Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blecchh!


So I came across this the other day via Cartoon Brew. It's the poster design for this year's upcoming Ottawa International Animation Festival. So, how is one supposed to react to this? Do you make like several of the Brew readers and exclaim how much you love the emperor's new clothes? Apparently, Chris Robinson (aka "The Animation Pimp"), director of the Ottawa Festival really loves the image, as I believe he commissioned it. I suspect Cartoon Brewmeister Amid Amidi also gives it his blessing. But that's to be expected, as Amid also loves Octocat Adventures.

As for me, well, let's just say that it's not to my more discerning tastes, art wise. Rather than be on a poster for an international event, I'd suggest the proper place for this image would be taped to a fridge door by some loving mom. Frankly, I'm not sure of how it relates to animation at all. Furthermore, I'm not even sure what the painting is trying to portray, as it's too much in the style of faux five year old kiddie crudeness to be obvious. My best guess is that it's supposed to be a cat vomiting. Yes, a vomiting cat, I'm almost sure of it. That's my final answer, Regis...

(Heck, maybe they should have tried for Bill instead!)

96 comments:

David Gale said...

I'd call it faux Basquiat. I don't hate it, but I'll agree that it has nothing to do with animation.

Boris M. said...

Nice, I had the same reaction. Even last year's was a little off putting. I remember my dad asked me to get a shirt for him but they were just..too...ugly.

You'd figure one of the largest animation festivals in the world would have a bit better judgment when it comes to appeal.

Pete Emslie said...

The animators of the world surely deserve better than this poster image to promote the Ottawa Festival. Being originally from Ottawa myself, I was a regular attendee at the festival from its debut in 1976 through 1984. Although that 1984 show was held in Toronto instead of Ottawa, but I had coincidentally moved to Toronto that year, so I was luckily able to attend that one too. Fact is, I remember the festivals very fondly from those earlier years. There certainly were better promotional posters back then too.

ALVARO CERVANTES said...

WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING TO THIS WORLD!!
CATS THROWING UP??
PETE JUST LOOK AWAY MY FRIEND.
Alvaro

Pete Emslie said...

Hey Alvaro!

Yeah, you're right - I probably shouldn't even acknowledge crap like this. I think you've got the right idea over on your blog with the pics of the mucha muchachas! I see your little guy also is developing an eye for the ladies. :)

Brett McCoy said...

That's pretty ugly, and certainly doesn't conjure up the idea of 'animation' to me... maybe if it were a pretentious art show at some pretentious art gallery... I hate to say it, but my 4 year old son brings home stuff from school that he finger painted that is more appealing than this!

A.M.Bush said...

I thought that was a Basquiat when i saw it in a thumbnail. While I believe Basquiat's own work has artistic merit in a very different context, I think this style of work for an animation festival poster is a little odd. I'm not infinitely repulsed by the poster or anything, but if you're gonna paint like that, you'd better have a damn good reason (schitzophrenic drug addicted street urchin, etc. )

Chris G. said...

Well,.. this isn't really my cup of tea either,... but someone obviously likes it.

To me it looks like something you might see in a primary school art class. In fact, I'll agree with Brett that those kids probably could have done a better poster!!

Every time I see something like this it just reminds me that one persons art is another persons crap.

Thad said...

Ottawa is not far at all from me, but posters like that are primarily WHY I don't go to this. My god. How can anyone defend that as art? I saw some sort of sampler of works in the past, and I couldn't believe the absolute shit that made it in. There's a good argument to be made is that scrawl-ish "artistic triumphs" like these are just as bad to our cause as the corporate whoring of television flash cartoons. I'd go to Ottawa for a Friz Freleng or Ralph Bakshi retrospective, because a retrospective of an artist I already have a built-up respect for is about all I'd go to see there.

Charles H. said...

When I first saw it, it reminded me of an early poster for the Threepenny Opera, but at least that one looked like something... and you can read it.

Now, in the words of the illustrious crew from MAD.... ECCH!

(By the way, I've been enjoying your blog for quite a while!)

Andrew Murray said...

I bet it was more of a, My friend's cousin can draw. He used to draw these wicked cobras back in high school. I got one painted on my jacket back then. I could ask if he's free to do a logo.

The logo sucks and I guess it shows its not how talented you are its who you know.

Nuff said.

paul o'flanagan said...

I love your balls, Pete! I completely agree, nothing like a good dose of ambiguity to hide one's artistic inadequacies

Pete Emslie said...

I think I'm able to make out a few more details in this mystery painting. 1) There appears to be a small bird perched atop the cat's head. 2) I think I can see a basketball (Basquiat-ball?) player reaching up to try and slam dunk the cat's upper lip. 3) The vomit is named "Olaf", which suggests that it is of Norwegian origin.

King of [Silent] Cartoons said...

Emil Cohl's dead hand could produce a better poster image.

Thomps said...

I'm pretty sure if I didn't know any better and drove by one of these posters I'd just figure somebody was after getting sick all over a blank canvas.. Apart from this not representing animation on any level, the text that allows you to know that it's promoting the Ottawa animation festival is in such random places that the eye will never focus in on the text and defeats the purpose of the poster in the first place.. Although I guess it certainly gets the viewers attention.. just not in a positive manner.

Adam Pockaj said...

I guess this is why we didn't go into "art" for a career. Ask someone from OCAD or something. They probably get it

BifffHenderson said...

