This week’s New York Times Magazine spot is one of the weirder, more troubling ones of recentabout a scientist who invited a spray that will momentarily “freeze” his dog into a non-barking state.  …Here’s to hoping he tried it on himself first.

I’ve had the pleasure of working on a few different things this year for GX: The Guard Experience, the publication of the National Guard.  And each time, AD Dustin McNeal lets me try out a few new responsibilities.  This time, having a go at an entire feature (a first for me). *gulp*  Including the lettering for the opener and accompanying spreads, and a handful of interesting step illustrations showing you how to survive in the wild.  Pretttttty nervous anytime the ratio shifts towards equal parts illustration and design, but fortunately, those beautiful photos tend to distract the eye.  Either way, really happy with the result, and excited to try some new stuff out.

770words:

kylehiltonillustration:

770words:

kylehiltonillustration:

770words:

Oh, look. It’s all dudes, except for Georgia O’Keefe (does she count for 2 women, if you think her flowers are giant vaginas?)*. No Mary Cassatt? Mothers and children — YAWN. Or Artemesia Gentileschi? I guess chopping off men’s heads is too violent for a paper doll set (cutting off Van Gogh’s ear isn’t, though). Frida Kahlo? Grandma Moses? I mean, for fuck’s sake, it’s not like it’s a reach to come up with a list of famous women artists.

*edited! I didn’t see her on the “curriculum” page when I first wrote this post, so I was mistaken. It’s NOT all dudes. It’s 15 dudes and one lady! SO THAT MAKES IT OKAY.

kylehiltonillustration:

I’ve gotten this very valid criticism a few times recently, and thought it deserved another response.  The team of editors on this book - 4 women and 2 men (myself included) - spent a lot of time going back and forth over a list of 16 artists that we felt best exemplified an introduction to art history, and no matter what we came up with, a lot of important people were left out.  We felt, instead of curating a list of only our favorites, thereby making some claim about their worth, it would be best to follow the pattern of an art history course, filling our list with the ridiculously famous and well-known names and movements you would hear in any Art History 101 class.  So, unfortunately, this book serves to poke fun at only the most well-known names.  As a result, a lot of names I would have loved to include were cut: Rothko, Basquiat, Haring, Cassatt, Leyster, Grandma Moses, de Kooning, Miró, and many more.  We felt these, though well-known to probably every initiated Art History fan, weren’t as well-known as the obvious ones, like Picasso or Monet, and would be better saved for a second volume.

There were several big names we legally weren’t allowed to include, notably Andy Warhol and Frida Kahlo (There’s a much better Frida Kahlo stand-alone paper doll book, though).  I won’t say our hands were tied, and that we are necessarily blameless for not including more women (or minority painters), as I’m sure we could have given the book a different approach, and included names that weren’t as well-known, leaving out some of the bigger, already-known names instead.  And maybe in that respect our intro art history “course” would be more progressive than some others…  But we picked a different direction, and the point of this particular book was to poke fun at the names people know and make a lampooned version of what’s already there.  And with only 16 pages, a lot of great names were left out, men and women alike.  It’s a known fact that women artists (or women anything) don’t get their due or recognition while men like Van Gogh get way too much.  But our team of editors and I felt, of the famous women painters available to choose from, there were only two that were as well-known or as “obvious” as Van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock, etc.  And unfortunately, of those two, we legally weren’t allowed to use one (Kahlo).  So, I can understand the interpretation of only including one female, Georgia O’Keeffe, as either malicious and intentional or maybe worse, very naive and near-sighted.

If an opportunity for a second volume presents itself, I would personally love to include not just more women, but more “minority” painters like Basquiat, and more obscure, yet influential artists like Keith Haring or Francis Bacon.  Just like in my college class, I didn’t learn about the really interesting people until the second semester…  But that’s the one handicap of such a short book, and I admit, no matter the approach, we run the risk of alienating fans of any particular painter or aspect of art history.  And if there’s no second volume, hopefully this brief collection of names and dumb jokes can simply serve as a mere jumping-off point for the uninitiated to learn about all the ones we didn’t include, whether they’re women, men, gay, straight, minority, majority, obscure or well-known.

