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01:18:2006 Entry: "Ann : Someone Else Understands!"

Someone Else Understands!

Take a look at this send-up of a Readers' Digest cover over at Shae's Place (Shae's also an Exquisite Corpser). Damn, that's a good laugh. I have this horrorshow memory of The Reader's Disgust. My mom sent me a gift subscription about a decade ago! OK, speaking of returning gifts, that is one gift I did return, and felt not a bit of guilt doing it either (I think I got cash back, which I used to buy drugs)*. I was absolutely crushed when I received the notice in the mail that I was receiving a gift subscription to the thing. She had no clue why I would not appreciate a subscription to it. None. Absolutely Clueless why I wouldn't want to read it. After all, when I was young, I read it at their house. Oh, perhaps because *that was the only thing around the house to read?!?* And I was young, and I didn't know any better. God, it's like these people called parents give you this limited choice of Evil A or Evil B, you choose the lesser Evil B and so for the rest of your life your parents think you *like* Evil B, but it's not like you really had a choice in the matter.

I confess I'm a bit guilty of that myself. We never got Persephone many cat toys because the dogs would always take them from her and chew them up, making them a wet, smelly, matted wad of un-cat-friendly fuzz. So she had to make due with found objects like construction nails and chips of wood, which were abundant around our always-under-construction house back in the '90s. So Persephone has become known to Stan and me as the cat that likes to play with nails. But that's really being unfair to her. It's not that she really had much of a choice in the matter. We had become parents. Fortunately, it's only with a cat. Fortunately, I will never do that to another human being because I know how much that hurts. And that's why I have to buy drugs, i.e., birth control pills, if you know what I mean.

I tried to offer my mom a subscription to a Macintosh magazine once and she didn't want it. I didn't press her about it, I didn't say "Why wouldn't you want to read it? You'll learn a lot about your computer" and on and on about the virtues of reading current technology magazines. No, that would've been too much like her, and I'm not that way. If I was, I'd probably be reading Readers' Digest right now.


That's really funny! My step dad always had a RD lying around, usually in the bathroom. Kind of fitting? I had a lit teacher go on about how great an honor it is to be showcased in the RD! I know what you mean now about dogs... her toys are so icky! And bruce likes to play with them. For the most part she leaves baby toys alone- but plastic bowls that mommy really really needs? Chews them up in seconds! Grrr.

I look back on my life and it is filled with evil a's and evil b's. I was so sheltered! my kids have a much better grasp of reality than I did! Oh! I don't have to worry about pills or such anymore, after this I am getting tied!

Posted by Dawn @ 01:18:2006:10:43 PM CST

I suppose a RD would be useful in the bathroom, but only in case of a TP shortage. Otherwise, staring at hardwater deposits in the sink can be much more enlightening and mentally stimulating.

Wow, I don't know what to say about that lit professor of yours except that's sad.

Oh, and as an afterthought, in later years my mom did get subscriptions for herself to other magazines other than RD, but recently she cancelled some of them because she has no time to read them, but she still keeps the sub to RD!

And something that's even worse than RD is that glossy tabloid thing they enclose in the Sunday newspaper. I don't read newspapers, but I think that thing still exists. All it is is like one big ad for those cheesey commerative collector plates and hideous collector dolls.

I'm sorry, dolls are something to be played with by kids. When they become too precious and collected by adults, that's weird. But maybe that's just me. I keep thinking of one Saturday Night Live parody of those collector dolls being shown on some home shopping network, and the people promoting them were really creepy (like as in they really got into small replicas of children). It was a good parody, even though it was during the years of the decline of SNL.

Yet, I digress.

Posted by Ann @ 01:19:2006:09:55 AM CST

I love collector plates and own several. If I had the money, I would have them all around my dining room. Alas ... they're too expensive. Whenever I read the Sunday insert (the "Family Weekly") I always enjoy looking at the ads for collector dolls and plates. I also read the RD every month (no subscription - I just get a hand me down from a co-worker). There's always something interesting to read and I like the jokes. Different strokes for different folks!

Posted by greenthumb @ 01:19:2006:12:07 PM CST

Oh lord, my mom collects dolls and they are creepy. I hate those stupid ads for collector plates, dolls, figuines, etc. The product is so cheesy. Why do that when you can buy decorative tiles and figurines featuring "real" artist's work in malls and online? Many of my favorite artists have stuff other than prints for sale! And these things are so much cheaper!

I don't read the paper either, or do I watch the news. Too depressing. SNL really sucked for a while. I gave up on it and now am asleep when it comes on. So I don't know if it is any better.

Oh, I kept the dolls I had as a kid, but only due to sentimental value. I let the kids play with them, they have no place of honor and storage for them is a card board box and nothing fancier than that. But to keep buying them? Weird.

