Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Comics, murder, and health insurance

Last night my boyfriend and I rented Mark Neveldine’s hopped-up, freaked-out action flick, Crank. It was almost completely awesome, but loses points for being nauseatingly sexist and stupid. That’s not my point.

There’s this scene where Jason Statham, a.k.a. “Chev Chelios,” is confessing his double life to his girlfriend, played by Amy Smart. Statham by the way looks like a sweaty, old, balding leprechaun, while Smart is blithe, young, and perhaps developmentally challenged. Sitting across from each other in a restaurant booth, you get the sense that Smart’s character would rather be home playing with her dolls and waiting to have her first period while Statham tries to explain to her that he is actually a hit man. It goes something like:

Statham: You don’t understand, sweetheart. I kill people.
Me: Ugh, what a loser! He’s a violent psychopath and he probably lied about having money, too. Dump that motherfucker, Amy.
Statham: I work as a gun for hire with a national crime syndicate.
Smart: Lalala, I love unicorns.

Me: Oh well, at least he does it professionally.

That is my point. Self-obsessed fine artists are like serial killers, and designers are like professional hitmen. Which one would you rather know, personally? Which one is more likely to pay rent and have basic social skills? Which one is more likely to have health insurance bennies? No, designers/hitmen don’t get to select their clientele or their tasks. Yes, they have sold their souls a little bit (perhaps more than a little bit, for hitmen). But have some degree of creative control in what they do, and guess what? THEY GET PAID, SON!

In my time at art school, the design students were universally regarded as lame-os by we fine fArtists because they (supposedly) didn’t possess the creativity to produce completely independent works. This was certainly true of some, but not nearly all. For really reals, there is no shame in using your talent to make a few bones. And unsurprisingly, those artists/designers who illustrate other people’s ideas all day often make their own nipple-shrinklingly awesome artwork in the off hours. Students take heed, I tell you, it’s totally legit to get paid to do what you do well. You can still be creative on your own time. Shit, even Dexter has a day job, and nobody calls him a sellout.

<"I work for the MPD, but that's just to support my work until I get my big break."

Here are some folks who are designers AND artists. Is it a coincidence that they are all comic artists as well? Probably not. The typically guileless and explicit visual language of comics jells well with design and advertisement, which have no use for obscure narratives. This is not to say that comics don't possess ambiguity, rather, the ambiguity of a comic is made manifest through strong and compelling sequential visuals. Basically, they "show" and don't "tell," which is good if you're trying to weave a deeply complex story or sell a wristwatch.

James Jean

Danielle Corsetto

Adrian Tomine

Gary Panter

This list needs more diversity! I've only got one lady up there, and I think these folks are all American. Send your suggestions for ass-kicking designers.

1 comment:

  1. well she doesn't kill people and likes babies (live babies), but i think she kicks ass :

    Jen Corace