Too bad the festival couldn't afford to use some real art, like this:
http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/huglarge.jpg

Thad said...

Hey, at least whenever Pete draws, be it for work or pleasure, we can figure out what's actually going on. Shithead.

Liesje said...

Why are we all such hateful, nasty people? Art takes all kinds, remember?

To be honest, it's probably my favorite Ottawa poster to date and I think it's because it's so different.

Art is suppose to evoke reactions, but let's be mature about it.

Mélanie Daigle said...

Pete, you're gonna hate me... :p

But when I saw the poster, I had the hugest smile on my face - I like it a lot!

Pete Emslie said...

Just so it's clear, I'm going to explain the reasons why I dislike this image so much:

It is completely random imagery, with nothing recognizable, being little more shapes and colour. At best, I might say that the colours work together and the shapes are balanced in composition, but that is as far as my generosity will extend. Beyond that, I find it to be a mindless mediocrity. Because it is such random imagery, it fails to make a statement - it is not a complete idea in any respect. There is absolutely nothing about it that communicates the art of animation, so it doesn't even succeed in delivering any message to the viewer. Furthermore, what text is on there is practically illegible in its crude, "grunge" style, so not even the text is successful in advertising the event clearly. In short, I just don't think there's anything clever about it, as there seems to be no coherent thought behind it.

So there, I've explained some of the reasons why I hate this poster image. My challenge to those who claim to like it is for you to articulate exactly why it is that the image appeals to you and why you believe it succeeds as a promotional piece. Any takers? I doubt that the mythical "BifffHenderson" has either the courage or the smarts to defend his position with a well-reasoned argument, but I'll be happy if he can prove me wrong on that guess.

Andrew Murray said...

*applause from the peanut gallery*

It's like you took the words right out of my mouth.


also regarding the text. you think the artist forgot about the french title during the construction of this, and then just scribbled it on the side where there was some space left over?

Brett McCoy said...

That's my main criticism about the pic, too... it doesn't make me think of animation. Compare to the poster for the 2D or not 2D animation Festival from 2008:

http://www.animaticus.com/Images/2008Poster.gif

Liesje said...

"It is completely random imagery, with nothing recognizable, being little more [than] shapes and colour."

You gonna tell that to Oskar Fischinger? Or for a more current reference, Martha Colburn?

The poster doesn't have to 'look' like animation. It 'feels' like animation. It's kinetic. Animation is just another form of art like painting, sculpture, dance and theater. With art, it's all about how the piece makes us feel. The way it looks is just part of that.

But, that's why I like it. You have every right to hate it. My main reaction to this blog was not the hate people had for the poster. It was the immature manner in which they expressed their hatred that bothered me.

AndyG said...

I feel insulted that you're criticizing a chimp's art piece. It may not be the way you see the world, but by golly, it's certainly the way he sees it. That's a-okay in my books.

You can totally tell it's an animation festival by the cat ..um... throwing up... um, something!

About that chimp...

Pete Emslie said...

In response to Liesje, though she hasn't won me over to her way of thinking, kudos to her for accepting my challenge and intelligently articulating her reasoned argument. (I'm still waiting on "BifffHenderson, though...)

In regard to her accusation of "immature manner", whether or not she is directing it at me, all I can say is "Guilty as charged". But frankly, I don't have any qualms over it, as The Cartoon Cave is simply my little soapbox here in cyberspace to vent and release my frustrations over that which I consider to be a part of this current "Age of Mediocrity". Actually, I have plenty I want to say regarding visual art in general, but I'm going to save it up for another post in the near future.

In the meantime, no I don't particularly like Oskar Fischinger's "art" either, and I consider its only saving grace is when you see it animated, synced up to the soundtrack. I know the Disney artists were inspired by Fischinger when they animated the abstracted forms of Toccata and Fugue in Fantasia, but I think they did it far more artistically and organically than Oskar ever did with his geometric shapes. Just one curmudgeon's opinion, however... :)

Pete Emslie said...

Andrew - I feel bad now that you've pointed out that a chimp did the painting. Forgive my blatantly ape-ist remarks, and please don't let Miss Jane Goodall know about this, okay?

Michael Sporn said...

It's amazing how incapable so many people in animation are to accepting or trying to understand expressionist or abstract art. I assume you probably still have difficulties with Picasso or Franz Kline.

I applaud Chris Robinson's attempt to run a truly "adult" animation festival that appreciates many different types and styles of art. Lately, the non-thinking "gag-cartoonists" have taken over the medium. This was highlighted a couple of seasons ago when Bill Plympton did a parody of an abstract animation film for Annecy. The entire piece was a gag played on the Annecy audience by Bill and the festival director. It showed absolute disrespect for all the animators in the audience (and the world) who choose to work in this style.

The comments here can only be seen as an extension of that.

Pete Emslie said...

Michael, how are my tastes or comments regarding this image any more "disrespectful" than your own recent comment on your blog regarding the Donald Duck cartoons featuring that "godawful ranger"? I happen to think the Duck cartoons that paired him with Ranger Woodlore and Humphrey Bear are among the funniest that Disney produced, but I don't begrudge you your opinion not to like them, nor your describing them in a derisive manner. Yet you seem to believe that those of us who don't like abstract art or animation must be ill-mannered philistines for making wisecracks about them.

