July 31, 2006

3: On Making it Happen

pages from a lost NY sketchbook...

Jen is hard at work on an illustration portfolio, James is madly finishing his book and his boards, Dani's made some big choices, Matt's pushing that August deadline, Jay Kim's making some big moves, Neal and Barbara are hitting the streets to flyer, and Chris and Becky... have a cat. Charlene's thinking about Parsons, Ray's expanding his experience, and even Duncan's making it happen, trying to wrap up years work on his comic strips--There are people who let it happen, and people who make it happen. Cheers to them.

As George Bernard Shaw said:

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."

July 28, 2006

2: Me

I'm totally never at the computer anymore, but I'm gonna try to post more regularly anyway. I'm realizing I don't have too much time left before I move, and there's stuff from the last um... 4 months that I'd like to post about, so get ready for a series about a bunch of random things: the best of winter/spring/summer/05/06 if you will; some thoughts on a few things.

July 23, 2006

1: On Originality

This sort of looks like my mom, except she's not so pudge.

I recently received an Anonymous comment which read:

"Nice work and great effort! (But it`s not original and that`s the most important part, for a true artist, no offence). Never the less, good luck and I hope you get all you want!"

Well, I'd like to talk about the importance of originality, because I disagree with this understanding of it. What is its purpose? To excite or surprise us? To indicate growth and progression? Originality, it can be said, performs all of these functions; but, I would ask, under what conditions? What is "Originality" and how do we separate it from shallow novelty?

The difference, I think, is sincerity. If a person's intentions are sincere, then it will be evident in their work. The confluence of time, place, ability, influence, worldview, resources and personal character will engender a unique personal vision; in a richer, more meaningful way, this constitutes originality.

My film was modeled after classic Disney shorts and 1950s children's picture books because they are most appropriate to the subject matter. Does my failure (or success) have anything to do with whether or not I'm a "true artist"?

I argue for sincerity not as a measure of a "true artist", but as an important component of anyone's work ethic and system of values. Design addresses the need, as Charles Eames said, and that, in the end, is all any of us is trying to do. In Marya Mannes essay, "How Do You Know It's Good?", she labels "Purpose and Craftsmanship--end and means--" as the "keys to your judgement of the arts." and by doing so, suggests that they are are in fact the keys to art itself: quality is measured by purpose and craft. You might argue the need for "newness" as an important element in work, but how? I have seen too much originality for its own sake to care at all for it. Look at the trend of Art Brut drawing and illustration that has emerged in the last 5 years; does "originality" alone make it good? On the other hand, make it about something, show me what you care about, and I'm there. The point is that originality does not exist on its own, and is instead engendered, if you're lucky, by right effort.

I believe that a "true artist" is someone who responds with honesty to the world around them. As Robert Henri writes: "Art when really understood, is the province of every human being. It is simply a question of doing things, anything, well. It is not an outside, extra thing... It is a question of saying the thing that a person has to say. A man should not care whether the thing he wishes to express is a picture or not, he should only care that it is a statement of what is worthy to put into permanent expression... Art is the inevitable consequence of growth and is the manifestation of the principles of its origin. The work of art is a result; it is the output of a progress in development and stands as a record and marks the degree of development. It is not an end in itself, but the work indicates the course taken and the progress made."

Anyway, I do believe in originality; but as a function of other intentions.

July 19, 2006


The Grapefruit Moon; unfinished. Gouache on Arches. Party there tonight!

I haven't been much of a blogger since my computer started sputtering (which will continue until I take it in), and also since I left my job at Nelvana in pursuit of bigger things. It's been a couple of weeks now, busy with research, loose ends, painting, planning, and packing. My days are a bit of a mess of both action and inaction as I prepare for big changes in my life; there's a mix of excitement and anxiety I'm trying to wrastle with. I'm still trying to straighten things out in my head.

I'm happy to report that I recently accepted a job in Pixar's story department.

An old teacher of mine named Carlos Nunes once said that things never looked like they were coming together until you were about 3/5ths done. Well, we're reaching about that point now, and things are looking pretty good I think. Yay for all of us!