Make Good Art

I had coffee with a freelance photographer I met a few years ago during a reading by Mario Vargas Llosa, the winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. She offered me a free photo shoot, saying that her work on my blog “would probably be good publicity for both of us.”

“Sweet idea,” I said. “The Little Princess will enjoy having her picture taken by someone who photographs professional models and who has created the covers of books she can recognize.”

“I was thinking about your profile picture for your blog,” she said. “Maybe Facebook.”

I was delighted. I mean, I don’t know this lady very well. We have exchanged emails, talked on the phone a few times and attended a few more readings, but that’s all. 

“I really appreciate the gesture, but I like using real pictures for my blog and other online profiles. Not that your photos are fake—that sounded really bad, huh?—I just like pictures that show smiles fueled by life. My current picture was taken the day my Piano Man and I got engaged. I think people can feel the energy I was exuding at that moment. I like sharing that kind of happy.”

“Professional work transmits a stronger message,” she said.

We spoke for about fifteen minutes after that. I declined the “professional” pictures for my online profiles. She said that maybe she was too busy for a family shoot. And I left to get the Little Princess from her tap class.

The meeting wasn’t a complete waste of time. You see, I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach my Artful Readers Club entry for January. The encounter provided me with a perfect example of how to illustrate what I got from Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” Speech: making good art is not about producing sellable work—although that helps quite a bit. It’s about letting your muse birth art that feeds the soul; about creating art in ways that make you (and perhaps others) better for having experienced it; about living the process and rejoicing in the results.

Let me show you my artful bit for this month; made while I waited for the Little Princess to be done with tap. I used a coffee filter (it still smells like French vanilla), black and red markers and a black pen. I glued a small fold of the filter to a page from my reading journal...
Later, I will lift the page (it’s not glued) and write more personal bits about the reading.
The text says: I will write stories where red is for passion. Black is for sweet and where red can change its mind, and be Redish [I meant to write "reddish," but you know what? Reddish should be able to be redish, if that's what it wants] or Black… if it wants to be. I just want to write real stories full of fictional facts.
 
The structure of this book is… fantastic!
“When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician—make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor—make good art. IRS on your trail—make good art. Cat exploded—make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before—make good art.” ~Neil Gaiman
stolen, snatched, borrowed from Brain Pickings
visit them to listen to Neil Gaiman’s speech
it’s pure genius!
While we are on the topic of Neil Gaiman’s genius for making good art… I’m giving away three digital books, two by moi and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman.

What did you read in January, my Wicked Luvs? What did the words make you feel?

32 comments:

  1. Spent January reading fictional facts, and factual fiction. February is scheduled for illusionary truths and truthful illusions. All of which inspire me to make good art :D

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    1. I red February full of "illusionary truths and truthful illusions." Pure yum!

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  2. I have read a few blogs and Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, not sure what the words have said to me yet still reading(been a long month) but knowing Mr. Gaiman I'm sure it will speak volumes.

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    1. Señor Gaiman's words are truly telling. Let's see what you end up with. ;-)

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  3. Look at YOU....arting!!!!....and you TOTALLY get it!!! Of all the photos on my albums, it's the random ones that tell the best stories...not the "sit up and smile" photos we all had taken at school :D XXX

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    1. I know, isn't awesome? I'm really proud of all my black and red, hehehe! I've always loved the pictures that make me go, "What was she doing?"

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  4. You creative gal!.. I like what u have done to your journal!. How are u at collages? I've been doing those in journals as well. A friend of mine also does hers on pages of old books that she finds and the effects of the print against art is striking.

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    1. I've probably made three collages in my entire life--I love calendar collages, but I'm not a good at it, lol. I love the idea of old books being recycled for delicious things, one of these days I might...

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  5. I LOVE *your* art and the pictures you share speak of your life, not a stereotype. Good for you for choosing to stay in the real world!! As for Neil Gaiman?? Yeah, I'm late to the party, but am currently reading American Gods and I'm hooked!! ~~xoxo

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    1. Yay for reading American Gods! I hope you review it. There is so much to see/share in that book. Definitely not stereotypical; just the way you like your photos. ;-D

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  6. I love your Redish! radish! and the swirling words and characters! Of course being the odd duck, I don't grasp the whole...turmoil..do Good Art? Stress like winter, sucks the life out of me. Blocking life and people is my recipe for creative joy! I like your statement..real life , fictional facts! I felt that in your stories.
    Off to the kitchen and a wonderful Puddleduck visiting weekend! xoDebi

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    1. I'm a spring/summer/hot weather child, so I get the being out of sorts in the winter months. Hey, maybe for us "good art" during this months would be a bit of gloom surrounded by the warmth we wish for!