First and foremost, Michael, I am a cartoonist. As do most cartoonists, I see my role in this world as taking shots at some of the stuffed shirts and naked emperors, using humour as my weapon. Apparently Bill Plympton (who started out as an editorial cartoonist) did the same with the film you described. More power to him, I say. Besides, it was cartoonists who made animation a commercially viable form of film entertainment in the first place. Yet we keep seeing this medium being taken away from us today by people who draw like five year old kids. People like David OReilly, Jon Izen, and yes, Emily Hubley too, despite her parentage. You may consider them fine artistes if you like, Michael, as that is your privilege. But I still say their scribblings would be most at home taped up on the fridge door. My mission at The Cartoon Cave is to celebrate illustration by those with real drawing ability, as well as entertainers whom I personally admire. Remember, this is my soapbox - it represents my opinion, nothing more. There's no door on The Cartoon Cave to keep you out, but neither is there one to keep you in - enter at your own risk.

theodore ushev said...

As usual I don't write on comments about my works. I will pass the comments about the chimps, and apes as well. I won't explain the relation between art and animation as well, neither between the film and art too. The problem here is that this is a blog from a teacher at animation at Sheridan. I guess the art is not excluded yet from animation classes? Or? Otherwise, a teacher should know better about "unconscious" paintings and art, which found his highest point in the art of C.O.B.R.A. group. Just in short - this was a movement in 50's, who's members were experimenting with painting as child, or in some of the best examples, inspired by the drawings of mentally ill people on art therapy. Especially Karel Appel (is Your ape comments come from his name?). T^here are many artist who applied this methodology - Picasso, Miro, Basquiat, Kline, De Kooning, etc. As Picasso once told (loose quotation) - it took me several Years to learn to draw as Rembrandt, and all my life to learn to draw as a child. I won't describe what I meant with this image. I think that the child-animation-unconscious relation is more than obvious. The childish and unconscious art method is not a new things to defend it. It is been around for 60 Years, (not to talk about before). Too bad that the teachers at Sheridan don't get it. Poor students...

Pete Emslie said...

Theodore,

If we were to teach at Sheridan without any sort of rules or criteria by which to measure a student's work, we would have a free-for-all. Ultimately, by your preferred approach, we would have to give every student 100% on their assignments, as to assess it by any sort of criteria would apparently be showing a philistine's bias.

The fact is, we have a program at Sheridan that is primarily geared towards training students for a commercial career in animation. As such, my job is to help them understand how to design and construct characters that are practical for fully dimensional animation, able to exist within background layouts that also show an illusion of space and 3 dimensional form. To allow students through the program without such training would be doing them a disservice, as they would not have much hope of getting into any commercial studio as animators without that practical knowledge.

For those who do not wish to draw characters or backgrounds showing time-honoured drawing principles like solid form and personality in their characters, or pleasing composition and perspective in their backgrounds, then I'd suggest that Sheridan is not the place for them. Those who'd prefer to concentrate only on abstract animation would be better served by saving that tuition money and instead investing in the necessary camera equipment, software, etc. and just experimenting with abstract form and movement on their on. With commercial animation having gone from being primarily hand-drawn to now encompassing not only that, but also CG and Flash style graphics, we're already having a hard time trying to accommodate all of these variations. To try and also accommodate the fine art/ abstract approach you prefer would be impossible in the time we have available with the students.

Pete Emslie said...

Incidentally, although it should go without saying, in no way is my blog meant to be representative of the official views of Sheridan College. The Cartoon Cave is simply my own personal little soapbox, where I can show my art, talk about the entertainment I love from the glorious past, and sometimes vent my spleen over that which I don't like or agree with. Many of my colleagues also blog, sharing their opinions, admiring or critical, with anyone who cares to listen. Nobody is being forced to read any of this, however, and if the fire I invented here in The Cave gets too hot for you, you're free to leave in search of more comfortable shelter.

Carlo Lo Raso said...

It looks like a vomiting blue Satan with a robin pooping on it's head.
In about a weeks time it will be forgotten.
Nuff said.

All the best Pete.

Carlo.

Liesje said...

"For those who do not wish to draw characters or backgrounds showing time-honoured drawing principles like solid form and personality in their characters, or pleasing composition and perspective in their backgrounds, then I'd suggest that Sheridan is not the place for them."

If that doesn't sound like the voice of an elitist, then I might need to dust off my Webster.

Theo's comment on something Picasso said hit the nail right on the head for me. It took me a year or two to learn how to draw like Preston Blair. It'll probably take me the rest of my life to develop something as original and visceral as Picasso.

As for 'Biff', I'll admit his comment garnered a chuckle out of me, but other than that, it was as uncalled for as Andrew's 'chimp' comment or AM Bush's 'schizophrenic drug addicted street urchin'.

In the end, I'm certain Sheridan is a great college and you, an apt teacher. I'm just not sure I would have been happy as your student. But that is why I decided, as I am deciding to do now, to go elsewhere.

Pete Emslie said...

"If that doesn't sound like the voice of an elitist, then I might need to dust off my Webster."

