Sunday, December 22, 2013

Advertising Dilemmas

I think the worst thing I have to deal with as an artist/illustrator is advertising.  My job is to come up with illustrations and art that will entice people to buy the product of the company signing my check.... whether I like or approve of their values and methods or not.  I find this dilemma odious to say the least.  How can I work as an artist and still maintain some semblance of integrity when the system rewards sleaze and starves out the righteous?  I hate the misogynistic, racist, exploitive ads, which perpetuate the notion that girls have to be white and anorexic to be beautiful.  It is absolutely wrong.

I saw a manikin in a store window wearing a pair of jeans the other day.  A real person would have to be starving to death to fit into those jeans.  Even the manikin looked like bones to me. How can we think this is beautiful?  Bring back the days of the Botticelli body, please.

We don't think about it anymore, but these proportions are impossible.  Our legs cannot be that long and thin at the same time.  The length of the torso from the shoulder to waist is unlikely.  For an artist like myself, I have measured people in order to draw them.  Most women measure one head from chin to nipple, one head from nipple to top of hip, one head from top of hip to mid thigh (or where the fingers end at thigh), one head from mid thigh to below knees, one head or so to the top of the ankle.  If you measured this manikin you would see the legs and arms are proportionally longer than normal, and the head would have to be enormous to compensate for the discrepancy.

The interesting thing about this video is that many men wrote in the comments that they preferred the more curvy "before", than this photoshopped "after" picture.  It is we girls who get sucked into this false premise of the ideal woman.  Even when I was a teenager, I did not have the ideal body, and I can testify that precious few women did/do.  If all advertising model's and movie star's photos have to be retouched in photoshop, how can a real girl hope to come near the ideal?  Girls have a real problem with their changing bodies, feeling confident, or feeling normal without this added advertising pressure.

But this is not a new problem.  It has been going on for decades (maybe even longer).  These sewing patterns from the 1950's prove that there was an unrealistic expectation of tall and thin even then.  It has only become worse now that we have the technology to create realistic-looking unrealistic images of women.

My mother used to wear dresses like these.  She was not abnormally tall (5' 6") or extremely thin, but I remember thinking she was a movie star.  My perception of the ideal was not distorted yet.  She didn't look like these drawings, but then, these are only drawings, not the real thing.  Perhaps that is what photoshop has done for us.  It has deceived us into wondering what is real and what is drawing.

As an artist I haven't been part of this industry yet.  I have concentrated my talents in the children's picture book field and fine art paintings, but if I were ever called upon to design an ad such as these, I'm not sure how I would handle it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Changing the shadows

I still struggle with what to say in a still life but I think I am getting the concept a little better.  In the last post I created a still life using a drape but I painted the drape too dark.  I have spent some time making the drape lighter and more colorful.  Maybe too colorful. But I love color.  Here it is.