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Interview No. 144
Interview By: The-Great-One
Today's guest is an underrated artist here on Newgrounds. Her works range from character creation one being The Stranger. However she is more of a teacher and mentor to other artists here on Newgrounds. I am most pleased to welcome, Template88.
Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?
A: Newgrounds really found me more so than I found it. I remember being so young that I didn't have regular access to a computer, so it was mostly my friends that would show me the funny or gruesome stuff they found on Newgrounds as a way to pass the time when I was over at their house. This must've been when Newgrounds was actually new and exciting and home computers were not extremely common, back when AOL internet discs came in the mail and hamsterdance.com was a new thing. I remember seeing Madness, Pico, Neurotically yours and Retarded animal babies back then, though their order chronologically speaking probably doesn't make much sense as I likely saw some of these things way later. I remember being particularly attached to Neurotically Yours for some reason, but going back later and being kind of disappointed with it and having that same feeling about a lot of the older stuff I remember watching. I remember the animation and the writing for the things I liked being so much better than it actually was. There was only one video I really went back to and STILL thought it was pretty awesome, and it’s a kind of obscure video I was completely obsessed over at the time by @livingfruitvirus called A "Ball" Movie. While not perfect, I think this one still stands the test of time for both animation and writing. I joined Newgrounds back in 2008 because I wanted a chance to talk to these people making these flash animations and try to become friends with them. Alas nobody on Newgrounds actually uses the forums as far as I can tell or just about everybody has left if they ever did! The animation forum is one of the most dead forums on the site and it’s a real bummer. Livingfruitvirus come back and let’s make a sequel! I might have to make it myself, for myself at this point, I don’t think he is ever coming back.
Q: At what age did you become interested in drawing?
A: Some time during my sophomore year in high school I believe. I certainly was not somebody who ever thought of themselves as an artist or wanted to make art growing up as a younger child, it was only way after I graduated high school that I ever took it up seriously. You can pick up drawing at any point in your life!
Q: Toast-Tony, Fifty-50, CosmicDeath, and Cairos are all artists who have been here in the past and they all have made art threads to showcase their works in progress. You also have an art thread entitled Have art, will travel.. Why did you want to make your own art thread? How important would you say it is for a new artist to make an art thread when they join Newgrounds?
A: Making your own art thread is like saying 'hello' to the art community and it’s your contribution to making the site better. The forums are underused and it’s a good way to introduce yourself and get exposure while also having a casual place to get critique and dump your sketches. If you are an artist who only posts in the portal and never leaves reviews or interacts with anybody else, you are using this site wrong. People like that often wonder why they aren't getting any exposure or utility out of the site, it’s because they're using it in a superficial way without really making any kind of impact on the community. I honestly think the portal is less important to use than the actual forums for this reason. The flip side are people who only ever make one post in the forum, find that their thread isn’t going gangbusters, get discouraged and never post again. I call those one post wonders, and there are many of them. There needs to be some understanding that forums are not "fast", it may take some time for your thread to gain any momentum and to get a reply, and also unless you are posting something somewhat exceptional or out of the ordinary or are specifically asking for input, you might not get any for quite a while! I blame this on the severely outdated forum technology on this site and the resulting low forum user base. Why isn’t there a sticky thread explaining basic rules and warning against certain common problem behaviors for each specialized forum? Its 2016….hello?! The mods also seem to have almost no ability to interact with the forum to make it better. I remember when I was told I couldn’t change my thread name to have NSFW in the title and I thought how ridiculous that was.
Q: In your art thread you made quite the statement about art, criticism, and advice for new artists. Draw everyday is a bit of advice I hear from a lot of artists through The Interviewer. However when it comes to criticism you say that to improve you have to show your works to other artists. Shouldn't art be appreciated and evaluated by everyone? How subjective is art?
A: The short answer? Yes, but non-artists don't have the tools at their disposal to form an opinion that is useful for helping the artist improve. The longer answer? The non-artist is the likely target audience for artwork, so their collective opinion does matter a lot but they don't have the technical knowledge to form their opinion/critique in such a way that they can help the artist improve their work. A non-artist can say "That looks funny." "Her head is too small." "I don't like it, somethings off." "Would've been better if it wasn't so dark." "BIGGER BOOBS!" A more experienced artist can break down the entire image from the foundation, explain everything in the language that an artist understands that could be improved AND also draw over the mistakes and SHOW the artist how they could've done it better and what to improve for next time. Critiques in general are often extremely poor, and I want to change that, I promise you will see me around critiquing the artwork in the portal and giving general critique to those who ask for it and are ready. Good critique is the kindest thing you can offer another fellow artist, because it shows you care about their work on a much deeper level than just taking a brief moment to judge if their work is good or not and clicking 1 or 5 respectively. Even an artist that isn't more experienced has the advantage in being able to speak the language of the artist when giving critique and has a more experienced set of eyes for searching out details that may be missed by people who only superficially look at a drawing. There are of course exceptions, but they are not common. The most common comment is just “LOOKS GOOD” which while kind that somebody would take the time to comment, is more or less just white noise.