If my insistence upon sound drawing principles in character design is considered an elitist attitude, well, I'm not the only one at Sheridan who lays down such "elitist" criteria. Layout instructors will insist that students understand perspective, composition, the illusion of portraying solid dimension on flat paper, camera moves within a background, etc. Animation instructors will insist upon learning how to convincingly portray weight and volume in a character, as well as a plausible timing for how different elements of varying weight will move. Then there's "Follow Through", "Squash and Stretch", and all those other time-honoured principles that Preston Blair discusses in his book. Only guess what - they may be used for caricaturing movement, but they actually have their basis in real life. That's why we teach them. Go figure!

In short, one can't claim to deliver a proper animation course without covering these essential basic rules of drawing and creating the illusion of plausible movement. That's why I say, if you're not inclined to wanting to learn the rules, then save your money and experiment with your own way of drawing and shifting things around on screen. If you're looking for some hippy-dippy New Age approach to studying animation, where the instructors all say "Hey dude, just do your own thing and I'll give you an A+ just for participating", then better keep searching. We try to keep the bar set high at Sheridan.

Thad said...

Pete, I have to hand it to you, you handled that well. And that Bill Plympton film is great, and I'm glad the audience was insulted, rather than getting a kick out of it, because it shows what stuffed shirt elitist snobs YOU guys really are, and how you have completely removed the element of FUN from animation.

BTW, the artist of this "painting" writes exactly how I thought he would.

Thad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Worth said...

I may have an overactive imagination, but I can see several things in this image... a bird perching on the ass of a lady dancing in a tight skirt, a cyclops Indian girl clutching a skinned snow wolf, and the ubiquitous vomiting cat.

As a designer, I have to say that this doesn't do a very good job of saying "animation" and the text seems to be integrated with the image under protest. It doesn't make me particularly angry, but if I found a stack of these posters sitting on the curb, I wouldn't bother to rescue them.

The best defense anyone seems to have come up for it so far is that it is "nice and modern". OK. I get the modern part... what makes it "nice"? It seems to me that if you are an artist and you like this a lot, you should be able to defend it using artistic principles, not just say that those who don't like it are artistic luddites.

Evee said...

Hi Pete, I'm a newbie second-year happily awaiting your character design class this year and a regular follower on your blog.

I just wanted to give my support on your position regarding the Ottawa animation festival poster as well as your counter arguments.

As for my personal reaction; I have a hard time accepting anyone's point of view when the conclusion of their argument is that "teachers at Sheridan don't get it". Yeah, poor us.

Ward Jenkins said...

Wow. Just look at the vitriol that this poster has created. I'm not surprised to see people talking about OIAF posters, but I'm a little surprised to see such hatred being written about this particular one.

As for me, I like it. A lot. But do I have to explain why I like it? Can I enjoy it for what it is: a poster for an international animation festival that routinely tries to go outside the usual confines of animation in general? I'm not going to go the heady route, and I'm not going to be all elitist here -- if you don't like it, you don't like it. And I'll respect your opinion. That goes for all of you who don't like it. I will not respond negatively toward anyone for not liking Theodore's work here -- you are all entitled to your own opinions.

What I'm having a hard time reading here is the lack of respect for the artist and his work. In the immortal words of Rodney King: "Can we all just get along?" Seriously, though -- the hatred I'm reading here is downright ridiculous! We get it -- you don't like it. Do some of you have to go so far? Good grief. It's embarrassing to read some of the comments.

Look, it's not fair to start ripping on schools, teachings, curriculums, etc., what have you, because that's not what it's all about. Schools are there to open students minds to what's out there in the world, to expose them to all kinds of experiences, be it art movements throughout the ages, different mediums to use on canvas, etc. I know that schools are there to open up students' minds, allow them to access the information they learned and make their own judgements on what they've learned. Not to force them to like one particular style or movement over another. (Pete, I know that you are not doing this here.)

As an artist in college, I learned so much from a wide variety of artists, movements, sources, and liked and disliked various aspects of each. I took all that I loved and brought it with me into the field of animation. Hopefully, I have created something new and offer something different to your average client, your average viewer. I cull from a vast assortment of resources to inspire me. And when i see something like what Theodore has produced for this poster, I see the same. I see inspiration and gall. Visceral energy and curiosity -- isn't that similar to what John K produces on a routine basis? Just the mediums are different, as well as the execution.

All I'm trying to say here (sorry for being long winded) is: let's just be respectful of one another. That's all.

Kimberly Lindbergs said...

Interesting heated debate.

Personally I love the poster! It reminds me of a wonderful old Czech film poster from the '60s

Erika Moen said...

It may not be pretty, but I think it communicates the idea of 'animation' very clearly. Though a still image, it's exploding with movement.

Good job to the artist, I think he captured the spirit of the festival.

Stephen Worth said...

It's ironic that animators can be so embarrassed of cartooning that they prefer to be represented by "modern" art (...of a type that hasn't really been modern for half a century!) I would rather see an image that suggests the lineage of cartooning from the late 19th century to today depicted than something that is "faux modern". It sure isn't eloquent to appropriate a type of art that we can't even articulate why we like.

I love cartoons and I'm not tired of them or embarrassed of them... caricature, exaggeration, stylization, humor... all of these things come together in animation to create something that is more real than reality and more true than truth. This may be a great image and may be worthy of praise, but not as a poster representing an animation festival.

Stephen Worth said...

Visceral energy and curiosity -- isn't that similar to what John K produces on a routine basis?

Yes, except John K is a cartoonist.

Stephen Worth said...

