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Artists On Current Events

Random illustration inspired by Gustave Dore illustrations.

As I read all the fantastic artist blogs out there, I am having fun finding themes blog posts of the week have in common. It seems that the same thing is on many bloggers’ minds, and as a result, they present their take on it.

Last week, it struck me how so many blog posts are about current events, but in such an oblique way. They subtly hint at current events, gently brush past them like the lightest breeze touching a barely moving leaf.

In my previous article, I talked about how your output is a function of your input. It looks like good blog post writers take the zeitgeist and find topics related to it and write with these topics in mind.

This week’s blogs obliquely dealt with Covid-19 and with the change of power in Washington.

Here are some examples regarding certain political changes in a certain influential country.

The blog post below shows the construction that was named best design of 2020 and is almost not subtle.

See-saw at the border wall between the USA and Mexico named best design of 2020

These two blog posts about artists photographing beautiful deserted cities relate to the Covid situation and more of the world going into lockdown and curfews.

Neglected Utopia: Photographer explores the forgotten modernist estates of Paris

Photographs by Franck Bohbot of an unusually deserted and wintry New York City

These blog articles are subtle, suggestive, and not on-the-nose, yet they comment on current events. It’s quite the opposite of the loud yelling going on on social media. Or in editorial cartoons.

It reminds me of art I saw by a Syrian artist. He made paintings that seemed like a collage of things, but each item in the picture was a symbol that represented something. The paintings were a statement about Syria’s situation, without stating these things explicitly, which could have gotten him in trouble. No one gets thrown in jail for painting a sheep.

Random illustration inspired by Gustave Dore illustrations.

The opposite would be on-the-nose satire.

Tom Richmond, one of the world’s best caricaturists, posted these turnarounds of politicians.

Animation Turnarounds

I love the two-head-high characters and wish there were more political satire comics. Just imagine! I think it would be a fun read. But, like editorial cartoons, they don’t age well. A few years later, we don’t remember the issues and don’t understand these pieces. I’ve seen one-page comics on Dutch politics in the 70s, and I couldn’t quite follow. You can also see the editorial cartoons from ten or years ago on cagle.com. Many of these cartoons we don’t understand anymore.

That this is not always true is demonstrated by this wordless graphic novel on the effects of (the second world) war presented by the inimitable Brain Pickings.

Einstein on the Political Power of Art

The subtle examples above do seem to be timeless. I think we can enjoy and understand them decades from now.

I also wanted to mention this one, too, apropos of no current event, just because I thought it was beautiful. Artist Ard Su responds to Haruki Murakami’s writing by creating beautiful works of art that are homages to his work.

Ard Su's art is a homage to the master Haruki Murakami

When we create art, it responds to something, and we decide to what it responds. We get to decide what media, art, news, or literature we consume and respond to as artists. As James Clear suggests in interviews, surround yourself with the things you want to be inspired by, inspirations you want to be input for your art.

Your output is a function of your input, your cultural consumption. You get to decide what you consume and how subtle and nuanced you respond.

For example, books or blogs may be better media to consume than some social media platforms.

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