Erik and Meadow Gist AMA - Illustration & Fine Art
1mo
Stan Prokopenko
Power art couple Erik and Meadow Gist will be answering questions about illustration, fine art, and . . . anything . . . Start asking your questions now! Erik and Meadow will answer at 3pm PDT on June 15th. @Erik Gist is a horror illustrator and teacher at the Watts Atelier. Erik’s clients include Dark Horse Comics, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Disney Entertainment, TOR Publishing, Wizards of the Coast, Upper Deck, Boom! Studios, Palladium Books, Blizzard Entertainment, Viking Children's Books, Monkey Brain Books, Quart Publishing, and Chiat-Day. @Meadow Gist is a fine art painter currently focused on Native American themes and instructor at Watts Atelier. She is represented by Sanders Galleries in Arizona and Bear Tooth Gallery in Montana.
erik gist monster
meadow gist
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Jahsee Mullings
I am 15 yrs old boy and I am trying my best to understand everything I need to know about art on proko and elsewhere to achieve that dream. I am planning to be a self taught artist using proko.com and other art websites to help my grow. Questions: 1. Could you give me the difference between a concept artist and an illustrator because I want to be them both in the gaming industry someday. 2. When being a self taught artist, would I get less money working in the gaming industry because I have not graduated from a physical art college? 3. Would I hinder myself from getting jobs or a fan base because I don’t have an art degree? 4. Could you give a summary of what it is like working in the gaming industry? 5. Why do you two are so interested in art? 6. What could I do right after I am out of school meanwhile I am learn art and eventually applying for Jobs in the industry? 7. Where would I apply for different companies worldwide? 8. What are some encouragement you two could give to me for always continuing to love art? Thanks for your time in advance and for you lovely answers. I WANT TO WORK AT XBOX SOMEDAY 🥇🧨🥇
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vaibhavmishra39
@Erik Gist Sir you said that you loved storytelling, and did not want to work in Hollywood. If you don't mind, may I ask why? Cause I am passionate about both art and films.
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Erik Gist
1. In the simplest terms an illustrator conveys story through character, composition, and staging, often in a single self-contained image. Concept design is more often conveying narrative or functionality though design of one part of the overall project. Concept design usually needs to be more functional and interactive, where illustration just needs to look cool. However, there is a lot of grey area and crossover. The line has become very blurry. 2. Nearly nobody cares where you went to school or how you got good. Your portfolio is your degree. The industry cares about three things, are you good, can you meet deadline, and are you easy to work with. 3.NO! 4.It's fun, but intense. Deadlines and volume of work can be very fast paced, but the many different kinds of work can be very rewarding. 5.Because I like telling stories, and I don't want to work in Hollywood. 6.Anything you want. I would recommend a job that gives you some flexibility of schedule. 7.Go to their websites and look up their submission/application process. Go to conventions to network. 8.Find your specific passion and pursue it with everything you have. Try not to let the "job" aspect of it make you bitter or resentful.
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aby_graphite
1.Concept art is more of a solution to a design problem like a proof of concept that uses art to convey to the game devs that this is how a certain object in the game would function and it has to be designed in such a way. You are laying out different view angles and cross section of something that needs simplification. Whereas illustration is your book covers, trading card artwork, comics. 2. No not at all, your portfolio will speak for you. Just don't mix up too many different genre and styles of artwork in your portfolio. 10-15 best works and cater them to the studio you apply to. 3. You are 15! Hold your horses a little. Job comes later. But won't discourage you from working on building a fanbase. Work one step at a time. Chose one direction and improve in that aspect of art first. Art school is too expensive, online workshops and mentorships are better as you can opt for monthly payments. Right out of school you could look at joining event management companies to get exposure to hosting and arranging event like comic con and other conventions. There you will meet many like minded people and you would gain clarity where you want to go. Since you want to work at xbox, you can learn a programming language and get into the game industry as a programmer. For where to apply for jobs, you should check out artstation jobs, creativeheads.net, and 80.lv has curated jobs for paid members. I hope I was able to answer some of your questions. Keep creating!
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Graciela Hinojosa
Hi! Thank you for taking the time to do an AMA. These are my questions: What are the pros and cons of specializing in one niche/type of ilustración? I've to learn to adapt to my clients due my day job, but I've always wanted to specialize in medieval or modern fantasy. I've been keeping it as a hobby because I've been often told that niche is a death end, because that industry is dying (still haven't got a concrete answer of what is "dying"); and if you don't build your own fan base and make your own business, you never going to make it. How true or false is this? Thanks in advance for your time! Hope you have a good day!
