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Buying Pop Art at Barnes & Noble

By Tracy Marchini on Saturday, December 5, 2009 - Comments Off

Andy Warhol was fascinated with the high and low in art, and even twenty years after his death, his Estate has managed to sell limited-edition Campbell’s soup cans in Barney’s for twelve dollars each. But just a few years before the debut of his first soup can screenprint, Andy Warhol illustrated a children’s book, THE LITTLE RED HEN, which will be auctioned off on December 9th.

To me, nowhere is the juxtaposition of the high and low in art more apparent than in children’s illustration. Though one might look at a Jackson Pollock and think (but perhaps not say), “I can splatter paint on a canvas!,” one hears people browsing the picture book section and declaring, “I could draw this!”

But after over three years of reading the query box, I can assure you, ninety-eight percent of the people that scoff at the artwork, cannot just “splatter paint.” I’ve seen everything from four-fingered Santa Clauses, to illustrations of children without necks. And though we advise aspiring children’s writers not to illustrate their own stories unless they think their artwork can truly measure up to the illustrations that are already on the bookshelves, sometimes it’s clear that this advice is ignored at best, and followed at worst. Read more »

Everyone Will Be Famous For 15 Minutes

By JK Evanczuk on Thursday, November 12, 2009 - Comments Off

fifteen minutesWriters and other artists are uniquely disadvantaged in the face of competition. We can pull the same hours as a suit on Wall Street, but unlike the businessman we’ll only be as productive as our inner muses will allow. You can’t just point at someone and go, “You over there–create art” and expect him to come up with a work of value. Art is a distinctly different entity from the artist. The artist can work as hard as he or she likes, but the art will take its own sweet time.

This problem is made worse by the fact that we live in a culture in which Warhol’s famous statement “everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes” has become literal. You create something, and people enjoy it. And then they move onto the next thing. And these days, the “next thing” comes every few minutes, if not seconds. So if you want to stand out, you must continue to create, and create again, and then create some more. And pray that your muse can keep up.

In a recent guest article for The View From Here Magazine, Incwriters founder Andrew Oldham spends some quality time discussing the detrimental effects of competition on craft:

It is a cheap lie that competition creates choice; it kills craft and creates carbon copies. Now, a whole new generation of writers and poets want to be next Terry Pratchett or JK Rowling. Rarely do they want to be the first of something new.

Readers feel inadequate that they are not well read compared to other readers. Poets rage at why their poems are rejected while another poet they know is always published. Writers seethe at not being having that big but simple idea that Terry Pratchett or JK Rowling had. We call this competitive spirit. Wrong. Inadequate spirit. True.

These are excellent points. But what would be the alternative to our competition-addled culture? Read more »