Sunday, June 30, 2019

Art and innovation

TLDR: same old art = same old ideas; challenge yourself. 

I was recently re-discovered the art of Kay Rasmus Nielsen and Virginia Frances Sterrett. In their work you can see the illustrative qualities of Arthur Rakham mixed with the design sense and Art Deco stylings of Erté!

Kay Nielsen
Virginia Sterrett

Take a moment (or a few dozen) to absorb the art styles I'm talking about here with some quick Google image searches, it will feed your soul.

Looking at these artists started me thinking about the range of styles, or relative lack of range, in modern fantasy art. You don't see works that stray from the kind of melting-pot fantasy style very often! Why not? This next paragraph is the result of a good deal of rumination and, frankly, the result of writing more than 4,000 words and then erasing them.

Where you find innovative art, you will likely find innovative text. Conversely, where you find innovative words, you will find the innovate art. The inverted statements are also true, that where you find the "same old art" – stylistically – you get a lot of the same old ideas, and the same old ideas beget the same old art. 

I have so much more to say about this, but it's all messy and sounds like a value-laden manifesto. The take-away is: take a good look at your RPG book shelf! You could almost arrange it on a continuum where the left end of the shelf is mainstream and the right end of the shelf is "weird" art. This would have the effect of also arranging the settings and maybe even the mechanics in the same order. 

What art is on your shelf? Are you programmed, or being programmed to think about fantasy in only mainstream ways? Challenge yourself! I could tell you where to look, but part of the joy is in the exploration. Different things are out there! Exciting things, innovative things, weird things. Things that will make you uncomfortable but which will help you grow and pull your imagination out of long-established ruts. Go find them and expand your thinking a little. 

1 comment:

  1. Truly incredible art! Thank you for sharing these. I must ruminate on your words.


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