Posted by Dawn @ 01:19:2006:12:16 PM CST

I'd rather have plates than tiles and figurines. I don't know what I'd do with a tile, and I'm not into dusting figurines (any more than I already own). Ultimately, all that "cheesy" stuff was originally conceptualized by an artist, somewhere. Maybe not a glamorous type artist, but an artist nevertheless. Or at least a very artistic person.

Posted by greenthumb @ 01:19:2006:12:29 PM CST

Oh right, Dawn, I remember you mentioning your mom's doll collection! Did you ever watch Seinfeld? There's an episode with a doll collection...absolutely hilarious.

I agree with what you say about buying real artists work (as opposed to artists working for these collector mints) except with one caveat...most cities, even small towns feature some sort of gallery or alternative gallery (coffee shop, hair salon) space that will display local artists work. I used to have shows at those types of spaces when I was younger. You can get some good original art there at reasonable prices.

I don't care much for figurines either though.

But greenthumb, how do you know that the collector stuff was actually originally conceived by an artist? I've known lots of artists, but I've never known anyone to have conceived of any of that stuff. I suspect these mints are just factories who hire some people with ability (you don't need to be an artist to design that stuff, just have some ability) to come up with these things that will sell (that's the whole point of it it, it's not about creating beauty or anything genuine or unique or moving, it's all about selling product). Several people work on some sketches of a doll or a plate, it's reviewed by a committee, several other people alter it, and then an assembly line puts out the final product. An artist's name is ascribed to it, sort of like a product line. I suspect that any one individual has very little input. It's sort of like The Monkees.

Posted by Ann @ 01:19:2006:12:45 PM CST

Greenthumb, some of the tiles I have seen hang on ribbons. I don't buy figurines, but if I were going to, I would rather buy them by or from an artist I know has put their heart and talent into it. Plus, when I buy stuff from an artist's own site, I know where the profit is going to.

Ann, we have some local shops that sell local art, unfortunately mostly originals and those are pricey (for me, anyway). Prints and posters are more in my limited price range. I don't remember if I have seen that Seinfeld or not. I have watched many- its been so long though.

I am going to go back to my mothers and get some pictures. I might even have some! I just got some pics back from Tessa's birthday party. If I managed to get some in there I will have to post them!

Posted by Dawn @ 01:19:2006:01:11 PM CST

I think it would take artistic talent to come up with the ideas, regardless of whether or not they are reviewed by committees, altered to increase sales, etc. Can't a person be an artist and have mass sales? Or can an artist only have a few tiny bohemian outlets? Does an artist have to be starving? Can a person be an artist, but because they don't want to be a "starving artist" end up working for the Franklin Mint? What's wrong with that? They may be making a living, AND doing what they love. (Of course, they could also be frustrated and symied - I wouldn't know.)

I used to have a very "small" view of what an artist was (i.e., someone who painted with oil or water color, or a sculptor) but now I have a much more expanded view and believe that there are artists (artistic types) all over. I believe you can be an artist (artistic) with cake decorating, interior decorating, landscaping, flower arranging, poet, illustrator, sitcom writer, web page designing, etc. etc. etc. And if you expand the concept of "artistic" to it's first cousin - "creative" - the list could just go on and on. Thank God for creative and artistic people. Because I don't have an artisic bone in my body, I think I have a lot of appreciation (and gratitute) for those who do, because if everyone were like me, things would be pretty bland!

However, (I digress!) I think it's wrong to take away from someone's ability just because they might work for a big company - and have a title like "Illustrator" or "Product Designer" or work in the "Conceptualization Depart." etc. and their brain child is sold in the Family Weekly.

How can you tell if someone has "ability" and is just a prostitute (so to speak) at the Franklin Mint Salt Mines or if a person has "ability" and is fortunate enuf to have found a job in their field - utilizing their talents - at the Franklin Mint Salt Mines? (I don't know how much leeway an artists would have in these situations - would they be given guidelines like "the John Wayne line has been very popular, we need another plate of The Duke" or if they just come up with ideas that are either accepted or not - I expect it's a bit of both.)

Posted by greenthumb @ 01:19:2006:01:20 PM CST

Ann, I looked and found a photo! Its not the best, but I tweaked in in psp and you can see it here: http://www.geocities.com/dawnsdreamscape/creepydolls.jpg
I left it big so you can really get a feel for it. Not all the dolls are in it though and you can't see them staring at you as well as if you were there, but it gives an idea. The room is very victorian and adds to the "feel."

Posted by Dawn @ 01:19:2006:01:29 PM CST

It has nothing to do with success, whether you're starving or living well. It's about integrity. Are you making money as an artist because you are doing what comes from your heart and soul and your personal vision, or are you making money because you've sold your soul so that some other company can profit from your skills? There's a difference between artist and skilled craftsman. Sometimes people can be both, and sometimes some artists aren't very skilled in their technique, but with some art, technique is not as important as the message.

