Join Anthony Jones for an in-depth discussion in this video Inspiration and learning, part of Anthony Jones: Concept Artist.
- Inspiration though I think is really important because you have to understand that the way that you will become better and more creative is by having inspiration. And inspiration comes in many forms, it's not just artwork. It could be the kinds of clothes you buy, it could be the kinds of cars you like to look at. For me I love to just gather information and to me I think that's what really is the best way of inspiration. For instance if I were to list all the, I did this once for my students, because one student was asking me, how do you get inspired for your values and your anatomy? Those specific two things.
And I said okay, let me just start writing names of all the artists that I can think of on top of my head. I just was writing, writing. And I just kept writing name after name after name into the chat. And I ended up with like about 120 names in over five to 10 minutes. And I was like, see I can't just tell you one artist, because that'll be very misleading. Because every time I paint I'm not thinking of one art god, that I say this one person is my main inspiration. And I feel like that's important to understand, because if you do do that that means your work is very recognizable.
I can be oh, he paints like Leyendecker, oh, he paints like Sargent. Like very clearly, there's no doubt about it. But if you were inspired by thousands of artists, which I am, I have hundreds of books, I have like, when I was telling them I have like 17 anatomy books, so I can't even say that I'm inspired by one anatomy artist. I say it's more like I have thousands of people over my shoulder and every time I make a mark one guys like, I wouldn't have done that. Another guy's like, yeah, you probably should do it this way. So okay, cool. And then another person's like, well that mark's great, but maybe you should do it this way.
Obviously I don't have voices talking to me, but I feel like every stroke is guided subconsciously because of all of the things I've learned indirectly or directly from my greatest inspirations. And my best advice to anybody if they're really trying to start out and try to gather a lot of inspiration is to just do just that. Don't look at one source, look at everything. Because we're living in a time where there's really no excuse for that. I mean think about the Renaissance there was clear, there was a clear look.
And it's because everybody was doing this very like (mumbling), very dynamic, very anatomically correct, and scientifically correct paintings. Because that was just kind of like the only thing that people could share. They didn't have the internet. Now we have the internet. Like my Pinterest for instance, I use Pinterest, and I have just like artists from China, Japan, from Europe, Russian artists, some of my favorite artists from there are my latest inspirations. And I'm just like, every time I go to my feed it's just awesome.
And then also I have product design, architectural designs, I mean I'm looking at people that their whole day is thinking about cool looking shapes, like graphic designers and stuff like that. And I know a lot of concept artists aren't doing that. And that's probably why my stuff stands out in terms of graphic read and values and all this stuff is because they're like, where's your inspiration? And I'm like, I can't tell you, man, because it would, it wouldn't really give you a really good answer and you would just be like, oh, I just got to do a lot of research and paint a lot.
And so it's really indirect. And so I usually try to focus more on what their ambitions are. Like I want to work for Blizzard. So okay, there's a clear, there's a clear visual language we can talk about and what you should be do that you're not doing now. Instead of asking me what my inspirations are, because I'm also inspired by Pixar, but I can't get a job at Pixar, because I don't, my work doesn't reflect that, but I understand why Pixar's awesome. You know what I mean? And I can help them, say okay, you need to do this, this, look at Glen Keane, James Baxter, some of the great animators. These guys are awesome. Look at this.
Study John Lasseter's old shorts and stuff like that. How do I know this? Because I love everything, I love all this good artwork, even though I might not do it. You know what I mean? So about two years ago I started a Kickstarter, and the Kickstarter was for an artbook called Heaven's Hell. It's kind of a play on words and stuff like that, but the idea of it was just my lunch sketches that I did during, like again, back to personal work, and I just all these lunch sketches and that's kind of where I kind of really started, like people knew my work from Sony and they were pretty impressed by it, but this was like my own.
There's nothing attached to it, I didn't work for anybody else, this is just what I like to do. And it blew up. People thought it was really cool, they were really interested in it. And I was like, well, I wonder if I can make an artbook. And so then I put the Kickstarter together, I was only looking for like nine grand, that was just enough to be able to pay for the publishing of the book and stuff like that. And I think we sold 9,000 at the first day. So it had already reached its goal on the first day. And then it just got better and better. And what happened for me, man, was pretty tremendous.
It showed me a few things. One thing was people cared about what I did, people cared about the kind of message that I had to say, because I was also teaching people and talking to people about what they can do and how they can promote their own stuff. And the most important thing is that, really most important thing is that I felt internally that I had something that I could be proud of, I had some confidence in my own ability. A lot of artists, they don't know if they're doing good, and when you work with an art director sometimes they can be bashing your work, and you don't really think you're any good. And then you show it to people and they're like, no, you're great.
That's awesome. And for me it was a really good experience, because I learned a lot of lessons, not just from that, but also in the development of making a book, making something that is tangible. Because I was telling people that I was going to have it done in like six months, no big deal, no problem. And then six months go by and I still haven't finished it, and I was just like, what the, what's going on? And I discovered it was so much harder to build so much content in a short amount of time. I underestimated it. And I learned a valuable lesson and luckily for me, at a very small scale of what happens when you get a bulk of money and you don't really have any experience with the thing that you say you're going to do.
