I couldn’t agree more with what ArtBot has to say here. Folks must understand that there are many levels of “concept art” and “concept art tasks”. For example there is concept art and then concept visualization. The two have almost no similarity and are almost 180 degrees out of phase with eachother. Concept art can be the precursor and will set the direction for the final product and style, concept visualization is the post product which is created to convey the message or story of an already well defined concept or idea. In between there are many levels which can combine or range between the two. But in the use of the terminology(taxonomy) it may be difficult to understand the difference without prior experience in one or both. And sometimes the terms are used interchangebly only confusing matters.
I completely agree, however I would go further to suggest that this example be thought of as Forward Vision. The ability to imagine something that has never existed and lead the way with a new and imaginative idea and give visual body to a narrative where no visual pre-exists.
However, while I agree, I do think there is some irony to this statement. Having met Syd and listened to him describe his experiences, Syd is one of those really rare individuals who can fill large negative areas with nondescript content that suggests that something is “there” without getting into the specifics of the content. While I would never dare to call this visual content junk, his ability in this area is an absolute artform within itself.
This is fairly close to world I live in. I work with people who have their ideas and products clearly laid out, understood, and predefined. I can’t deviate from that without the potential risk of damaging the credibility of their product. My “concept visualization” often lacks the component of being able to employ “forward vision” because its not about what I want to create, its about respecting the client’s product and visualizing their ideas, not mine. Along the way I occasionally get to introduce some of my ideas, with permission of the client, and if accepted is a positive experience. This side of the equation is more a matter of interpretation than style, and I enjoy this kind of work.
However, this can be a difficult thing for some artists to cope with because it can often go completely against everything they “feel”, “need”, or have been “taught”, especially regarding the traditional art theory of personal style development. So many artists become artists in order to perform “their” art, to establish “their” style. If you are sought out for that you are fortunate indeed. But many artists are needed just to visualize someone else’s vision. The ability to swing back and forth between these two extremes is a talent in and of itself. The trick here is for the artist to figure out exactly where in this spectrum they enjoy being.
I don’t disagree, but I’m curious if the scope of this comment might sound more narrow than I think it was intended. Concept design can be applicable to Feature Film, Television, Product Development, Science and Research, etc. In each area the “form follows function” factor deviates dramatically. In feature film or television you can have the possibility of “function” applying no constraints since you may be in the situation of pure imaginative design. In other words, anything goes. And then documentary work will be very different from science fiction. While in product development or science the constraint of “function” drives everything.
I think the skill factor is right on the money however. Someone can have the greatest imagination ever, but with no skill to put that imagination on paper or screen, no one will ever know your abilities.
Its the reason I think that there is this misleading presumption that child artists have the edge over everyone else. That they have been honing their skills longer. It may be true in some cases, but its no guarantee of success. The only guarantor of success is motivation. Not age, not congenital talent, not the tool you use. If you are motivated and focused, the potential for success is all up to you.