Saturday, January 30, 2010

OMG I'm Famous

Do you ever google yourself? I did today. I found out that a woman with the same name as me is somehow a character on one of these "Real Housewives of..." shows. Same name! She clearly isn't that famous yet, since I only heard of her this way. But imagine someone who had your name became super famous. Like your name is something very normal like "Michael Jackson" and then Michael Jackson comes along....Weird. That would be weird.

Not as weird as being named Theremin though.

An aquaintance named their baby Theremin recently. Their male baby. Yes, like the horror movie instrument. I suppose that reduces the likelyhood that your kid will have their name become famous unintentionally.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Illustrator of the Month - January

I almost missed this month's entry. It has been insane, with work travels to Atlanta and LA, and that on top of this being my busiest month of the year at work. Doubly this year, since I seem to keep inheriting the title "project lead" on shit, which is just that, shit, because it means somehow you are responsible and trusted by your employer, it also means you are responsible for and supervise everyone else's work fuckery. Suddenly their procrastination becomes your problem. It is lucky that Christmas falls when it does, because otherwise I don't think I'd survive. I think I might be the only person who looks forward to February each year.

This month the artist came to my attention reading Juxtapoz magaine on the airplane. One of the perks about travelling for work is that I can expense my reading material for the plane, and this time I picked my regular as well as Juxtapoz, for a change. Other work trip perks include staying in cool hotels and drinking premium alcohol for free on work nights. Not only expected, but encouraged. This is fine by me, but I have got to stop making 8am presentations hung over.

Juxtapoz is excellent - art without stuffiness and pretention, but still real articles on the topic. More articles than advertising, that is always a treat to see. Their cover artist on the January 2010 issue is Kehinde Wiley.

Kehinde Wiley is a painter. His style is something different for me, not something I would normally pick as a love. But, after finishing the magazine, I kept coming back to the pages with his images over and over again. I keep thinking about the meaning behind them. I am enamoured with his ability to freehand paint patterns. No digital cheating here folks. Saying that makes it sound like making digital patterns this complex is easy. Well, it isn't, but it is damn easier than doing it by hand.

He paints portraits of youth - primarily African American, sometimes of other cultures or races, but always the underserved male youth. He places his subjects in settings that will feel familiar to you if you study art history - history at all really, as he places them in typical poses from early 19th century portraiture or Renaissance portraiture.

Those grand, proud poses.

The work is so engaging because the artist is clearly a master - his attention to detail, the style, the painterly strokes. But it is also totally current - relevant to today's youth culture and yet is haunting because of the oddness of the pairing of these two eras.

I find his work compelling because of this contrast, but also because I feel the artist is also commenting on white arrogance. There is, among a certain generation, or personality, in white folks, the inclination to find offense in black arrogance. Personally I find arrogance refreshing, I find confident people the most interesting. But I am specifically thinking of my (or your) parents "not getting" rappers braggadocio - or the "controversy" regarding Usain Bolt's "arrogance" at the last Olympics. That sort of thing. That sort of racist thing.

Because somehow, despite the oddity of this portraiture, people still hold it in very high regard. And likely wouldn't question the confident nature of the subject.

Aside from all that thinking hard stuff, his images are really cool to look at. Juxtapoz has nice full page reproductions.

Kehinde Wiley is also gay. Maybe this shouldn't be mentioned in this post, but it seems significant to his work to me. Should I mention it? I did. 

Accepted in the hip hop community, Kehinde was comissioned to do a number of portraits for the hip hop honours. Hip hop & gay don't usually ...typically go together, so that is pretty interesting. And good.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bring the Magic Back

The record companies cry poor. Oh, wah, wah wah. You stole our money and didn't even really give it to the artist for decades, and now we are supposed to feel sorry for you? Idiots.

The reality is that the world has changed. Marketing has changed. Music hasn't really changed, but the music industry has, because no one wants to pay for music anymore. The music industry changed right in front of their eyes, and no one did anything about it. Sorry, they did. They sued some kid who had no money. They decided to rape fans, real music buying fans, of even more money: They created the "Deluxe Edition" re-release by tacking on "THREE NEW SONGS!!!" to a year old album, to make the real fans buy it twice. What assholes.  The cover of a particular Warrant album comes to mind.

The film industry was suffering too. No one goes to theatres anymore, because the home movie experience is so grand (your own couch, your own snacks, your own toilet, your own pause button...) that no one wishes to even bother going out anymore. People download everything they want to see from the net. So what did the film industry do? Yeah, they put those dumb warning messages about pirating on their films, but they also decided they needed to create a reason for people to go out  to the movies again.

