Updated: May 13
Artists, please forgive me for this betrayal.
For years I have been asked to do quite a few impossible tasks with my art. People have asked me to illustrate things in two days that would take Albrecht Durer ten years and are nearly equal to the work of the Sistine Chapel. They follow their request with some vague comment like, “It doesn’t have to be great, just kick something quick out.” Or… “It is easy for you. You’re an artist. Just do your magic!”
These folks usually have no real connection with art. It is not their fault. They don’t know a water-color brush from a chalk pastel or a painting on a canvas from an amusement park airbrushed t-shirt. They could not name a famous artist, from the present or the past, except, maybe, Picasso, Monet, Michelangelo, DiVinci or Disney (and maybe that guy who cut off his ear.)
When they see art they don’t understand, they make statements like, “My four-year-old could have done that.” These folks can examine and move through a modern art display in ten minutes. It doesn’t take long to rate most pieces on the scale from “crap” to “garbage.” All art is simply a splatter of medium on paper, in a specific order, that only took 30 minutes to produce.
These are usually the same folks that offer you nothing for your work. They don’t understand how the artists work, any of the processes, or that canvas and gesso, and pencils and markers, and paper and watercolors are not free.
This article is for these folks! I am going to reveal the secret behind art.
Of course there will be thousands of artists angry because of this revelation. This secret has been held in confidence by artists for thousands and thousands of years, going back to Og Grunt Grunt. (Please forgive the spelling of his name if it is wrong, but they didn’t have letters back then.) He was one of the first artist to do a commissioned piece on a cave wall near the Euphrates river, just after the neophyte period of man’s early ancestors. This secret has been passed down to the following generations for, what paleontologists and cosmetologists (and some meteorologists) estimate to be at least ten thousand years, give or take a week.
The secret was nearly revealed in the 1960’s when a op-artist named Andy Narwhal, under the influence of his own black-light art, in order to pick up chicks, came close to breaking this code of silence that the brotherhood of artists held so sacred. Fortunately for us, he got a date that weekend.
Another close call came when an art student at the Van Helsing Art Institute, (year unknown)
under extreme and immense duress, was nearly persuaded to confess our secret, tempted with a tube of titanium white he badly needed for his Painting 201 class. Disaster averted.
But … to this point … the secret has been held, and has never been yielded to a non-artist for fear of creating a “butterfly effect” that would immediately change the lives of humankind forever. Not to mention, it would severely impact the egos of many renown artists who regard themselves as some kind of art-god.
“Why now?” you may ask. Why take the chance of world wide destruction and the pandemonium that might ensue? Why break the code and risk artists having to get part-time jobs like painting signs, painting houses, and carving pumpkins in October? Why risk the disillusionment of knowing that magic doesn’t really exist? All good questions!
This Pandora’s box must be opened. We, as artists, must reveal ourselves! It is only there that we can truly release ourselves as artists, art majors working at McDonald's, crafters, (not sure about graphic designers,) doodlers and all around people who love holding pencils. (I am not sure if this applies to sculptors either, I never understood those people. But if the shoe fits … ) We must let go of this code of silence and free ourselves from its bondage.
I am bracing myself here for the death threats and the shunning of my people for releasing this sacred information to the “brush-less” or those who have never worn an apron for anything but cooking, or used a brush for anything but as a tool to change the color of a wall. (This is the top secret title that artists, who observe the code, sometimes use to refer to non-artists. Used in the same genre as the term “muggle.” The term referring to those whose creative skills were stifled. Probably by some art teacher in 3rd grade who refused to put their art in the display case outside the art room. “But they put up Timmy’s drawing. She always liked Timmy the best. You couldn’t even tell what that blob of paint was. It certainly did not look like a cat.”)
Secret revealed: Yes, we are magic. There I said it. All the hours we say it takes to complete a piece of art is a sham. Every artist has the power to make art with their mind. It is not uncommon for many artists to do projects while they are asleep. I know a guy who did a piece that sold in New York for $75,000, that he did on a canvas in his home, while he was on vacation in the Bahamas. No one ever knew.
When you ask an artist how much a commission will be, we scurry about, trying to make up a number. We don’t really know how much time it would take, because it is all magic. How much time does it take to blink an eye? No one is going to pay for that. However, let Harry Potter try doing 40 illustrations for a children’s book by Christmas with his flimsy magic.
We really don’t even need a wand or a magic pencil or paintbrush or marker. This magic has been passed down for generations and we are the few that know how to wield its power. We just collect all those tools so we look like we know what we are doing in photos. It helps conceal the magic when you see a picture of an artist sitting down at a drawing table with thousands of colored markers or enough paint brushes to paint the Brooklyn bridge, if held side by side, in no more than 12 swipes. Sometime it makes us look cool if we have some kind of tablet rigged up with a wire that precariously snakes back behind our computer screen.
Oh, I know, you say you have seen a guy on the street painting and he was sweating and had a look of anguish on his face. He painfully pushed the paint in every direction with the greatest of care. All an illusion. It actually only took Michelangelo fifteen minutes to do the Sistine Chapel. And that was with a 10 minute coffee break. He really knew how to use the magic.
Most of the non-artists already knew this, or suspected it. That is the real reason you say things like, “Just do your magic.” You artists already know they knew. They just couldn’t figure out, as with all magic, how we do it. They knew that we were just making up numbers. How could it possibly take all those hours to paint a portrait of their dog?
They suspected, but never knew about the materials fairy. That innocent little nymph that would bring us all the materials we could ever need, simply by the call of the magic artist. (We had to put the art in some format that looked real.) They saw us at the art supply store but did not realize that it was part of our game. They were certain that all the markers, paints, substrates, devices, software, computers, boards, pencils, etc., came to us, not by driving all over town, or by shipping from large art warehouses, or by searching the internet for cheaper brands and paying for shipping and handling. No! No one suspected that our magic art fairy made everything appear two hours before we needed it.
I know what the artists are thinking. Now people will want to pay us squat. They will think that we should not even get minimum wage. They had always suspected that we weren’t really working and all our materials were free; but, now they have every right to expect us to do everything for free.
Let the anarchy begin. The world changes today.
Artists who are working too hard, even at this moment, may now start using their magic. You have worked too long. Let the magic do the work. Need 40 illustrations by Christmas? The town wants an 8 by 24 foot mural of the town's history by the 100th anniversary in two weeks? Need to layout a 250 page catalog by Thursday (and you don’t have the copy/text yet?) Relax! Let the magic happen. Take a vacation. Mow the yard. Go hiking with the kids. When you get back, do your magic.
I know that some artists will want to do everything for free now. But… Remember, we still have to eat. And some of the “brush-less” still don’t know our secret. We can still pull this off. Most people will not believe this post anyway.
On second thought… lets keep it a secret and let them wonder if we are really spending ten times the hours we quoted and are paying nearly the amount they paid us for a tube of paint that we needed and will never need again, but the last one dried up in 1995. Maybe it should stay our little secret.
So “brush-less” people, ignore the preceding. I made it all up. It was just for entertainment.
Let the magic continue.