I don't like being pushed out the door, but I'll be over it in a couple of days.
I still don't understand why. The email I got was bizarre and vague, about the good old days. People have told me that Zimmerman explained my expulsion in the members' only section. From what I hear, he's sort of saying that most members will be thrown out over the next 12 months, but he's murky about who.
Drawger started up in the spring of 2006, and I was invited to join in July of 2006, so I was there in the good old days, and there were no more than two dozen people here. It was nice but it did change.
In the years that followed, many people here enthusiastically sought new members, prominent names precisely because they would draw more attention to the site, attract more visitors. For the most part, I kept out of that. But I did post, not as much as a few other long-timers, but I posted a lot. Will other frequent posters be axed? Which ones?
If what Robert says is true, then there are a lot of people who are going to be surprised when their memberships come due. I count 106 members now on the Who's Here page. Will 70 or 80 be axed? How should people behave if they want to stay? Will people be hungry to stay if there are only a small group of friends who occasionally goof on each other?
It will be interesting if Robert follows through, because the number of members, and the number of page hits, and the number of comments -- none of them -- are very important in the grand scheme of things. It's his site, and he has every right to run it any way he wants. He can cut it down to 25, but he can also keep 105 people, whomever pleases him.
He can keep prominent illustrators who post one joke a year; he can keep people who post an endless stream of pictures of the fabulous parties they go to.
I got an email late last night from the operator of this website that I am being kicked out because somehow my presence has taken the site away from his original vision. It seems that I'm not alone, but he offers no clue about who stays and who goes, nor about, "why us."
I have mixed emotions about leaving this place. I know a lot of wonderful people who are currently members and count many of them as my friends. I have also seen a very nasty vibe develop over many months. It's especially nasty in the small and intimate setting know as the Speakeasy, a section I haven't visited in more than a year for just that reason. On occasion, it gets rough on the top level page, where people using phony names and plenty of the terminology peculiar to this place post asides and barbs, needling their enemies. It reminds me a lot of high school. But I'm not alone.
Aside from personalities, there are two issues that seems to weigh heavily on the minds of a small group of active members who I am willing to bet will survive these expulsions. I, too, feel strongly about them, but I draw different conclusions.
1. I work for myself. I don't mean the business of illustration but the passion of art. I do what I do because I love it, not because it is a high-paying job. I have always spent time painting for myself, since childhood, long before I ever sought to get a commercial job, and I continue to do so. If this violates some kind of unwritten guild contract in some people's minds, then that's just too damn bad.
2. I love to learn new things and to try new things. I was like that long before I met any of you. I'm willing to work extremely hard, long hours, seven days a week in order to experiment with techniques and new materials. I'm fortunate to have this quality because the publishing business is changing. It will change whether or not a bunch of illustrators cry in their beer and snipe at others.
And, Robert, if you move anything of mine to this new "robust site" you mention, make sure you move this post.
posted: October 6, 2010
Be Careful What You Wish For ...
Karl Rove thinks the Tea Party is the answer to his dreams and will do as he commands, but the Christine O’Donnell genie might not be quite what he had in mind. That’s the risk you run when trying to conjure up stupidity and hate and resentment -- you might just get it.
Watch my latest animation on Mother Jones (here's the link) -- and turn up the volume for the super spooky soundtrack!
posted: September 29, 2010
I tend to love the piece I’m currently working on best (that is after cursing it for the first half of its life), deciding that THIS is the way I want to work from now on. Lately there have been quite a few digicuts on my monitor, so I’ve been most in love with working that way.
Like the one above for The Wall St Journal of Hector Murguia, mayor of Juarez, Mexico.
And this one for Golf World, for an editorial about the rules of golf:
And Archie Panjabi with her Emmy for her role on The Good Wife, Wall St Journal:
But then I get some assignments for painterly work and I fall back in love with that.
