Above is a photo of my friend Lindsay, who, despite having a passion for art, has also had enough of the stress that it rains down on a daily basis. As she cowered under her sketch pad and assumed fetal position, I immortalized the moment on my cell phone camera. We found the picture humorous in its own darkish way, which led to the idea to turn it into an equally dark, yet funny, image-macro meme. By turning it into a meme, I’m not only being an awful friend by further propagating my friend’s plight, but I’m also turning her stress around with dark humor to make a lighter comical commentary.
The first caption is a quote from my favorite/least favorite art professor. His teaching style is a hint sadistic; he is the type of guy to assign a monstrous project with a giant evil grin on his face. During the project process though, he is more than willing to go to the ends of the earth to help you realize your potential. Last year as he was assigning our class a wall mural, a project that ended up taking over 40 hours, he dropped the famous line “You can’t spell ‘painting’ without ‘pain’!” While he was being facetious at the moment, as the murals progressed, my classmates and I found ourselves pulling grueling all-nighters in the studio to complete our murals by the installation deadline. While painting takes a toll in terms of time, there are many times when I come to a stalemate with myself during the process. Sometimes I come to a particularly finicky face to paint, or a blaring blank space on the canvas. These are easy fixes. The real “pain” comes when what you’re painting becomes a reflection yourself, of your challenges, of your curiosities, of your passions, and sometimes yes, even your pains. And that, friends, is why you can’t spell painting without pain.
My second meme is an offspring from the process of the first. Sometimes the “pain” of painting (and art in general) comes from the pure frustration of just messing up. Of the difficult faces, forms, and landscapes I’ve tried, some of them are apparently not meant to come out perfectly. I think that this is a beauty of flexible creativity; when a piece has a mind of its own, it is sometimes better to “throw in the towel” and change courses completely. In my meme, I’ve added a bit of salt and given this idea a more biting tone, but the overarching idea is the same. When things aren’t going the way you originally planned, find another route, and go with it–it may end up really awesome!
The last meme is perhaps my favorite. “If only there were an 8B pencil…as dark as my soul.” This one is a complete mockery of society’s impression that many artists are some tortured souls who can’t function in normal discourse. As an artist, I find this notion not only vastly oversimplified, since all people feel some level of despair, but also quite laughable, as most artists I know are bright, optimistic, and jubilant people. Our souls are no darker than Miss America’s. Our pencils, however, might be. A standard set of drawing pencils will range from 4H (H for ‘hard’, 4 for the level) to 4B (again, 4 for the level, but this time B for ‘black’). A 4H pencil will deliver fine, lighter lines and as you progress down to 4B, the lead gets softer and darker. Four-B’s usually do even the darkest jobs just fine; an 8B is just hyperbole. I’m fond of this meme creation because it is not just wordplay or a frank aphorism, but both. It is commentary on how artists see themselves versus how we may be perceived. An artist like myself might find this funny for the hyperbole of both an 8B pencil and the irony of having a supposed “dark soul”, while non-artists might actually take the dark soul-part seriously. Even when we as art students are feeling particularly ‘dark souled’, the sarcasm that accompanies it lends well to making light of it.
While the stresses of being an art student do take their toll, I find a fun way to diffuse them is to just make fun of them, which I have done through my image-macro memes. Sure, I may be a horrible friend for posting Lindsay’s “misery” all over the Internet, but she might just become some ‘poor and tortured’ soul’s new muse, just as she was mine. I capitalized on this picture’s potential for humor as well as some of society’s conceptions about artists to make funny, yet introspective memes. I would not trade life as an artist for anything. Though I do get stressed out, my soul isn’t some black hole full of anguish and apathy. Art is rewarding, expressive, and as always, full of opportunities to take your own course and make something exceptional.
(Like these memes!)
PS- No Lindsays were harmed in the making of these memes.
By: Krysten Dorfman