mat (coagula) wrote,

A Parable about Illustration.

There was a people who mingled freely with art. They were called illustrators. Their assistance on many projects was sought and appreciated. They made art better when they were involved. But at some point, some in art decided they were too predominant and openly scorned what they brought. Over the years the were slowly cut off from art, isolated into their own land. It was a fertile valley where they thrived, illustration. From the mountains above the artists all looked down on the valley in scorn. The streams and farms and villages in the valley were sneered at by the lofty artists. The illustrators were not climbing the treacherous cliffs of conceptualism nor braving the isolated plateaus of abstraction. They were thriving in the valley of illustration with commercial applications of their talents. They painted signs, movie posters, drew comic books, invented ways to animate their drawings. They paired these animations with narrative and merged with the nascent land of cinema out beyond their valley.

From their perch on the mountains, the artists saw all of this and ignored what was happening in the valley. Dialogue about why the activites of the valley were impure became more important than making art. Talking about art and why it was superior to illustration turned into a ritual. Soon those beginning their journey up the hills and mountains of art were asked to engage in this ritual, to talk about how bad illustration was, to forego the making of art to the talking about art. This ritual was popular, and some of the people who didn't want to climb to the heights of the mountains settled into camps in the foothills. There they made ritualized, elaborate discussions about the evils of illustration an attractive place to begin one's ascent of the mountains. Anyone climbing too high as an artist who had not paid to learn the lessons of the camps was ostracized no matter how far up the mountains of art they climbed. Some artists set up checkpoints on the mountain path and insisted one could not pass up higher without proucing a piece of paper that one had attended the camps. The paper was alled an MFA. Brave, independent artists knew they could push forward but the network of MFA graduates did help each other scale those peaks.

Then one day an illustrator down in the valley built an All-Terrain-Vehicle. It was named PHOTOSHOP. For a few dollars an illustrator could by this ATV and drive up the mountains. They could race in the foothills, putting the MFA programs to shame with what one could see and know about in a little bit of time, free from all the restrictions an aspiring artist would be subject to in those camps, and for much less money. Soon the ATVs were so popular on the mountain paths that art was populated with illustrators everywhere. They scaled the heights of the art mountains with ease, free to range over vast areas and to interact with artists who were so isolated that they were not aware of the fertile valley of commerce that illustration had become.

You will run into an oldtimer, hermetically clinging to the old ways of mountain climbing, now and again. This person will sneer and spit when you mention illustrators. These crusty old artists will mock commerce, even as they still owe money to the camp that taught them to never venture near the valley; they will stick to their narrow, craggy path and kiss the stone surface of the peaks for being inaccessible to Photoshop. And you will fly past them on the drone of your imagination, above the peaks and to the lands down beyond their other side...

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