You have got to be kidding

Warning: Rant approaching…

I’ll probably get lambasted for being mean after this but really, what on earth are these people thinking? The ones that send me their portfolios of ‘illustrations’ – in hope, nay expectation, of some professional paid work on our books – with samples that look like this:

Oh, come on. Really? You think someone should pay you money for those, do you? And kids are going to just love them, right?

Okay, so they’d be perfect for the book we’re doing for the blind children, yes… but otherwise, look, I’m sure your parents tell you how talented you are and that’s great, they love you, however I’m here to tell you that you are not talented. Not at drawing, anyway. So please, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD stop wasting my time and yours and find what it is that you genuinely are good at, because illustration sure as hell ain’t it.

It is an insult to all the people who spend years working hard to hone a natural talent with constant practice to submit crap like that.

But you like drawing? Fine, wonderful, by all means keep drawing if it pleases you. Just don’t confuse that pleasure with either the talent or the ability to make a living at it – even the pros struggle with that and the groundless assumption that everyone is artistically gifted, if only they could get their big break, just makes it even harder for the real artists to thrive. There’s no respect for the magic of art anymore, we’ve deconstructed it so far that any muppet with a felt-tip thinks they can do it just as well as anyone else.

And before you chastise me for being an art nazi, wanting to prevent people from expressing themselves creatively or exploring the visual arts, I’m not. I’m all for that. I wish more people did it – I’m sure the world would be a much healthier, more zen place if we did. You don’t have to be Van Gogh to produce lovely work that pleases you and others. Its just when people don’t see the insult to the professional artists with whom they brazenly equate themselves that it rankles.

Maybe its because, unlike medicine or accountancy or plumbing, people draw as a hobby. And then they assume they can do it as a profession. I mean, how often do ER departments get emails from people saying “I really enjoyed stitching up my son’s arm the other day when he fell out of the tree, and I also love wiping up vomit, prescribing drugs and sticking needles into people, so I’d like you to hire me as a doctor please.”

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10 Responses to You have got to be kidding

  1. azahar says:

    An excellent rant! 🙂

  2. I wonder what the person that sent that portfolio in was really thinking. They could not have had any idea of what happens to their “work” after it leaves their hands. The mail person sorting the envelope, the person reviewing the portfolio, the generation of the inevitable rejection letter, etc etc Time and resources wasted.

    I’m pretty sure that magazine editors and book publishers feel the same way about the stories and novels that arrive in their slush pile.

    I spend time at my art journal and I post the results on line, and enjoy the responses of my friends (and casual passers by), but in a million years I would not consider my output worthy of being sent to an actual editor! I’m pretty sure I take some darn good photographs too, but again — submit them? No way.

    • Woo says:

      Absolutely. What were they thinking? In what possible reality could that type of drawing ever have made them think they had any talent at art?

      Your art journal pieces reveal a truly artistic soul, one filled with passion for colour, pattern and form – and you should be rightly proud of them. And you know how much I love your photos, especially the abstract ones and close ups of plant forms. Oh, and the skies. Oh, and the floating. Oh, and the rocks… 🙂

  3. Good. God.

    I agree there’s an unfortunate sense of entitlement in certain sectors of the arts…things that it seems a person “can” do without “training” — such as drawing and writing. Both of these things are immensely difficult; having hands with which to produce them is not a sufficient professional recommendation. By all means, express yourself, but…yeah. A little dose of reality doesn’t hurt.

  4. Oh Dear. I guess this means Sid and Sod will never grace the walls of the Tate. Although their dialogue certainly makes them a candidate for the Man Booker prize.
    “What is a Man Booker, Sid? It is a male Librarian, Sod.”

  5. Have you seen the docuementary “Exit Through the Gift Shop?” It was directed by Banksy, and I think it is an intereting, diquieting take on this epidemic. This teenager should find a home for their work on deviantart. Just like watching a brilliant dancer or a gifted acrobat, perhaps people are tempted by the seemingly effortless beauty of some art to think that it is easy. That is part of the charm of art, to make something incredibly difficult accessible.

    • Woo says:

      I love that film! I saw it twice and bought it for my brother for Christmas on DVD. It’s a work of genius in my opinion, proper contemporary art criticism and theory.

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