I think to answer the last part of your question I need to clarify what Art, art, and illustration are. I spend my time critiquing and attempting illustration and art. Capital 'A' Art is subjective. Capital 'A' Art can be anything the creator wishes it to be as long as he wishes it to be Art. A frozen pile of dog shit encased in a milk chocolate shell on a pop-sickle stick can be Art, that sort of thing can’t really be critiqued in a useful way, though it might be fun to try. People often associate the Old Masters’ artwork with Art but it is more akin to illustration because it has a set message or story to tell and has followed the rules to tell it in the most dramatic or efficient manner, while more abstract works that lack any clear message or story but still have a great presence or aesthetic are often Art or at least art. Old masters’ work practically wrote many of the rules for illustration. Illustration is practically a science and is not subjective; illustration follows rules to be better at expressing a message that everyone can easily understand and digest using a visual medium where there are wrong and right ways to do it. An under case 'a' artist is simply a somebody who enjoys drawing stuff and doesn’t think too hard about it, drawing something just for the sake of drawing can be art at the very foundation, it can always be more than mere art if the artist ever wishes it to be though. I am an illustrator, designer and an artist, but I certainly am not an Artist. A capital 'A' Artist is concerned with expressing themselves through their Art in any way they wish through any medium they wish and may not be concerned with expressing a message at all, or expressing it in an efficient manner that is easily digestible and understood, there are rules they could follow but they are not beholden to follow them for success. Artists may not need to follow any rules but they can still adopt some to be an Artist, an Illustrator or Designer, casual artist or any other kind of skillset they could want. It can all overlap and mix and some of the greatest examples of Art and illustration in history have mixed qualities of multiple fields or disciplines and approaches. I spend a lot of my time critiquing pornography because it’s purely Illustration and can objectively be made to be better, and often the mistakes made by beginners are very easy to see and point out and understand. Plus there are many mediocre pornographers that post here on this site. The worst is when pornographers think their pornography is Art and refuse to follow the basic rules, leading to terrible pornography and a stubborn attitude about improving.
Q: Improving your illustrations (Hell) I believe is a topic that should be immortalized or at the very least be a sticky thread on the Art Forum. It takes the beauty of being an artist and hits it with reality. What made you want to come out and say this?
A: There’s a lot of assumptions and misinformation out there that targets artists and illustrators that is assumed or proliferated by non-artists and beginner artists. I seek to mitigate this through education. One of the biggest myths is “talent”, the false idea that there is some magical spark inside your mind or soul that either makes it possible for you to be an artist or not. The truth is anybody can be an artist and that it’s a learned skill just like any other. I started out drawing stick figures when I was in high school, which evolved into noodle people, which evolved into bad anime people, which evolved into what I draw today. This sort of progression is pretty normal. For some people who are very clever in understanding the rules of drawing or find it something so interesting they think about it a lot or practice it more, they might skip some of those steps, that doesn’t mean they have some superior god given magical ability, it means they figured out one facet of drawing faster because it interested them more. My figures will keep evolving and becoming better because I keep drawing and trying to improve and figure out what I am doing wrong and that’s all anybody else ever needs to do. Anybody can do this, really, anybody (even shadman did it!). Another myth is that drawings appear instantaneously out of thin air, (it takes me several days to ink and color one of my figures) and that artists are just bored out of their minds waiting around for some non-artist to talk to them all day and give them their great new idea so they can draw it and have something GOOD to finally do. I see this sort of behavior from non-artists all the time, in the prices they expect to pay for art (WELL below minimum wage), and in their pitching ideas or requesting artwork for no monetary compensation at all! (DO ALL MY WORK FOR FREE, ALL THE RECOGNITION YOULL GET IF MY PROJECT DOESN’T BOMB IS ALMOST LIKE BEING PAID ISNT IT?!) There is little else you could do to an artist or illustrator that would be as rude as suggesting their work is not worth anything at all! Of course they don’t do this on purpose or with such a malevolent intent but they do it out of ignorance, and the only cure for ignorance is education, or death, but until I learn to manifest deadly bolts of arcane energy through the internet, education will have to do. There’s more education to be had, but I’d rather not fill up your interview with it.
