Mathias Pedersen (MathiasPedersen.com) is a 19-year-old artist from Denmark. He has created many 3D artworks in the free open-source 3D application Blender and also worked a lot in 2D with Photoshop. He started at a young age and is today working as a freelancer. He would like to get into the animation industry at some point in the future.
How to know when your artwork is finished?
Every artist faces this question again and again: when have I finished the artwork I’m working on? In this article I’ll talk about this in relation to two different artworks of mine, which both give their perspectives on finishing your artwork.
Working for your own pleasure – Starry Night
Back in 2006 I was working only for my own pleasure as many beginning artists do. I only had a few people on internet forums to show the progress of my project to. Having other artists look at and critique your work is one of the most important things you can do as a beginner.
My inspiration for ‘Starry Night’ came from the feeling of looking up in the sky and being in total awe of the size of the universe. I worked on ‘Starry Night’ for 2 months straight over the summer holidays. At this point the artwork had really come to life, yet I realized I couldn’t go on forever.
Knowing when to stop is about identifying whether you have reached a level where you can be satisfied with yourself. Have you learned enough from the process? Will you learn more by working more on the same artwork than moving on to something new? Dwelling over details can yield great results, but at some point it’s better for your creative talent to move on and have new challenges. As an artist you never feel finished with an artwork, you move on.
Starry Night could of course have been better. I could have worked for a month or two more, but I called it finished when I felt satisfied enough and when the things I could do differently didn’t matter much. The few critique points people had after it was finished I could agree with, but at the same time I knew it was done and I had to move on.
Working on a deadline – the silent killer
My artwork ‘the silent killer’ was created for a competition and therefore there was a natural deadline. I had a month to finish the artwork, and it ultimately won the 2nd price. Although I got everything done in good time, it still felt like the artwork was being taken away before I decided if I was really done with it.
My main inspiration for ‘the silent killer’ was the theme of the competition which was ‘silent killer’. I wanted to portray time as a different kind of silent killer than the average ninja many other contestants made.
Participating in competitions is good practice. When you translate into the professional realm, this is the way time frames will be: Someone decides a date where your artwork must be finished and you deliver. Feeling satisfied with artwork here is about making your artwork as good as you possibly can within the given assignment and time frame.
When finished artwork comes back from the dead
What has happened lately with some of my artwork – including ‘Starry Night’ – is that I’m approached by people who want to buy the rights to my artwork and use it for a CD cover, website, advertisement, etc. When I first created my artworks I didn’t have these things in mind. When I’m approached by a company who would like to be able to have a uncropped version of ‘Starry Night’ where you can see the top of the boy’s head, I have to go back and recreate parts of the artwork. Also at the time, I didn’t render ‘Starry Night’ at a very high resolution, so I’ve also doubled the resolution since I’m already reworking it.
It’s funny how some finished artwork can get a life of its own and make you go back and spend more time with it. However you must also resist the urge to go and constantly update your old artworks just because you feel like it – focus on the present instead of the past.