[Traditional Art enters the room]

Dorothy (DS): Hey Traditional!! I’m glad you could make it. I really wanted you to meet my friend, Digital. I know you’ve heard a lot about her. She’s amazing! Just like you!

Traditional: I don’t know about this. I’ve heard a lot about Digital. She moves way too fast. I mean, all those connections. Who knows where all those wires have been?! Are you sure this is a good idea? I’m okay with all the painters and sculptors, you know. They like me but it is starting to get a bit boring from time to time. Oh, I had some time and passed by this exhibition where your voice controlled the piece! Crazy chaotic drawing that looked like a bunch of blind contours. Anyway, it was pretty cool. Look, I don’t want to give up all my drawing and painting and I just got into sculpture. You’re right though. I need to connect with more people. This is still scary for me. You know how shy I am. I still don’t know about this. What if she doesn’t like me?!?

[Traditional, nervously, steps away to retrieve her sketchbook and pencils to doodle for a bit]

DS to Traditional: Don’t take too long. She’s gonna be here any minute now.

[DS, quickly, walks to the monitor and sees Digital]

DS to Digital: Heya Digital!! [We exchange emoticons. Our waves are in slow motion so it’s faster to send a smiley face with teeth! Yes, this meeting is virtual. What did you expect?]. How have you been? I haven’t seen you in like, oh, I don’t know, 2 minutes! That’s a long time!!

Digital: I know, right? So, yeah, I’ve gotta get back to connecting the world but I know you’ve been wanting to introduce me to someone? Where is she? You told me she’s classic. You know how I love perennial style. I’m getting hard pressed by all the ladies who swing all these gigs and fancy script around. It takes more than code and all these fancy pimped out externals to get me going. I don’t mind slowing things down a bit too. I’ve got a soft spot for craftiness, an affinity for Olympia typewriters. Yeah, you know what I mean, right? Oh, if I could draw with some pencils without all these vectors and Wacom tablets. I don’t know. I’m starting to feel like Data from Star Trek.

DS to Digital: Oh, umm, hold on a second.

[DS moves away from the monitor and has TA take a seat in front of the monitor]

DS Voice: Traditional meet Digital. Digital meet Traditional.

TA and DA [simultaneously]: Ummm, hi.

Will they get together? Will their lines get crossed? Who knows?!? This is only the beginning…stay tuned. Yes…I had an imaginary friend when I was growing up. I’ll try to make the next installment a juicy one! 😉

Art School Confidential by Daniel Clowes

Don’t have unrealistic expectations. If you wanna make money, you better drop out right now and go to banking school, or web site school, anywhere but art school. And remember, only 1 out of 100 of you will ever make a living as an artist. ~Professor Sandiford, Art School Confidential (played by John Malkovich)

The aforementioned quote from movie, Art School Confidential, had me laughing but remember what Freud said about jokes, there’s a smidgen of truth in them. Talk about artists swimming upstream! It’s no wonder artists struggle both individually and within a community. With the artist’s plight in mind, I couldn’t help but think of depictions of the artist’s temperament. Many adjectives describe artists; genius, edgy, quirky, eccentric, abstract, literal, narrative, conceptual, derivative, and the list goes on. Artists (including art professors and professionals) aren’t spared from stereotypes. I told you the obvious, I know. We’re all subjected to looking at the world through a Gestalt lens to help organize our experiences and knowledge and the art world certainly doesn’t elude categorization (as much as it may want or like to). Music, books, and film have all showcased different impressions of artists, art professors, and professionals. Confinement to the couch the past couple of days had me bundled up and watching movies to pass the time. Woody Allen‘s Vicky Christina Barcelona and Art School Confidential directed by Terry Zwigoff based on Daniel Clowes work provide interpretations and stereotypes of the artist’s mind.

In examining others (whether through real life tales or a fictitious stories), inevitably, we examine ourselves. Who doesn’t? The instances I find myself being judgmental; often times, I either want what is not presently in my life (that which I’m seeing, reading, or listening to – the inevitable act of comparing) or I see aspects of myself I don’t particularly like. In Vicky Christina, Juan Antonio and Maria Elena are a carefree, highly sensitive, romantic, volatile, and poetic couple while Art School Confidential transforms comic book representations of art school archetypes but falls flat. Both are pretty extreme in their depictions. Sadly, I wish Art School Confidential wasn’t made into a film. When brought to life, the characters were just as two-dimensional (if not more) than the actual comic from which they were derived from. Unlike Daniel Clowes other graphic novel film adaptation, Ghostworld; Art School Confidential couldn’t mimic the richness and versimilitude of Enid (main character from Ghostworld). Even the stereotypes seemed over the top but I’m glad I watched it. As for Woody Allen, I hope he knows not all artists look as hot as Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, that drinking and smoking in bars is a ridiculously romanticized view, and artists aren’t all that tortured and polyamorous (well…maybe, in some instances, he may be right). Honestly, I loved Annie Hall way more. Artists and the art world aren’t that inaccessible and exclusive. Far from it! Then again, who wants to watch a movie filled with artists that get along and make a good living (why am I the only one raising my hand here!!).

