I've been thinking a lot lately about how I want to influence people through what I love. If you, fellow people, have been following my blog you've probably figured out by now I'm a "wanna be" artist. An artist with a purpose, to bring light into peoples lives, to make them feel happy, and have a weight be lifted. I've been debating on how to do it ever since I chose art to be a big part of my life. This is also the reason why I've gone back and forth for years now whether to quit and change degrees. Now I have realized that I have an option to do something great with what I love.
I'm pretty dang sure I just took the most important class of my entire college career. Thank you, Jim Godfrey. Art is a massive influence on the entire population of the world. How we write, to communicate, started out as an art form. This moved to printing books - the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the atlas, changing fonts. Then greeting cards, posters, and advertisements. Art makes you want to buy a burger when you see the billboard sign on the side of the road. Art makes you want that elegant dress in the magazine. Visual communication is everywhere around you, it makes you want, it make you need, it makes you feel, it has changed our lives whether by good or by evil. Now, don't get your panties in a twist, I'm not saying that the artists are the best thing that has ever happened since sliced bread, but they're up on the list. How could they not be you're influenced by there work whether you realize it or not. Being an artist means to create. I have the option to create good or bad and not only that but for good or bad.
I was given a free lancing job about a month and a half ago, maybe two. A gentleman was opening up a coffee shop and wanted me to design the shirt for it. Okay, I don't drink coffee, but I'm not going to condemn those that do, so hey, why not. It was very low pay, but I was willing for the opportunity to get my art work out. He preceded to tell me what he wanted on the shirt, "could you draw for me an old man about to smoke some weed? I mean obviously he won't be smoking it, it's just the idea of smoking it." and that's what it starts with right? The idea? Now I was really contemplating to accept or not, he got my information, I got his. By the end of the day I knew my answer. I couldn't support that. It wasn't an uplifting image, maybe to someone getting high, but that's not what I wanted. Not that the guy that's high is a bad person, but that I knew that it wouldn't stop him from destroying his body, if anything it would influence him to keep puffing. I know, you're probably thinking, it's a small thing, but do you get where I'm going people?
My teacher gave me an essay yesterday that said this:
I once created a test called The Road to Hell. I had just finished illustrating a section of Dante's Divine Comedy for an Italian publisher. When I first got the assignment I was unhappy that I had been given Purgatory as a subject as opposed to Inferno. As an illustrator, Hell had always seemed more interesting to me. Frankly, I never quite understood the difference between Hell and Purgatory. As you may know, the difference is simply that those in Hell are not aware of what put them in Hell and are doomed to be there forever. Those in Purgatory are aware of their sins and consequently have the possibility of getting out by moving to a higher plane. This fact immediately made Purgatory more relevant to me, in part, because Purgatory is where most of us are right now. In any event, awareness of what we actually do in life seems worth thinking about.
Let me read you The Road to Hell, a series of questions that become more difficulty the deeper you go. The first couple are easy, would you—
1. Design a package to look larger on the shelf?
2. Do an ad for a slow-moving, boring film to make it seem like a lighthearted comedy?
3. Design a crest for a new vineyard to suggest that it's been in business for a long time?
4. Design a jacket for a book whose sexual content you find personally repellent?
5. Design an advertising campaign for a company with a history of known discrimination in minority hiring?
6. Design a package for a cereal aimed at children, which has low nutritional value and high sugar content?
7. Design a line of T-shirts for a manufacturer who employs child labor?
8. Design a promotion for a diet product that you know doesn't work?
9. Design an ad for a political candidate whose policies you believe would be harmful to the general public?
10. Design a brochure piece for an SUV that turned over more frequently than average in emergency conditions and caused the death of 150 people?
11. Design an ad for a product whose continued use might cause the user's death?
When I gave this test to students between the ages of 21 to 28, I discovered that in a group of 20, 3 or 4 of them were willing to go all the way—That is, participate in advertising a product whose use might cause the user's death. These were generally idealistic young people as yet seemingly uncorrupted by money or professional life. However, they drew the line at harming their family, friends or neighbors.
Thank you Milton Glaser.
I guess I could have just summed up this post into 12 words. I want to create something good that God would be proud of.