Friday, January 8, 2010

How to Talk about Art

Dear Podcasters who Want to Talk about Comic Art,

If you want to talk about the art in comic books and be taken seriously, try other descriptions other than the art is “really cool” or “totally sucks.” That doesn’t tell the listener anything. In fact, the listener is probably going to dismiss your other critiques based on your lack of description and objectivity.
Here are a few pointers on talking about fine art, which can be applied to comics as well since it is a visual medium.
  1.  Describe the artwork first. Use the Visual Elements (point, line, shape and form, texture, time, light and value, mass, and color) to describe the basic components of the art. For example, you could say, “The artist used bright primary colors,” or “The artist varied the line weight in his/her illustrations.” The Design Principles (balance, directional force, proportion, variety and unity, emphasis and subordination, rhythm, perspective, and relationship to the environment) are used to describe how the Visual Elements are put together. For example, “The artist did not use realistic proportions whatsoever when drawing people,” or, “The layout of the page was unbalanced – the left side was visually heavier.”
  2. Next, talk about the background of the artwork. When was it made and under what circumstances? How does the artist’s background fit into this? If you know what the artist is trying to say, this is the time to share it.
  3. Finally, you can share you informed preference. Is it aesthetically pleasing? Say if think the art in the comic was a success or failure, but be prepared to share why you have this opinion. Then, you can say if you personally like the artwork or not.
This really isn’t that hard. Following these steps will make you sound a little bit more intelligent. Perhaps your listeners will see you as a credible source of information, including the reluctant listeners who are married to fanboys who download your podcasts.

Fanboy Wife


  1. Oh dear. I might also suggest that rather than use what looks to be a 1989 throwback chat room to discuss, including images would help the reader. Otherwise, how do you know if it totally sucks or not? ;-) And wait - pod casts? You just listen to them blather on? Yikes! I guess perhaps spelling and grammar are also just a bother.

    There must be a school out there doing a 200 level Art History class on comic books by now...

  2. Is that Winamp I see? Wow, it's been a long time. Does it still kick the llama's @$$?
    You are a braver soul than I am to actually listen to these things.