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Erik Gist
I have a couple responses to this. First, follow your passion. Art careers are long and challenging so pursue what you love to do, if that is a niche market do that, if it's versatility then do that. Second, obviously pursuing a specialty will make things more challenging economically because you are narrowing your options. Of all the work out there you are only pulling from a very small percentage. If you are going to be exclusive to one genre you will probably need to be one of the best at doing that. If you are willing to take any work there is more room for just being "okay" but you will need to have a broader knowledge base and inspiration pool to draw from. I don't buy into the "dying" theory, but it is changing, it is becoming more about ideas than craftsmanship. If your ideas are unique, and you can produce them under a deadline, you will always have work.
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Chris Bodary
For about 6 years I’ve been on my journey to be the best fine artist I can be and eventually teach as well. I have gotten really serious in the last 2 or so and I’ve have been wanting to start some kind of academic classes and have heard a lot about the Watts Atelier. I’m on the East Coast, and my wife and I both work full time and are expecting our 3rd soon 😀. The Watts Atelier online school would be a big financial commitment for us but do you guys feel like it would be something invaluable to an artists growth? I manage to consistently practice for 2-3 hours a day and i can tell I’m improving, just wondering if you would suggest someone like me and my situation to join Watts atelier online. Thank you so much. Ps, Stan, if your watching, Proko has been a big help! You’re the man 👍🏼
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Meadow Gist
Why not try out a month and see? I love our school, but do understand the commitment it requires. With anything, I am a baby-step kind of person. Some folks fall in love, and some find it restrictive. I took things quite slow, as I was working nearly full time when I started. Eventually I found that I made the time in my schedule for it, as other things became less interesting ( like hanging out after work at the bar-mid twenties stuff I was doing) I would recommend trying out some other programs as well-for instance I just took a workshop with an artist I admire. I think it is great to study and learn from as many people as you can. I learn different aspects of art from different presentations of it.
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Jonah Sanders
Hi Chris, Maybe look into New Masters Academy. Lot's of great instructors on there like Steve Huston. Definitely would be possible to create your own curriculum using their content
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Erik Gist
Sounds like you have full plate. Congratulations on expecting another child. I thing the Watts program would be beneficial to anyone pursuing representational art. There are many options that are affordable including are memberships for less than $100 a month
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aby_graphite
Please give some insights into illustrating for graphic novels and their covers as well. What should the process be for the planning out the panels and how is flow of story decided? For the cover, how is the title designed and how are both cover art and title graphics merged together?
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Erik Gist
This is an incredibly complex question. The easy answer is 1. Rough thumbnails breaking down the flow of your panels and their contents 2. Breakdowns refining the contents 3. finishes, final rendering. For a more in depth analysis I recommend reading the many books by Will Eisner and Scott Mccloud as well as How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. As for covers, that's usually handled by the graphic designer. Usually there is an established template that you can ask for from the client. Every so often the cover designer will do something unique, and that can be a lot of fun. Even more rarely you can fight to incorporate the title into the artwork.
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rajnesh kumar
Asked for help
how was the journey of meadow gist in the art world, from student to getting a gallery? how did she survive the early years as an artist? what work or jobs helped he in the early days? after getting proper skill set what all options does an artist have other than teaching and being a gallery artist?
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Meadow Gist
I began study of art at a local junior college. At the time, it was just for fun and an outlet while I decided what I wanted to do. I found that I could not imagine a life without art, and decided to increase my learning by going to Watts Atelier, where I could get more specific about the subject. I worked part time at a Trader Joes, and did signage and artwork at the store, as well as cashiering and other duties. It was a good job, and for the time felt I would stay with the company part time, and do classes at Watts for pleasure. I began to do some teaching with the school and at the same time a mural at Traders. After 6 months of 2 am shifts and standing on a ladder, I was pretty burnt out with doing art at trader joes. Jeff Watts approached me with working more at the school and less for Joes. I did a lot of odd jobs at the school like model booking and organizing and some teaching. I started on a path of costume making for my own paintings that I was venturing into. Eventually I had was in a gallery. Galleries can be tough to rely on solely. I now teach a little, paint for a couple of galleries, and sell antique textiles through an online business. I started selling textiles after acquiring many of them for my costumes over a decade ago. I like to split my time between these three businesses. I run my online shop in the morning, and paint in the afternoons. I highly recommend having a side job or business to make the transition easier. It is extremely difficult to have a consistent income from just galleries alone. For instance, I would have been in dire straits had I only had a gallery income last year during Covid. My shows were cancelled for last year and this year. I am glad I have other means of bringing in income. It allows me to paint every day without a huge stress hanging over my head.
