Failure is always an option

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It’s funny that my last post was about not letting the fear of failure cripple me so much, since that’s exactly what ended up happening with the piece I’m doing right now.  In the end, it wound up getting a big fat “F”.  (It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a real report card, but let me tell you that I’ve had my fair share of those f guys.  I actually should have failed grade 3, but my parents’ quick thinking kept me afloat. Thanks mom and pop.)

I want to explore political cartooning more and that’s what I was thinking, or sort of thinking, when I started drawing this one a couple days ago.  Well to be honest, I wasn’t thinking at all and just started drawing our Supreme Leader Stephen Harper, hoping an idea would emerge.  I thought I was getting a little smart when I morphed him into the suckling baby of some ginormous breast- but I had no idea what that boob was going to be attached to.  I took the cheap way out, and made a dig at the tar sands and Big Oil- an easy mark, I know.  Too easy.  And I knew as I was drawing it that it really didn’t make sense, all the while hoping it would solidify.

When my inner critic (what I loving call my wife Alethea) looked over this morning at what I was doing and brought down the hammer, I knew she was right.  Crap; one more for the scrap bin.  Oh well, can’t win ’em all, and luckily I hadn’t spent too much time on this sketch, which is something I have to as a whole spend more time doing.  Sketch, sketch, sketch ideas until they are rock solid before I start taking them anywhere near completion, otherwise I get too attached to them and have a hard time restarting.  The legendary animator Cordell Barker came up north to Iqaluit a couple years ago as part of an NFB initiative and gave fantastic talk, and what stuck most with me this whole time was a simple line he repeated over and over again: “Don’t be afraid to kill your babies”.  Now he’s got his own children, and isn’t advocating infanticide here.  He’s just reminding all of us the danger of getting attached to an idea before it’s fully realized.  I guess like me sometimes he rushes ahead on a drawing or idea, and then realizes only too late that it’s not working- which means a lot of lost time and effort.

But I’ll figure it out one day.

Jonathan Wright Illustrator
Jonathan Wright Illustrator

2 Responses

  1. So much truth! I am going to write, frame and hang “Don’t be afraid to kill your babies” above my drawing table.

  2. jonwright

    Yep, that one line really sums it all up, eh? I think I’ve become a much better artist now that that truth is rumbling around in my head.

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