Sunday, April 22, 2012

Top Ten Inspirational Artists

Final Fantasy VI artwork by Yoshitaka Amano

No artist is a blank slate, approaching their craft alone. We bring a little bit of ourselves to each image: our life experiences, our hopes, our feelings on a particular day and, of course, things we have learned from our artistic idols. This list is my attempt to narrow down a vast group of my favorite artists into a Top Ten of those that have been among my most important influences.

Many of the artists on this list do not have their own official websites, so I had to rely on Wikipedia and fan sites to share images and links to additional information on their lives and careers.

The artwork of Yoshitaka Amano has been a great inspiration to me over most of my life. Amano's name was the first I wrote down when beginning this Top Ten list. I discovered Amano's work through the Final Fantasy video game series on NES and SNES. I pored over the Nintendo Power magazines and Final Fantasy strategy guides I bought to collect his images of heroic characters, bizarre creatures, and fanciful technology. Amano's confident, yet sensitive use of line, bold patterns and color was unlike anything else I had seen. It sparked my imagination. Though the graphics of video games from the late 1980's and early 1990's did not always faithfully translate his artwork into pixels, Amano's images transported me into the world of Final Fantasy and made me feel as though I lived there.

Like most children, I was drawn to cartoons. I didn't just watch animation–I was also fascinated by the way it was created. By the time I was old enough to understand what was going on behind the scenes, I had begun to recognize the work of individual animators. I was especially drawn to Chuck Jones's style and used to be able to pick out when he was animating a particular character. Chuck Jones was responsible for creating several Looney Toons characters, perhaps most famously the mortal enemies Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. 

Jones had a way of drawing and animating the most outrageous expressions on his characters. The diabolical smile of The Grinch towards the beginning of my favorite Chuck Jones animated feature, Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is a perfect example. Much of my art during my youth included cartoon animal and monster characters that were undoubtedly inspired by his work.

My high school era discovery of Akira Toriyama's humorous and colorful artwork marked a turning point in my own work towards designing characters. Out of all the artists on this list, most people probably would have picked him out of a lineup as a major influence on my drawing style at the time. Toriyama is most well-known for his famous manga series, Dragon Ball, and his contribution of character and monster designs for the Dragon Warrior video game series. While some may dismiss Toriyama's artwork as just cartoons, he is an excellent draftsman and can just as easily draw cars and complex fantasy machines as he can alien martial artists. I highly recommend his art books, especially the Dragon Ball illustration books and Toriyama's the World and The World Special. Check out this Tumblr to see more of Toriyama's work.

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Rylee said...

I'm a big fan of Arthur Rackham too Emily. As you note, his mastery of line is exquisite and was something that really caught my eye back when I was a teenager – how I wished to be able to command a pen as he does!

MisterMcFisher said...

Hello! I enjoy reading your blog posts and browsing your gallery. I was wondering if there is a way to contact you in regards to a certain piece of artwork, as I emailed you at your contact email address about. I hope to hear from you soon.
-Sean F.