What I'm having a hard time reading here is the lack of respect for the artist and his work. In the immortal words of Rodney King: "Can we all just get along?"

When artists all get along and agree, it's sure to be a sign of lousy art, not good art.

"Bad artists always admire each other's work. They call it being large-minded and free from prejudice. But a truly great artist cannot conceive of life being shown, or beauty fashioned, under any conditions other than those he has selected." -Oscar Wilde

Fooksie said...

Where's the fun? The playfulness? The urge that makes you want to see these animated shorts?
I don't get any of those feelings from this mess.

mike f. said...

Pete, here are some wise words to live by: Don't waste your time arguing with a pompous, self-important, humorless twit.

Of course I'm not singling anyone out specifically; that would be rude.
Let's just say sometimes the shoe fits - as if to the manner Sporn...

roconnor said...

If one were to refer to say, me, as pompous -well, maybe there's a justification.

If one were to refer to Michael Sporn as pompous, they would display a near criminal lack of insight into human character. Unless, of course, it was opposite day.

Mr. Worth, you would rather see an image that reflects the lineage of animation that goes back to the 19th Century. Two years ago, Oscar Grillo provided a poster which did that.

The year (or two) before Nick Cross created the poster.

Interesting, I find Mr. Cross's work (from the Kricfalusi school of art) ugly and unappealing. As someone who is charged with working in this field, with teaching, and sometimes writing about animation and art -I wouldn't dream of dismissing it. There are dozens or positive qualities to the Kricfalusi school, only a fool would argue otherwise. At the same time, I don't "like" it. I can articulate why without insulting the gifted Mr. Kricfalusi.

The point is -the things you want from this poster have been done very recently by this festival. "Why doesn't it do the same thing every year?" you ask. That's a legitimate question, I suppose.

And the person who referred to European posters of the 60s makes a terrific observation. This poster art is clearly in league with Lenica, Tomaszewski and others from that era.

theodore ushev said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Worth said...

There are dozens or positive qualities to the Kricfalusi school, only a fool would argue otherwise. At the same time, I don't "like" it. I can articulate why without insulting the gifted Mr. Kricfalusi.

Well, you got through about three paragraphs there without articulating any qualities one way or the other.

It seems to me that there are probably more talented individuals capable of creating an image that actually represents what the poster is supposed to represent than just Grillo and Cross. It would have been better to have a contemporary animation artist create a poster, rather than a not very contemporary fine artist.

Stephen Worth said...

I have a respect for every single drawing.

I bet I could find a few drawings in Family Guy that would tax your respect!

I enjoy some cartoons as well, and never comment on them

Well, how about breaking your vow of silence on the subject. What cartoons do you like?

Pete Emslie said...

Richard says: "Interesting, I find Mr. Cross's work (from the Kricfalusi school of art) ugly and unappealing. As someone who is charged with working in this field, with teaching, and sometimes writing about animation and art -I wouldn't dream of dismissing it. There are dozens or positive qualities to the Kricfalusi school, only a fool would argue otherwise. At the same time, I don't "like" it. I can articulate why without insulting the gifted Mr. Kricfalusi."

Bullshit. There's such a fine line between what you've just described and what I actually did. Stop being such a hypocrite. Describing Cross's work as "ugly and unappealing" is no less a PC crime than what you perceive in my own comparison of Theo's painting to a vomiting cat. When I wrote it, I thought it was funny. Still do. That's how cartoonists' minds work. But then you're one of those "Fine Artistes", so I guess you don't get humour. By the way, Richard, why are you comparing Disney enthusiasts to Nazis over on your blog? Not complaining, just asking...

Fact is, the only line in my original rant that I'm feeling a bit peevish about is, "As for me, well, let's just say that it's not to my more discerning tastes, art wise". Yeah, that one does make me appear to come off as a pompous ass, I'll grant you that.

But the puking cat stuff is funny. If Jon Stewart had said it on "The Daily Show" or Stan had said it on "South Park", you'd be pissing your pants laughing. Speaking of which, is that bird on top of the cat's head taking a wiz down the cat's nose? Funny I hadn't noticed it before. More "kinetic" action I guess...

roconnor said...

Mr. Worth, I don't see the point of moving the discussion to the relative merits of the Spumco school of design and animation.

I brought the point up as a frame of reference. Not an item of debate.

Now you move the goalposts again by questioning the merits of Oscar Grillo (seriously, please tell me I misunderstood your statement) and Nick Cross. The fact of the matter is, Ottawa has made the exact type of promotions you've clamored for.

And you're showing your prejudice (some would say ignorance) by claiming that Theo is not an animation artist. I may be mistaken, but his film won the jury award in the non-narrative competition at last year's festival.

That last point further demonstrates the appropriateness of this design.

It's a perfectly apt image for an international animation festival which has always celebrated the individual creative voice.

roconnor said...

You need to work on your reading comprehension.

At no point do I ever say that Disney fans are Nazis.

You may want to read up on the studies linking train nuts and neo-fascists, though. Mostly in the UK and Europe, some in the US and Canada.

It is not a fine line between "ugly and unappealing...but respecting the merits of", and what your original post said. They are leagues different. Unfortunate for you that you think they are the same.

Jon Stewart or South Park would probably come up with something more clever than "puking cat". Then again, they have a track record of being funny. This site, not so much.

