The Lost Art of Working Hard and How the Digital Age is Helping Bury the Good of the Past
Yesterday, the boyfriend re-told a story that I just found ironically funny but sad at the same time.
About a year ago, he set up a DeviantART account to post chibi fanart of mostly comics characters. A few months later, a kid who was proclaiming himself an artist wanted to meet up to ask for work. He was referred by a good comics writer friend who, unfortunately did not take a look at this kid’s work.
So the boyfriend meets up with this kid and opens up the kid’s portfolio only to find his chibi comics character drawings taken out of their individual white background pages and combined into one big group shot. The kid used the magic wand to select the images and cut them to remove the white background, and rather sloppily. And since they were originally drawn in different sizes, they looked very awkwardly grouped together because the kid didn’t even bother ensuring a uniformed size.
The boyfriend asked the kid if he drew those himself and the kid said yes. The boyfriend probed some more, asking if he was sure that it wasn’t a collaboration with someone. The kid said yes, but that he did use references. The boyfriend asked, “Really? References?” And the kid stood his ground. References are a different thing. A bad cut-and-paste job is another.
So the boyfriend took out his phone where he kept his drawings and showed them to the kid. “Are you sure? Because I did those and I have them here in my phone.”
The kid was quiet for a while but later on, had the gall to ask for another chance to prove what he could do.
That was his chance and he certainly proved what he could do, which was cut and paste, and steal and claim another’s work.
It’s really disappointing when people bypass actually working hard for something and practicing until they master their chosen craft or experimenting with materials and concepts but instead going with what’s popular, or in this case, stealing someone else’s work.
The funny part is the boyfriend’s DeviantART username is his name and this kid met up with him without even recognizing it. Did that mean that he didn’t even bother looking into or remembering who he has taken the artworks from. I wonder where that kid is now.
This is why I admire people who work hard at what they do. These are the people who love their craft so much that they would do everything to learn and grow, legitimately. It’s wonderful to read or hear about their successes because you know that they earned it and you think to yourself, “Hey, that can happen to me too.” And it really does feel inexplicably amazing when you know that you’ve achieved something through your own hard work, with your own two hands.
To anyone who’s worked hard for something, whether you found success or are still finding your way to it, YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION.
I think I partly blame the digital age where everything is public, replicable and easily modified. Just like the song, “Video killed the Radio Star”, everything that used to demand so many painstakingly long hours to create are dying.
I do have to admit that I miss the feel and smell of paper in books, the sounds you hear when you rewind a cassette tape, the scratches that come along with an old vinyl record (my parents had these and a player, awesome), the pixels of old video games but most especially the tactile experience of board games and games that only needed a few everyday household items and imagination, building tiny towers with real building blocks instead of just playing the app, the sweet waiting you do for snail mail and the incomparable joy of opening carefully wrapped packages.
I remember how I wrote in to Cartoon Network before and when they sent me a card in an envelope through snail mail, I was beyond ecstatic. Not because I won anything but because I got something in the mail. That was one of the few times I ever did. I can even count all the times I got legitimate snail mail with my ten fingers.
My former college English professor said that print is dying. Recently, Amazon.com has announced that it’s selling more Kindle books than printed books and it’s really sad because I absolutely love books. Not just being able to read new stories but actually feeling the paper beneath my fingers, flipping page after page, smelling the ink that’s seeped through the fibers of the paper used. You can’t have that with a Kindle.
The mastery of restoring fine art is also slowly dying as the masters are growing old and have found no willing apprentices to pass their craft to. Why do we need them right? We can always just fix old stuff digitally and print them out to make them look like the original one.
I don’t have anything against the digital technology we have today because I prefer drawing with my laptop and pen tablet and do enjoy blogging and being on social networks. I know that there are many digital artists who spend years creating amazing images but sometimes, the technology and the new culture it creates do end up killing a lot of things.
I know that most of the readers of this blog were born when none of the things I mentioned existed anymore, at least not popularly or widely. You probably saw these in museums and television specials or read about them on the internet so I’m not sure if you can ever truly understand or appreciate my sentiments. Honestly, I only experienced the tail end of that particular era myself so my firsthand experiences are limited but I wish that I’d had more time to experience slow processes and imperfect creations. I will always find imperfections more interesting because they invite questioning and experimentation.
Whatever your opinions are, I would still love to know what your thoughts are on this. Leave your comments or better yet, exchange a few written letters.
Credits: Artwork by Elbert Or, photos found on Google Images