Why does too much help stunt your growth as an artist? -1 reply

Please wait...


Addicted to GF

50 XP

27th July 2009

0 Uploads

267 Posts

0 Threads

#1 8 years ago

this comes from Kevin Johnstone, a veteran of the industry, and currently an environment artist for Epic Games, who has worked on/works on the Gears of War series.

it's an interesting read, and i feel it applies to a lot of people (myself included), but especially people on this forum.

I often get asked for help and how to's, can I give advice on portfolios, where did I learn, can I point to tutorials, what are my tips and tricks. In essence, it sometimes feels like people think I can be some sort of mentoring figure to them and that this will actually help them progress faster!!

This is a mistake.

Not simply because I'm am a grumpy Scotsman with a short fuse in regard to 'young folk' who are expecting me to give up time with my daughters and my own artistic dreams to help further theirs...


It's because too much help stunts our growth as an artist.

Heres the rub. I can tell you how to do something, I can tell you why to do it a specific way, and you might even understand a little. You will no doubt have questions as to why I do A when I could do B and B seems quicker and I can explain that doing A avoids the problem of C,D,E occuring down the line. The real problem with this is that you learn another persons workflow without understanding why it works. Its like an unfinished sentence, such as 'I went to the store to get a product BECAUSE I needed it to replace the one I had'.

When you are told what to do in order to avoid mistakes you miss out on learning why, you lose the word BECAUSE from your sentences.

This means you are further away from creating your own workflow, from coming up with your own solutions to problems, because you don't fully understand the problems because you never experienced them, because I or someone else helped you avoid them!! You need to make mistakes, you need to fall on your face and learn how to pick yourself back up, we have no choice about how we fall, we only get to choose how to get back up, whether we will or not, whether we will need someone else to do it for us.

It's like parenting, mothers want to catch their kid before they fall, fathers want them to fall so them learn to be careful. I'm generalizing about the fundamental nature of the masculine and feminine philosophy of parenting, the notion that mothers teach their kids how the world should be and fathers teach their children how the world is. Of course the roles change in each relationship... The point is, you need to get your hands dirty, you need to understand why things break and the ways in which they do so in order to come up with your own solutions to these problems. It's all about dirty hands, thats what experience is, experience is what makes you a better artist, leveraged greater pay and so on and you don't get it by borrowing another persons experience because it will hold you back more than push you forward.

When I first started hipoly modeling here, I knew nothing, I read no tutorials, I had to just get in there and screw up, which I did, often, in spectacular fashion for a good while. Now before I started, I was lucky enough to have the heavyweight hipoly guys here in the office show me some stuff first, Kevin and Danny took an hour each to show us noobs a few tricks. They explained they did A to avoid B, edge constrains, turbosmooth over nurms, ffd modification of a plane followed by shelling and edge constraints... stuff like that and it was impressive and useless to us because none of us noobs knew why that way worked well because we didn't know the ways in which the alternatives worked badly!

So when I had time to screw up on my own, I got to learn much more quickly and the same is true for everyone. It's good to have feedback, feedback is great, the more points of view you can get, while still of course staying true to your own vision, all the better... and thats what we have polycount, zbrush, cg talk and so on ... dozens of editing communities, take your pick, its all there for us. Sometimes, the best help we can truly get and share is inspiration, simply showing , sharing and seeing what is possible. Honestly, what helped me most, besides screwing up a lot I mean, was simply seeing what was possible, getting a look at the wireframes... of course that made me shite myself, but it gave me a yardstick, the rest was up to me.

Its your sweat that will take you there, if you rely on anothers then you are helped short term and screwed long term. Again the parenting analogy demonstrates that if you let your kids learn to pick themselves up after a fall then they learn self reliance, if you catch them, they learn to need caught!

It's ok to fall down.

original thread here

what you should take away from this, is that asking for help should be your very very last resort as an artist. explore all possible routes for yourself first.


kitty dances for rep!

50 XP

4th September 2004

0 Uploads

2,675 Posts

0 Threads

#2 8 years ago

Very true, sometimes doing things for others or helping so much to the point as if you did it for them can hurt them in their own growth and development, even if it does make the person doing the helping feel better about them self. In some ways depriving them of that sense of accomplishment they need to become better than they are.

Inyri Forge VIP Member

[Insert User Title Here]

55 XP

15th March 2005

0 Uploads

25,940 Posts

0 Threads

#3 8 years ago

Said like a pro.

Oh wait... he is a pro.