Iconic Bias, Part 2

As I discussed in my previous post, there is an Art Perspective belief that people should learn to draw from “real life” and not from copying others. In that post, I tried to tease out some of the underlying assumptions of this belief. Here, I’d like to point out how it leads to derision of other approaches (as demonstrated in the quotes from the last posts).

(Caveat: Just to be clear, and to avoid misperceptions, I don’t have a problem with people drawing realistically. I’m just trying to examine the underlying assumptions that motivate perceptions of drawing. And, I should also add, that I too am a product of the culture of Iconic Bias, as it did and still does inform many of my graphic decisions.)

There are two reasons those who hold this Iconic Bias might think that certain styles, like say Rob Liefeld’s drawings or the manga style, are substandard:

Reason 1: They speak a different graphic language/dialect

People will rag on certain styles mainly because they belong to a different graphic dialect. People who aren’t comfortable with the early 90s Image style or manga style (or many others) as their visual language end up making fun of it or calling it substandard. This is similar to the treatment of African American Vernacular English (popularly known as Ebonics) in America. Some speakers of Standard English end up thinking that speakers of African American Vernacular English are somehow stupid or have less skill in language, when really the fact is that they speak a different dialect of English that has its own patterns and consistencies. It’s not “lesser” its just different.

Of course, the Iconic Bias has an easy time making these judgments, because it doesn’t allow for there to even be such a notion as graphic dialects: drawings are valued on their relations to “real life perception,” not mental patterns. The sheer recognition of drawing styles as cohesive systems runs against the free-for-all in how “each individual interprets real life.”

More coming in the next post…


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