Friday, June 5, 2009


Meanwhile, in the background of all the activities over the past couple weeks has been the usual hum of cartoon features and freelance gigs. One that's been on the back-burner for a couple months now was a tshirt design for the UAF Museum which is hosting the 2009 American Society of Mammalogists. It's a big international conference, and part of the events is a commemorative race (the 11th annual - hence the tag) named after a biologist whose specialty was shrews. So shuffled inbetween classes I tried to learn how to draw shrews, which given the time constraints, never really evolved into something I felt didn't look like a fat hamster with flippers. Took this right down to the wire, which is always an unfortunate tragedy as it stresses everyone out the closer to deadline it gets. Pretty much got to the point where the deadline for printing the shirts and peripheral paraphernalia (advertising etc.) necessitated a shit-or-get-off-the-art-pot situation, and the doodles had to be triaged into something (anything) halfway workable.
Much as I really resent having halfassed hack-work put out there, classes come first; even though I usually share the blame for finding myself frustratingly maneuvered into making mediocre work. Good thing I'm a cartoonist as you can get away with a lot and crank it out when the chips are down.

Plus I learned some bonus science facts about shrews, like they recently got their own order; instead of being grouped as Insectivora, shrews are now classified as Soricomorpha. That and their fangs (not molars like rodents) are coated with iron so as to aid in the crunching of beetle shells. Spiffy, and they really are amazing and fascinating animals - part of the job perks is the accumulation of such trivia.

Also an interesting occurrence while flailing around in the thick of this: received an email distress signal from a student in my drawing class who was simultaneously undergoing a massive crisis in self-confidence while struggling with a critique assignment:
"hi jamie,
i am very afraid to be in your class. i cannot draw!"
The irony of getting a note like that while feeling the same way myself really puts things in perspective, and I replied along the lines of sharing how sometimes it's not the actual work of art so much as it it can often just be getting it done that's the real accomplishment. One of the simpler truths that can get lost in art, and humbling to recognize that regardless of experience and ability we all have such issues to face, and how you deal with it is as important as how good you can draw.

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