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Jason Winter
Have the two of you Ever collaborated on a painting?
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Meadow Gist
Yes, we have! Erik has helped me in the past a couple of times when I had a show deadline and was up doing a 24 hour painting session. I have helped him a couple of times too. When under extreme deadline, it is hard to be objective, and an extra set of eyes is so helpful. We have not painted on each others works in at least 5 years, as our methods are so different now. However, we give verbal comments now (mainly to boost each other if doing a crap painting)
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Erik Gist
Not really a true collaboration, but we have painted on each others paintings. The closest thing to a true collab was a book cover we did early in my career. I couldn't get the head right so she painted the whole head and a few other bits and bobs
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Ryan Abigan
It's been a couple months since I have completed the proko's figure drawing course, and I've been dabbling around with a few courses from Watts and from Stephen Bauman these past few months. But my question is, what are the things that I need to get right/ learn before I delve into anatomy. Because I know that anatomy is an advanced topic, but I can't seem to get more out my drawings because I don't know the anatomy. So I just want to know if anatomy is something I should start learning, or are there other things I should prioritize? Many thanks! Love your works btw!
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Matthew Medeiros
Erik, have you ever used Stan as a nude model? Will you ever use Stan as a nude model in the future? Will it be posted on Proko.com?
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Erik Gist
I only draw Stan nude from my imagination, and those are just for me.
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Erin :-)
😂🤐🤨😀
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Erin :-)
Asked for help
What types of work did Disney and Viking Children's Books ask you to complete? How could someone align there studies for success with those types of work?
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Erik Gist
I did the covers to the Haunted Mansion comic for Disney, and a "children's" book called More Bones for Viking.
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Kristian Nee
Question for you both: Who would win in a fight, Stan or Erik?
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Meadow Gist
If you were talking a facial hair fight it would be Erik first, Stan second, and you third!
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Erin :-)
Asked for help
Do you find that you choose your emotion or expression you want to convey, prior to beginning your photos? (Meadow's work has a lot of emotion showing through, wonderful expressions). I recently purchased a facial expression book (newbie, lol), for warm ups: tracing and drawings photo reference..... Should I have the emotion/expression in mind I want to convey, before I initiated the drawing? Also I'm alternating between a graphite and newly bought charcoal pencil, which seems to grip the paper more. Is there one that is better to use for an initial lay in with, verses the other? (See pic) I also really enjoyed your segment on sketchbook Master's Studies on the Watt Atelier Online classes, thank you!
20210614 213753
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Meadow Gist
Thank you! I tend to choose a model based on how I feel around them. I then do a photo shoot with them and ask them to go through a scenario (like "pretend you are rolling out dough for baking a pie") I take like 1000 photos of the sequence. I never instruct on expression except to say "pretend I am not here and you are doing this certain task." I then go through the photos to find the ones that speak to me in terms of feeling. Out of say 3000 photos, I may use 3-5 in the end for paintings. I tend to mix a head with a hand, etc. If you are very specific with poses, the model gets very stiff and awkward. I would rather have to do some photoshop to get the exact finger position, than pose them stiffly. I actually like to use mechanical pencil for lay-ins. I have some that are .3, .5, and .7. For a tiny head, I will use the lightest and finest lead.
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Erwan Audefroy
Hello and thank you both for being here. Why is that even today illustration is not taken as serious as fine arts even if it also takes a lot of hard work?
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Erik Gist
It's all about the Benjamin's. Money equates to value, as illustrations start to fetch the same prices as "fine art" that perceived gap is closing. Artist's like Norman Rockwell are finally being seen as the master's that they were, others will follow.
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Pencil Pusher
Can you share your best habits from your art practice that helped you get to where you are today?
