A huge change between artists of my generation and older generations is the democratization of learning resources. Since time immemorial art has been a "pay to play" industry, where a significant chunk of change was needed simply to access learning resources, good teachers and educated peer feedback.
But we've got the internet baby! Forums are filled with helpful critique. Video tutorials still lack the true feedback of a face-to-face teacher, but still get you pretty far. People make tutorials to drive traffic to their personal websites. And if you're truly, desperately hungry for art, piracy provides a first rate black market education.
Now all people need is skill knowing where to look! So although I follow a gazillion fantastic blogs, forums and news sites, on various topics, here's my top 5 for illustration.
5. conceptart.org--it's finally finished!
There's a lot of great stuff on CA, but this particular forum thread is where people post finished pieces. I visit this fantastic place daily to see cutting-edge illustration in a variety of styles, in a finished format. We judge ourselves in comparison to what we're looking at, so the healthiest thing to do is be looking at the very best.
4. Art Knowledge News
Another resource that's technically not educational, AKN wins on sheer quantity. Posting press releases from galleries worldwide, they average upwards of 10 posts a day. In my opinion, no other site will leave you with an utter breadth of exposure to styles, history, culture, and namedrops.
3. Golden Age Comic Book Stories
This blog's name is a misnomer--Few of its posts are actual comic book panels. However, it is a phenomenal resource for old comic and magazine covers, and (bizarrely) illustrations from the Brandywine school, American illustration, classical painting and other goodies. I have found these guys to be consistently the best and most refreshing resource for a number of my favorite old-time artists: NC Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Frank Frazetta, Maxfield Parrish, Frank Schoonover, and many others. You might know that you like Howard Pyle, but this site will shock you with just how much content the dude put out.
2. The Gurney Journey
There's a new business model these days. You make a blog, you put content out regularly, and after a year you assemble that content and sell it as a book. James Gurney's blog uses that formula, and he deserves a gold medal for how to do it right. Gurney is the illustrator from Dinotopia, and uses his blog to showcase his production techniques, plus provide lovable anecdotes about himself and the artists that inspire him. The knowledge he drops on you is so good, you can't help but buy his books afterward, even if you already learned 80% of the info by reading his blog--it's just a way to tell him thanks.
1. The books of Andrew Loomis
Andrew Loomis was an American illustrator from the golden age of illustration. Working with peers such as Norman Rockwell, Haddon Sundblom and Gil Elvgren, he arguably outstripped these better-known contemporaries in artistic impact. How, you ask? By writing a series of art education books that still arguably have no equal. Many of the greatest illustrators alive today (Alex Ross and James Gurney, for example) credit him as a primary educational influence, and if you read his books you can see why.
His books are no longer in print. While this is tragic, they've been allowed to expire into the public domain, and thus are now freely available online in PDF form. My dad had Creative Illustration when he was a kid, and when he dug it out of storage and lent it to me, I was blown away. Later on, the internet informed me that the rabbit hole went even deeper--5 other awesome books to peruse. Not only that, but my dad's musty tome regularly goes for over $200 used on eBay!
Any other good resources out there? Lemme know!