Saturday, September 02, 2006

Rejection: I'm ready to quit

Okay, so I got this rejection. No big deal, right? Right. That's what I thought. But now I'm feeling devastating self-doubt. You see, I had LIKED this drawing, had put it on my blog (see "Favorite of the Night"). The family had bought a frame. Passers-by had been commenting happy stuff. It seemed the perfect combination of cuteness, likeness, and exaggeration. I had seen a clear "vision" when I saw this kid, with his head growing up out of the "well" of his tiny chin and conspicuous ears and low baby jowels. And I had drawn this vision exactly as I had seen it. It was so so so pleasant an experience. Oh sure, I thought, I should place the ears much higher and with less floppiness, but that's not the vision, that's not how I saw the kid. And, WOW, I guess my vision sucks. I've been the told the customer was "very unhappy" (but why did they pay $15 for a {$4} frame?) and that the likeness isn't there (by someone who should know). I mean, the likeness isn't the STRONG point of this, but caricaturing is a strange thing, you know, and likeness is fleeting, and subjective: indeed, don't let anyone tell you likeness is objective! Isn't that right? Am I way off here? Of course, sometimes an obvious capturing of likeness occurs, but often it isn't so obvious, especially when exaggeration and humor are goals. Look at some of the great caricaturists' works. Likeness is slippery. But isn't exaggeration supposed to bring forward the likeness? Well, sometimes it does, and in dramatic ways. But sometimes there's another experience. RECOGNITION is want, at first. CONFUSION is the experience, at first. But then the charm of insight slowly washes over the viewer; he sees the artist's vision; he recognizes the subject. This, to me, is the goal of the caricaturist. Not an easy observation of the art, but a discoverying by the viewer. Heck, let's just take a freakin' photograph and Photoshop Mickey in there beside the subject; wouldn't that be easier? Great likeness (usually) and there's Mickey all artificial and cheap.
I mean, heck, what the heck. Am I so out of touch that I can't see that this drawing sucks? I thought it was delightful and a bit tricky, not obvious; I thought it would make the viewer stop and wonder and then take pleasure in my imagination's insight. But no, I guess. I must be way off, fundamentally. And after all my efforts, that just makes me want to quit. Someone else redrew the kid in some normal way, I'm guessing, and now they have my money and my spirit. Of course, it would help if I weren't drowning in debt right now. I realize that. Debt has a way of muddying the colors of your days and of your dreams. And I'm not being given any hint that I'll be making more money in the foreseeable future. Maybe I should be a trucker again. In a couple of years I could pay-off my debts and re-think things. Dead broke, of course, but debt free. Hmm... It's tempting. ...Oh well.


Pag said...

don't let rejections get you down. Joe Bluhm's making a book of all his rejections!

Stay in the game!

-Mike "El Loco One" said...

Wow Tim, sorry to see you get so down about things. I thought financially you were doing much better now, because of gigs and such. And I've seen your numbers, and your boat LOL.
It happens bud, you should know this. There are folks who just don't "GET IT" when it comes to caricatures.
Every now and then I try to go outside my disney toon comfort zone, and sometimes I'm met with comments like "that don't look like me" or are "my ears really that..."
You can always hear someone back there saying it doesn't really look like....
But if you were happy with it, then that's what should count.
Trust me when I say my current financial situation is completely blowing right now, but I would NOT give up this job for the world.
Keep the faith.

Tim Gardner said...

Thanks Mike and, er, Mike. Believe me, it's gratifying to know my personal little blog gets read and considered. I was just "shouting at the world" with this post, but I'll leave it up. I've received a personal email or two about this post, as well, so I'm pleasantly surprised.
Actually, rejections haven't bothered me in a long time. A couple of years ago when I started doing this stuff, I would freak-out, but generally, now, if I like what I draw, the patrons do too, and I easily blow-off (emotionally) the occasional "return." Yet, recently, as I've been trying to put all this energy into really seeing people and trying to make an "art" of this, I find I'm frustrated by my confusion. It's an enormous effort to exaggerate, and the "philosophy" of it is unclear. And what's the true need here? The artist's or the patron's....
The last week or so, I've simply been doing the old thing, just cranking-out safe pleasant stuff which sells well, concentrating on simple likeness and line quality. (I need the money.) And as far as money... well, I AM doing better than ten or eleven months ago when I was working just, like, French Quarter (a "slow" Disney Hotel) and that kind of stuff; plus: I've drawn at, like, 6 gigs this year, so that little bit helps (and I really LOVE working gigs). But, well, it's complicated. I mean, I COULD draw faster at the retail stands, the way I draw really fast at the gigs, but I feel the customer wouldn't get their money's worth. I mean, we all know artists who crank-out one generic face after another, and that can be amazingly fast (I've done it myself). But I can't live with myself doing that. Plus, what are we doing to our industry? We're promoting lameness, and ruining our future. Giving patrons the same face over and over is tantamount to theft. I must sleep at night. I have trouble with that already.
And for the sailboat. It's a junker I bought a year ago after a good week at work, and this summer had the money to repair it and whatnot. (Not that I spent much on any of this.) Of course, I readily admit that I'm extremely compulsive and irresponsible, and that I've made other "purchases" this year which are "luxury items," but they're not THAT much.
Gosh, this is all so confusing.

Tim Gardner said...

I just realized something, as I look at this pic, and remember the drawing of it: I remember sensing that I had captured the "feel" of this boy, his personality, something unseen. I really believed this as I was drawing, watching the kid sit there, afraid, funny; my heart was moved, I was charmed, and I drew the charmed feeling and the fear. "This is real," I thought. "I'm drawing what I see inside." At least, that's what I thought.