several individual threads, people will start to repeat themselves, because they don't know what you can do already.

I personally, could literally not draw at all before. So everything I can draw now is owed to all the other talented artists in the forums. I think I acquired a good amount of experience with drawing generally since I started the thread, although I kind of stopped doing regular practices and avoided anatomy for quite some time. I think I could easily be better if I made more use of my art thread and other people's advice. Shame on me! lol

ZaneZansorrow: The names of the art thread comes by as personal choice, makes art threads uniques (even though there is a limit on how irrelevant you can be on naming an art thread, at least having the user's name on it would be relevant enough but it really doesn't matter unless it clearly stated that the user's art is stuffed in that thread). I gotten many experience from my art thread, not only my art thread but other people's art thread too. The critiques, advice, and discussion carried out in those threads can help.

Q: The Art Portal was introduced on June 3rd, 2009. It was something that was hinted at for a good long time. What was your first impression regarding this new portal?



Lucky: I wasn't all too impressed at first in all honesty. Not that there wasn't amazing art, there was! It was the fact that people upvoted tits and violence(same as the early times of the flash portal) and quality art seemed to get low score just because it didn't contain nipples or there wasn't a chick with a gun in it. But as the years progress I think users have matured more and more and the art portal these days seems to be quite lovely and filled with a variety of different styles and subject matters!

Morthagg: Um. I wasn't here yet in 2009, I'm a pretty new member. I joined early 2011, so I pretty much don't know any different. Ha, I feel like such a noob now. Still happy it's there though!

Luwano: I only realized there was an Art Portal, about half a year after its introduction and I was totally impressed by it. I used to check every single art piece that was submitted, sometimes catching up on 4 or 5 pages of the portal a day. I don't do that anymore, but I still enjoy a lot of art every day.

ZaneZansorrow: I didn't notice that the art portal was a new implement until somebody told me lol.

Q: What is The Friday Flood?


Flowers10: The friday flood is a (mostly) monthly event where artists are evoked to draw a pictures within the borders of a theme. The pictures are all posted on the same time with the same thumbnail, flooding the art portal. After the portal is flooded the artists will begin to write critics on all of the participating pictures. it's lots a fun!

Lucky: It's when we make a drawing for a specific theme for friday and we flood the portal with it.. right? I've never done one *ashamed face*

Morthagg: I never joined one, but as far as I know it's a thing that goes on the first Friday of every month. There is a theme given, and people make drawings according to it. They insert the avatar given with the thread into their drawing, make it their image's thumbnail, try to post their pictures in the art portal at the same time, and thus flood the portal with the same looking thumbnails. It's a pretty cool idea and I really want to join one one time. If uh, they still do it because I'm a little confused.

Luwano: The "Flood the Portal Friday" is an activity in the art forum. The idea is to flood the art portal with the exact same thumbnail at the same time with drawings about a certain theme, like "Dinosaurs" or "Green" and add a certain tag to the submission. The theme can be interpreted as loosely or strict as they want. After the flood has happened people are supposed to review each other's submissions. TurkeyOnAStick just took that concept to a new level and turned it into a cool contest about M and A rated art with an emphasis on realistic anatomy, where people also flood the portal with the same thumbnail and hopefully many users review them. It's called "M&A Monday" (http://www.newgrounds.com/bbs/topic/1305136). Two artists and two reviewers have the chance to win a prize then.

ZaneZansorrow: It's a monthly event to flood the art portal with identical thumbnails based on the theme the artist have to art. It all in good fun and hopefully one day we will flood that first page in the latest art. All we need is more participating artists.

Q: When it comes to your art, where do you begin? How does the creative process start and when does the creation become finished?


Flowers10: First thing i do is take lots of drugs, Lots! This will allow me to generate some crazy ideas, and after the drugs have worked out(drawing on drugs doesn't work for me lol) I will make a sketch. Once my fingers start swelling or a headache starts to come up after some hours of drawing in photoshop i will call it done. But ideally an artwork is never finished there's always things you could improve on it or change.

Lucky: Oh its pretty straight forward

1: Idea

2: Procrastination

3: Anger from procrastination

4: Rough sketch

5: Frustration that I can't get it perfect

6: Incredible joy when inking it

7: The feeling of satisfaction from getting it done

9:Rinse and repeat!

Morthagg: Ow. Um. I have a serious problem with finishing things, so that part of the creative process often kind of.. fails. I have a better chance of finishing things when I do an assignment or a commission, because that thing simply has to get done. If I make something for myself it often stays in the sketchy stage, or I call it finished when I come at a point where I'm simply scared to f-ck it up if I work on it any further. Mostly the things I make are just sketches, loose drawings. When I make someting 'real', it often starts with me seeing other art and getting inspired/wanting to learn, but I have noticed I make my best work when I work for someone or something else. I made some of my best work for contests on Newgrounds here, for instance.

