SDROWKCAB The squids are back, and they come blazing at full inkpower. Bursting with energy - the most diverse styles can be found here and in the subsequent issues. 2011 season starts now! Break your boundaries. Expand your mind. Bring the best from withing you to your art piece, and go further - amaze yourself. This is the magazine of The Animation Workshop environment - from Denmark to the world. From the world to Denmark. Revealing new rebel souls, lighting the sparkles in creative minds around the globe - that’s our purpose. That’s who we are. That’s our potential. Blazing Squids are Matt Travers, Sascha Hommer, Natalia Marcos, Roland Seer, Kristina Stengaard, Christian BøvingAndersen, Magnus Møller and John Kenn. Edited by Igor Noronha and Christyan Lundblad.
John Kenn. TAW, Character Animation, 2003
Magnus MĂ¸ller. CA, 2006.
Christian BĂ¸ving-Andersen, CA 08.
Kristina Stengaard, CA10.
Roland Seer, CA10.
Natalia Marcos, CA 10
An interview with
Where and you born?
I was born in south Germany in 1979.
Which art education did you choose to take? I studied fine arts for one and a half year, but soon I realized that that was not what I wanted to do. While visiting Fumetto, the international comic festival in Luzern (Switzerland), I found out that Anke Feuchtenberger, one of the most important German comic artists, was a professor in Hamburg. That is why I decided to move here to study illustration at the University of Applied Sciences.
When did you making comics?
When I was very young. As a 3 or 4-year-old child I watched “The Jungle Book “ and “Caveman” all day long and I was a huge fan of the Asterix and Obelix comics. I decided to develop my own version of Asterix and Obelix at that time, but also adapted the film Caveman to a comic book (with one picture on each page). When I was able to read and write, I started to draw fantasy characters referring to a German version of Dungeons & Dragons called Das Schwarze Auge. When I attended school, I started to produce and sell a peridocal which was
called KAH and contained short stories about a commissioner. I was a fan of both MAD and Clever & Smart at that time, but also liked Night Rider. KAH was a mashup of these influences. I quit doing comics when I was 15, and started again three years later. Since then, I keep on working as much as possible.
How were you picked up by a publisher? Dirk Rehm from Reprodukt saw my zines at a small fair in Hamburg. He asked me if I would like to publish a book with Reprodukt. Two years later, my debut Insekt was published.
How do you see the evolution of comics (and books in general) to digital? I think that it is a good idea to provide all cultural ressources for free. But we need a new copyright law to make this possible. When it comes to comic books, I do not see the shift from analog to digital yet.
How do you see the German comic book scene now, compared to the past?
The German comic book scene has developed to one of the most interesting small markets in Europe dring the last 5 or 6 years. >>>
O f c o u r s e it is not possible to compare th i s w i t h a big marke t l i k e i n France. Bu t s m a l l publishers li k e R e p r o d ukt intensi f y t h e i r o utput each ye a r , w h i l e circulati o n o f t h e books is in c r e a s i n g . Many promising young authors re c e n t l y published th e i r d e b u t s or will du r i n g 2 0 1 1 .
What are your plans for the future?
Some days ago I finished work on my new book Dri Chinisin. I will start to work on a book about China now.
How was the process of doing Insekt? How long did it take you to do it, and what was your biggest challenge?
I worked on the book Insekt for about two years. During the first year I started with two projects with which I did not succeed. The first book can be difficult, if short stories was all you did before. So the biggest challenge was maybe to keep going.
What is your work you’re most proud of?
How much of your stories are inspired on your real life? (is there a specific fact you’de like to tell us?)
Your trace is very minimalist, telling only the necessary with clever design choices. How did you come up with that style? Was it inspired by any other artist in specifi c?
After finishing the book “Insekt” I realized that I told the story of my younger brother in a symbolic way. My book “Vier Augen” has very strong autobiographical aspects.
I would not say that I am “proud” of anything in my work. There are some things I like about them, and one of these things is that character design comes naturally to me.
Osamu Tezuka, Charles Schulz, Chris Ware and Charles Burns have been influences in the >>>
first place. At the time I did Insekt, I was also influenced by fellow students from Hamburg like Arne Bellstorf or Moki.
How is it in the comic book industry you work in - is it more common to make a living through royalties, or paid by page? Do you get paid in advance?
It is not common to make a living with your comics at all. At the moment, I earn 20% of my money with royalties for comic books,
40% with illustration jobs and another 40% with giving lectures, conducting workshops ect.
