Friday, January 17, 2003

January 17, 2003
The “Brown” discussion continues. Got an E-mail from Mark Boardman (NPR radio producer) who says, in part, “Yes, it's certainly possible to narrow the vision too much. But have you really done that with True West? I haven't seen your numbers or demographics of late, but my gut says "no, you haven't." You made a conscious and reasoned decision, set the course and let fly. You've taken flak over the last two or three years by doing that. But you've also gotten kudos from others. You've done well enough to attract new partners, fresh money. True West was the Caruso of its field forty years ago and more. But who wants to hear the old fat dead guy when you can get a sleeker, sexier and more vibrant model? That's what you've been turning the magazine into. It's becoming Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. . . .It seems to be working. Do you really want to see what happens if you try to turn back time? It may work for you and me...but what about that younger and hipper reader? So why would you take a step backward?” Excellent points.

Got a ton of artwork to do today and this weekend. Need to get beyond the bad artwork stage, just do them and move through it. One of my cartoonist friends, Dave Sim maintains, “Every artist has 10,000 bad drawings in him.” And the trick is to get those out of the way as a fact of life.

Somewhere I read that after Michelangelo died, one of his minions decided to destroy all of the Master’s drawings that didn’t measure up to his greatness. In other words, his bad drawings had to be destroyed so the myth of the great artist falling directly from heaven in one piece, could endure. As my good friend Bob McCubbin puts it, this is “fiction by omission.” Part of the mystique, and certainly one of the biggest myths, of being an artist or writer is that somehow the talent arrived without training, without instruction. So many bullshit artists, especially in Western art, claim they were “self-taught.” This is a bad joke really. Can you imagine a doctor leaning over you on the operating table and saying, “Don’t worry about your gall bladder, I’m self-taught.” But somehow with art this is preferred, like education is somehow cheating. From now on, if people ask me if I’ve had art training, I’m going to say, “Yes, but I didn’t pay attention.” Although I think it’s pretty self-evident.

“Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
—Mohammed Ali

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