Mixing Your Own

When you get good at looking at paintings, you can tell if an artist uses colors straight out of the tube or mixes their own. Straight out of the tube isn’t good or bad, it’s just something that you notice. Some painters mix their own colors. Some sculptors forge their own tools. Some fashion designers design their own fabric.

I ran into a colleague over the weekend who designs 3D digital games and she talked to me about her technique. After sculpting her characters’ forms, she flattens them out, like a dress pattern, and uses her own color and shading to bring them to life.

I love this. It’s a ton of work. And it’s the kind of detail that most people won’t see, at least consciously. But it’s the kind of thing that a craftsperson has to do. It’s a sign of integrity mixed with a little bit of obsessiveness. The sign of an artist.