STEVEMONT

Philadelphia/Lehigh Valley artist

I’ll be drawing girls again soon. I miss it. Just experimenting.

Coffee shop doodles at Rocket Cat in Philly.

Coffee shop doodles at Rocket Cat in Philly.

Fill The Page.
Trying to focus on drawing more often and care less about making finished pieces. This was fun.

Fill The Page.

Trying to focus on drawing more often and care less about making finished pieces. This was fun.

hunterxtaylor asked: I was just curious as to how you got about developing your own style? I have trouble getting the shape of the head started most of the time. any tips or tricks you could share?? your work is quite inspiring.

I’m glad someone asked this. I’ve been thinking about style a lot recently, and I’ll use any excuse I can to go on and on about anything relating to art so here we go.

I see comments asking artists on social media about their style all the time and it seems like the artist’s response is always something self dismissive along the lines of -"I don’t really have a style" -"it’s not something I think about" or -“it’s just how I draw”, ALL of which are probably accurate and worth considering. But I over think things and maybe thinking more about art might help you realize things about yourself and your work you didn’t know before. So I have a few things to say on the subject of style:

I don’t think enough is said in contemporary art about influences, at least not in the social media scene where people are understandably sensitive about others stealing or imitating their art, or in standard art education coursework where the focus lies heavily in deep, archaic art history. The way I see it there’s really no point in wanting to create art if you don’t ingest at least as much content as you’re producing. Artists should love to see art and derive a kind of creative spark out of the things they appreciate. An important side effect of taking in art should be that you begin to see patterns in the kinds of work you appreciate and don’t appreciate. For some reason this is an automatic assumption when we talk about music or film, but we don’t really talk about visual art in this way.

ie: “huh, I really appreciate drawings more than paintings” / “these photoreal drawings are all kind of the same and boring to me” / “i really like when artist’s leave their construction lines” / “holy fuck dude, I love those lines. Don’t render them out.”

These preferences are totally beyond your control obviously, akin to your taste in food or something, but they’re totally valid preferences just the same and they will have an influence on your art. The only way I can imagine someone appreciating their own art (which it goes without saying is the core goal of anyone creating art, to enjoy themselves and their work) is if their work begins to express these preferences in an artists own work. In an ideal world a popular new style that multiple artists employ and share isn’t the result of one artist pioneering that movement and everyone else copying and then modifying that style, it’s the result of a kind of convergent evolution where everyone involved had a similar background in art and in life and ended up with the same aesthetic values down the road. This to me is one of the most honest and beautiful parts of art, because when that happens your peers are all people you share very real connections with and don’t represent the lowest common denominator (which in my experience is always intense realism or scale). These peers with similar influences “feel and think much as you do, care about many of the same things you care about, although most people do not care about them” as Vonnegut wrote. To me, this is how art movements get started and communities are made.

This is also something that frustrates me with “master” art history. I can completely acknowledge the importance and skill of these artists, but I don’t know how much I can possibly relate to them and their work when the world they lived in was so completely different than my own. DaVinci was fascinating, but he didn’t watch cartoons, or listen to punk or hip hop, or read comic books, which obviously isn’t his fault but I just don’t know how I can relate to a man like that as the epoch of visual art without dismissing my own experiences. Experiences I for one fucking enjoy. His experiences aren’t more valid than my own just because he is in a textbook.

So if I had to dissect where I think my marginal style comes from I would say it has a lot to do with growing up watching Toonami and Adult Swim, which introduced me to both anime and experimental hip hop, my discovery of pop-surrealism/low brow artists through Hi Fructose magazine, sketchbook art from DeviantArt of no particular artist, the work of Egon Schiele and Derek Hess in college, and several comic book artists including but not limited to Sean G Murphy and Brandon Graham. All of these later coalescing with the influences of a few social media scenes in the form of Instagram, Vine, Twitter, and Tumblr, all of which showed me that the distribution of your content in this era is completely in your own hands and not necessarily gallery owner’s for the first time in art history. Fuck yes to that. And lastly from my preferences in materials. Although Moleskine’s quality consistency or lack there of is frustrating they’re still my favorite drawing surface and that combined with my taste for tiny 0.3mm pencils with soft lead make my art look the way it does in many respects. But that could always change, or at least is more likely to change than the kinds of art I grew up with.

So for developing your style I would say to take a long hard look at the things you appreciate, and not just look at them but think about them. It’s important to note I’m not talking about copying anyone’s work, unless it’s extensively credited fanart of some kind or a personal and unpublished experiment. Stealing or copying work isn’t ok and has hurt some very close friends of mine. Don’t do it. Instead figure out why you like their work and explore those elements in your own personal content. It’ll suck, don’t worry. But it’ll suck less a little more every time and that’s something you can laugh about with art peers someday because trust me it’s like that for everyone.

And about drawing heads, I always start with a circle and cross and immediately disregard it as soon as I start drawing features, it’s kind of just habit I guess. Maybe if I used the shape more my faces would be more 3d. I always draw features first and then make the face around them, but there’s no wrong way to go. I always lean toward making the face more round than angular, at least at first, and the back/top of a head is bigger than you expect. Hair hides a lot and we don’t realize how much of our head is under there. Look at pictures and people. And when you’re done look hard at your drawing and figure out exactly why it’s not right. See and think. That’s all I got.

-Mont

ps: This was fun. More asks please. I promise I’ll always post more drawings than writings.

Birthday Portrait for one of my favorite viners, Reno Shaw.

Birthday Portrait for one of my favorite viners, Reno Shaw.