This was my second time attending SPX, but my first year that I attended talks there. In the past I had learned a lot by just chatting with artists at their tables, so it was interesting to attend more structured panels. The first talk I attended was Scott McCloud’s. He broke divided artists into four categories - classicists (which focus on beauty), animists (which focus on storytelling), formalists (who do research through trial and error), and iconoclasts (who focus on honesty and humility). He also acknowledged that these categories can intermingle and overlap, and formalist may try hard to be more like an animist, etc. Obviously no artist can fit into just one category, and he acknowledged this, but also said that all artists will have at least one category that they struggle with/cannot fit into.
The next talk I went to featured Sam Bosma, Kali Ciesemier, Luke Pearson, and Philippa Rice. All of the artists have strong web presences and followings, and are successful in a variety of fields, ranging from comics to editorial work to animation. Despite their success, they still face artistic struggles, and it was interesting to hear them talk about how they dealt with these. On the subject of art block and creative ruts, they said to examine what you want consume and what you want to create - if there is something you want that isn’t out there yet, you should make it. Kali also mentioned that what you have in your portfolio is what you will get hired to do, so put thought into what you choose to create for it. Towards the end of the talk, Sam Bosma talked about working on projects for weeks then just throwing the drawings out. It was frustrating to hear that an artist of his skill level still feels this frustrated with his own work, but he also said that unpublished and failed drawings are still incredibly valuable because of what you learn in the process.