Luwano: Wherever inspiration comes from. Most of the times, I draw stuff for a collab or activity on Newgrounds, so the basic idea comes form there. After that I just sketch out some ideas I can come up with, IF I can come up with something. To be honest, my creations are finished by the deadline of the projects most of the time. I am procrastinating too much usually. Many others may know this problem too. :P

ZaneZansorrow: I begin arting in many different ways, it all depends on what exactly I'm arting. I usually tend to grayscale paint then give it color or gradient the grayscale then give it color. I might approach things with texture brushes with odd forms and silhouettes for scenary and creatures. I might manipulate an old art I did and paint over it. I might do line art and then give it grayscale shading and paint with colors. I might color straight from colors in order to get a mood first. I usually call things finish when I ran out of ideas on how to continue the art, I post work in progress in my art thread to see what feedback I can get to improve it better.

Q: When we spoke with different members of The Graffiti Crew here on Newgrounds, I asked them why they use the world as their easel. Would you say there is a difference between graffiti art and more of what can be called traditional art, or is graffiti just another form? Whatever your answer could you please tell us why?


Flowers10: I think graffiti is just another art form, but is a whole different experience than all other forms.I used to do graffiti some years ago, but i stopped because i like to sleep at night, and if my mom ever found out i would be fucked since she's a police detective. It was fun though seeing your name every day when biking to school, and thats what graffiti is about in my opinion: seeing and being seen. Once you start writing graffiti you will notice graffiti allot more, and you will start to remember the tags. I began to notice the big names and looked up to these figures, they motivated me to write more.

Lucky: I love graffiti art, I have great respect for the artists who practise it, I don't know how they can do it knowing that some old people can come by, call it a travesty and replace the drawing you spend 4 weeks on with a white wall. They take such risks and extremes with their art and get little respect outside the art world, i truly admire their passion for it. When I was younger I used to do graffiti art, but every time i did something that took more than a week i'd come back and it'd be covered with tags. I don't think I'm EXTREME enough to call myself a graffiti artist, but it in no way is less hard or lesser than traditional art. It in fact is harder than most art, because not only do you have to make it look good, but you have to make it look good while on top of a building at night looking out for police to not arrest you for vandalizing... Beat that DaVinchi!

Morthagg: Ah. Well, for anyone who read my art-ramblings, I think graffiti can play an important role in the Big Art because it does (wilfully or not) show the state of mind of a certain generation, and that combined with the nature of graffiti being quite independent and anti-authority makes for a pretty interesting medium that can have a large influence. The fact that it's really close to the public and seldom pretentious only adds to that. In that sense I think it is different from more traditional art, although the painting of walls can be done in a very traditional way, too. Depends on what's being made, I guess.

Luwano: Actually, I think graffiti is a form of traditional art even though it's a relatively young form of art. It's a lot more traditional than digital art for sure. You don't have the possibility of unlimited "undo" with traditional mediums and especially with graffiti, you can not save your progress and continue with it later. You have to know your medium and use it the right way to get the desired result. That's something I profoundly respect.

ZaneZansorrow: There a Graffiti Crew in NG? Cool, I say graffiti and tradititional art feels about the same, I just wonder if the graffiti that is being done is legal. lol.

Q: What programs or tools do you use to create your art?


Flowers10: I like to use watercolors when I paint traditionally, I use photoshop to paint digitally, stencils and markers for graffiti, pencil fine liner and eraser for sketching, and leather paint and permanent marker for customizing shoes.

Lucky: I use a few programs, i used to be all about sketchbook pro, because i love the brushes. But i'm trying to use photoshop for most of my lineart because it takes up less ram.


Alias Sketchbook pro - high lag, high ram usage, but great brushes

Photoshop CS3 - good ram usage, good brushes, stable

Flash CS3 - great ram usage, crappy brushes, unstable BUT has its perks

Morthagg: Mostly pencil, marker, pen and paper, but otherwise photoshop, or a combination. And a little watercolour too.

Luwano: I use a small Wacom Bamboo tablet. It doesn't have a "Fun" or "Pen" or something in its name, because it's such an old model. I almost always use GIMP for drawings, but I did use Inkscape and Flash once or twice.

ZaneZansorrow: I use photoshop cs3 the most, but I also gotten photoshop element 7 and corel painter for use too.

Q: Is there any other artist or person you look to as a guide or mentor?


Flowers10: I'm 100% self taught, but there are some artist that really inspired me. Take for instance the renaissance masters, they lived hundreds of years ago and reached a level of realism in there paintings that most artist today haven't reached yet.

Lucky: Al Hirshfield and Hank Ketcham. For their linear, use of space, composition, simplistic yet highly detailed depiction of a scene and for their fun styles I absolutely adore their works!

Morthagg: Hm. Not really. Many people have influenced me in some way, if not all people. The folks I worked with in a certain Belgian Animation studio did guide me in some sense, since I got a better idea of what I can and want to do in my later work-life, and made me realise I kind of don't feel comfortable in my school. Pretty important.

Luwano: ReNaeNae helped me a lot through my early time on Newgrounds. I was a real noob, like most people who post in the forum for the first time. And she was also hosting or co-hosting most of the collaborations I took part so far, which made me feel like a part of the community. There are many artists that I admire too, but I don't want to start naming them all, because I would most likely forget some. Generally, most of the art forum regulars are always there with advice when I need it.

ZaneZansorrow: The art mods like Ornery, turkeyonastick, renaenae, the art regs that post and review in NG, the arts that I fave in NG and Deviantart. These things are huge benefactors on how I improve.

[ PART 1 | PART 2 ]



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