Thursday, February 28, 2008

Clint Eastwood

Here is a picture of Clint Eastwood. One night browsing the internet for celebrity photos, I crossed this image of Clint and I had to do a caricature of him. I got to thinking that there are very few actors in the entertainment industry that express so much with a look, so no distortions as you would see a caricature.


Allan Burch said...

Very nice! I particularly like the way his collar opens up on the viewer's left, pulled tight on the right, adding to the tension and complementing both the composition and the diagonal movement starting at the arch above his left eye.


Allan Burch said...

Hey Matt,

Thanks for the kind words! And, thanks for noticing my page in the Workbook. I'm actually getting ready to put together my page for next year's book (31). Hopefully, it'll be a head-turner.

Thanks again, and I look forward to your next blog post.


Alex Suter said...

Hello, "A friend down south"!

Living here is great! but I don't know how you would do with all the rain...

Nice of you to drop by! Keep on keeping on!

Allan Burch said...

Hi Matt,

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog posts. I'm glad you enjoy them. It's good to know I've got an audience out there!

You bring up a great topic of discussion. The great thing about making art is that it does all the things you describe (escape, stress-relief, etc.) At it's core, that's what art should be. When the commercial aspect comes into play is when compromise starts. I am quite familiar with the conundrum of having a project that doesn't fulfill anything but the wallet. If I can see the earmarks beforehand, I'll turn down the job. If I arrive at this while I'm knee-deep into it, I grit my teeth and with a smile remember I'm in a service-oriented business, then add that job to the list of potential red-flag jobs to refuse in the future. If I have no choice but to take these jobs with regularity, I have to ask myself, am I getting what I want out of this situation? Can I get where I want to be in this scenario? If not, then I would tend to think a change is in order. If change is not an option, I would think about separating that work which pays the bills from the work that satisfies me as an artist and a human. Generally, most all illustrators go through a peppering of projects that are just bill-payers. Hopefully, It doesn't make up the bulk of your work.

As far as certain hotbutton issues defining one's style or affecting how others perceive you or your work, I have a few thoughts about this. In my view, for the majority of the time, it's not an issue, unless you make it policy to only do work for certain social issues, neglecting others. If TIME commissions a piece on religion, the piece will reflect the story and point of view. Generally, art directors are keen enough to know the difference between you purveying your beliefs about an issue and you using your talents to communicate and solve a problem. Especially, if your body of work reflects an emphasis on broad-ranged problem-solving rather than a bunch of work about a certain political issue. The public, however, can confuse it. There are 2 TIME covers that come to mind: The O.J. Simpson piece from Matt Mahurin and the recent Reagan's tear piece from Tim O'brien. There was a uproar from pundits and people thinking they were doctored photos made to pull the wool over the public and push an agenda -- a sign of a successful illustration, in my view. It was great for the illustrators, as they got all kinds of free publicity.

If your career doesn't have use for work that touches on political or other potentially sensitive issues, I would say, don't do them. There are lots of roads to making great art.

If, on the other hand, you feel you may be cheating your career by avoiding these things for fear of anything, I would suggest giving it a try. See how it goes. You can always do something and never let it see the light of day. Perhaps, keep it to limited-duration pieces and amass a body of work. If you see something germinating, then pursue it and put it out there. If you find it's not your bag, then nothing is lost.

For my goals, I look at topical pieces as problem-solving examples that tap into the current culture and put me in a position for receiving the jobs I want. As long as I explain the problem being solved and write about the process and inspiration, not about my political beliefs, I believe I'm safe from being pigeon-holed or offending -- at least until I know differently. There is also a difference between reflecting an issue and putting your spin on the issue. I think it's possible to illustrate the concept of the Kyoto treaty without saying it's good or bad (which is an illustration I'll be posting, soon).

But, there is a threshold that many people won't cross for commercial purposes. And, that's up to the individual. I turned down a job with big tobacco. That wasn't an industry I wanted to promote in any way. But, that was a choice I made from my own personal ethics, rather than what I thought others would think. Ethics, however, is a whole other can of worms!

This would make a great topic for the Kyoto illustration I mention above and its blog post. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to use the topic you raise as the crux of that upcoming post. In the mean time, feel free to continue the discussion, if there are things you were looking for that I didn't hit upon.