Comic Art Friday: Heavenly creatures

We’re not fully two weeks into 2012, and already it’s been an exciting art year at the new Casa de Swan.

Here’s the first of several reasons why.

Halo and Angel, pencils and inks by comics artist Sean Chen

I frequently discuss with other comic art collectors our approaches to our theme commissions. Many of my fellow hobbyists present elaborately detailed scenarios to the artists they commission, to ensure that the end result matches the collector’s vision. I know of at least one collector who actually writes a script for each piece he commissions.

There’s nothing at all wrong with that approach. In fact, it greatly appeals to the obsessive control freak in me. Over the years, however, I’ve developed a far more laissez-faire tactic toward my commissioning. I generally prefer to simply give the artist reference images of the character(s) to be drawn, then stand back and turn the artist loose.

This works well on a number of fronts:

  • Since I don’t know in advance what the artist will draw, there’s an element of anticipation and mystery while I wait for the commission to be completed.
  • It eliminates back-and-forth argument with the artist: “No, that’s not what I wanted; do it this way.”
  • Creative people in general — and I consider myself one — dislike having their imaginative impulses constrained by someone else’s vision. (Imagine a patron standing over Picasso’s shoulder and kibitzing, “Shouldn’t her eyes be on opposite sides of her head? Why is everything blue? That looks like my five-year-old nephew painted it.”) Allowing the artist more freedom usually means that he or she enjoys the creative process more, which in turn means that he or she feels more inspired toward excellent work.
  • I’m not a visual thinker, so inventing pictures in my head doesn’t come easily to me. Artists being visual thinkers means that the pictures they dream up will invariably be better than my clumsy attempts.

The artwork above, drawn by the insanely talented Sean Chen — best known for his work on such comics as Iron Man and Wolverine — illustrates the advantages of my commission philosophy. (As always, you can click on the image — or on this link — for a larger, more detailed view. Go ahead. You know you want to.)

When I assigned Sean the Common Elements pairing of Angel (from Marvel’s original X-Men lineup) and Halo (from DC’s Batman and the Outsiders), I had no clue how he would utilize these two characters. In fact, our initial discussion about a possible layout revolved around a completely different scenario. Thus, when I first saw this beautifully executed riff on Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, I was blown away. It would never have occurred to me to suggest this concept. Furthermore, had I gone into the project with a tightly defined idea already in mind, Sean might never have presented this one.

Best of all, Sean had fun coming up with this scenario and bringing it to fruition, so both artist and patron love the result. I like it when the artists I commission are happy.

Again, there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with taking a more hands-on approach to this commission. I’d have still gotten a terrific piece of art from Sean had I instructed him exactly what to draw.

But I wouldn’t have gotten this.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Comic Art Friday, SwanStuff, That's Cool!

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