Impact to Effort Ratio: Works by Barry Mr_B_OB and Trevor Lingard

I want to show you two artists whose work I have recently been impressed with.

The first is called Barry. He doesn’t have a website but you can find him on Twitter here

This is some of his work

The second is called Trevor Lingard. Here is a link to one of his galleries:

These are some of his works:




Anyway, for the first artist Barry, when I initially saw his work, I was impressed by how ‘realistic’ it was. However, on further examination, I saw that he could be quite lose and sketchy with the details. Which made me realise that whatever it was that was telling my brain his artworks were ‘realistic’ was somehow lying to me.

Instead what he seems to be good at is one or both of the following: a) selecting subjects that are ‘easily digested’ by our visual systems. Possibly because of the great light-dark contrast in them? I think so; and b) rendering such subjects properly.

In terms of rendering such subjects properly, is this where making good gradations is so important?

For the second artist, Trevor Lingard, I never thought ‘those works are realistic’. But what I did think, so soon as I saw them was ‘my God, that’s something special.’ His works seem to be the epitome of ‘sloppiness done right’ which seems like a very difficult nut to crack. His works had a great impact on me. If we ask the question why that is, I would be tempted to say it is for the same reasons, ultimately, that I gave for the first artist Barry: his subjects, which he renders very well, are easily digested by the visual system.

Again, that might be because he selects subjects with very good light dark contrasts. But there is also a lose, blurry feel to his works, which perhaps also makes them ‘easily digestible’ by the visual system.

What it means to be easily digestible by the visual system, I couldn’t explain to you in scientific terms. But I have come to realise that probably such a concept exists. Certain subjects are hard to digest, others very easy. For example a photo of the same person in different lighting creates two different images one of which is easier to digest than the other.

Although just to be clear I would say that neither of the above images is near to being optimal in terms of being easily digestible by the visual system. I should also point out that it was Anthony who put me onto this concept, by talking of visual fluency, or visual processing fluency, I think, and how certain subjects are more difficult or more easy to process than others.

Anyway, what I wanted to say in reference to these artists is that whilst they have a huge impact to effort ratio, mine is very low. I usually put a lot of mechanical work into my artwork, trying to copy everything, only to be left with works that have poor overall impact.

Perhaps it is better to put more effort into selecting subjects and understanding which subjects should be selected. Which would entail understanding what is easily digestible by the visual system, something that must include not only good dark-light contrasts I think, but the sort of vague, blurry, airy aspects that we see in Trevor Lingard’s works. After that, I suppose, it would be well to train at how to render these vital details well and how to ignore, or downplay, irrelevant details

Of course the other moral of the story is perhaps that realism is not a very well defined concept and ‘visual impact’ – and I don’t really know what I mean by that – is perhaps a better metric by which to judge an artwork, because for both these artists – one realistic, the other one lose – that was the common underlying factor that made me sit up and take note of their work.


Thanks Thomas.

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I enjoyed your post Thomas. Anthony has influenced my thinking in a similar way to what you describe.

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