Where can people buy your books? Is there a way to do that online?
You can buy my books online on the page of my publisher Reprodukt! http://www.reprodukt. com/creator_info. php?creators_id=100 You pay 5 Euro extra for the shipping inside Europe, 13 Euro for shipping to other countries.
The blazing editors would like to thank Sascha for taking a bit of his time to share his knowledge with us. We wish you the best for the future! Now, for something slightly different...
Principles of a Poor Artist ‘It’s better to spend your time failing at something you want to do than to waste your life becoming a successful nobody’ (Henry Miller)
rtists, do not be seduced by the American Dream. It will devalue your work and leave you longing for a false ideal of success. This ingenious piece of social engineering would have you believe that so long as you work hard and think positive then you have a fair shot at success: talent always rises to the top and if you’re not at the top then you only have yourself to blame. Pursuing the American Dream means accepting that the odds are stacked against you, and getting on with the business of succeeding over others. It’s a reptilian mindset which is no longer confined to the Gordon Gecko’s of the business-world, but has now come to latch on to all walks of life. In the artworld, this mentality finds its equivalent in the artist’s obligation to constantly selfpromote: if you believe in your own brand, then, with the right kind of networking, you too might share the limelight with the other celebrities and live comfortably ever after. But rather than trying to capitalise on your insecurities by offering you the glib reassurance of the marketeers, these principles are addressed to all you sick, broke, and talentless artists out there who know your potential, and still want to go on. 1) Don’t fetishize incompletenes The poor artist will often relish the raw and un-
finished in their work and in that of others as a means to avoid facing up to the limits of their own talent. It’s much easier to see the promise of genius in your first drafts and sketches than it is to make the finishing touches to what you know will be a substandard piece of work. Abandoning your work at an early stage allows you to enjoy the thrill of being an artist without subjecting your results to the harsh gaze of others, or your own better judgment. Leaving your work unfinished also means that you won’t risk spoiling your chance achievements, and lends support to the idea that the great work descends on the artist like a cosmic lottery ticket. But there’s no solution in simple selfexposure: an artwork needs time to develop, just as an artist needs internal tension to create: sharing it too soon will make you conform to expectations. Consciously or not, those who share only their promise maintain their privilege over the uninitiated. 2) You’ll always find time for inspiration; it’s making time for concentrated hard work that’s difficult. Surely the best trick for avoiding hard work is to imagine that you’re waiting for artistic inspiration. While others work hard at improving their craft in the hope of masking their inner poverty, you’re secure enough in your own tal-
ents to wait patiently for that great idea to fall from the sky. But inspiration is rarely the problem, and even a poor artist can be plagued by hundreds of wild ideas. The architect Louis Kahn would maintain that ‘a good idea which isn’t done is no idea at all’, suggesting that an artwork cannot exist in the mind of an artist alone, not even a poor one: it demands realization and an audience. And while it’s true that you can ruin a good idea by rushing it to completion, you can never go wrong by setting aside plenty of time for the concentrated hard work. 3) The tragedy of the working classes is only articulated by the middle classes: don’t let them speak for you
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of reading a socialist newspaper, you can’t help but be struck by how terrible life must be for the poor workers, condemned to lives deprived of middle class essentials, like organic food and good taste, existing only as consumerist dupes spiralling through shopping malls in a secular version of Dante’s Hell. But who writes these papers? The poor artist need not dwell on this: ‘The artist is responsible to no-one but himself. He donates to centuries to come only his own works; he stands surety for himself alone. He dies without issue. He was his own king, his own priest and his own God.’ One has to be as generous in spirit as Charles Baudelaire to absolve all the debts of the poor. 4) Better to be an honest dilettante than a fake artist Is it possible to enjoy the great works of art without also wanting to be a great artist? When faced with a masterpiece a poor artist may feel compelled to state how their own efforts have no relation to such grand works, a reaction which usually goes hand in hand with the secret belief that their own works would be great if only they were discovered, and then their sense of failure is compounded with a feeling of rejection. This idea that the great artworks demand an equivalent effort from their audience is like a secularised version
of the Protestant work ethic: whereas Original Sin was once thought to be relieved through our hard toil for God, now our pleasure in art must be repaid by becoming worthy of the great artists. The medieval peasants knew better: for them, the joy of work came not from the backbreaking labour of the day, but from the drink and fornication of the night. 5) Better to be mad than mediocre Madness is overrated. There’s nothing more pathetic than an artist who acts mad in order to get noticed, and you can probably learn more about Van Gogh by drawing birds’ nests than by drinking the Absinthe. Of course anyone can get drunk, but putting time aside to accurately draw a birds’ nest requires a degree of commitment which is beyond most people’s scope. Yet the conjunction between art and madness is not simply a romantic cliché: the artist who settles for convention is no artist at all. The duty to expand the limits of what’s conceivable means that the artist must break the chains of good sense, and madness is what happens to those who can’t find an adequate frame for their work or keep a straight face in public. Perhaps it’s easier for us when our great artists suffer: only then does their genius become tolerable. And don’t we also secretly hope that our sufferings might be rewarded with that great work?
