Here’s the drawing:
I noticed some artist and animator friends were posting drawings with the hashtag #inktober. This is the sort of thing I never do. But it had been years since I’d respectfully drawn with ink on paper, and I kind of missed it. So I ordered myself some different brush pens, and the day they arrived I sat down and drew these:
No warm-ups, no practice, just bam, out they came.
It’s been more than a decade since I’ve drawn in this style, with ink on paper. I’ve avoided it due to burn-out from drawing daily comic strips. Advice to you kids: turning something you enjoy into a daily job is a great way to make you hate it. I quit my last daily comic, The Hots, in 2003 (before that I did another mainstream daily, Fluff, and before that was my self-syndicated weekly Nina’s Adventures, the entire archive of which you may download here.) I guess 12 years is enough time to recover from style burn-out, at least a little.
“Inktober” has a list of “daily prompts” and I decided to just follow them:
Honestly I’m enjoying this so much right now I’d kind of like to take on an illu$tration gig while I’m still fresh. Too much of that and I might burn out again, but right now it would be fun.
Thursday, January first, Two thousand fifteen
Yesterday I awoke with a clear and simple melody running through my head, a really good and catchy one. Then I had breakfast with ____ and it was gone. This is why I am an introvert: I want to hear the music in my head. It’s like a wilderness preserve: clumsy tourists wander off-trail and step on the delicate wildlife, killing it inadvertently. They don’t mean to but the endangered plants and animals don’t care; they don’t survive on good intentions. I miss my melody. It lived so easily in my head yesterday but couldn’t survive another person. Habitat loss. Like the Sitka Deer, much of the life in my head needs a wide range. I am an increasingly grumpy forest ranger, responsible both for the needs of the tourists and the wildlife. The former endanger the latter so I want them to just fuck off. But I need tourists for some reason, like were it not for tourists the forest would be razed for a housing development or mine or parking lot.
We had a little breakthrough at Gray-Paley* Labs, doing trapplique with the embroidery machine.
Theo improved stitch quality within the Ziz, but for some reason our registration between layers is always off. As you can see, the machine stitches the registration borders 1-2mm apart on the bottom, while they’re almost exactly lined up at the top. We can’t get our satin stitch quite on target, because the registration step is always slightly off from the satin stitch step. We discovered the machine thinks the files are slightly different sizes. It’s Theo’s challenge to figure out why, since everything is exported from Mathematica at the same resolution.
Even with these problems, the trapplique is a big aesthetic step forward in the project, and if we can work out the remaining technical kinks I’ll be able to make a 12-frame cycle/12-panel quilt soon.
Sequel to Embroidermation Test 1.
Theo Gray and I bought a 10-needle embroidery machine to pursue a dream of embroidered animation. Existing embroidery software sucks too badly to do the automated shape-to-stitch conversions necessary, so Theo found a way to use Mathematica instead. This is his first full test, created in Mathematica, exported
I can already feel it slowing down, which means I’ll have to find something useful to do soon. Meanwhile I wanted to see the morphing tiles as a 2-color map. Easier said than done: Flash crashes every time I try to convert the various symbols making up the outline into “shapes,” so I had to export a PNG and use the clunky old paint bucket in Photoshop. There’s an ugly thick outline I added to close gaps, in order to make said paint bucket work. But at least my 2-color curiosity is now satisfied.
It reminds me of the far-more-awesome M.C. Escher Metamorphosis poster I had in college. And although the thick outline and various other flaws make not-print-worthy, yesterday I made a color version that is:
I ordered a few yards of it from Spoonflower. I can’t wait – once I start quilting this stuff I might get re-obsessed for days!
Slight improvements? Or exprovements? Either way, I’m still fiddling and posting the Ziz as it develops.
I’ve only just learned that if you post a work in progress, everyone wants to tell you how to change it. Not once did I request advice, but advice is clearly what I’ll get if I post unfinished work (or finished work, come to think of it). I’m free to ignore any or all of it; everyone on the interwebs is just talking, they don’t have any power over me unless I give it to them. I can “take what I like and leave the rest” – and sometimes someone offers something useful. (Of course praise is always useful! It’s like water and sunshine to a plant.) Instead of criticizing the critics, which was my initial impulse, I’m remembering that it’s my choice to post these W-I-P’s, and my choice to accept or ignore people’s “helpful suggestions”, and that I’m actually in control here.
If I can learn to do that here, I’ll be better at living with criticism elsewhere. As my daily prayer says:
So whether you’re criticizing or praising or ignoring what I post here, I’m benefiting by getting a little stronger and growing up a little more. And hey look – a ZIZ!