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Meadow Gist
BABY STEPS. A little every day is better than an all or nothing approach. Being in love with the act of creating art instead of the final product. If I focus only on outcome, I tend to be disappointed. If I am aware of improvements in the process, then I connect more positively to the painting. Try to be balanced, it is a cliche, but very important. If you don't take time for exercise and relaxation, it is hard to give 110% to artwork.
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Erik Gist
Being able to repeat apparently mundane exercises over and over. I love the saying "Don't do it until you get it right, do it until you can't get it wrong"
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Muneem Islam
Asked for help
I am trying to differentiate myself from my peers, do you recommend any good books on rendering technique for drawing and painting?
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Erik Gist
All the Loomis books. "Don't worry about being different, be good, these days that's different enough" John Asaro
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Uku Kivisild
Hi Erik and Meadow, I am a big fan of your art and the Watt's Atelier online lessons. How should someone learn to draw to a professional standard when time is a limiting factor as they are full-time employed in something unrelated to art? - I spend 10-20 hours a week still on art so time management isn't the issue. Also, If knowing that I am doing the right type of learning is the problem, would mentoring be the only way to ensure you are learning the right thing? PS. Kristian or whoever reads this question is a bae!
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Erik Gist
What she said, she's very smart
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Meadow Gist
I think that 10-20 hours is very good amount of time to spend drawing. It is always best to be consistent. When I was a student, I had a studio painting going at all times. Some days I would not be able put much time into it, but other days I had more. In the end, I sometimes spent a month to 2 months on a painting. They were overworked, but I really learned a lot. It helped me be more time efficient in the long run. A good break up of study is always helpful-for instance, doing shorter studies-like 20 minute head lay-ins for a few weeks, and then a 20 hour long head drawing. Everything works towards the long goal. Mentoring can be a really good way to get over a hurdle in your process. I think it is a good way to get some insight and outside perspective on where you may want to invest your studies.
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Jonah Sanders
Do you have tips on recreating the Atelier experience at home?
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Meadow Gist
Try using a timer! I love that sessions are 20 minutes on and 5 minutes off. This is set up for the models to pose for 20 and break for 5. I find that it keeps your eye fresher and more objective to step back every 20 minutes. If you want to work from "life" still-life and cast drawing set-ups are optimal for a similar experience. We use a high wattage (300 watt) bulb with a dark back-drop. Again, use a timer to keep your eye fresh and objective.
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Erik Gist
Nearly impossible. My best recommendation is to find some like minded people locally, and get together periodically to draw and paint
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Praneet Akki
I love Erik's figurative artwork. How long did you actually study Anatomy while training and for how many hours you used to practise?
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Erik Gist
30+ years and counting. At different times different amounts, anywhere from 15 hours a week to 60 hours a week. Somewhere in between is best ;)
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fro_pl
Not a question, just wanted to say - when someone commented Eriks work on instagram, that he wish to draw like him - Erik replied, that there is nothing special about him - it is just hard work. Its nothing life changing - but impact on me was huge. So anyway, thanks for your art and stay safe!
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Erik Gist
I stand by this
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herve801
Hi. What must be included in a good current illustratoon portfolio? And what pitching advice can you give a beginer freelancer
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Erik Gist
I would recommend a minimum of 6 good pieces, no more than 12. Do samples until you have 6, then start replacing the worst ones with better ones until you have 6 you are really proud of, then top out at 12. Emphasize quality over quantity, and try to target your dream job as much as possible. Don't put anything in your portfolio that is a job you wouldn't want to do. When pitching, briefly introduce your self hand them your portfolio "reader ready" (oriented so all they have to do is open it) if on a tablet have it already qued and active with sleep mode turned off. Then keep your mouth shut unless specifically asked a question, answer the question and only the question, then be quiet. The more you talk the more likely you are to say something wrong, you are nervous after all.
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Huba Hevele
How would you define good designe, and how does one study that area of art?
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Meadow Gist
I think that is a very tough area for me. I struggle tremendously with design. It seems to require improving something beyond what is there. I try to look at artists who design well-like Alphonse Mucha, Gil Elvgin, Rockwell, Mian Situ, Bill Anton, Jason Rich, etc. Some artists like Jason Rich show their reference photos on their instagram page, and how they transformed them into the final painting. Getting a glimpse into that process is a real treat and privilege. By looking at how great artists design their paintings, we can understand some of the process for ourselves. I will often work on a painting with paintings of other artists around. If I am troubled with the design of a drapery fold, I may look to see how Rockwell would design it.
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