Stephen Worth said...

Oh, man! This is rich!

I brought the point up as a frame of reference.

No, you brought it up as a red herring because you associate me with Spumco. It's totally irrelevant and you are the one who brought it up, not me. I was just pointing out that rather than come up with arguments to clearly support the theory that this image effectively represents an animation festival, you were resorting to empty rhetoric.

Just because this festival has had representative images on its posters in the past, it doesn't mean that all of the effective representations of animation are used up. There are a hundred great animators who could have created a wonderful posters that actually represent animation.

That last point further demonstrates the appropriateness of this design. It's a perfectly apt image for an international animation festival which has always celebrated the individual creative voice.

All individual creative voices now are perfectly apt representations for the art of animation? (A medium known for its collaborative nature...)

You can claim victory all you want, but I still haven't seen any demonstrations of the appropriateness of this design. All I've heard is vague BS that would have even been dismissed as shallow in my first year of art school.

PS: Is this artist's film on youtube? I would really like to see an animated film by someone who respects every drawing and likes some cartoons but never comments on them.

Pete Emslie said...

From Dick O'Connor's blog:

"The field has a large percentage of people who love toys and theme parks. Did their love of theme parks draw them to animation? Did Walt Disney's personal vision turn them into closet train nuts (one step removed from the coaster enthusiast -one goosestep closer.)"

I'm just connecting the dots, Dicky. That "goosestep" remark would seem to imply that you're putting all Disney fans, coaster enthusiasts, train nuts into the same category - neo-Nazis, or "fascists" if you prefer. But that's a "mature" sort of criticism in your book, correct? Again, I don't care what you say, but don't be such a friggin' hypocrite about it!

By the way, if you don't think my humour has a "track record", that's fine. There wasn't a ticket required to get in and you're free to leave at any time. Just be careful not to slip on the cat vomit on your way out...

Stephen Worth said...

OK. I just took a spin through youtube and found his film. I can see why they chose him to do the poster. But he must have decided that his simple stick figure style wasn't good enough. I disagree. Just about any frame of this film would be a better poster for the festival than the painting he submitted.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gc2Rn6izfo

His film is a lot better than his poster.

Ward Jenkins said...

Stephen, your insults are not doing anything to strengthen your point. In fact, they are doing the exact opposite.

roconnor said...

Mr. Worth, I have no idea who you are.

You mentioned John K. in your post, therefore I responded with factual evidence that the Ottawa festival has recently used work heavily influenced by him. It's not a red herring, it's simply a point of reference. I wouldn't even debate the work of Spumco, because I would probably agree with all the positive points one would bring up -it just doesn't appeal to me.

You know animation as a collaborative technique, and in the Hollywood system it is. Even many non-Hollywood films are (they tend to use the Hollywood system of production).

Ottawa has always prided itself on representing films that fall outside of these categories. Many of these films are the works of solo artists. It's only natural that the poster represent that.

Mr. Emslie,

Yes, your reading comprehension is poor.

That phrase stems from the previous post from the same magazine in which British educators likened "Sesame Street" to totalitarianism.

That in conjunction with the common knowledge of train nuts have been linked to fascism and the popular (false) myth that Walt Disney was a Nazi sympathizer make the phrase you quote multi-layered an appropriate. I will admit, I thought twice about including it always aware that there are readers who don't pick up on these things. It could have simply been poorly phrased.

I also question what you mean by "hypocrite". I would be ashamed of myself if I thoughtlessly insulted someone's work the way you have. If I've done that, I make all apologies. I'm sure I have in the past, which is why I strive to be better than that.

Here's another example. I wrote of review of Michael Sporn's first two DVD collections are few years ago (for awn, I think). Michael is my colleague and a man of great ability. But there are a few of his films that just don't cut it for me. In reviewing the DVD I pointed out the shortcomings as I saw them without resorting to insults.

Stephen Worth said...

You can't insult an inanimate object or idea. Only people. I don't think I've strayed off of that. If I have, feel free to point it out and I'll apologize.

I think this artist's film is a lot better than this poster. I wonder why he didn't design the poster in his animation drawing style. If Theodore is still reading, I would be interested to hear your reasons for that.

Stephen Worth said...

By the way, according to Art Babbitt, Walt Disney did have an autographed photo of Mussolini framed in his office for a while before the war began.

Thad said...
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geiger said...
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Pete Emslie said...

"It is not a fine line between "ugly and unappealing...but respecting the merits of", and what your original post said. They are leagues different. Unfortunate for you that you think they are the same."

Man, this mature criticizing of art is trickier than I thought! Okay, let me try this one on you instead:

Theo Ushev's painting for OIAF '09 may appear at first glance to be ugly and unappealing, not unlike the image of a feline experiencing gastric reflux. Yet upon closer inspection it is obviously not meant to be representative of anything in particular. In fact, what may at first impression strike the viewer as resembling nothing more than the cascading downward flow of ornithological voiding, is actually a direct influence of one of the bold vertical lines found in Franz Kline's "Cardinal" (1950). And the vibrancy of the colour blue used in the central portion of the painting strongly recalls the equally intense blue in Jean-Michel Basquiat's "Dingoes in the Park".

Whew, that wasn't easy, but hopefully I've covered all the bases to have satisfied the fine artistes like Mr. O'Connor and Mr. Sporn.

Pete Emslie said...

