Tuesday 8 March 2011

Flying Trilobites invade Loving Chasmosaurs

That blog title sounds wrong. 

Today David Orr of Love in the Time of the Chasmosaurs has an interview with me on his blog.  Check it out!  David's interviewing style is multi-layered.  We discussed ScienceOnline11, the future of the internet (!) and where I stand on scientific illustration.

David has a whole series of these interviews I'm proud to be a part of, including with Brian Switek, Nobu Tamura, Mark Witton and more. You can find them all at the interview label

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow


Marco Meredith said...

Hey Glendon, nice interview was a great read. whilst going through it i remembered talking to one of my old tutors back at my previous university about differnt forms of illustration. I mentioned that my passion was in concept design which my tutor promptly summarised as some form of fantasy art and then replied with the comment 'fantasy art is not really considered to be an art form'.

at that point i let the conversation die off, comments like that dont breed conversation in my eyes. but ever since ive always thought of the artistic community as rather elitist, there seems to be a problem with people when you try to depict something fictional along scientific guidelines. its like your jumping over too many borders, crossing two major diciplines that are as equally divided as they are diverse and most of the time people dont even understand their main dicipline in the first place and ill be the first to admit i dont know indepth every art movement.

i think the problem is that people are too afraid to confront this type of art because they are worried that by embracing it they will recieve the same criticism that seems to hang around it.

another thing ive noticed is that even though art is about expression of ones self, there is still conformity, not in its physical appearance, but as a concept it has to adhere to a certain set of rules which do not include 'Art being in awe of science' perhaps art observing the natural world at best, but besides that theres no imagination that seems to be enitrely accepted by both artists and scientists alike because it has flaws in both diciplines.

i hope you understand some of that, it wasnt rehearsed, just spontaneous rambling.

Glendon Mellow said...

Hey Marco, you bring up a lot of important points.

Just to clarify, in your first comment about the "artistic community" I assume you are talking about Fine Art? It's important to distinguish that "Art" is an umbrella term with many different subsets (scientific illustration, fine art, commercial illustration, earthwork sculpture, concept art, comic art, cartooning, and many many more). I say this not so much to you, but to clarify to others reading this.

So: is the Fine Art community elitist? Absolutely, in general terms. It is very much a facet of culture in love with speaking in an insular way, using its own jargon and trends. An analogy would be that haute couture fashion does not address the needs of proper workboots for a construction site.

Concept art overlaps a lot with fantasy art, but it also overlaps a lot with architecture, automotive design, scientific illustration and more. Your teacher dismissed it without an appreciation of what it is. And if you're asking, absolutely I would consider most of your work as a type of science-art exploring biological forms.

Have you ever heard Richard Dawkins speak about the tyranny of the discontinuous mind? As human beings, we loooove to put things into categories. Separate them. Discrete. Discontinuous. Distinct.

But the real world (and artifacts of culture) don't always work that way. Sometimes, there is a continuum. On a rainbow, there is no exact point where red becomes orange. And it's the same with art. Dismissing concept art as a type of fantasy art is to lump things into categories where categories only help navigate the idea, but get in the way of understanding it.

Marco Meredith said...

yes fine art is what i meant and thank you for such a wonderful reply, i agree with what you say. it does seem to be that way with the fine art scene, but to an extent also illustration as it varies quite alot compared to the american idea of illustration. english illustration right now is more fine art in my eyes, its very much riding along the same path as the impressionists right now.

have you considered that people may not embrace science art fully because of the ledgendary reputation for criticism in both fine art and all forms of science? scientists in particular have suffered alot over the last two centuries as they have put forwards new theories as you know very well, and many artists have met with harsh exclusion from both artistic communities and their peers during their lives.

when you combine both visual art and science it seems like walking into the middle of no mans land with a bulls eye on our heads, speaking for my self im not a scientist but i am very interested in physics and biology how ever i am prone to alot of inaccuracies in my designs. im also not hip and trendy as far as illustration and fine art is concerned. creature design tends to favour things that people can identify easily, so when i try to develope abstract forms in responce to differnt habitats and purely for the sake of being original in design people often look straight towards that which they can not accociate and dismiss the fine points of my work.

i feel this is why in my opinion people are more reluctant not to embrace science art.

Glendon Mellow said...

You bring up a good point, the elitism of both the science and art worlds may contribute to a lack of popularity for scienceart.

But it is changing. More and more sites are cropping up to review and discuss the science-inspired artwork being created these days. There's a (small for now) change in the zeitgeist occurring, I believe.

As for concept art, it's real renaissance and mass appeal will kick in once eukaryotic animal-type life is discovered on an exoplanet, I think. People will scour sites like yours to see who predicted certain features, and to see what else they can anticipate. Creature concept art will cease being solely in the service of entertainment like games and movies.

And there's nothing wrong with games and movies! Since I was a kid, the main reason I see a film is to experience something I've never seen before. As a kid, Return of the Jedi was my favourite - it had the most aliens and robots. And when I received the Art of Star Wars series of books for my 9th birthday, I realized how many more concepts had been created than used. It was a formative afternoon, sitting on the porch with three heavy books, realizing how big you could dream. It changed the course of my life, certainly.

Marco Meredith said...

Yeah I think once something multicelluar is discovered your theory wil probably be proved right, people will pay more attention. at the moment i nuture my creature designs as a personal hobby, im not knowledgable enough in biology to be more indepth with my speculative life forms, im pretty much limited to basic adaptations for now.

and yes movies and games are a great form of discovery and escapism, with starwars for me it was seeing the arena beasts in No.2 and behind the scenes dvd for for R.O.T.S where they show the concept team designing general grevious, so many beautiful concepts flying around that big desk with Lucas standing over.

thanks for the conversation glendon, its been quite interesting.

Glendon Mellow said...

A blog that might pique your interest in biological forms and send you off in new directions is The Other 95% by Kevin Zelnio and Eric Heupal. They haven't posted on there in almost a year (both busy with other blogs and projects) but there's plenty of fascinating lifeforms. The idea is most of us only pay attention to about 5% of the world's biodiversity.

I'm not suggesting for your work you get bogged down in the minutiae of certain species (unless you really wanna) but have a browse through, sleep on it, and make more creatures.

And thank you too, Marco, it's always interesting to discuss your work and how art is categorized.

davor said...

Great discussion! Glad that the interview could spur this dialogue. I think that one of the things I love about the web is that people working in artistic "ghettos" that are sneered at by the gatekeepers of high culture are able to talk, to find the confidence that comes with community, and to see how they inspire people.

Side note - I saw on my google reader that Mike Haubrich "liked" this post. I listen to him every week! If you're reading this Mike, I'm stoked that you checked out my blog.

Mike Haubrich said...

Thanks, David! I read "Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs" in my reader (thanks to Glendon.)

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