6) Nothing in the artwork is accidental, even if it was put there by accident There’s nothing wrong with trying to understand an artwork through learning about the artist; but there is a problem when the artwork gets reduced to what that artist intended. Critics who explain a work of art by referring to an artist’s lifestory usually do so as a means of silencing dissent, but all artworks must communicate directly without translation, and this goes against those who would seek to understand an art work on purely formal grounds. Purely formal grounds for judging art simply don’t exist: at best they are descriptive terms for deducing the compositional elements in a work in order to launch a response; at worst, they are the means by which academic learned taste tries to pass itself off as a neutral affair. 7) Colours are the flowers of the universe; leave some behind for the others Can the lurid configurations of rubbish in a London gutter have as much vibrant appeal as the paintings of Matisse or Kandinsky? Perhaps, but you must already know their work before you can see their results in your own environment. Just as the richness of colour is given to all regardless of social rank, so the poor artist creates works which require no expensive mediation. As simple and as universal of
these questions were not resolved in advance. Perhaps the strength of an artist should be measured by their capacity to withstand these great self-doubts and still carry on.
colour, the challenge of art is to tear through the web of petty interests, exposing the mysterious of life which underlie our most trivial observations. 8) Everyone’s a critic, but there is no miserable creation A poor artist suffers from terrific self-doubt when their own achievements fail to live up to their higher ambitions. But they could take comfort in the fact that even the greatest artists must also have experienced this same self-doubt: they’re as vulnerable to critique as the rest of us. Yet their artwork stands as proof that whatever turmoil went into these creations was in the last instance overcome. Whether this turmoil was intensified during the process of making the artwork itself, and whether this was a price worth paying, is still in question. At best we can be sure that
9) It’s easy to focus on your work when all around you falls to pieces, but why sacrifice present happiness for the grand delusion? It’s a truism to state that inspiration for the great artworks has more often come in times of great hardship rather than in periods of security and comfort. At first this seems counter-intuitive, isn’t it easier to be creative when you have the right conditions for concentration? So why have artists often made their best works in times of personal crisis? Making art is rarely an easy escape, but it could be that the challenge of artistic creation has become easier to handle than other issues. Perhaps a better test of an artist’s commitment is not in their ability to work under duress, but depends on whether they are willing to sacrifice personal happiness for the ambivalent rewards of making art. There’s no straightforward solution to this dilemma: sheer commitment does not guarantee a great work. Even the greatest artists have known when to stop. Arthur Rimbaud, the quintessential modern poet, would burn out in his midtwenties, renouncing literature entirely to settle for
a life as a colonial business entrepreneur, while Marcel Duchamp, originator of the ready-made, retires from the artworld at the height of his fame to play chess for the remaining twenty-five years of his life. 10) Constant production and accomplished technique makes a great craftsman; empathy with the inarticulate can make a poor artwork. There’s something oppressive in the way that certain artists desperately churn out work after work in a vast range of accomplished styles and techniques for everyone’s approval. Although certainly a mark of great self-disci-
pline, constant production also betrays a certain insecurity: the artist keeps making works which can be recognised as accomplished, rather than risk doing something original which might seem clumsy. But one can be unpretentious to the point of stupidity, and ridiculing artistic experiments is just another kind of elitism. Only when you realise that the artworld can be just as mean and parochial as any other, and that the artist has no privileged access to a world beyond it, only then is there a chance for the poor artist to find universal value. - Matt Travers
Editor’s note: if you enjoyed this article, look up “Poor Theater” or “Jerzy Grotowski” on the internet, or read his book “Towards a Poor Theater”. Thank you for reading, see a next time!