Like this one of Manuel Ayau, Founder of the Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala:
And Yo-Yo Ma:
But just when I think I love doing the painted stuff best, I do a little animation, like this one on Mother Jones this week, featuring John Boehner's Pedge to America (here’s a direct link to it), and I decide I love doing that best. Fickle me.
After casting my ballot today in the Democratic primary here in New York City, I began thinking about the contrast between voting here and the experiences of so many people in other countries who have to take their life in their hands to do what I so casually did this morning.
A little background:
Back on June 19, 2009, I was moved to make a picture about the election protests in Iran, and I posted it here on Drawger. A couple of months later, in August, I was contacted by an Iranian photographer to contribute to an exhibit he was organizing to show the art of designers and illustrators from around the world in support of the Green Movement in Iran.
The posters wound up on the SocialDesignZine website, and many more artists joined in.
The way the art is displayed is really powerful: all the images are on placards jutting out of ballot boxes and walking around the room you feel like you’re a part of the protest. It’s a really strong and inventive way of showing the art.
I walked away feeling very moved by the struggle of people fighting to have a say in their own lives, and very grateful to be living where and when I do.
One of the four rooms of posters.
Cover for The Progressive
posted: September 13, 2010
Here’s the cover I did for The Progressive’s election issue, just out. The illustration brings together two articles on Tea Party Senate candidates - Rand Paul and Sharron Angle. The theme is: "Will the Tea Party Crash the Senate?"
I also did two interior illustrations for the separate articles. This one of Sharron Angle of Nevada, below...she's a rabid conservative who believes Medicaid and Social Security and the EPA and the Depts of Energy and Education should be abolished. For someone who hates Big Government so much, she sure is fighting tooth and claw to get a job in it.
And this one of Rand Paul of Kentucky, staunch defender of BP, below...another tea partier who wants to destroy the Federal government.
I also did animations of them -- I hope the “embed” code works for viewing them here!
And speaking of elections, for people who live in New York City, Rep. Carolyn Maloney is under attack from Wall Street in the democratic primary election tomorrow. Maloney's Wall Street challenger is campaigning against financial regulation. It might be a close race, so get out and vote.
Animation Feature on Mother Jones
posted: September 7, 2010
Back in July, when I was teaching with Nancy Stahl at the Hartford MFA program, I got a call from Tim Luddy at Mother Jones. He said they had something they wanted to be really crazy and funny -- right up my alley!
The story was about Rick Santorum, right wing idiot who has presidential aspirations, who said some sick stuff equating homosexuality with pederasty and bestiality, back when he was the Republican senator from Pennsylvania in 2003. Dan Savage, who writes the sex column Savage Love, decided to run a contest asking his readers to send in suggestions for an alternate definition of "Santorum". The winning definition was, "The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex".
Now when people do a google for Santorum, that definition is the top search result; good luck with your presidential campaign, Ricky boy!
I was inspired! When I got back to my hotel room that night, I did 11 or 12 or 14 sketches, and even did another as I was packing up my stuff to go back to the campus in the morning.
When I got back to town the following week, Tim Luddy told me they wanted to run all the sketches as a slideshow, and an outgrowth of that was my doing two animations based on my sketches.
This is the first of a series of my animations that will be regularly appearing on the Mother Jones site, so keep tuned!
Play and Work
posted: August 18, 2010
Play: We just saw Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, which got me to thinking that I’d love to see Nathan Lane playing the part of Hercule Poirot. And that got me to thinking about drawing him in the role, about incorporating some clues and elements of the mystery into the hieroglyphs … and, well, the next thing you know, it’s drawn.
Work: A few recent assignments (and come to think of it, work is play).
Below, for the book review of Charles Euchner’s Nobody Turn Me Around, about the internal fighting that almost destroyed the historic March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream speech. For The Christian Science Monitor.
Below, for The New Republic about the Obama administration stepping up their criticism of Chavez’s increasing authoritarianism.
Below, this one about poverty in the suburbs, for The Utne Reader:
Below, Deputy Mayor of New York, Stephen Goldsmith, for The Wall Street Journal.