About four years ago, I made a heated journal about Chris Hart. I won't link it, because It's overblown and petty in hindsight. But essentially it was a rant on how he was misleading people with his books and how they weren't good instruction. I mean, I still question the agency of instruction for a Japanese inspired style from a white man raised on Chuck Jones, but it got me thinking about how I've learned how to learn art up till now.
I started drawing by copying what I saw. Not only the images, but the ideas they had. One of the first things I remember drawing were kirby fan transformations, and a dog lovechild version of Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes that I called Patty. When I started middle school, I started copying from Anime and Manga. I would take panels that I liked and copy the way they drew the hair, or the eyes (I could never get them right). I also noticed I copied from things that weren't image based. I copied from Redwall, making new characters that existed within that universe. From Terry Pratchett, trying as hard as I could to replicate jokes I had no context for at the time, from Tamora Pierce, from Patricia C. Wrede. Over time I noticed the more I copied the more I COULD copy. Essentially, I knew a little more, and therefore I could do a little more than that with that new information.
Imagine an Archeologist, unearthing a giant crater with nothing but a spoon (Imagine that unearthing thousand year old relics with silverware is actually a sound practice). At first, they don't know what the hell they are looking for, so they just dig around with the spoon until they find a common fossil, and they dig a little more and find another cheap fossil. They can pay some money to get a Bigger Spoon and unearth a bit more dirt and get more cheap fossils for a period of time. Eventually they will get to a point where they'll dig up rarer and rarer bones. Sometimes they hit rock and find it hell to get through, sometimes they stop digging for a while and dirt piles up over what they've already dug over. Imagine that the crater is bottomless and you'll never find enough bones to make a dinosaur. That's what drawing feels like to me...(sometimes it feels like I'm digging my own grave and the only bones I'll be getting are my own).
Weird analogy aside, everything I have now, literally, is from copying other things, be it deliberately or subconsciously. I'm not even talking about art, I'm talking about my worldview. But everything I have I can also put into my art. It was probably last year when I realized I could borrow from so much more to put into my art. Not just other art, but also life experiences, places, people, emotions. The way a city can be engulfed in fog. The face of a merchant. A picture of my father eating on a beach, 1980-something. My life experiences influence my art, therefore, wherever I want to take my art, or myself, I pursue it. I guess.
I think all drawn/created images are some kind of instruction, you just need to figure out what that instruction is, and that's totally up to you. I guess this is a long winded response to that Chris Hart journal, which I made out of spite and fear that his style will mislead a generation of aspiring artists. Well, it's not so bad in the end. There's a charm to seeing these off kilter drawings and attempts to explain them (could ease off on the misogyny and racism though), and certainly many beginning artists will be drawn to it (get it haha). But it's honestly up to them to decide where they will go after that. I admit that once, yes, I too also closely followed the contents in his books. They weren't great, but they were better than what I had before. If you can learn something from it, it's useful. Then you'll just reach for the next spoonful of dirt...