I see what you’re saying here, but the bottom line is continuing to follow the old “classic” art history instruction is what perpetuates it, and is what perpetuates the myth that culture is virile white dudes. (Unfortunate about Kahlo and permissions, btw. I’ll take that one back!) Don’t you think a better introduction to art might be to revisit how we choose to frame it? I’d argue Mary Cassatt could take Henri Toulose-Latrec in a popularity/recognition contest, as could Grandma Moses. You wrote, “It’s a known fact that women artists (or women anything) don’t get their due or recognition while men like Van Gogh get way too much.  But our team of editors and I felt, of the famous women painters available to choose from, there were only two that were as well-known or as “obvious” as Van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock, etc.” and that is the problem. Rather than continue to take away their “due recognition”, why not fix it? Use a couple of your famous dudes as loss leaders as it were. Also don’t underestimate how well-known many women artists already are.

But! Thanks for taking the time to respond, and I’d love to see more volumes of not-white-dudes.

You’re absolutely right. Like I said, we did have the option to not follow the pattern and perpetuate the norm, and make this more suitable to your specific perspective. But that’s just not the decision we made, unfortunately. There are many perspectives to consider when making anything, and any direction you choose means alienating another, and receiving criticism as a result. If we left out Pollock or Monet, I’m sure we’d get complaints about that, and so on… Maybe we could have included mostly women, but then we’d just be putting more female-centered paper dolls in the world. :) Let guys have some dolls for a change!

In all seriousness though, thank you for your criticism, and I apologize for not being able to represent your specific point of view with this book. We tried to satisfy some people with this one, and hopefully we can satisfy the ones we didn’t another time. And if it’s not for you, I understand. Save your money.  ** I do hope, though, that you are one day able to create something yourself and can represent your point of view. There will be criticism! But it’s worth it. When everyone is contributing - not just critiquing art but also making art - there are a lot more voices to choose from… **

** NOTE: This last bit was definitely condescending and in poor spirit.  After seeing the whole ‘thoughtful response followed by dismissive, passive aggressive hashtag’ routine a few times in a row, my frustration got the better of me, and I foolishly wanted to return fire.  Whether or not it’s “mansplaining” or what I intended as just tit for tat, it was a cheap shot and I should know better.  770Words was right to call me out and and I’ll eat shit on that one…  But I wouldn’t mind revisiting my point without my immature condescension attached… It’s almost impossible to argue from what a lot of people would consider an indefensible position.  Being a white male, I understand that, despite anything else about my specific background or character, I will always represent the oppressive person that’s had more of a voice than anyone else in history.  That’s fair.  And when I make a book about a part of history, there’s definitely a context that comes with it.  There is a responsibility that I have that others might not have to right the past, and I understand the importance of that.  And with that kind of context and responsibility, it’s kind of a lose-lose, indefensible position to explain why we didn’t include more women in this book.  I won’t rehash what I’ve already said too much, but the makers of this dumb little book - 4 women, myself, and another guy, all of various backgrounds - we had a lot of conversations about this very context.  We get the weight that comes with it.  And after a lot of discussion, we made the decision this book was not the place to express our own personal, political viewpoints on art history… As 770Words and I both have pointed out, that was one approach, and maybe we should have taken it.  We would have appealed to a lot of people that way, too, I’m sure.  But like I said, we run the risk of alienating groups of people regardless of the direction we choose.  And from the perspective of the publisher, whose two main goals are to make a quality product and sell the most copies of that product as possible, the options were weighed to market a book towards either a majority or a minority of readers, and we all agreed the majority of readers would recognize these 16 names the most.  And despite assumptions, the decisions were not based on gender, race or any factor except for their already established stature and notoriety in pop culture.  Our goal was to make a book of the most eccentric, lampoonable artists people already know, and whether we succeeded or not, we felt these 16 represented some of the bigger-picture movements of art history as well.  O’Keeffe (or Kahlo had we been able to include her) weren’t included based on their gender, either, but based purely on their lasting impact on not just art history, but as infamous figures in pop culture.  And so we made that decision, we stick by it and we’re proud of the result.