3-D. Genius! You know how many movies I've seen this year in the theatre...and by "this year" I mean 2010? 2. Two. Yep, and that's 1 more than I saw in the theatre compared to the year previous, which isn't a good sample because I only went to that one movie because Gary asked and it starred Christian Bale. Normally, I avoid the theatre at all costs. 2 times this year and it is still January. Now that is good marketing.

Ah, 3d. Some of the stupidly beautiful things they are creating are simply worth seeing at the theatre to fully experience all the incredible work and artistry going into these films. There's magic again. It is fully overwhelming at times. During Avatar I actually had to move seats to sit farther from the screen, because it was so overwhelming I was feeling dizzy. They've gotten over that dumb "make it look like it is coming right at them!" 3D thing they used to do, and now they create the most incredible immersive experiences. You can see the pores on skin, see the nose hair bristle with breaths.

I'm not a huge animation buff, but I know from working in digital formats how incredibly hard and time consuming this kind of animation is.

What I'm getting at is that the music industry needs to learn from this, and fast. They expect us to pay for our music. Fair enough. But instead of giving us something extra for our money - something we want and can value, like a great experience, a cool tshirt, a poster or a good booklet, they expect us to buy the same old crap.  Instead of staying with the modern age and accepting that they must adapt, they complain and sue people.

Why should the music industry get special treatment? Why should we feel sorry for them? Motherfuckers need to learn to ADAPT because that is what all industries must do in a transitional world. They charge HOW MUCH for a download? It isn't even a REAL thing! If my computer, or mp3 player dies, and I'm not the most anal man alive who backs everything up, it is gone. Sure, I can lose a cd, but at least in that case, someone finds it. Give me a 3d totally sick animation with my download. Maybe a mini movie message from the artist. How about a log in key for exclusive web content...and the content is actually desirable? 

You want me to pay for it? Make it worth my money.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Poster Boy

Poster Boy is a New York city area street artist, who uses only a razor. He cuts sections out of posters on the street, and rearranges them. Some of them are so, so good. Check out his flickr to keep up with recent work.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Short Rant on Conan/Leno

I grew up watching Conan. Leno, I can't relate to. It was Letterman, then Conan. The best was when Andy was on the show, and he's back now. Amazing.

This whole stupid thing with Leno not really wanting to leave is terrible. You know what it is though? It's exactly what everyone of my generation is going through. No different. I say "my generation" loosely I guess - Conan is a good chunk older than me, but he's going through the same stuff I am and many of my friends are.

The baby boomers are just refusing to retire. Seen it over and over again. It's bullshit. They decide that a million dollars (or in Leno's case, many millions of dollars) aren't enough to retire on. They can't 'maintain their lifestyle forever' so they don't want to stop working. At least not fully. They don't even really want to work longer - they just want to feel needed. They don't want to quit working, because the extra money is nice, and they have underlings to do the hard work. As a result, the younger, better trained, more energetic staff are stuck in lower level jobs until they do.

My boss is either 70 or close to it. He's already got his house in Florida and is there half the time. I get stuck doing my job and his job. Do I make more money? Of course not. When will he retire? It isn't in the forseeable future. I've seen this time and time again. "Kids" in their thirties desperate to take over a family business, move from entry level to something that will actually utilize their shit-tonne of education (which of course they were told to get by boomers - "or they'll never get ahead".) The boomers have sucked up all the resources - pensions, medical benefits, secure jobs, secure economy - they had it all and fucked it all up.

And now we - in lower paying jobs in lower positions, living in a world where the average yearly income and the average cost of a house aren't even within $100,000 of eachother, are supposed to start saving for OUR retirement now so we aren't broke and destitute since there is nothing left for us. But we can barely pay our mortgages and bills, since no boomer will retire fully and let us have the decent jobs with which to get ahead.

This is exactly what Leno is doing to Conan. He can't let go of his fame and he isn't ready to leave. He wants more money. His 10pm show failed, thusly screwing Conan of any chance for a good 'lead in' show, and instead of letting him go, they've given him his OLD show back, that they already passed on. Dispicable. NBC has fucked Conan's chances of having any success with the show he spent his entire career trying to get.

I hope Conan leaves and gets a timeslot against Leno and destroys him in the ratings. There would be a sweetness to that, for all of us who are stuck...waiting....