Every month, I profile an artist that inspires my own art, in several segments.
My first artist isn’t one artist, but millions. I’m talking about three thousand years’ worth of mostly-unknown artists who labored in workshops, palaces, and tombs to create that instantly-recognizable, gorgeous style.
Why was it so consistent? Because there was a standard style – a canon that artists followed- which changed little over time. Artists may have experimented on their own, but the canon reigned supreme for state-sponsored projects. Egypt was also free from outside rule for almost all of those three millennia.
I can’t remember when I first discovered Ancient Egypt. I was very young, though. It is probably what inspired me to draw all those eyes that I mentioned in my second post.
When I was a kid, I loved everything about Ancient Egypt: art, clothes, makeup, architecture, reverence for animals. I read lots of books about Egypt and I even memorized an alphabet of hieroglyphics when I was in third grade.
If I may be so bold, I’ll wager that my love of the Ancient Egyptian standard art style heavily influenced my affection for manga and anime. (Especially how everyone looks the same – BAM!)
What I love about Ancient Egyptian style
- use of line
- attention to detail
- graceful human figures
- realistic animals (c. 1400 BCE) – I mean, just look at that. There are butterflies.
- emphasis on eyes
- fairly similar depiction of men and women
- depiction of domestic tasks and non-noble people
- human-animal hybrid entities (always interesting, sometimes hilarious)
- extreme use of symbols
- overall vibrancy
How it’s affected my style
You probably won’t see a direct influence in my artwork unless I’m drawing something Egyptian, but that list of things above definitely affects my art. I always emphasize eyes and lines (to the exclusion of other things, sometimes), and I will spend hours perfecting some tiny detail that most people won’t even pay attention to. I try very hard to make my people look graceful, I prefer to draw animals realistically, and my people are often androgynous. I don’t know about vibrancy, though – I feel the Egyptian vibrancy comes through with color, and I usually don’t use color. Other artists that I like, especially Alphonse Mucha, exhibit some of these Ancient Egyptian characteristics.