Psst, Geiger, the "Shift" key is down there near the bottom of your keyboard. Let me know when you find it, okay?

Thad said...

Excellent, Pete. Now I bet you'll refrain from flushing too soon, so you can indulge in the hubris of it all like all of these fine artistes. We hardly knew ye.

theodore ushev said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Worth said...

Theodore, I read your post on your blog. I understand that you like to experiment with styles, but how does this style represent the Ottowa Animation Festival? I don't see anything in it that says "animation", "film" or even "festival" . This is an honest question that I am trying to find out the answer to. Everyone seems to be talking about "cartoon vs high art" or "so and so is a bum". I just want to know how this poster communicates what you intended it to communicate.

Stephen Barron said...

Like anything else in the art world, as soon as an artist makes a name for himself, he/she can start phoning it in. This is a crappy poster and if a no-name did it, it would never have seen the light of day. I suppose if Theo Ushev sneezed (among other things) into a tissue, it would be sacred. I resent that attitude. Bravo, Pete Emslie, for calling crap what it is and steering clear of the political, pretentious, artsy-fartsy choke hold.

Tom Dougherty said...

This poster does sort of make me want to punch it.

SugarPete said...

Pete....this is not the first time that your myopic version of what makes for appealing design has spurned arguments here on the blog. It would seem that anything that exists outside the Preston Blair/John K school of design is immediately dismissed as sub par work.

I applaud Amid for finally calling you on your narrow minded thinking, and hope that your personal design tastes hasn't stunted the students you've been teaching over the years.

Lettie Lo said...

pete, i have tons of respect for u.
it's your blog and you can write whatever you want.
i was glad to have you as a teacher.

Evee said...

Ok, I've lost patience in being as professional as I can seeing as it isn't being returned anymore...

If anyone is being narrow minded, it is Amid and the rest of his egotistical followers. Have you not noticed that this is a personal blog? Or do you simply not understand criticism? This isn’t a personal design taste, it is a traditional approach favoured by those who wish to improve their skills in animation. I can’t believe people like you, who have their heads up their asses, need to be so unprofessional about someone’s educated opinion. Common sense and hard work gave me my ‘stunted’ personal design tastes.
Please, please go away now…

Ben Lo said...

I too myself don't see how the poster have any relation with the festival other than " Ottawa Film Festival" written on it. Probably cause I'm just not fond of that kind of art at all...

diego cumplido said...

Pete Emslie, I don't agree with you.

Mick said...

One thing is for certain after all this hoo har. When anyone sees this poster they will think of the ottawa animation festival. Mission accomplished... now let's all calm down and wind our necks in

Thad said...
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roconnor said...

Thad, where do you get the notion that Mr. Emslie respects Theo's work? It doesn't sound like his opinion is anywhere in line with yours.

I have no problem with his opinion, and have repeated stated that. I disagree with it and have reasonably expressed why.

In turn, my thoughts have been belittled and I've been snidely insulted.

That is what I take issue with.

He did not offer criticism, but more bile-fueled drone to the chatter that passes for dialog these days.

One can hide behind the claim "It's my site and I can say what I want!" but that is cowardly and degenerative. I have called Amid Amidi out on that on his site on more than occasion. And I've done it to his face as well. Perhaps I'm just outdated, but I believe one should treat people with the same respect in forums as they would in person.

Some of his students claim that Mr. Emslie is very respectful in person, I have not seen that evident in this exchange. That is too bad.

I've read some valid criticism of Theo's work from several commentators. I don't agree with it, but I don't agree with myself half of the time either.

I only came to this site after being called on Michael Sporn's, having made no comment attacking Mr. Emslie's opinion, but having posted the reasons why I like this poster.

Ultimately that is the issue for me. Many who attack to poster bemoan its crudeness, yet the manner in which they treat their colleagues in far more vulgar.

Robin Hall said...

Personally, Pete, what makes me angriest is that you and Amir have some personal vendetta against each other, and you bring it out into the blogging world. It sounds so STUPID listening to the two of you bash each other.

I don't entirely care for the poster either. From an advertising sense, it's impossible to tell what the festival is for, for those who weren't sent the little post card in the mail.

Now, I thought you were a great teacher, so don't hate me when I plead with you to be cautious about causing drama. You had to know he'd backlash if you mentioned his name. And it just makes the two of you look bad...

Anyways, I hope you're doing well!

~Robin

Robin Hall said...

But yeah, not happy about the way you went about advertising this poster.

Daphne Yue said...

Forgive me for being crude, but this is the quickest way I can respond.

This is my reaction the moment I saw the poster.

http://i41.tinypic.com/33fgtg2.jpg

Also, in regards to the fail counter argument on cartoonbrew:

http://i27.tinypic.com/a3jqti.png

Adam Pockaj said...

Man, there's a lot of comments here. Quite the debate. Is it crap or is it art? The fact the the line has become so indistinguishable says something.

The thing about the art world is that you have to able to take criticism. If you put yourself out there, there are bound to be people that won't like it. And to ignore that and say "no, its good, those people are uncultured, they don't know what they're talking about" isn't going to help you as an artist. If people don't like your work, instead of fighting them over it, consider why they don't like it. This isn't kindergarten where you can paint whatever you want and expect your mom to put it on the fridge.

