with real (and not so real) responses.
“You should draw children’s books!”
I hear this a lot from people, along with other ‘suggestions’ from out of the blue.
I could draw children’s books and I’ve had many offers to do so over the past 15 years or so. One of those ended up being very successful for the author and the illustrator to whom I introduced her. They were a good match and the books they’ve done turned out great.
So why didn’t I draw them? I don’t like being around children. I’m not a parent, never wanted kids, and you won’t find me attending the birthday parties that friends have for their kids. Shonna is the same way. We’re monsters. We know. We’re OK with it.
When you create a children’s book, you have to promote it. That means doing readings for children, attending events for children, going to schools where there are children and pretending you want to be there. If I produced a children’s book, there would be a large crowd of people who know me well, shouting, “Hypocrite!”
And they’d be right to do so.
Occasionally I will speak to school classes. I even mentored at the school for a couple of years some time ago, a worthwhile program for kids who showed aptitude in the arts. Once a week, I would go to the school, meet my student in a room near the office and spend an hour on drawing exercises. We’d come up with a project that they’d then present to their class at the end of the program.
I did it because it’s something I would have enjoyed at that age and out of a sense of community guilt, felt I should contribute in some way. There were some good kids, I did my best for them, but it wasn’t personally rewarding and felt like another obligation. Because of that flawed perspective, I won’t do that again. But I will still speak to classes from time to time.
I could have been more politically correct here in my explanation, but I erred on the side of honesty. Feel free to judge me harshly. It’s what makes the internet go ‘round.
“Is this digital? Ohhhh.”
That “Ohhhh” is usually incredibly condescending. What it really says is, “You must have a really good program that changed a photo into whatever this is.”
If I tell them I did it with Photoshop, then they’re even more certain that I’m a fraud.
There are still those who figure if you do your work on a computer, then you’re not really a skilled artist, you’re more like a programmer who just knows how to press all the right buttons.
I could explain at great length about the countless hours I’ve spent working to improve my art skills, through practice, study, and a ton of happy accidents, but I usually just smile and let them have their illusions. As I heard Katey Couric say on a podcast recently, “People aren’t looking for information these days, they’re looking for affirmation.”
You think the computer creates my artwork? Give it a shot.
I’ll wait here.
“Are these photos?”
No. They’re not photos. I use photos for reference, but no photo is ever part of my work.
“So what do you do for your real job?”
This is it. Drawing, colouring and answering stupid…
Sorry. I’ll be nice.
“You should draw an Elephant, Hippo, Badger, Horse, Ocelot, Orangutan, Marmoset, Jellyfish, Narwhal, Praying Mantis, Spider, Kangaroo, Duckbilled Platypus, Anemone, Sloth, Barracuda, Goldfish, Parakeet, Boa Constrictor…(it’s an endless list)“
And will you buying one of those when I do? Just checking.
“They’re all smiling!”
“I just love your work!”
“We bought a print of yours last year and it hangs in our hallway.”
“Is that new? I’ll take it!”
Thank you. Thank you very much.