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  7. One of my pet peeves (I have a few lol) is when people insist on sucking the humanity out of life for business purposes. Put on a fake smile and a business suit and pose like I tell you and you'll send a "professional" message. At what price? Some of the most soul-dead looking people I've ever seen are "professionals". People who thought it would send a stronger message to hide their humanity and look just like every other drone out there.

    Good for you for standing up for the feeling you want to portray on your sites! I hope more people start doing the same because I've never thought of you as anything less than professional just because you have personal photographs on your sites. In fact, I find it more attractive than the alternative.

    As for reading in January, I read a book about Princess Margaret. It was.....eye opening and very interesting.

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    1. I believe in taken control and owning the things I can. Why compromise if I don't have to, right? I'm sure that there will be plenty of opportunities for me having to play by someone else's rules, until then: here are my teeth! ;-D

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  8. Loved this post! If art doesn't feed the soul, what's the point of creating it? Have a happy weekend!

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  9. Best advice ever! make good art! And love your coffee filter art!!!

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    1. Neil Gaiman is a brilliant being. I shall art my filters some more, then!

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  10. Sadly, I've been too busy working over the last couple of months to do anything fun, but the awesome Mr. Gaiman's advice is just what I need to hear right now. Make Good Art!!!! Thanks, Magaly! ❤

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    1. I'm sure all that work will feed the art to come (any Little Gothic dollies? *cough, cough*).

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  11. I read Breaking the Mirror of Heaven: the conspiracy to suppress the voice of ancient Egypt (Bauval, Robert and Osman) & 54 Devils: the art & folklore of fortune-telling with playing cards (Cory Thomas Hutcheson). Next up are Hollow City (R. Rigs) & Crimson Veil (Galenorn)...my birthday presents to myself. However, I am horribly behind on cross stitch & might be behind on knitting afghans for Yule14 presents....

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    1. I just shrieked when I saw Hollow City! I'm sooo excited about that book. I will read the first book to get in the mood... Okay, I don't need to be in the mood. It's just an excuse! ;-D

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  12. There's a time and place for professional photos, I'm a believer (as a professional photographer) that "real pictures" make you connect so much more with your audience on social media. I feel that if you have a social media page, it's not just for business, it is for others to get to know you, meaning that a picture you snapped yourself while you were happy makes a stronger case than a professionally posed and photographed photo.

    Unless you get a photographer like me that follows your around for a day and captures your true personality. =)

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    1. You are absolutely correct, my friend. "There's a time and place" for everything. For instance, I think having a bunch of professionally taken photos during a Halloween party would be lovely. And the I think the idea of the professional being someone who knows the subjects--even better, who is friends with the subjects--is perfect. This photographer would know what the person is like and will have no problems capturing his or her 'true personality." *wink, wink*

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  13. Pah on professional photographs! I love the ones of yourself that you have been using-beautiful smiles!

    Neil Gaiman is brilliant! Just finished his Graveyard Book and loved the twist he adds to his works. Just finished last night The Silent Land by Graham Joyce. Another author that can add twists to his books that make you stop and think back on what you read the chapter before. Hope I am making sense here, not much of a writer :) But I LOVE to read!

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    1. After reading your excitement, I read a few reviews of The Silent Land and now I want to read it. You are a terrible influence. Haven't you seen the size of my to-be-read pile? lol

      And I LOVE The Graveyard Book! Have you read "October in the Chair"? Here is a link to it. It's a... interesting story: http://aprestostory.tumblr.com/post/31032926209/october-in-the-chair

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  14. I love what you created Magaly! And, I love the pictures you use on your blog!
    I have to get this book!!
    Big Hugs ;o)

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    1. It is such a sweet little book. I got it from the library for this reading, but now I'm buying it--I want to write and draw all over it. ;-D

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  15. LOL, a bit of Japanese tea ceremony history and philosophy, a bit of old school sword and sorcery in Magician: Apprentice. There's a copy of Neil Gaiman's Stardust which is waiting for it's turn. :)

    Yes, "making good art" - there's something about art from when it comes from someone's deepest soul that all the commercial prettiness in the world can never capture. LOL, going back to tea philosophy - it's a bit wabi sabi - the simple beauty in imperfections that speaks to us and makes us connect with art on more than just a surface level.

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    1. I'm a lover of simplicity that houses all kinds of complexities. I'm enchanted by artist who can do that, and do it well...

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  16. I love your profile pictures. I do see the energy and it makes me smile when I see your pictures. :)

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