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet. ~Franz Kafka

Yup, that's right, it's YOU!

This is going to be one of those really personal posts. It may or may not have anything to do with art but indirectly, it will. There may be a sprinkling of frustration with a dash of cynicism. Just going to free write and hoping to edit as little as possible. I’m sure there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s a Trompe-l’oeil painted light. I’ll take anything to keep my spirits and motivation going this year!

People have asked what I studied in school or what I’m studying* when I tell them I have an art writing blog. As encouraging and delighted as people get, it’s becoming more and more apparent that I can no longer be a patron of the arts. Sure, I went to art school for a couple of years (a few years after graduating from college and working steadily) and found out it wasn’t the environment for me. I needed more and I wasn’t getting what I needed – critical dialogue and a way to frame my thoughts around art theory and history. I tried to do graphic design and illustration to be ‘practical’ about the arts. None of my logic around studying those disciplines worked. At the moment, I’m about half way done with my post baccalaureate certificate from the UC Berkeley Extension but I’m afraid that hankering for grad school (specifically, environments where I can study Visual Criticism, American Studies (emphasis on Art), Critical Theory and the Arts, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera) will persist. Essentially, navigating around where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I’m going has proven to be quite the task. A friend put it best the other day, I’m reaching a crossroads and trying to figure out the best way to be engaged with the things I do while pursuing my passions. Tough, real tough.

Art, well, is the one thing in my life that’s been a constant [insert violin playing here]. It never fails me (unless you count that time in illustration class where a talented albeit crotchety teacher scarred me for life, no, I’m not sharing details) and always forces me to think critically and see how different artists have imbued their experiences and knowledge into their work so I can have a greater understanding of, well, history, politics, sexuality, culture, tradition, and more. Bottom line: I’m really starting to prepare myself financially and emotionally for separation (from corporate life – not anytime in the near future but within the next couple of years – at this point, I’m not sure). Check in with me a year from now to see where I’m at…

Optimism isn’t the problem. It’s being fearless that has me stuck. Talk about going against the grain! I’ve already taken in Buddhist thinking within my (really) Catholic family. I’m a vegetarian (in a Filipino family). I mean, shrimp and a little bit of pork for flavoring doesn’t count as full on meat!! Going back to grad school and studying art when my family thinks I should have children (well, let’s not even get into that one)… 

Yup, I have no choice but to continue telling myself I’m awesome. A good friend told me once, “You’ve got to be your own #1 fan. At least, you’ve got one”. Yet, the way goals and ambitions are looking, I’m gonna need more than just myself.

* For the record, I double majored in Philosophy and Psychology. Yes, I know, my Mom should have just sent me to art school (just like I begged asked her to). 

My take on the 10 tips (specific to art writing and criticism)…


1. Cut the boring parts. = Talk about something exciting. If there’s a piece or a show that falls short, provide constructive criticism without being brutal. I mean, for goodness sake, artists do need to hear it when they haven’t pushed boundaries enough. Yet, writers need to be brave enough to say, “You didn’t make me feel what you were trying to execute”.


2. Eliminate unnecessary words. = Take out any superfluous words and don’t be flowery (even though this is difficult for me to do, sometimes).


3. Write with passion. = Write authentically. Be genuine. People will know when you don’t mean it…


4. Paint a picture. = The whole idea of “show” and don’t “tell”. Unless you’re trying to command attention and have a specific reason to give direction, you need to describe what it is you see, especially if you’re describing art.


5. Keep it simple. = I heard it best put during a Critical Writing Workshop offered by The Lab in conjunction with Art Practical, one of the critics mentioned, “Write to an intelligent friend that doesn’t have time for bullsh*t”. Yes!


6. Do it for love. = See #3.


7. Learn to thrive on criticism. = People will love or hate you. Or sit on the fence when it comes to enjoying or disliking what you write. Learn to respect and appreciate opposing opinions or feedback.


8. Write all the time. = Well, create a schedule for yourself. If you’re incentive driven (like me), give yourself a reward or set a goal. Or, as Betty Edwards put it, draw (in this case, write) for 2 minutes! Typically, if you do something for at least 2 minutes and you find yourself engaged with the activity, you’ll probably continue past the 2 minutes mark.


9. Write what you know…or, what you want to know. = See #s 3 and 6


10. Be unique and unpredictable. = Hmmmm, this is debatable. Everyone is unique and has their own story but unpredictable? Well, I guess that’s up to the individual to decide.

For fun, I googled “art writing” and the third result piqued my interest – 10 Writing Tips from the Masters (insert link to website here). However, to spare you some time, they are listed below:

  1. Cut the boring parts.
  2. Eliminate unnecessary words.
  3. Write with passion.
  4. Paint a picture.
  5. Keep it simple.
  6. Do it for love.
  7. Learn to thrive on criticism.
  8. Write all the time
  9. Write what you know…or, what you want to know.
  10. Be unique and unpredictable.

I have my own interpretation of the list, specifically, for art writing and criticism. Will post soon…