We’re working on another book right now, this time of famous writers, and as of a few months ago, it’s about 50/50 women to men.  And it’s not because we’ve changed our approach, it just reflects the more diverse selection of instantly, hugely recognizable writers in the lexicon.  And I’m sure we’ll alienate someone with our picks, but that’s just a part of it.  The only reason I’ve responded to this this much is because I do care about this issue.  It’s important to me, despite my privileged background or my gender, and in any of my “work”, I try very hard to represent the often-misrepresented well, and not just be another white male with blinders on.  If this were another project, maybe a novel or comic book with completely fictional characters, and it was just another all-white-male cast, there would be absolutely no excuse for my lack of diversity… And I certainly wouldn’t be sticking to my decision as strongly.  I’d be ashamed with the first person to call me out.  And though I’m sure I’ve squandered that responsibility in the past, as I become more and more aware of my privilege and place in society, I want to be part of the solution.  I usually try not to respond to criticism, as it’s an important, needed aspect of any creative process.  It’s how you get better and become aware of problems you didn’t know were there.  But in a case like this, It’s tough to sit back and be dismissed as just another misogynist or part of the problem without wanting to defend yours and your publisher’s decisions.  We’re proud of the book we made and we feel our decisions on who/who not to include are based on a logical, reasonable criteria.  We took it seriously, as silly as the book is, and we hope people can appreciate that, but if you feel this book still adds to the problem, then I completely respect your need to not support it.

Anyway, this doesn’t excuse any immaturity on my part in that last bit of the discussion, but I figured this was worth clarifying a bit more. 

COOL.

First, I want to say thanks for taking this seriously. This was very thoughtful and gracious, and I appreciate it and will try to be thoughtful and gracious in return. (I am fully aware, by the way, that my initial post certainly wasn’t obviously from someone with an advanced degree and a creative professional life, and I can see how you could make the wrong assumptions, but hey, that’s the style of 770Words. It’s not always mature, but satire, if I can claim that, rarely is.)

I do understand where you and Chronicle Books are coming from (I really do love CB). As a business owner, I completely get that marketability is what’s important at the end of the day — there’s a reason this tumblr doesn’t track back to my day job, after all (I don’t think …). And y’all have every right, as an artist and as a publisher, to make the decisions you’ve made.

As the title/tag of this tumblr implies, 770Words is about calling out the instances of inequality and underrepresentation of women I come across in my daily research, especially apparently deliberate bias like the Melinda Gates photo/headline combo that started this whole thing off. It’s through that lens that I approach these callouts, and what’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious about this whole conversation is how it’s pulled back the curtain a bit and exposed some of the decision making and existential angst that went into making one decision to exclude half of the human race, more or less (mostly more), and how it’s not always black and white.

Consciousness raising, to take a second-wave phrase that’s gone out of fashion but is very much still in evidence, thanks to the internet, is most valuable when it not only exposes issues but also inspires thoughtful discussion and examination of the complex thought processes that go into decisions. It’s nice to know there were complex thought processes going into y’all’s decision, and I’d like to think that others who might not have even been particularly aware of the issues might step back and consider why they choose to represent who they choose.

So thanks for continuing to discuss this and for being so human about it. I look forward to seeing your writer project on the shelves! Best of luck (and I did love the GWB outtake from artists — most excellent).

As for the hashtags, well, those with less of a voice must yell louder to be heard. Cheers. (humansplaining — good one)

Sincerely cool to make a new Tumblr friend out of this and see it end way more positively than it otherwise might have.. So, many thanks to 770Words for being gracious and super forgiving despite my brief foray into dumbassery there.  And very glad to have this little book raise such an important discussion and in general, just to get more exposed to another perspective.. More important than I realize. Cheers to you, as well.   

It’s 10AM and I’m on the hunt for fall candles.  F#*% you, August! F#*% you, cart! High-res

It’s 10AM and I’m on the hunt for fall candles. F#*% you, August! F#*% you, cart!