I would call people who work for Franklin Mint or Danbury or whatever mint is out there skilled craftspeople, but I would not call them artists. If they were artists, they would not be working there, not because they would be making more money selling their own work (they probably wouldn't) or because they would suck at the job (they would probably be more than adequate if not even overqualified) but because it's sort of like selling your soul. Lots of artists take jobs in fields that are completely un-art related (that is, if they can't find directly-related art jobs which are hard to come by) so that it does not interfere with their own ideas and vision. I had a prof tell me it's better to bus tables than to work as a graphic designer for that reason. Well, since I couldn't get my foot in with food service anywhere, I decided to go into graphics. At first it was actually conducive to my art as it gave me some tools and materials to make my own (computer, color copier), but later it just got in the way so I went off on my own. I know that not everyone is lucky enough to be able to make it on their own selling their own work or designs, but ask any artist barely getting by if they would trade their vision as an artist to go work at a Mint, and I'm sure they wouldn't. It's about integrity, it's not about "oh, it's so hip to be starving." That is bull. No one wants to starve, but if it came to slipping by on the bottommost rung of the socioeconomic ladder, or doing well and losing your artistic sense and license, leasing your skills for 8+ hours a week to attach hair to dolls, I'll keep my place on the bottom. And so would most other artists I know.

I don't think I'm explaining this very well. My head is still cloudy from the flu. Or maybe it's just an intuitive thing, you either have a feel for it or you don't.

I suspect that the designers don't have much leeway at all. In fact, I suspect when I was working for Depressions and illustrating this and that I was actually given more leeway in the manner in which I illustrated various diagrams or pictures than the people who design Collectibles. For Depressions, the illustrations weren't part of selling the books. Much of the books they published/typeset were university publications where making big sales wasn't the primary goal. With Collectibles it's different. It's all about sales and making money for the Mint. It's not about any artist's vision, although they present it to the public in their ads that way because it'll sell.

Posted by Ann @ 01:19:2006:02:11 PM CST

Dawn, picture does give me the willies, especially the pink baby on the right with the "Moe from the Three Stooges" bad haircut. The Victorian dolls not as much, but still...

Posted by Ann @ 01:19:2006:02:12 PM CST

And also, I don't know any artists who would actually *want* to design figurines for those Collector's Mints, even if they were given full artistic license. Of course, if they were given full artistic license, the dolls would look nothing like what is seen in those ads, and would instead be sculptures with a social statement, or they would be sarcastic making fun of the whole genre. But then again, I don't know every artist on the face of the earth, I only know the ones I went to school with in both under grad and graduate school, plus artist friends I made outside of college as well during my years of heavy exhibiting and attending various art organization meetings. What do I know.

Posted by Ann @ 01:19:2006:02:20 PM CST

But I take that back. Funny how I blocked this out. A long time ago I knew a group of hobbyist types who would've LOVED to work for a Mint, but they probably wouldn't have had the skill or patience. Plus, when it came to constructing the doll's genitalia (these things are supposed to be life-like), they would've protested. Heh.

Posted by Ann @ 01:19:2006:02:32 PM CST

Oh, those baby dolls, and I wish I had a better picture, are so ugly! That doll in pink is her favorite, and is old! I hate it!

A comment on the integrity thing, Amy Brown has gotten a hard time because she licenses some of her work, that she is "selling out". She says she only licenses things she makes specifically for that project. Really personal peices never even make it out of her closet. But without what she does, I say, then we would have only subpar work from places like the Mint. Some people will never be satisfied either way. It is such a tricky field to be in and I applaud any that can do it.

Or Hallmark! Hallmark stuff litters peoples homes... the few privately owned stores we do have are full of this type of "stuff". I don't like it. Nicknacks and expensive peices of junk that hundreds of other people have! Not for me. I enjoy having something no one else has, that is one of a kind, like my necklace. I usually make my own graphics for my blog, even if they are not so good, because they are mine, I made them and no one else has them. Until now, anyway, when I decided to try something someone else did. But it is still more personal than that stuff that blogger churns out. Off topic, but why can't they offer more than 20 templates? Yeesh.

Posted by Dawn @ 01:19:2006:02:40 PM CST

I'm not familiar with the artist you mention, but if she's making money off of licensing her own work, more power to her unless she's churning stuff out just for the sake of sales, not because she feels any strong need or compulsion to express herself artistically. Does that make sense? I sell/license my graphic work. Once I had someone tell me that maybe I'll sell more if it had more corporate appeal, but why would I do that? It's not me, it's not what I want my name attached to! Now *that* would be selling out.

