14 February 2012

Stick Figures Are Art!

In chapter seven of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics he enforces his opinion that comics are art. McCloud’s definition of art is extremely general. He basically says that if what you are doing anything other than pursuing survival or reproduction, you are making art. His first example is based on the activities of prehistoric humans. In his example a prehistoric cave-man is running away from a tiger, who is trying to catch and eat him. After a long chase the cave-man finally avoids the tiger and secures his safety. During the chase, everything that the cave-man did was in pursuit of his eventual survival, no art was made. But after the chase, the cave-man celebrated his safety, which was neither a pursuit of art or reproduction. The cave-man’s celebration was art!  McCloud goes on to point out the fact that we put an element of art into almost everything that we do. He enforces that by explaining that even in the pursuit of survival in the workplace we tend to add art, such as dancing on the assembly line, or even by making art as our means of survival (like a potter). Even when we are not occupied with problems or responsibilities, we can create art. He also notes that art is not an either/or proposition. He says this because it is rare that a person express nothing in their pursuit of survival, and it is also rare that an artist not care for survival through their art. McCloud continues to state that a true artist does not make art for its perks such as fame, fortune, and sex. Scott McCloud finally proposes a six step path in which humans following creating art. Step one being “idea/purpose,” step two being “form,” step three being “idiom,” step four being “structure,” step five being “craft,” and step six being “surface.”

I agree with every major idea that McCloud proposes in this chapter. At first I didn’t agree with the idea that EVERY artist follows a distinct path in creating their art, but after reanalyzing the idea I now see that McCloud is right. I didn’t initially agree with the six step path idea because I thought that there had to be an artist in the world that is innovative and unusual enough to step away from these steps, but after reanalyzing the idea I now see that these steps aren’t optional, they are a human thought process and therefore cannot be denied. After reading this chapter I was extremely happy to find that, even though I’m a terrible artist and my stick figures are disproportional, I am still an artist.


  1. I agree with you about being questionable about every artist uses that process, but you are right that is the human brain at work. I think that is very funny that you are an artist even with stick figures, good one. I can not draw either, but I am an artists too now!

  2. Not a bad post, Lucas. I like the way you worked through McCloud's ideas for yourself.