"From Medieval illustrated manuscripts to Renaissance phantasmagoria, Pre-Raphaelite mysticism to Dada and Surrealism, the mystical, magical, impossible, and the unlikely have been some of the most fascinating subjects in art across the centuries"
- Emalee Beddoes, Sketching From The Imagination: Fantasy, 3Dtotal Publishing
Over the past two years, as I've worked to develop a unique style in my artwork, I've often drawn comparisons between the sort of work I make against the work that gets so much traction and genuine success on social media and e-tailers like Etsy. I've seen some very clever artists (with the help of marketing) make a killing from watercolour flower bookmarks and hand scripted signs and cards. It's often made me wonder why I don't do something broader and more commercially viable instead of going to such lengths with my more personalised pieces.
Firstly I've had to realise that Fantasy Art doesn't generally crack even the top ten for many audiences. In some ways, it's not seen as a genre serious enough to be classed as 'real' art. Naturally, Fantasy isn't to everyone's taste but it often only gains mass-market credibility when a publisher or film studio gets behind it and create epic works that everyone can enjoy; the likes of Alien®, LOTR®, and Harry Potter® to name a few.
Another reason might be that because it's often popularised by pop-culture, it's then seen to lack any maturity or longevity. Both of these reasons seem a real shame as story-telling is equally as old as art, going right back to Greek Mythology and well beyond. We create amazing stories and tell them in ways that capture and inspire our imaginations. Surely even the earliest cave paintings were used to elaborate on stories told and experiences.
This is the very reason I was drawn to this style of art from a young age. Like many I was captivated by Disney® first and later, my earliest influencers were the likes of Brian Froud and Salvador Dali who all operate outside the realm of normality and expressed such genuine technical ability in bringing completely made up things to life.
I see such an abundance of genuine creativity in fantasy art and the longer I work in this genre, the more I realise the countless hours of research, experimentation, and failure needed to make the sort of stories and art that transports us to far off places and inspires film studios to spend millions in capturing and share in the magic.
It was interesting to learn that, at least for this year (2018), there is an increased interest in Surrealism (according to Artnome). I've not yet looked into why or how this peak has been predicted and admittedly, it's not strictly speaking Fantasy, but it's certainly in the same subconscious space and it's a work out for our imaginations. I just hope this trend continues.
As you make choices about the art you would like to live with in your life, don't be afraid to question your own choices. Despite art being more accessible than ever with the internet and direct links to artists, I think there are still a lot of assumptions made about the art we 'should' choose to live with and why and as the online art industry is growing more rapidly and more artists sell their own work, you have a greater choice than ever to really explore your options and choose art you find really unique and unusual and build relationships directly with artists you can connect with.
I'll be making more of an effort to really explain my work and give each piece greater context in my thinking and process but I would really be more interested to learn about how it impacts you? Where does it take you, how does it make you feel and does it remind of something you've experienced or dreamt of? Please share your thoughts below - I would love to know your thoughts on one of my works or on Fantasy Art more broadly and what it means to you!