As the shape of my personal project begins to reveal its form I find myself tackling bigger questions that I didn’t expect to cross paths with.
The story in itself had been such a long process. There were points that I just wanted to throw my computer on the ground and just give it up. Facing up to difficulties in illustration and figuring out what’s needed seems like such a more familiar beast than with writing. With writing, I need to figure out where the story is going, the psychology that comes with each character, convincing dialogue, making it flow, funneling in what I like and don’t like through every movie or book or TV show I’ve experienced. All of this while keeping out of my own head. Even as I write this, I’m frustrated! But I got it done.
All through the writing process and character designs, I’ve been toiling with how to marry together art and words in the back of my mind. Each has its own unique abilities and both are transitional elements that change from objective to subjective. I always think that one of the best (best, maybe because of how recognizable the piece) examples of this is Magritte’s The Treachery of Images, aka “Ceci n’est pas une pipe/This is not a pipe”.
It is objectively an oil painting painted between 1928 and 1929 by René Magritte. Objectively it depicts a simple profile of a tobacco pipe with words written in French underneath, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”. Subjectively, we the viewer cognitively computes the image as a pipe, even though it is not a pipe* (source: Cpt. Obvious). It is, after all a series of methodically smeared oil dirt, and that is all. Isn’t this the essence of storytelling, creating an illusion for a viewer to experience? In this case, both words and images combine to create an entire cognitive dialogue. Each cannot exist without the other, it is a symbiotic relationship. If it were simply a painting depicting a pipe, it would end there. The viewer would understand that the artist might have some ulterior motives, but would not be quite sure at what it was. There would only be a decent painting of a pipe, nothing to write home about. On the other side of that, If it were simply written words, the viewer might wonder what the hell pipe they were talking about. After all, there is no pipe (“Wohhh”- K. Reeves).
Paul Pope, aside from an insanely talented artist, is an amazingly aware and concise writer, especially in regards to all things connected to art. He came out with his retrospective a while ago, PulpHope, and I find myself going back, surprisingly not for the art work, but for the written material. If you can get it from a friend or library or something, do yourself a favor and get it. His understanding of the comics form (which is another marriage between words and art) is unparalleled. Included in PulpHope, he wrote/drew a one page comic about his four understandings of comics:
1. “Comics” is a visual language. It is a storytelling form.
2. “Comics” inhabits a place between the nuance of words and the suggestion of images.
3. The art of good comics is doing with words + pictures exactly what you think you’re doing.
4. The comic not yet drawn can hold the forms of the greatest ideas an artist can have.
Now, I’m off to explore what’s possible in my own terms. I will come back soon with some answers to share and a book that will be a marker in that exploration.
There are two different versions of flooring in my studio/room.
version 1: clothes
Often a fine cocktail mix of dirty and clean with no lime wedge to be found. Hopefully. This means I’m lazy and usually having an unproductive day.
version 2: paper
Instead of a kindly, boring off-white Berber carpet, I replace it with a fine tiling of papers with drawings, scribbles, and scratches on them. This means I’m having a productive day, but I do increase the likelihood of stepping on something I don’t want to step on.
Two weekends ago, went to see the Cindy Sherman retrospective at the SFMOMA with the lady friend. Just mind blowing. Entire post dedicated to that wonderful city and exhibit coming soon…like tomorrow. Promise.
Last week I got a call from the NY Times to do an illustration for their Sunday Review, which was surreal, as it’s my first official outing as a professional illustrator. A post dedicated to that coming very very soon (as soon as the paper work is done) with process and pictures and what not. In the meantime, the link to online article + illustration is here.
Lastly, saw Wilco with Joanna Newsom at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday. Besides them being incredible musicians and lyricists, they know how to put on a show. Post on that as well.
Currently recovering from a nasty cold the last couple of days and have been living like a recluse because of it.