There are artists out there who are wildly afraid of sharing their secrets. If you have been following my blog for awhile, you know I’m definitely not one of them.
I’ve written plenty of painting tutorials, made process videos, and answered many questions directly while painting live on Ustream broadcasts. Am I afraid of giving away too many secrets? Do I worry about helping my competition too much? I’ve seriously considered these questions, and I have to say, no.
Let me tell you why…
Artists are not Apple.
In my opinion, there is no such thing as trade secrets in art, and no good reason artists need to shut themselves up and lock their process away like a large corporation. The only “secret” to getting top-notch artwork is doing 1000’s of hours of drawing and painting. It is NOT – though many artists and bystanders might think so – the media, technique, or software.
Tools and techniques are only so good as the artist that uses them. For this reason, I do not think that teaching people how I paint is in any way teaching people how to paint like me. In order to do that, you need my talent and ability, and you can’t steal that by watching a video or reading a tutorial.
Magic? What magic?
I also don’t think that a certain technique or medium is ever really THAT important to making great art. An image isn’t great because it is painted in oils or inked with a crowquill or colored in Photoshop. Great images are made through drawing skills, color theory, composition, and concept.
Sure, certain styles and looks are easier to accomplish with one medium over another, but don’t mistake these techniques and styles for magic tricks to creating great art. Besides, a certain style can almost always be accomplished in a variety of different ways.
Another concern that artists bring up when talking about sharing techniques is having other artists copy their style. Here’s what I think about that:
Artists who want to copy another artist’s work are definitely unethical, but will likely find a way to do it whether they know the original technique or not. Like I said earlier, many styles can be accomplished in many different ways.
Most artists who deliberately copy another artist’s work will end up with work that is inferior to the original since they are not contributing anything innovative and don’t have enough skill to really accomplish a good copy (plus they likely won’t have enough brains to get very far).
Remember, technique and style is not the secret to a good illustrator. There are a gagillion artists and many of them have similar styles. What makes the best stand out? Skill and brains. Believe me, your potential clients, if they are worth having, will see that.
If you DO happen to encounter a copycat artist that can copy your style well and well enough to steal good clients from you, you probably belong in one of two scenarios:
1) Your style really wasn’t that original anyway. In that case shame on your for not seeking to be innovative, original, or creative. Or,
2) Your style is most definitely original and has some very real ($$$) value and the slimy, unethical copycat knows it. In that case, shame shame on them, but many times this is unavoidable as there will always be creeps out there who will take advantage of you. The good news is, you probably won’t have any trouble taking them to court.
The Benefits of Sharing
Lastly, I have no problem sharing my process with other artists because it has downright helped me so much in my career, that I wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise.
This blog, where I have shared so many tutorials, videos, broadcasts, and articles, is my main networking tool. Artists, buyers, and students alike are coming to me from all over the world; besides the initial writing of the blog posts, I barely have to lift a finger. The majority of the illustrators who help, inspire, and chat with me every day would not even know my name if they hadn’t found me in a Google search first.
And the benefits go both ways – I am constantly being inspired and helped by other artists who email me, comment on my site, and chat with me throughout the day. I find that when I am open and sharing with others, they in turn like to be open and sharing with me, and I have been able to learn so much as a result.
My various projects have also gotten me good publicity through interviews, blog features, and speaking opportunities. And by sharing what I know, I have grown significantly more confidant in my knowledge of art, the illustration industry, and marketing. Now, I’m honored that so many of you turn to me for advice in these areas.
In short, more and more people are getting to know me and my work and I’ve been more successful in my business simply because I decided to share. And so I keep sharing.