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ursulav

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Suddenly, and without much reason, feeling depressed. I don't often fall into oh-god-I'm-a-hack mode, but when it hits, it happens all at once, and usually fairly hard. It comes from comparing my art to the standard I'd like to be at, which is a lot higher and held by the top pros in the industry. That this standard is generally attained by people who have been in the industry over twice as long as I have (in some cases, rather longer than I've been alive) does not seem to mitigate it all that much.

My great fear, which generally is locked under a dozen deadbolts and shoved firmly in the back corner of the mental closet, is that I am going to spend an unrecognized career as a mediocre artist and then die, having left a legacy that interests nobody in particular. Every now and then this fear manages to throw the locks and go rampaging about until my natural ebullience grabs the thing and shoves it back in the box.

The solution would be to do a really good painting, but if I could reliably hammer one of those out on demand, the issue wouldn't arise in the first place. And because I'm depressed and a little upset, I am about as capable of doing a good painting as I am of flight--the least frustration on a piece causes me to abandon it completely in despair, and since art is essentially one big sequential frustration, it doesn't go well. I draw thumbnails, I curse. I try to think of the One Great Composition. I decide that my style (what the hell IS my style, anyway?) is just uninspired space filling, tedious to all who view it, and then I chew on the pillows for awhile, taking the name of the Muses in vain in stuffing-muffled irritation.

This time, however, I'm going to be smart. I know exactly what's happening, I am an old hand at it, and so I'm going to take a nap and attempt to short circuit the damn thing completely. And maybe when I wake up, the aforementioned natural ebulliance will have beaten the shit out of this sense of runaway inadequacy, and I can return to normal function. And do a good painting. Or not paint at all, if that's what needs to happen today.


Would it make you feel better if I said that you are one of my favorite artists? Without fail, I have enjoyed every single piece of yours that I have seen. I'm not sure there are too many artists I could say that about, even some of the Old Masters.

No? Okay. Never mind. :)


I'm the exact same way. Utter;y and completely. If I don't think a story is major-award calibre, I'm embarassed to have written it. (Nevermind I'm just entering what's supposed to be the most productive 20 years of a writer's career, and I'm just starting to break into regular pro publication.)

If it's any consolation, when I get like that, I remind myself that even Shakespeare apparently had days when he thought he was a hack and a mediocre poet.

And Ben Jonson always thought he (Ben) was da bomb and Mr. Cutting Edge. So, you know.

It's comforting.

...and sometimes Shakespeare was right: Timon of Athens... second half of Winter's Tale... Coriolanus... I could go on at some length. The point is, most people's body of work is like a pyramid: all that foundation and most of the mass is just to get that golden top so high in the air.

It's wise of you to recognize it and know how to wombat combat it. :P

I'm rooting for the natural ebulliance; I know a winning side when I see it. :)

Oops, I hope I didn't contribute to your funk with my epilogue griping! Maybe an occasional art funk is good inspiration. I sometimes go through an "Ack, people are so much better than me!" phase, but once that passes, it's easier to enter the "Hey, these guys are great! What can I learn from them?" phase.

For what it's worth, I think you've come a long way with wonderfully unique and recognizable work at twenty-something than many people do in a lifetime. :-)

Nah, not to worry! Epilogue rants aren't anything I get too worked up about. (Thank god.)

Here's another nail for that door, once you get the screaming feebies stuffed back into their closet:

You've been doing this whole "art" thing a fraction of the time I have and you still blow me straight out of the water. (and I consider myself a fairly competant "artist".)

Nap. Then blow us away some more.


It's funny, but I've heard so many musicians I admire from the seventies, who are held in near-theistic esteem by musicians of my age and a little older, wishing aloud that they could play like the musicians of the generation before -- those they grew up with, in other words.  I suppose there are two points to draw from this; firstly, your parents are always older than you, and those who've been playing longer have always been playing longer; secondly, it's possible to be intensely estimable and not to notice.

Personally, I love your work, not just for the artistic quality -- which is brilliant -- but for its originality and humour.  I don't think anyone can do that like you do.  You're no hack (I'm a hack, so I know what hacks look like).

Take it easy and I hope you feel better soon.

I'd add to that that my friend ixwin has you listed as an interest, as well as a friend.  My friend ixwin knows good when she sees it.

Sleep is usually the best way to fight back the stupid little ideas that jump into our concious from those dark corners of the mind. There are days I sit in front of the computer thinking that I can't get a single sentance up there, not one good thing that has never been said or done a thousand times before.

Sleep helps, so does generous amounts of ice cream.

On recognisability:

One of my gaming group brought over the Victoriana book a while back. I had completely forgotten I knew people who worked on it, but the moment I saw the cover I knew exactly who did it (and squealed the fact in glee to the rest of the room - what, me fangirl?).
I find your artwork extremely recognisable - you have certain ways of rendering faces and laying colour down that stand out.