We're all proffessionals, so any negative criticism should be taken as something to learn from not something to get offended about. It's tough out there, especially in animation. In art you can kind of fudge it. You can do a half assed unfinished painting and call it impressionism (not reffering to this poster, but to the many "impressionists' out there), and a lot of people will fall for it. But in animation they will chew you up and spit you out. You sometimes get a shit sandwhich without the bread and you've gotta be mature about it. Learn from it. If a lot of people don't like something, than there's probably something wrong with it.

And for the record, Pete is an awesome teacher and an awesome person

Aaron said...

Put me down supporting Emslie on this one.

I have to mention that an artist invoking Picasso in reference to their own modern work is a BIG no-no in my book. Unless you've mastered realism and back again... please don't mention his name. Childish and child like are VERY different things. Picasso's work was child like, while being very CONSCIOUS and deliberate.

I'm glad to see that your opinions are what they are, Emslie. It indicates to me that the students at Sheridan are still getting their moneys worth. Keep up the good fight.

-Aaron White
Sheridan Animation 2005
http://www.designerwhite.ca/

Copper said...

Just wanted to say that I've read everyone comment here and on Cartoon Brew, and Adam Pockaj's (two above me I think) is the best, and sums up all that needs to be said in my opinion.

Time to move on I think. If we need to pour our criticisms into someone's work, let's try our own.

Stephen Worth said...

Three examples of abstract art that DO say "animation" to me...

Miro
Klee
Kandinsky

This isn't about abstract vs representational art. It's about an image being used that is both ugly and inappropriate.

Jean Stewart said...

I agree with Copper - time to move on..........>
All this FUROR over ONE person's opinion - come on now!!

lawrence said...

Go look at one of Pete's comments a Sporn's site... he says that Theo's other work is "pretty good"! So much for this "OH GOD, PETE TRASHED SOMEBODY!" mentality.

And leave us cut the bullshit. This was never about not accepting abstract. It was about calling a spade a spade, and there's nothing wrong with that. Look at the fucking epic list of people who think this painting is shit. You fine art snob-fags (especially that cunt Amid) are the reason why this country is the way it is - because you don't think your own shit stinks. I hope you all die.

Ariel said...

I don't know you Pete, but critisizing, publicly, an animation festivals poster like this is pretty un-professional(*Amid has full right critising you because he's not a "teacher")

Maybe you should keep your 1978-1984 festival attending, saturday morning style way of drawing, narrow view of the animation "art" form, critiques to yourself(*and unfortunate students)

As a SHeridan alumni myself, it sadens me to hear this behaviour from a professor.

Ariel said...

Hey Adam P.

Last time i checked, animation IS Art. Check your "cartoony" dictionary. Not everything should be drawn like saturday-morning cartoons. Open your mind a bit.

Adam Pockaj said...

Oh, man, does that mean I'm an artist? Sometimes I'd rather not have the association.

Come to think of it, what is art?

Art,
noun
1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

I wouldn't say animation by default fits that criteria. Neither do posters...

Ariel said...

Adam: You "wouldn't" say that fits the description of art?

Oh boy.. wait till you get out of school and develop your own thoughts and style my friend. You'll look back at Sheridan's lack of encouraging innovation and imagination in a whoooole new light. Trust me. You'll see waaay cooler stuff when you grow up.

BTW, your stuffs pretty good. It's a good start.

Pete Emslie said...

Just to let you all know that, since the situation here is getting out of hand, I have enabled "Comment Moderation" for the time being. I do not like to censor comments, as I don't like having to be the "Thought Police", and have never deleted any comments up until now.

I feel that I have been more than fair in allowing all comments that are particularly spiteful towards me to stand, as I'm willing to take some lumps over this issue, but several of you are taking advantage of my patience and therefore I reserve the right to delete comments as I see fit from this point forward. All posters in this thread will be subject to the same scrutiny, so your comments may not be immediately visible. Thanks for your understanding.

Aaron said...

Counter title to Amid's post on the subject.
"Bitter animation critic attempts criticism of criticism, accidentally and ironically critical of own critique. (Epic Fail)"

Evee said...

Yes... yes, that's perfect.

Ariel said...

It's probably a good idea that you "moderate" comments on here Mr. Emslie, because your "un-professional public remarks" only invites criticism.

I feel sorry that your language in this blog is pretty un-professional(*"art for my mom's fridge??")

It's one thing to have an opinion(*everyone has one) but its a whole other thing to critique other artist/animators work "publibly", when you're a teacher at a respected school. I don't recall any of my teachers at my alumni school to have done that.

*Feel free to "moderate" this post. By all means.

Pete Emslie said...

I figured that you'd be back at least one more time, Ariel, and I'm letting this comment through just to let you get it out of your system. I'm not even going to retaliate - you've landed the final blow. I can't be any fairer than that. But at this point I think the topic has become old news and I'm putting it to rest by not allowing any further comments on this thread, pro or con.

In closing, I'd just like to say that, although no opinions were changed on either side, my own included, I do realize in hindsight that I did indeed come off as a pompous ass for airing my views so bluntly in the first place. On the plus side, however, this controversy that's been stirred up on several blogs now has certainly got people actually debating the poster's merits and ultimately OIAF can probably expect to see sales of the poster exceed expectations as a result. If that happens, I don't begrudge Theo reaping the rewards and having the last laugh. Anyway, that's it.