Thursday, November 10, 2016

Make Good Art

By Lauren Panepinto

I have been struggling to find a way to write my column here this week, after recent events have left me more than a little disappointed. No matter how this week is going for you, we certainly all know what it's like to feel disappointment and fear and depression and rage. I could easily spend this column trying to work through how all the work I do both as a professional Art Director and all the work I do in my "free" time, on Drawn + Drafted, Dear AD, and Art Business Bootcamp, centers on building empathy, compromise and negotiation, but seeing people tear each other apart over the last few weeks makes me feel like it's useless and unwanted... but hey, that's what I pay a therapist for. 

I could also, somehow (with the help of a great deal of bourbon), try to summon my optimistic side and remind everyone that struggle, as history has shown us, is great for art. (see: Reganism/Punk Rock, Fascism in Spain/Guernica)

Disappointment, depression, anger, rage, sadness, and fear affects everyone's ability to work, but it especially affects artists. I think we've all used the excuse that we're not in the mood to art. Unless you are a stronger and more determined artist than I'll ever be. I'm sure some bigger souls among us are already using their disappointment and rage to fuel new pieces and I applaud them. The rest of us are having trouble pulling ourselves together.

So I am posting here the only thing that we need to focus on right now. Drag yourself to your canvas, your computer, your cintiq, your crayon, whatever you've got handy... and Make Something.

If you can drown yourself in a deadline or commission, great. If not, give yourself a little break and freedom to make something for yourself. I think we all need to make something beautiful to prove we can. Or we might need to make something ugly to get it out of our system. Whatever gets you making again. Just start.

Thanks Neil Gaiman and Zen Pencils, I really needed that right now.


  1. Our apologies. We have some rules here on Muddy colors that were overlooked today. We don't like to censor things, but in order to abide by those rules, the post and a few comments had to been amended. Our apologies to those commenters who's replies are now missing. We hope you won't take it personally. We will strive to keep everything civil and art-related here.

    1. Sorry! Not meant to be a political post, but a post on disappointment, despair, rage, sadness, and working through those feelings as an artist. Stepped back the context to more general terms.

    2. I agree with your article. The only way to keep making art is to go through the bad and to the good. On other things, we'll have to disagree. I am very happy with recent events, and look forward to the future.

  2. This is all that needs to be said. Thanks, Lauren.

    Some responses have show the incapability or, more likely, unwillingness to understand what this election means to so many American people.

    As a woman, a Latino, and LGBT, this is terrifying. For an entire day, I could not face the world and accept the decision most of the people around me had taken- I live in the American South. To have so many of the people I see day to day have their racism, bigotry, and fears validated and soon, guiding the nation even more strongly than before, is nothing short of heart breaking. I feel privy to the starting destruction of America values that led this nation forward for so long, even if they were at times small and labored steps. I am afraid of the number of steps backwards this choice will result in, and how long it will take to make reparations afterwards.

    This post is not tailored to everyone that may read it. But even if she is writing this for what may or not be a small minority of Muddy Colors readers, this is a very real fear, and "why bother" is a very real question.

    Lauren, thank you so much. While I still struggle with facing this new reality, I cannot tell you the amount of reassurance your words give me. Thank you for giving me the push to start moving forward in my life and my art. We are facing this together, and I am glad to know there is support within our community. Because this is really effing scary.

  3. Thanks Lauren- a little Neil Gaiman was much needed! I woke up this morning thinking this would have been a great time for Heinrich Kley.

  4. I needed this today for many reasons. Thank you, Lauren! I had no idea Zen Pencils had done this comic of one of my favorite speeches.

  5. Thank you for that..sometimes knowing that other people have similar problems can really help snap out of the bad mood and not feel so lonely about it all :(

  6. Wow, MC has become FB.

    Columnist writes a column, interjects their politics in the column and are unhappy when people respond back with their own political sentiments. Those who express politically "inappropriate" responses are deleted, those who don't, remain. Gotcha. If you don't want political responses from topics that are not suppose to be political, then don't inject your politics into the discussion. It's a pretty concept. BWTHDIK?

    1. I agree. It's disappointing when an article like this pops up. MC is usually better than this.

    2. I've noticed these sort of articles come from a select few contributors who usually don't offer much else that's useful -to me at least- anyway. Still, the rest is great.

    3. We have a strict "No Politics" rule here on MC. The article above was amended to reflect that policy as were any comments that originally addressed it (as stated above). It was not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with comments. Everything political was edited without bias as soon as it came to our attention.

      As is, we feel the article is not political, and rather speaks to issues of depressing and anxiety that many artists deal with day to day.

      We are sorry to hear that your own viewpoints prohibit you from garnering any value from this post.

    4. You don't know my viewpoints. I try to avoid these articles because that's not why I visit Muddy Colors, but sometimes one can't tell from the title.

      That being said, the article is still pointing to specific events and can be interpreted as stating that those on one side are the empathetic ones while the rest are Reganists and fascists. That's not only political but divisive.

      I don't mind the article's message. I was just telling the poster above that for my purpose of visiting the site I find these articles to generally be of no use to me, I didn't need any event to be depressed over and be advised to cheer up and make good art because my daily issues and the fact that I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth dwarf this.

      I don't see why expressing this is a problem, there are many who need an article like this and kudos to the writer for fulfilling that need.

  7. I'm not a writer, but I'll attempt to make some good art now with hopes that it may make some people examine their own attitudes, and exude some empathy or at least tolerance for what they, up until now, falsely considered intolerable, and more closely consider the consequences of their own actions if they wish their peers do so with theirs.

    Make good art to cope is the message. Had some people known they'd have taken this advice when they were being accused of "mansplaining" when self-proclaimed representatives of women told them what women want in art and how everyone should incontestably bow down and cater to the representative's demands. Or when they were accused of being sexists for expressing doubts when being told how tough it is for anyone other than straight white men in the fantasy art landscape. Or when they were being accused as racists when questioning dictation on how things should be in every space imaginable. They were even shut down for being naive enough to be up for a debate even if in many respects they agreed but had some issues, some alternate views, maybe even some opposite views but were prepared to be convinced otherwise.

    These people who have been by default shoved aside, their voices and problems ignored and told they were the worst thing in the world by this political one-upmanship cult that has become the establishment, something now proven unequivocally by the unmasking of the similarly minded mainstream media's blatant one-sidedness, was compressed, not given any alternative to be heard other than go totally opposite to the extreme censorship and almost fascistic overruling of normal and sensible dialogue. Had these people known that every time of every day they were made to feel like lesser people, unimportant or even downright evil, infused with some Original Sin by virtue of their ancestry, race, gender or nuanced political views, they might have chosen to take Mrs. Panepinto's wise advice and make some good art, to blow some steam. But as it was, the mercilessness of the other side left these people with no other choice than to fight fire with fire. But least the other side can now take your advice Ms. Panepinto yes? Maybe it'll save us a worse result next time. In the mean time, maybe the two sides can now see their common ground and do what sensible citizens do, keep the government in check, and peacefully make their grievances known.

    And because I don't trust my writing skills nor the hive mind of these echo chambers, and because I think my opinion of the situation will most likely be shoved off (that's the M.O.), I'll just leave this here...maybe hearing it from one of your own will be more mind opening.


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