During my talk at the Lopez Museum, I was asked how one can develop an original style of drawing. It can be done, but it won’t happen overnight.
A lot of artists are very influenced by the comics they are reading. I myself was very influenced by Herge when I was very young, and much later, by Barry Windsor Smith and David Mazzucchelli. So when we draw, we are interpreting the world through these artists’ eyes, and not ours. We are drawing people and things based on drawings by other people. They’re filters, that keep us from seeing the world and interpreting the world with our own eyes. We’re dealing with second hand information, given to us by a middle man, as it were.
The importance then, of Drawing from Life, once again comes into play. To develop artwork that’s uniquely yours, the interpretation of the world through first hand information becomes essential. To see the world as it really is, to see how people really are, how the environment really is, observed with a critical eye, and use that to create your drawings frees your mind and your hand from outside artistic influences, thereby allowing you, consciously and/or subconsciously, to find your own unique way of drawing. If this is done often enough, you have a good change of succeeding.
For example. If I were given a task to draw Harrison Ford, I have a better chance of being able to develop something original if I were to copy his face from a photograph rather than a poster of Indiana Jones by Drew Struzan.
If I need to draw a tree, I’m better off sitting outside and copying from an actual tree rather than one that has been drawn by Charles Vess, no matter how magnificently he may draw them.
If I need to draw an angry face, it’s better to copy a photograph, or better yet your own face in a mirror, rather than copy a drawing of an angry face by Jim Lee or Masashi Kishimoto.
Take out the middle man. Set aside your comics for the moment and look and interpret the world through your own eyes. Practice this. And then practice some more. After you’re done practicing, practice some more.