Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Sorry, it's been all drawings and very few words recently. I'll gabble on a bit now in recompense. I have a little time to spare at present as the one paying job I have on the go at the moment, the cover for the third of Joshua Doder's Grk books, is in a brief hiatus while I await reactions to the latest set of roughs.

I meant last week to recommend to you some of the cultural gubbins I consumed: Richard Thompson a singin' and a playin' on Monday (very good, as always - this was about the seventh time I'd seen him I think) and a rare unforced trip to the legitimate theatre on Tuesday to see Amelia Bullmore's play Mammals (very good but I didn't really understand why the whole thing had to be performed so bloody fast - I felt like it would have worked better if there was a pause now and again, a moment to breathe. Like I know anything about this stuff). Also, prior to the play I saw Anna Chancellor (who was in it) on a bicycle. So that was good. Anyway, yes, I meant to tell you about those things but obviously it's a bit late now so I won't.

More recently I saw Hidden (or Cache) at the pictures and, as seems to be the way of things lately, found it to be, um, quite good rather than the work of genius that several reviews had led me to expect*. It was certainly less irritating than the only other Michael Haneke film I'd seen, Funny Games, but the "not pandering to the audience by explaining everything" thing can be taken too far. For my tastes John Sayles got it right in his excellent film Limbo whereas with Hidden the non-ending just seemed like a cop out. Billy Wilder said something along the lines of: "Don't be too clever for an audience. Make it obvious. Make the subtleties obvious also" and, while I wouldn't entirely agree, I would point out that Mr Wilder was responsible for more stone cold classic movies than almost anyone so, you know, he knew a thing or two.

[Brief chinstroker's interlude: compare and contrast the long takes in Hidden with the work of James Benning.



In other news: on Monday this week I did my first (and quite conceivably last) bit of paid "teaching" at Anglia Ruskin University (at which, several name changes ago, I myself studied illustration from '87 to '89). I'd been invited by my ex tutor Martin Salisbury to address two groups of about 20 first year illustration BA students showing each group some of my work and talking about it and illustration in general for about an hour. I can't remember when I was last more terrified. And, unaccustomed as I am etc., I believe I was really quite poor value. The thing is I can, on a good day, hold the attention of someone who knows me on a subject of mutual interest for maybe ten minutes but faced with 20 total strangers (and they're all so bloody young!) I'm at something of a loss. Plus I was ostensibly meant to be talking about my own work which is not a subject with which I'm particularly at ease. I mumbled, I fidgeted, I made not much sense, my mind went blank, tumbleweed blew through the studio during the frequent lengthy silences, I hesitated, repeated and deviated from the subject... It was all something of an ordeal and I was glad when it was over.

Perversely, I think I could actually be okay at teaching normally on such a course, with the opportunity to talk to students individually, it's just that I'm a bit useless with large groups. Oh well. Apparently it's character building.

*See also: Crash, A History of Violence.

I am one of those very students you came and shared your wisdom and experience with!
Funny reading about it here! Not that you have said anything you didn’t say to us on the day. You started the talk by telling us you had been rubbish with the previous group and assured us you were going to be equally rubbish with us, with the added bonus of being certain you were losing your voice.

Other house bound illustrators have thought a days outing with us would do them good. There have been several. One of them enjoyed his spot in the lime light (Chris Draper) and another one was relatively comfortable with the situation (Hannah Webb) all the rest of them seemed decidedly uncomfortable showing their own work, Martin Salisbury included.
Mumbling, fidgeting, senselessness, blank minds, silence, hesitating, repeating and deviation seem to be characteristic to illustrators. Here I would point out that we are a group of illustration students all studying for the life of a recluse and are already exhibiting some of the traits of the fully fledged illustrator; tumble weed was to be expected.
Some of the illustrators, although uneasy talking about their work had the advantage over you in that they have been working for decades and kept going for longer by the shear quantity of their output. They were able to pull out a sketch book after sketch book and an illustration after illustration saying: 'here is an other one I did and here is another'.
However, consider this in your favour; you, unlike some of the unlucky ones, didn't sweat. Poor Charles Shearer's bald head was dotted with pearls of perspiration like the moisture settling on a cold glass of coke. Foolishly he let the itch get the better of him and casually scratched his right temple with the nail of his left thumb sending a stream of sweat pouring down the side of his face and along his jawbone. I hasten to add I didn't think any less of him for it although it made for fascinating distraction.

I believe you are one of those people who go around saying I am rubbish, I am rubbish, all the while thinking to your self: ‘I am pretty damn good really!’ So I won't tell you you were, after all, this experience was for the building of your character, not for the inflating of your ego. But, like you said, you could actually be okay at teaching.

Many thanks for that.

We are a funny bunch, illustrators. We don't get out much and our social skills can suffer entropy as a result. It's good that you've picked up on this early and know what to expect. On the plus side you can expect to develop an extremely detailed knowledge of Radio 4's schedule and an unnatural devotion to your favourite pens. So it's not all bad.

I didn't mean to say I was rubbish, it's just that sometimes there's this huge gulf between what I feel I'm capable of and what I've actually drawn. This can be down to time constraints, editorial constraints or just having an off day. So, just a bit rubbish sometimes then.

You're almost right - I do think I'm capable of being pretty damn good, I just don't think I actually achieve that often enough. But, you know, I'm working on it.

Thanks again.

bloody students....

students were what you once were, they take many different forms, and pay the bills for those teaching them, so lets be positive shall we???????

I suspect if one of theoses students does exceptionally well then whop ever made the previous comment will be riding on theeir back to be part of their success!!!!!!!!!!!

Blimey, three different anonymouses (or anonymice) commenting to one post.

Anyway, while not especially endorsing Anonymous II's comment I took it to be ironic and lighthearted. This is exactly the tone in which you, Anonymous III, will also be muttering "bloody students" in about ten years' time. This is the natural order of things.

In the meantime, you might want to work on the whole spelling/typing/punctuation/syntax business.

I am sorry, I was in rather a hurry. Thus, spellers etc.

As anonymous three, I would like to add that really I simply appreciate decent folk, aspects of anonymous 1's writing seemed to suggest they had a few years fo real experience to get under their belt before they talked so masterfully about the life of an illustrator. Anonymous two - I just had a hunch who this was and it annoyed me as I like to respect good human beings and any great sweeping statements that ignore the huge efforts of a great number of students reflect badly on anonymous one.

Anyway, you seem very balanced and I appreciate that, thank you.

Yours truely

Anonymous three

A hunch based on two words and an overlong ellipsis? Blimey you're good.

Ta for explaining yourself, A3. Take it easy.

Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?