Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘illustration’

31 JULY, 2012

The Art of War: The Ancient Chinese Classic Adapted for Dystopia circa 2032

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A graphic novel about heroism, corporate greed, and the convergence of Wall Street and Chinatown.

Some two thousand years ago, Chinese general Sun Tzu penned The Art of War — an ancient military treatise that went on to become one of the most timeless and revered strategy books of all time, its insights extending beyond the military and into just about every domain of tactical intelligence. In The Art of War: A Graphic Novel (public library), writer Kelly Roman and illustrator Michael DeWeese adapt the classic to a futuristic world where wars are waged on a militarized Wall Street, China is the dominant global superpower, and Sun Tzu’s ancient teachings unfold in a dystopian interplay between corporate greed and the undying human capacity for empathy.

Though exceedingly gory and lacking the edutainment value of graphic novels as serious nonfiction, The Art of War: A Graphic Novel peels away the many layers of what heroism means, what it can be and should be, to paint a portrait of a world that might be around the corner if we don’t align our corporate strategies with our cultural and human values.

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27 JULY, 2012

Illustration (The Finest Occupation): An Animated Short Film

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A charming tongue-in-cheek testament to the art of taking joy in one’s work.

I recently had the delight of moderating an AIGA conversation on the future of illustration with all-star illustrators Christoph Niemann, Nicholas Blechman, and Jennifer Daniel, in which two things became immediately clear: The borders of what illustration actually is are ever-shifting, and the finest illustrators take enormous pride and pleasure in their work, despite its creative frustrations.

From Temujin Dorandocumentarian, illustrator, language-lover, provocateur — comes Illustration (The Finest Occupation), a lovely short film about illustration based on a poem he wrote in his last year of (illustration) school, “a fictitious congratulatory letter written by a proud tutor to a recent graduate.” Doran’s drawings reminiscent of Edward Gorey and tongue-in-cheek rhymes, despite their irreverent tone, deliver the same tremendously important message Ray Bradbury so passionately articulated: Work with joy, always.

The greatest illustration
is not mere decoration
but succinct accumulation
of creative demonstration
and ratifying observation
of the intended subjectation
with alarming innovation
and shining punctuation
of all relevant information
done with stoic consideration
for its intended situation
exceeding all expectation
with regard to the examination
of images domination
to that of textual affectation
that commands generation upon generation
to convey without hesitation
their continued exultation
at its supreme imagination
within the realms of communication.

Thus it delights be beyond all anticipation
to relay my admiration
and relentless adoration
at your unbridled determination
towards your education
and after serious meditation
in the height of contemplation
it becomes my acclimation
to give you confirmation
after just deliberation
and close interrogation
of your startling illumination
variation
adaptation
and exemplification
accomplished in the field of illustration.

And so after such examination
it is my proud pronunciation
of your swift galvanization
a first rate qualification
you may receive with due humiliation
despite its floccinaucinihilipilification
(worthless accreditation)
so it becomes my recommendation
without prevarication
for celebration
and recreation
to be your obligation

Yours truly
Professor Toby Flosotation
B.A. M.A. Ph. D. Illustration

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25 JULY, 2012

Maira Kalman on Identity, Happiness, and Existence

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“How are we so optimistic, so careful not to trip and yet do trip, and then get up and say OK?”

In this wonderful short video, Maira Kalman — the remarkable artist, prolific author, unmatched storyteller, and one of my favorite hearts and minds in the world — shares some wisdom on identity, happiness, and existence. Watch and take notes.

The idea that you’d have to say ‘goodbye’ to all this — even though it’s infuriating and maddening and frightening and horrible, some of the time — is even more infuriating and maddening and horrible: How do you spend this time without perpetually being so broken-hearted about saying the eventual goodbye? I usually say, in the end, okay, it’s love and it’s work — what else could there possibly be?

Speaking to the fluidity of character and the myth of fixed personality, Kalman observes:

How do you know who you are? There are many parts to who you are, so there isn’t one static place. And then, the other part of that is that things keep changing.

Here are some of the beautiful, poignant quotes Kalman reads and shows from her published works.

From And The Pursuit of Happiness:

From The Principles of Uncertainty:

How do you know who you are?

How are we so optimistic, so careful Not to trip and yet Do trip, and then GET up and say O.K. Why do I feel so sorry for everyone and so PROUD?

What can I tell you? The realization that we are ALL (you, me) going to die and the attending disbelief — isn’t that the central premise of EVERYTHING? It stops me DEAD in my tracks a DOZEN times a day. Do you think I remain FROZEN? NO. I spring into action. I find meaningful distraction.

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