And I started teaching people that too. I started them if you're going to make a Kickstarter, or you're going to this crowd funding, know what you're doing. Either have the product already and all you need it to do is just prove that it is something that's worth selling. Or actually have experience in doing whatever it is that you're saying your going to do. I didn't have any. I never made an artbook before that. And luckily for me my fans were devote and very like, powerful. And they would listen to me and they've been very patient with me over the last two years.
And it's finally nice to just have it done. And even when, there was a time where people were like, hey man, what's going on? We feel like we've taken advantage of. And I felt like, that sucks. I don't want to be that person. And so I started giving people their money back. I was like, look, no hard feelings. If you need your money back, no big deal. And I started doing that for people. And people were like, I had like this bad taste for you, but now I'm now I'm like, you're not so bad. Because apparently in Kickstarter you don't have to do that.
You can just be like, oh, sorry guys, I didn't make a thing. Better luck next time. But I wanted to not, I represented being able to follow your dreams and do what you like to, also about being honest, and also about helping people achieve and learn from you, if you made any mistakes. And I made mistakes, man. I made tons of mistakes. But for me it was more about just getting the book done eventually, and now it's done, like I said, we're going to go look at the print. Yeah, it's cool man. And like I said, a lot of people have been sticking with us this whole time.
They didn't care, they were like just. Because during this time I started doing my online tutorials, I started doing my mentorship, and people said the things that I do for the community, I try to host events, I do socials, I do lots of stuff to get people together, and people said, well this one person wrote me and he said even if you never finish the book, just the amount of stuff you did for the community is enough, I feel like I invested well. And I was like man, that's great. But I don't want to just be that guy, well cool, I guess I won't finish the book then, because of that one.
I was like, no, I'll still finish it, but I appreciate that comment. It taught me that we are a good community and people are generally rooting for you to do well. And so I'm glad to be announcing that it literally is finished and we're going to be doing a book launch sometime in September, maybe early October, and it's going to be a great thing. I learned recently that the thing that I really love to do is to learn. When I was in high school I was a musician and I loved learning how to become a good guitarist.
That was something that I loved to do. And for me as a kid I was like I wanted to be a musician, I wanted to make money making music, but then that didn't work out. And then when I went into games, I was like, I want to make video games, but then I learned about concept art. I was like, I want to do that, that's my way in. So then I did concept art. And I started getting successful over time, years would go by and I made more, more work, and actually make more money. But that money and better work wasn't necessarily making me feel any better.
I felt just as good as I did in the very beginning of even when I started playing guitar, the very first time I started learning how to draw, I felt the same as I did when I'm working for the biggest studio in the world. When I was working at Blizzard, I'm sitting there, I'm working on game that I love, I've played since I was a kid, drawing for it, working on something that I know people are going to lose their minds on, and I felt the same. I didn't feel any different. And I was like what the, what's going on here? And then I felt like this again, this longing for something else, but I'm at the top, what else is there? I mean, I guess I can try to make my own games, or whatever, but even then, what's the point? And that's when I started to teach, because teaching is one of the best ways to learn.
And now I love that. I actually do feel happier to see that people are improving and that they're achieving their goals. And I'm like this makes me way more happier. And what this does is it allows me to study new stuff so I can teach new stuff. And I'm like I like this. Because I like to get good at things I'm not good at. Right now I'm learning how to juggle as a demonstration about how to juggle design, values, and color. And I'm already all right at it. What are we at? Like 16 seconds now. He's a jerk, he doesn't believe in me.
(laughs) - That's great about the juggling. - Yeah, but I'm trying to demonstrate and I have a friend, he's a director and we've been talking about the power of practice. And we want to try to put together a documentary and me doing something I'm not very good at, which is three pointers. But I want to prove over a like a week's time, I want to shoot 300, like I'm gonna try to make 300 points. I heard Kobe Bryant did this, he was terrible at three pointers and then he said not again. And he went every day he would shoot 300 baskets, or make 300 baskets, but three pointers, so each three pointer was basically one point.
And so that could have easily been like 1,200, or even 2,000 shots in a day. Five, six hours of doing that. And I'm going to try to do the same thing in about a week. And I'm going to do like, in the beginning I'm going to do a one minute countdown of how bad I am, and then at the end do another one minute countdown to see if I've improved. And I'm pretty positive you will see significant improvement. And so we're going to do a documentary just showing people, I always like to use this analogy of people like to see the, like when you see a magic trick, it's like an illusion.
You're like, oh magic, but then I could show you how the magic trick is done. I'm like look you've just got to do these crazy stuff with your hands, and it's a lot of hand movement, and a lot of stuff that you couldn't just do right away. So not only did you see the trick, which was magic, now I've shown the trick, which is now the magic's gone, but doesn't mean you can all of a sudden do the magic trick. You would have to practice, practice, practice, practice the thing that makes the magic trick. Like the, like doing just slight of hand is hard, and you would have to practice that to be able to be able to make people believe that it's magic.
You know what I mean? So when people see my paintings that's what it feels like. They're like, oh, it's magic, I could never do that in a million years. I was like, no, it'll take you about three years, you don't need a million. Three years of hard, focus, dedication, and practice you'll be able to do it, maybe less. Especially if you learn from me, I can just tell you all the shortcuts, so you can avoid a lot of the bumpy road that I had to take. But yeah, you don't need a million years, like a few years. (laughs) And so that's pretty much where I stand with all that in terms of what I'm learning. I'm learning how to learn. There it is.