Q: Looking through your art, you tend to draw more characters than anything else. It seems as though you take a stance of drawing your characters in geometrical shapes first then shaping them into beings. It's like you draw as if you're molding clay. Is this your approach or am I missing the mark entirely?
A: There are many methods used to construct a figure and I am still figuring out what’s best for me. You might be confused because in ‘Improving your Illustrations (hell)’ I was trying to express how one might deconstruct a figure and understand them better by replacing the complex shapes their eyes see with imaginary simple shapes when one attempts to draw a figure. I don’t say, take a sphere and then whittle it down to a human pelvis. I use something similar to what’s called a “mannikin frame” to lay down the gesture then build upon that with (somewhat) human anatomy. A mannikin frame is basically an advanced stick figure that is similar to those posable wooden puppets you find in art shops, only it’s a virtual mannequin frame that lives in my mind’s eye that I can draw easily in any position. It’s a very important mental tool for an artist to develop to draw from imagination!
Q: The one piece by you that made me want to see everything you've doen is entitled Belial-Abaddon. You stated that...
"Abaddon whispers hopeless truths to slay and corrupt the wise -- I know them well."
I love the imagery here with the two demons combined into this skull with amazing fire eyes. There seems to be a story behind this piece though. Would you care to share it?
A: Really the only story to be had here is that @JackDCurleo agreed to do an art trade with me and so far my process with art trades is “Draw one of my original characters and I’ll draw one of yours.” He had two choices for me to pick from and they both looked similar, so I figured I would just combine them into a new being. It seemed to work out. I actually have no idea what names his OC’s had so I just made some up and gave it a little lore. If he minded he didn’t really say anything to me about it.
Q: My favorite piece by you is entitled The Stranger. I love the idea of space being inside the character's cape. It all around just looks really cool! How did you come up with this design?
A: Honestly? Modified Morgan le’Fay from DC comics + Cool space cloak effect. I didn’t reference her directly or anything but she was totally what I was thinking about when I made this, I always thought she looked so cool. The character was supposed to be some dark void divinity thing and what shows dark “voidness” better than space? but she ended up looking too weak and human so The Stranger was born.
Q: When it comes to writing, we have all of these programs and computers that make writing easier. I've always stated though when the pen and paper are replaced will be the day that I am done as a writer. We would agree on this at some point because you believe that people should instead draw by hand on paper or on a tablet than draw using a program. I can understand why you would believe this, but could you explain to our readers why this is important?
A: I actually don’t understand this question at all lol. Drawing on paper or using a tablet to learn how to draw is the same as long as you are comfortable with them as a medium. When you use a tablet though you have to draw using a program….what program you pick is likely going to change the look of your art, so picking the right program for the kind of work you want to make is important. I never learned to draw using traditional media and I think it actually hurt me by making my understanding of depth and form slower, so for a beginner I would probably suggest they learn the fundamentals using pencil and paper unless they really want a head start being familiar with digital art programs and using a tablet. People who stick with traditional media and then try using a tablet later often hate it until they get used to it, and then they love it. So plan accordingly.
Q: What is in your opinion, the definition of art?
A: I defined that stuff in relative detail in a previous question. Basically though, it’s all bullshit. Illustration and animation is where it’s at, hey-o!
Q: When it comes to your art, where do you begin? How does the creative process start and when does the creation become finished?
A: It starts when there is interest, when you think of an idea and it ends when you are satisfied with it. It may never end. Such is drawing and design.
Q: What can we expect from Template88 in the future?
A: I’m trying to make the art forum and portal slightly better places for people to be, that I am sure I can do. I would like to make Newgrounds as a whole a better place in general but I am only one person and my contribution is a small drop of hard water in a sea of piss, blood and god knows what else.
You should expect more binary character drawings from me in the art portal, perhaps a couple of one shot comics, lots of art forum/general/newspost posts (on other people’s pages) and art critiques.
A goal this year is to make an animation describing what tropes to avoid as a beginning artist and some general starting out tips. Any art advice I typically give to only beginners/beginner intermediates as I don’t consider myself that good of a teacher or artist, but I have a lot of passion about art and mostly know what a person needs to do to make better illustrations! So if you think I can offer your gallery or a single piece a critique all you need to do is ask, but be ready for some harsh realities.
Out of all the artists I have come across, I must admit, Template88 has been one of the more interesting ones. She appears to be more of a teacher than an artist. This is not a passion of hers, but a skill, one she has adapted and refined over many years. I can honestly say if you're looking for a proper critique on your art, you should go to her immediately.