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Jan 092010

Drawing is a skill ANYONE can learn whether or not they possess “natural talent”.

And I do mean anyone.

Yes.  Even a guy like  Bernie Lipshitz.

Bernie Lipshitz Rookie Artist at large.

If you are serious about  learning  how to draw, there are a few things you need right off the bat.

The desire to to learn, education, patience, dedication, and most important of all,

you need  tons and tons of practice!

Before embarking on your lifelong quest to master drawing, you must be aware of  what I  call ” 5 unavoidable truths of being an artist.” If you can’t accept ALL of these, perhaps you should try something other than art.

Let us face up to what to many, is  “un-face-up-to-able.”


Never underestimate how dopey we all can be.

You are going to screw up.

Repeat.  You are going to screw up both royally and often. It’s  part of the process.  Don’t beat yourself up if your drawing of Marylin Monroe looks more like Marylin Manson. Chin up! A good artist  quickly learn to recognize his mistakes and learns from them.

Avoid being too self-critical. No one can be as good as Michelangelo on Monday morning at nine am their first day as an artist! It will take time for you to develop. Which brings us to the next truth.


You must dedicate a significant part of your time to  practicing how to draw.

If you aren’t making funny noises with your mouth, you are not drawing HARD enough!

People always ask me, “Raul,  how do you get to Disney ?

My answer. ” Practice.”

Every single artist has at least a zillion crappy drawings within him or her. The sooner you get them out of the way or “exorcise” them the better. Get it? I myself am already on my two zillionth one.


You must learn to accept criticism from EVERYBODY.

Haters Ever present

Ignore the douche nozzles!

You must learn to accept criticism from EVERYBODY.

Always accept a critique with a smile and a thank you. Even if you think the critic is blind or high.

It’s up to you if you follow up on  the criticism or not.  Arguing with a critic is like arguing with a drunk. Pointless. Use logic not emotion to determine your reaction.  That’s  being a pro.


Competition between artists is a waste of time.

You Blow

Don’t waste energy on being competitive. Be the best you can be.

You feel jealous towards your artistic rival, your Lex Luthor,  because he just sold a big painting, that you know sucks. A Unicorn running on a rainbow?!!  In outer space?!!! Forget Lex Luthor! What the heck does he have to do with you becoming the best artist you can be?  Competitive behavior is a waste of time.  Use that energy on your projects! Besides, everyone has a different background, as well as tastes,  and visions!  We are all unique and special.  Like little  snowflakes!


It’s not the pencil that makes the drawing.

I hate to break it to you all, but in the early stages of an artist’s career, the quality of the drawing implement has little if nothing to do with the success of a drawing.

A rookie will get the same results

whether he uses a chewed up golf pencil he found under the couch.

or the $375.00 Porsche Design P3150 Collection – Black Leather Pencil. That’s right i said a Porsche pencil. It comes down to the skill of the artist wielding the pencil.

I wonder how fast this Porsche pencil can draw?

Eventually you’ll want a couple of decent wire-bound sketchbooks.

A good wire-bound sketchbook is essential for an artist!

This will help you keep organized and most importantly help you chart your progress. At this stage you don’t need anything fancier. In fact I highly recommend you not buy any fancy pencils, pens, paper or leather bound sketchbooks. There will be plenty of time for that later when your Draw FU is stronger. You’ll be too afraid to screw up with the fancy stuff and it WILL affect your drawing.

Speaking of STRONG DRAW FU…

Back in my days at Walt Disney Feature Animation,  a good friend of mine,  The openly Canadian Supervising Animator Mike Surrey used a yellow #2 pencil to animate his scenes.

Here I am with Mike Surrey at the Walt Disney Feature Animation TARZAN Wrap Party

He’s the guy that gave us Timon, Clopin on Hunchback, Terk on Tarzan, Commander Rourke on Atlantis and Buck on Home on the Range. One of the most brilliant animators ever. He was my mentor for the four years prior to my working with Glen Keane.  It was thanks to his teaching and patience that prepared me to be Glen’s assistant.

Mike is a great dude with a killer sense of humor, who was always willing to give me a few minutes to go over my scenes. He taught me how to approach animation with confidence! I found his lively and expressive drawings to be quite an inspiration! Yet he drew these Disney masterpieces with the same pencil you take the SAT with.

Mike Surrey Master Animator!

Here is a recent audio interview  with Disney Animators Mike Surrey and Mark Henn.

PRX  THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG: Disney animators talk to Andrea Chase

Check out the 2D traditional animation demonstration Mike did here!

For those that don’t believe me about Mike’s penchant for Yellow number 2 pencils, check out what he’s drawing with in the vid.

During my 2005 trip to Europe I had an interesting encounter with a rookie or “rook” as I like to call them.

This kid was determined to be an artist.

I was befriended by a  German kid that was really interested in what I was doing.

The kid ran into  me while I was sketching fellow passengers aboard this ferry on the Aegean Sea. We sat and talked for quite a while.  IT turns out I was the deciding factor in his choosing to become an artist.  I guess announcing his decision to me made it official or something.  BTW His voice wasn’t as dorky as my ” dramatic reenactment.”  But as you all know, here at Man Vs. Art, we like putting extra salsa on the tacos!



Everyone is invited to Geeks Animation Getdown 2010! I teamed up with my friends and fellow animation artists Jim Lujan, Graciella Rodriguez, and Scott Essman and we are are putting on a show! Sal the Owner of Geeks Comics in Whittier CA, has been kind enough to provide the venue! Once you watch our cartoons, you can’t unwatch them!

Check out the promotional video I made.

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 Posted by at 11:04 pm

  3 Responses to “Man Vs. Art Episode 014! So you want to be an artist? 5 Unavoidable truths about being an artist.”

  1. I love the podcast as always. Great advice dude. I agree 100%. I think “truth 4# is clearer on the blog than on the podcast. I compare myself to other artists all the time but, it’s always in the form of, “what is it that they’re doing that is so cool that I’m not? I better study them or ask them so I can get better.” We artist shouldn’t live in a vacuum. The more great artists we surround ourselves with, the more we feed off each other, the better our art becomes. It’s great to be able to trade notes and techniques.

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