You know how greeting cards sometimes have an "About the Artist" statement on the back of them? You know how those statements, regardless of the quality, always make the art seem like the be-all-and-end-all of artistic accomplishments? You ever think to yourself, "Jesus, who the Hell can write this drivel?" Well, that would be me.
Semantics run the world in a more direct sense than even money. See, everyone has their jargon and interpretative style in regard to language, their individualised dialect and in regard to that you can tell anyone anything if you phrase it right. The Word is a powerful tool with an almost infinitely subtle range of potential. My strength is the printed word.
Once in a chat room I got a (theoretically) Christian cop to admit that "chaos" was, in fact, "God." It took about an hour and a half of exchanges, but eventually I got him to sacrilege. I mean, I believe chaos is God, at least the primary hand of, so it wasn't like I was being malicious. But I learned his jargon, analysed his arguments, and approached him in a leading Socratic manner so that, to him, it appeared as if he came to that conclusion on his own. I was very proud of myself.
The Word, when used correctly, can accomplish feats money simply couldn't. I try to use this skill for good. Luckily, at the greeting card company, most of the art was truly great so I didn't have to slip into 'copy writer' mode. For your edification, 'copy' is the term for a blurb of written words meant to achieve a commercial purpose. It is the most twisted version of creativity you can endeavour in. Poets who go to Hell write copy.
However, since most of the work was good, I wouldn't really need to stretch at all to write up a few glowing paragraphs of prose on how glorious X's art was.
There were, however, exceptions to that...
There was this guy who painted windows. Just widows. Oh, Hell, occasionally there would be a flower on the sill or a half-drawn curtain, but it was always windows! White wood panelling with shadow of noon sun. Aged red brick with Bird-of-Paradise behind pane.
I looked over this guy's work trying really hard to come up with something, ANYTHING, to say about it other than "Initial concept both inexplicable and weak, after which gathering a momentum of repetitious monotony." I'm not trying to be a prick here, but JESUS, if you'd seen one you'd pretty much seen them all!
The angle I kept dwelling on was "Fascinating that someone would put as much time as G. Paris has on a singular, and most mundane, topic as the still life with so little diversity. Surely the works of G. Paris are a testimony to the zen like patience, or psychotic focus that a human is capable of."
Of course the C.E.O. would have tried to backhand me over that if I had submitted it. And really, I didn?t want to have to kick his ass, so I tried to come up with another angle. Now, I'm pretty easy to please in so far as art is concerned--the fact that one is actually creating is enough to make me happy inside--so the art either has to be really bad, really tired, or totally commercialised for me to be unmoved. This guy's work wasn't moving me enough to even feel venom--at least with venom I could write something fascious and then rewrite it to sound serious. I was drawing a blank.
Unlike other several of the other artists I wasn't able to meet up with him in order to get him to explain himself, deadlines needed to be met so one day I sit down in Tillies's Cafe, drink a pot of coffee, and write something like this:
"The windows of G. Paris, at first glance, appear simplistic and commonplace-- something that the eye would pass over walking down the street--but at a closer inspection one begins to notice a solemn beckoning from the darkened interiors, as if there were a calling from deep inside where another world waits, inviting the observer to come.
Angles and lines take on powerful characteristics in the world of G. Paris who places the observer of his work as eternally on the outside looking in. Mr. Paris shows us, so elegantly, that somehow there is magic in even the most ordinary things and does it with a grace that is purest subtlety."
Had to smoke a hefty bowl after that stream of fertilizer left my pen.
To know the way The Word works is both a curse and a blessing. I can do things like write copy which entails making the beautiful ugly, the ugly beautiful, confusing and titillating with words and images. These are things I intimately understand and as a result I could make a lot of money in the field of advertising.
Ultimately it has been experiences such as the time I was an art director that showed me, firsthand, how truly wrong they are in the form that they exist and are desired by employers. The Word is a malleable medium that is accepted as a vehicle for truth. Advertisers use this to manipulate their fellow humans into wasting their lives spending the money that they clocked hours off of their lives to make.
I ask you: where is the beauty in it? I try now to use The Word only in honesty, and toward ends that are good, serving truth.
One more quick thing to say about this job: I did actually write the insides of a few greeting cards and, perhaps to my credit, they didn't sell too well. Here, I'll let you be the judge:
"Another kissy ass day chokes up phlegm and spits.
Its all grind in and grind out
and I'm stuck in the back of the line
"Discord is my lord, but chaos is my master
here where there is silence
all I hear is laughter."
"Crumbs beginning to mold...
fingertip twitches on the remote...
I begin to drool...
I'm reminded of you..."
PERFECTLY MARKETABLE MATERIAL! Heh heh. I mean, how many times have YOU wanted to express those sentiments with someone else's words, by mail, with someone else's artwork...?