DEATH TO ILLUSTRATION :3
Though I've always been cynical and two-faced in *probably wanting* to do industry work (just because I want some income when I graduate), I now realize I will never be a "professional illustrator", though there are alternatives I'm looking forward to. Here is why I am this mad. Through SVA I had an interview with an art director, just about 15 minutes long. He looked through these 6 pieces I handed to him as well as my portfolio website (the Adobe one). Unlike some other interviews I had with industry-experienced people, this art director barely looked at anything I handed in. While breezing through my entire website he did not critique beyond being immediately turned off by my approach or subject matter.
"Why would you draw women ugly? You should draw ugly things ugly."
"Why would you make her face kind of pretty but those feet ugly? Everything should be pretty or ugly. It makes no sense cut it out."
"Could you explain this piece in one sentence? Otherwise it's not worth looking at."
"These are all weak. Not talking about those."
"You're very talented, but why did you choose to draw like this? (Looking at my Barbara Streisand portrait) See, you CAN draw good, but you choose to make things ugly. Nobody will buy ugly."
First of all can we all agree here that is it completely uncontroversial to say how fucking stupid it is to tell someone if they "can't describe their work in one sentence it's not worth looking at"? On the spot without giving me any time too so I can feel bad? Being unapologetically cut-throat and bland is not quirky or indicative of how knowledgable you must be to immediately weed out art that takes """too much thinking""" to get through (which in my case is not much, probably). I understand he has this point of view because he is a businessman but that does not make me respect him more, if anything the complete opposite. Being a tool isn't something worth bragging about. Maybe start enjoying life a little if you genuinely agree with this approach to consuming media.
Yeah he really did use the word Ugly as much as he could, though as pretentious as this sounds, I am not taking Ugly from someone who curates generic New York magazine editorial art. I think he forgot I was obligated to have him view my work; I do not need his validation nor "approval" from anyone else when everything is meaningless and vain. Thing is his point of view makes perfect sense in hyper-corporate-America, where art's purpose is to be easily digestible and devoid of nuance or rough edges. Gallery/Academic art is not exempt from this though I will rant about that another time. Through SVA I learned that illustration is the art of engineering an image, communicating a very specific idea as efficiently as possible. Not anything inherently bad, the problem is illustration as-is encourages artists to see themselves as cogs in a machine which ultimately does not benefit them or most people.
Why do we waste so much time trying to convince ourselves the Western world's exploitative hierarchy of labor is normal? It's not the artist's fault that their success is determined by begging for bread crumbs; I do not blame anyone who enjoys this kind of industry but it's worth pointing out its flaws or intentions. The industry was never about artistry. Artists either spend their lives sacrificing anything genuine left to pay rent or perform some gimmick (for example, a political trend liberals fancy to look woke or whatever) to get rich. The latter feels more fitting to gallery art and wow I really want to complain but again I will have to leave that for another time. Without being critical of the role of the artist in society, authenticity is dead.
Honestly that last quote broke me a little bit. I drew that Barbara Streisand portrait in high school. Since coming to college I've been trying to move past my old ways of stylizing people, making everything boringly smooth or "tumblr-ey". It's forced and so tiring to look at after a while. It felt like an awkward middleground where I wanted to draw something else but I felt some inner force urging me to make my work "marketable". That art director telling me my newest original work is "wrong", "not worth looking at" and that my entire art direction since coming to college is a "bad idea" was hard to stomach (all the while I looked pretty on camera). The meeting was about to end and I had tears pouring out of my eyes (my webcam quality is so bad he could not see it though, ha). But was I surprised? No, hearing that just gave me the painful reassurance of what I expected the current state of art-making to look like. In high school I tried making my work palatable when I'd always known it is not what I want to do and therefore will not the the best at.
This post also got the most likes on my instagram ever + my mom shared it on Facebook. I guess celebrity portrait art really is where I peaked :,( ....sowwy I don't draw pretty woman anymore...all my drawing uggy and inconvenient now haha..!
I may not be a gallery artist but I'm also not an illustrator, though I wish "illustration" wasn't forced into this box in the first place. I'd still classify a lot of the work I enjoy looking at as illustration, just not what some decrepit New Yorker wants for me. He can continue to promote hotel bathroom art and earn 6 figures while I, in an ivory tower, lick the boots of my local Starbucks manager. While it's impossible to truly break away from the wealthy's grip on society, there are alternatives within the industry that can at least make art-slaving bearable. However it feels good hoping that one day this vapid, souless facade of a culture will collapse in on itself, completely irrelevant post-capitalism. Maybe not in my lifetime however so I am going to find a way to have fun in the meantime.