I am a person who's been fortunate enough to be exposed to some very fine art in her lifetime. Museums, years of art history classes, and world traveling have worked together to shape the artist that I am today. However, I have to admit something sort of shocking. My biggest creative influences have come from TV.

I know...I know...many folks think TV is a fine-art wasteland. But the thrill I get when I see oddly creepy but beautiful vintage stop-motion animation sets me back on my heels. At this time of year when the Rankin/Bass classics such as Rudolph or the Year Without a Santa Claus seem to run on a loop in our home, you will find me looking at the screen very closely. Examining how every tree or character was made. As much as I love the Rankin/Bass films, what really captures my imagination is the older stuff. The stunning beauty of Suzy Snowflake or Hardrock, Coco, and Joe are a rich soil for my creative ideas.

It's no secret that I love classic films. But I don't think I've ever shared the fact that you can catch me pausing the TV on hand drawn title cards, and maybe even taking a photo so I can look at it again later! (I found this great resource recently.) I will even take photos of interesting props. Below is a photo I snapped while watching the silent film The Thief of Baghdad a couple months ago. I was swooning over the patterns in the background.

It's blurry...but I still look at it all the time.
When I was in college, I remember a teacher telling us about an article they read in Art in America that was analyzing the emerging artists of the late 80's color palettes against Hannah Barbara cartoons. Apparently what we watched as kids had an impact. This should not surprise us in the least. I actually remember watching Tom and Jerry as a small child and spending more time admiring the background art than the cat and mouse action. Somehow knowing in my gut they were special. Watch this...check out the amazing background art:

You know what all of these influences have in common? The human can see the hand in the work. I love that it's not highbrow fine-art hand...but rather art that is created for the people. (If that makes any sense?) Beautiful because of, rather than in spite of, it's flaws. This type of art has soul that computer-aided creations will never have. Sure, computerized fonts, animation, or color-pickers give you a faster and more perfect result. And yes, I do make my living creating at a computer. But it can never match the artistry of hand-done work.


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