I'm illustrating a children's book. It's my first time, my clients are expecting a lot, and I'm, well, not much. Any advice for a 15-year old start up?

Asked by
harkthemysticalmagicalloser

Haha, I’m so glad you asked, because right now I know exactly how you feel.  I’m working for a new client that, well, is a bit more responsibility that I’m used to, and definitely feeling the pressure.  So, if you don’t mind, I’ll take this time to give us both a little advice.

Firstly, congrats on the project! Your first line of defense in feeling prepared enough is just that.  You (we) got the project.  Someone somewhere saw your work or at the very least trusted you could pull it off, and just knowing that can get you (us) over the hump of worrying about it and into actually working on it.

Something to think about is that, 15, 30, 45, any age you are as an “artist” (this includes actors, musicians, writers, etc.), there won’t be a time where you fully stop doubting the quality of your work.  And there’s a lot to be said about being confident and going full-steam ahead not worrying about it, but I think the best artists DO have some doubt.  I think that’s how you get better, if every time you make something, there’s something about it that makes you say “Next time, I won’t make THAT mistake”.  I want every project I do to be the best thing I’ve ever done.  But as far as I can tell, it’s a slow climb and you only get a little better each time.

So, there’s a little bit of comfort in knowing, whether you make something good, great, or not so good at all, in 10 years you’ll be 10 years better of an artist and hate it anyway:)

As for getting into the actual project! The best advice I’ve heard recently is from the creator of the TV show Arrested Development (Mitch Hurwitz).  He says that he made something unique by knowing what his strengths and his weaknesses were.  He made something BASED on his limitations.  ”I couldn’t write the best jokes, but I could write the most jokes” (paraphrasing here).  To give an illustration example, I’m not the best at drawing really cool action scenes.  Anytime someone’s doing a lot of moving around, it’s obvious I don’t know much about anatomy and it looks weird.  I stay away from it when I can.  So, when I’m not confident, I stick to the things I know I’m better at.  I’m alright at portraits.  And I can draw someone standing still, and I can draw them standing still again somewhere else.  And I can draw their clothes, and maybe a lamp.  Maybe another lamp.  I can pretty much draw something just sitting there, boring and still.  Not a very exciting drawing, and there’s really no point or use to it.  But if I put all those things together, throw in some jokes and dotted lines, all of a sudden it’s a fun paper doll, and now it’s an illustration with a point to it.  There’s a million ways to draw the same thing.  So, if you’re better with drawing big, sprawling landscapes, but not so good at drawing people, then fill this baby up with some beautiful landscapes.  Make it from an angle that’s unique to you, something you know you can pull off, and before you realize it, you have that forever sought-after-thing called “a style”.     

So, as you start on this children’s book (and I start on my project), remember you (we) were good enough to get the job; whether it’s great or not so great, you’ll (we’ll) be way better in 10 years anyway; and as long as you’re drawing the way you like to draw, you (we) will probably nail it:)

Made this after following the insanity in Ferguson last night… From showing up with SWAT gear and sniper rifles to arresting REPORTERS on site, the authorities there are making it more and more obvious there’s something to cover up. High-res

Made this after following the insanity in Ferguson last night… From showing up with SWAT gear and sniper rifles to arresting REPORTERS on site, the authorities there are making it more and more obvious there’s something to cover up.

Like Ketchup On Pasta

A short film in five parts, by five directors.  

Very excited to share about a NEW book of paper dolls coming sometime next year, this time featuring a bunch of literature greats.  And lots and lots of booze..  
And thank you to everyone that’s picked up Art History. Just found out it’s gone into a second printing (whaaaattt), and will be featured in an upcoming issue of ARTNews Magazine!  (Whaaaaaaattt)
OK, back to reading about Kafka’s tuberculosis…  High-res

Very excited to share about a NEW book of paper dolls coming sometime next year, this time featuring a bunch of literature greats.  And lots and lots of booze..  

And thank you to everyone that’s picked up Art History. Just found out it’s gone into a second printing (whaaaattt), and will be featured in an upcoming issue of ARTNews Magazine!  (Whaaaaaaattt)

OK, back to reading about Kafka’s tuberculosis…