Success on stuffing the heck-bug back in its box. Nasty little creature.

If I knew anything about art, this would be more insightful.

Pshaw. I hope you get this one worked off soon, because it's completely groundless--understandable, from an artistic point of view, as I've been there myself, but nonetheless pointless and untrue. It's easy to take on a feeling of inadequacy even when you're relatively popular because then you're forced to scale yourself against other notables. In this day and age, such comparisons are preposterous because modern art is so utterly different from the days of the Michelangelo or the Dutch Masters (the painters, not the golf tourney) or Picasso that rating one's success or popularity can't be done in the old fashion of criticism and praise garnered at blustery foo-foo art shows. (Television tells me this is how they used to do things. Tee-hee.)

Thomas Kinkade, the renowned "Painter of Light" as the snooty little mustachioed bastage has dubbed himself, could be considered popular by critical acclaim alone. What has this gotten him? Thousands of prints of his work now hang in hotel lavatories worldwide, and photoshops it to hell. Your work is not the sort that one would hang in a hotel lavatory or over the mantlepiece, no; your work is the sort that you hang in a most treasured place in the mind.

The Wockwurm still chases my dreams on somber NyQuil-drenched eves, and occasionally I find myself wondering "What Would Chupa Do?". I'm not joking. I have such an admiration of your artwork, past and present, that any temporary lapses seem utterly inconsequential to me. My parents know you by name (with some of my own doing, granted), and they're association management directors (whatever that is)--relatively unartsy folk. There's an appreciation there that goes beyond simple flattery. It's honest, realized, time-tested brilliance. No feeling of stylistic malaise or questionable consistency can take that away, Ursula. Get some rest, take it easy for a while, and pick up where you left off. Elsewise we'll just have to dock your muse's pay.

I had been discussing something like this with a friend of mine in Putnam... He told me the painter Jamie Wyeth said that illustration is, in fact, the pervasive form of visual art, so that there is essentially no art outside of illustration. So-called "fine art" is merely illustration that is critically approved, for the various mystical reasons critics approve things.

I'm not sure if I agree with him entirely, but I think the greater idea is that creating "Great Art" and a "legacy" is almost maddeningly out of our control... Unless you purposely manipulate the system to accept your work, that is. The critics determine what's Great and what isn't, not the artist.

If you will yourself to be at the mercy of the critics, it'll happen. If you do what you actually desire to do, and it becomes 'critically' recognized somewhere along the line... well, I'm inclined to think even then it would just be best to shrug and keep on working. :-)

I pretty much feel that way ALL the time, but I usually keep my mouth shut about it. I'm not saying that you should keep your mouth shut, though. I'm saying that if I talked about it as much as I feel about it, it would sound like I'm just fishing for compliments. Like the supermodel saying "Oh my Gawd! Just LOOK how FAT my thighs are!", and then you just want to stab her in the eye at that point.

So, yeah, I'm here to commiserate with you, is all. No helpful advice or anything. Except maybe this one thing: There will always be people better and worse than you are. We should always strive to be our best, but don't let it drive you insane. Since it's a basic fact of life, I try not to sweat it and just keep those feelings of inadequacy locked down.

(what the hell IS my style, anyway?)

Versitile, and thusly more marketable than someone who only can do one thing.

If it helps any, I rank you right up there with my favorites (Alphonse Mucha and most of the pre-Raphaelites, also with the non-historical artists like Jody Lee ( www.jodylee.net ) and Stephanie Pui-Mun Law ( www.shadowscapes.com ).) Besides yourself, there's only one other artist I really want to commission within the next few years (Sarah Combs; http://www.cattychism.com/ ). So.. yeah.

I already know that you probably did not intend for everyone to write you back with, "OMFG UR GRATE I <3 j00!!!1 (one)" comments, but, hey - they can't hurt, can they? :D

Just remember: Even Cary Grant used to wish he could be Cary Grant all the time.

Also, I think you deserve some sort of special award: Of all the webcomics I read, yours is one of the very, very few that doesn't randomly miss an update every couple weeks. And with my awareness of all the other nifty stuff you're turning out atthe same time, I can only commend you.

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...Crap. I'm gonna be humming that ALL DAY now.

Aww, babe! Don't you know you're one of the gifted ones? Heck, you've got random people from the other side of the world (well, Scotland!) leaving you soppy messages like this! Feel better, y'hear?!

Sarah

Make that 2 random fans from scorland :3

Seriously though, The fact you can put humour into many of your pictures and *still* put out more serious illustrations is impressive. Most "popular" artists these days can't even draw, never mind do illustrations. (seriously, cant remember who but a well known british painter said he painted what he did because he couldn't paint anything else. And from what I've heard from art students he's not the only one)

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