Posted by Ann @ 01:19:2006:03:05 PM CST

Damn, this flu has given me a really foggy-headed short attention span, hence I post before I'm through with all the subjects I wish to address.

Yes, why does blogger only have 20 templates? I mean, how much storage on their servers could a few more templates be? Geez. Note that I say this as someone who only offers about that many myself, but I just got SOOOO tired of designing templates for blogs and dealing with people who abuse the system so that's my excuse...what's blogger's? I read your blog entry re: that topic, BTW and totally agree. And it's not that hard for anyone to change the colors to just make it a bit more individual instead of having their blogs look like everyone else's. Does blogger give instructions on how to do this? Or do they want to have some sort of trademark look and if they give people too many tools to individualize, they'll not have a harmonious brand anymore? I don't know, I haven't used blogger for ages so I'm not up on what's going on with them.

And Hallmark is another one too, glad you mentioned that! Sometimes I have to walk by a Hallmark store on the way to the bathrooms from one grocery store we go to (it's attached to a mall) and I just cringe when I walk by. I mean, I used to like stores like that when I was young, but we do grow up.

I guess I have an aversion to overly "sweet" sentimental stuff.

Posted by Ann @ 01:19:2006:03:16 PM CST

Ann, you're expressing yourself just fine - residual effects of the flu or not. I'm actually losing the thread of this whole conversation, because I can't see the whole thing at once, or refresh my memory as I write (can't see what was written before me to respond specifically). (I believe I started out defending the artists/craftspeople designers who work for big companies...?)

You write from the perspective of an artist, and I write from the perspective of a person who only enjoys other people's artistry (which I assume that you do to).

But to recap, I like Danbury Mint and Hamilton Mint type stuff (the birds, butterflies, flowers stuff) and think that there is artristry in their pieces and there is nothing wrong with making a living. I don't have a problem with someone using their talent to earn a living. I strongly expect that the actual people who paint and craft the products are low paid people in China who do nothing more than paint a blue petunia, pass the plate on to the next person, paint another blue petunia, pass the plate on to the next person, etc. etc. etc. No time wasted washing a paint brush.

I also like sweet sentimental Hallmark stuff, but don't buy it because I don't like "stuff". (yeah, I know that doesn't make sense.)

Dawn - your Mom's stuff doesn't look very good. I think it would look better if it was displayed more attractively - and perhaps a few less dolls.

Posted by greenthumb @ 01:19:2006:05:56 PM CST

"I strongly expect that the actual people who paint and craft the products are low paid people in China"

That's EXACTLY what I was thinking earlier this evening...you took the words right out of my mouth!

Posted by Ann @ 01:19:2006:06:02 PM CST

Greenthumb: Her stuff was displayed better, but since me, my husband and 3 kids were staying in that room she had to scrunch them all together, plus this was a birthday party and even more people were in there! oh god, and you haven't seen the paintings! The horrible horrible creepy paintings! This kid has an extra finger... I get what you mean, some stuff is nice to look at but not take home to clutter up your space, right?

No, blogger doesn't give instructions at all! And some free blogger templates out there host the css on there sites so you can't make and font or color changes! What is this? Communism of blogging?

www.amybrownart.com is her website. she gives tips in her journal about the correct way to license, and she is very picky. i was just using her as an example of some of the extremes artists have to deal, how hard it is to stay true to yourself yet try to please others.

This has been a very stimulating conversation. i hope you feel better, ann. i recommend nyquil or dayquil!

Posted by Dawn @ 01:19:2006:06:21 PM CST

"This kid has an extra finger" LOL!

I'm getting better, thanks. Most of the worst of it was last week an now I am actually venturing outside! I almost wore my contacts today, except when I unscrewed the lens case, they were crispy critters so I have to rehydrate them now since I haven't worn them for...2 weeks?

Stan gave the flu to me, and I tried to exchange it, but he wouldn't take it back.

Posted by Ann @ 01:19:2006:07:01 PM CST

I haven't worn contacts in years, but I hate when that happens! It is such a pain! I can't beleive he wouldn't take it back. What kind of man is he anyway? (just joking stan ;D)

The extra finger painting is her favorite, I swear! It even creeps my step dad out!

Posted by Dawn @ 01:19:2006:07:39 PM CST

Dawn "I get what you mean, some stuff is nice to look at but not take home to clutter up your space, right"

Right. The older I get the more I look at things from a pragmatic viewpoint of what will I do with it? how long will i enjoy it? do I really want to dust it? do I actually have a place to actractively display it? is this really what I want to spend my money on? etc. and the answer is almost always a resounding NO!

Ann - you sure opened a Pandora's Box today! :)

Posted by greenthumb @ 01:19:2006:08:34 PM CST

By Ann @ 05:59 PM CST:01:18:06 ..::Link::..

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