Sunday, January 17, 2010

Art and Passion

It's so easy for a man who is creating an illustration of his perfect woman to feel passionate about his subject matter. But as time has passed I've noticed that others only seem to truly appreciate my work when I have honestly got emotionally involved with the process of creating it.

This has nothing to do with the subject matter it seems. I could be bonking out a TV story board for yet another soap powder, but if have long enough to immerse myself in the process of drawing the situation, the boxes of product and the people in the story, something magical happens. The passion and love I am feeling for what I am creating somehow seeps through and others seem to intuitively enjoy what I have done more. Perhaps the love for what I do makes the lines stronger, assertive and more accurate. The image is refined by my desire to make it the best that I can, and my clients see that result even if they might not understand why today I have 'just got that dull boring bar of soap so perfectly right'.

The same could be said for fine art. Consider a bright red slash across a huge white canvas. Could someone create something so energetic, vibrant, visceral and arterial in a fit of absence of mind? I don't believe so.
I think it requires emotional involvement to execute the movement that ejaculates the red paint from tin to canvas.
The artist declares it art, and at their cue the critics will swoon around the piece in fits of intellectual ardor. I would once have said they were just playing complimentary roles in a complex high society farce, but I have begun to realize that because the artist so intensely loved the slash as he created it, the beautiful intent was somehow left behind in the medium. People who have trained themselves to identify and appreciate such passion (not art) sense and adore the line because of what they see in the making of the bright red slash. Add to that what the slash may say to each of us individually about our lives and we have something more than just a slop of paint.
It can transcend culture and convey meaning to anyone.
One can cite those who excrete paint onto canvas in expressions of fecal utterance. I think that a mockery of beauty and if anyone were to buy that crap they have what they deserve.

All I know is that when I am not fully emotionally present as I work, the results are almost always arbitrary. It's hard to do that all the time (especially when I am on the third or fourth round of author's corrections) but I do understand now why all artists can feel such personal rejection when people don't appreciate their work. Even commercial artists love what they do, it's an extension of their soul and to have it rejected can be painful. I think the real challenge is to always remain positive and passionate in the face of misunderstanding. Everybody might not love what you have done the way you do, but inevitably someone will feel your heart and for a brief moment in time will understand you. Isn't that what we ultimately seek?

"Of all lies, art is the least untrue." (G Flaubert)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Real Cost of Crime

I heard yesterday that someone I have worked with at an Advertising Agency was killed last week in a crime related incident. Apparently it was a botched hijacking. Phumi was one of the brightest young people I've ever had the pleasure to deal with in my years in the industry. Phumi was intelligent, well-spoken, very, very professional and so obviously going on to great things in her life. She was a credit to herself, her Agency and South Africa. Her family must be devastated and heartbroken. The saddest thing about this is that her loss is not unusual in South Africa. We hear of lives being lost every day, it's people like Phumi who I believe are National Assets that are slipping through our fingers at the hands of ruthless criminals. We are losing our future to the mob and corruption seems to cut across bows of any attempt to police our society. I wish the authorities would stop visibly harassing, intimidating and subjecting the mostly law-abiding middle-class and move against the more serious violent crime. It's easy to bully the suburbians, but the 'Broken Window' campaign seems to only really be effective in a first world urban environment. South Africa seems more like the Wild West at the moment. Because the law enforcement agencies in South Africa don't deal with violent crime ruthlessly, petty criminals act with impunity and even the man on the street feels the 'right thing to do' is a waste of time.

The natural result of this is that we will not only have anarchy from both sides of society, we will lose those quality citizens who will make South Africa that nation with a soul that the rest of the world envys. That is the real cost of violent crime and government must not lose a moment to take our society back from the criminals and syndicates if it truly intends to build a great South Africa.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 is apon us...

When it was announced that South Africa would be hosting the 2010 World Cup, it occurred to me that very few of the people who love and support soccer here would be able to afford to participate in the fun and games. So I decided to create an Unofficial Mascot for the Unofficial Game that is played on the streets, parks and fields of South Africa. It's for the person who loves to kick a ball around with their mates, goes to all the local games and supports the culture of soccer in South Africa simply because it's their passion.
I dubbed the "Unoffical Game" FUTI, and created this little fellow as it's mascot. With the help of some good friends in the rag trade I managed to show a T-Shirt design to a chain store and they agreed to run a test over December of last year to see if there was any interest in the garments.
It was a huge thrill to see my little T's on the shelves, and after a few visits here and there I left town to go on holiday. When I next went to check I was amazed to see all the Tees were gone. I am hoping this means there was significant interest in my little creation.
The underlying ideal here is that the HUGE investments made by FIFA and it's sponsors are so avaricious that most of the people who made soccer the world's most popular sport will actually not be able to watch a single live game. If FUTI were to become the game the people play and support whilst boycotting big business interests, maybe it would cause a rethink in the boardrooms and they would consider keeping sport available to the amateurs.

I know it's idealistic and naive, but I have to confess I wouldn't mind making a whole lot of money if FUTI T-shirts sell like wildfire. The question is: "Would I use that money to buy tickets for less fortunates?" I doubt it. I am as greedy and ruthless as the more fortunates it seems.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My Love For Emma

(I decided to enter this old note first as homage to my daughter Emma - a brave little girl who is quickly becoming an awesome young lady. I wrote this quite some time ago, but it's as pertinent to day as it ever was.)

Because of Emma, I am beginning to understand the true meaning of love.

Today I dropped Emma off at school, and as I watched her unpack her things and go through her bag I saw a little girl earnestly trying to always be her best. She very was anxious to be right - it seemed to me.

I felt a surge of such love for this little girl who needed so much assurance that my heart broke. It breaks each time I see the anxiety on her face and realise she is trying her utmost to keep up in spite of her disability. I can't help but want to smother her with with love and re-assurances. She will always be more than good enough to me, but there is such a cruel world out there...

She makes me want to be my most savage and noble. For her I want to be Hero, Protector, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Santa, Easter Bunny and everything else that brings safety, joy magic and love to life. She is my alpha and omega - because of her I want to be the very best person I can be. Through her I learn more about myself every day. Because of her my walls are continually crumbling away. She has warmed my heart and filled my life with awe.

I will always love Emma - she is my undoing.
She has opened a mortal wound in my soul from which there will be no return. I shall never be the same and I shall never want to be that way again.

I love you Emma


Welcome one and all!

I've been meaning to create a blog since a friend of mine suggested I write a blog so she could see inside my head, and being the eternal people-pleaser I decided at once to accommodate her. That was about 5 years ago so it does kinda go without saying that this may be a short-lived endeavor.

Nevertheless with the best intentions I shall be recording my day to day musings and scribblings so those of you out there who might be interested may catch a glimpse of my warped and maniacal ego and in so doing cross to the other side of the street when you spot me progressing toward you in the crowd.