I have always had a serious problem with “The Art of So and So” books.
I’m already pretentious enough without showing off a bunch of work no one saw in the waking world, that the idea of many sketchbooks just seems, well, selfish.
I get it. And I have done some of my own at the suggestion of other creators. But I have to admit I refrained from calling it “The art of …”
The real reason? Who cares. Who flipping cares. Note the lack of a question mark. It’s not a question anymore if everyone and their brother can publish a sketchbook of random stuff you didn’t make any money doing. To put it into really simple – and sometimes incomprehensible business speak to some – it is monetizing your sketchbook.
Why does that bother me? Why do I hate it? I think it’s seriously too much to ask for someone to proclaim what they do is really art by slapping it right there on the cover. It really only bothers me when people slap that moniker on there and the book is filled with rehashes, remixes or reinterpretations someone else’s intellectual property. And yeah I’m picking on fan art monetization. That should bug every artist but it doesn’t.
At some point you may find yourself at the nexus of copyright and theft – the real question then of your art is whether you are the thief or the victim. And I’m not talking about that Steal like and artist nonsense. That phrase has been abused so profusely the original author should have disowned it by now. But the lecture circuit is too profitable these days.
Stealing like an artist, as I define it, reminds me of something Frank Lloyd Wright said about his work. Nature was his inspiration, where you might say he “stole” his ideas. But he called it organic – as in organic architecture. That an architect experienced nature, it passed through their soul, and something new emerged. THAT is how you are meant to steal like an artist. It doesn’t mean selling prints of Poison Ivy having sex with Black Widow (mashups are fun, don’t get me wrong, but calling it art or stealing REALLY begs other embarrassing questions).
SO my ranting continues. And I chose a theme for my sketchbook – a simple 24 page convention first for me. It’s themed around the ideas of the apocalypse – everyone’s favorite way to mull over the end of days, only I am using the doctrine of fair use CORRECTLY, borrowing phrases from authors around the world, and coupling them with pieces I have created over the years. The effect, I think, is new, at least for me.