This one has a beak and a different mane, a whole new head design actually. Also: dotted lines everywhere.
In case you’re wondering, all these modifications aren’t in pursuit of the Perfect Ziz. Any of the ones I’ve made so far would be plenty adequate for storytelling, and my motto is, “Adequate is Good Enough.” No, I’m just pulled along by curiosity right now. “What would happen if I did _______?” This kind of open-ended fiddling gets a lot of us artists in trouble – it’s addictive, and also “safe,” not risky like designing a whole new character, or actually telling a story, or moving on and getting a project finished. Hence my motto.
That said, I’m indulging myself right now. Plus I’m getting great exercise ignoring criticism, something I’ll have to do lots more of in the coming years.
When people copy songs and movies, they don’t change the authors’ names. Plagiarism is something else: it’s lying. If Copyright has anything to do with plagiarism, it’s that it makes it easier to plagiarize (because works and their provenance aren’t public and are therefore easier to obscure and lie about) and increases incentive to do so (because copying with attribution is as illegal as copying without, and including attribution makes the infringement more conspicuous). American Copyright law does not protect attribution to begin with; it is concerned only with “ownership,” not authorship. Many artists sign their attributions away with the “rights” they sell, which is why it can be difficult to know which artists contributed to corporate works.
I chose Beethoven to illustrate how copyright has nothing to do with preventing plagiarism. All Beethoven’s work is in the Public Domain. Legally, you can take Ludwig van Beethoven’s songs, Jane Austen‘s novels, or Eadweard Muybridge‘s photographs and put any name you want on them. Go ahead! You’re at no risk of legal action. Your reputation may suffer, however, and you definitely won’t be fooling anyone. If anyone has doubts, they can use that same copy machine – the Internet – to sort out who authored what. Lying is very difficult in a public, transparent system. A good analog to this is public encryption keys: their security comes from their publicity.
The song says “always give credit where credit is due,” but in many cases credit is NOT due. For example, how many credits should be at the end of this film? I devoted about two and a half seconds to these credits:
But I could have credited far more. In fact, the credits could take longer than the movie. Here are some more credits:
What about sound effects? Were it not for duration constraints, this would be in the movie:
Every single sound effect in the cartoon was made by someone. Should I credit each one? Crash-wobble by (Name of Foley Artist Here). Cartoon zip-run by (Name of Other Foley Artist Here). And so on: dozens of sound effects were used in the cartoon, and each one had an author. What about the little noises Mimi & Eunice make? Not only could the recording engineer be credited, but the voice actor as well (as far as I know, these were both Greg Sextro).
I included a few seconds of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at the end, which I didn’t credit in the movie. Should I have? Why or why not?
I could credit the characters:
I could be more detailed in crediting myself:
And the funder!
I didn’t even make a card for the Minute Memes logo. Should that be in there?
The ass drawing also came from Wikimedia Commons, where it’s credited to Pearson Scott Foresman. But who actually drew it? I have no idea. I doubt that Pearson Scott Foresman could even legally claim the copyright on it to “donate” to Wikimedia in the first place, but there they are, getting credit for it instead of an artist. That’s because copyright is only concerned with “ownership,” not authorship.
Then there’s the software I used, good old pre-Adobe Macromedia Flash. Should I credit the software? What about the programmers who contributed to the software?
Mimi and Eunice themselves were “inspired” by many historical cartoons. Early Disney and Fleischer animations, the “rubber hose” style, Peanuts, this recent cartoon, and countless other sources I don’t even know the names of – but would be compelled to find out, if credit were in fact due. Is it?
And so on. It is possible to attribute ad absurdum. So where is credit due? It’s complicated, the rules are changing, and standards are determined organically by communities, not laws. I had to edit the song for brevity, but I kind of wish I hadn’t excised this line:
Attribution is a way to help your neighbor. You share not only the work, but information about the work that helps them pursue their own research and maybe find more works to enjoy. How much one is expected to help their neighbor is determined by (often unspoken) community standards. People who don’t help their neighbors tend to be disliked. And those who go out of their way to deceive and defraud their neighbors – i.e. plagiarists – are hated and shunned. Plagiarism doesn’t affect works – works don’t have feelings, and what is done to one copy has no effect on other copies. Plagiarism affects communities, and it is consideration for such that determines where attribution is appropriate.
At least that’s the best I can come up with right now. Attribution is actually a very complicated concept; if you have more ideas about it, please share.