Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Influence Map

I believe this meme made the rounds several months ago; you can find the template here. Essentially, it is a format in which one can lay out the various influences on any art one may do, visual or otherwise. It does require image editing software, such as photoshop, to fill out.

1. Caravaggio
Bar none, my favorite of the old masters. The sharpness of his images, the way he has with twists of facial expression, the way his subjects stare out of the canvas at you, the surreal quality that his heavy use of chiaroscuro gives to his scenes...this is everything I ever want to achieve in an image.

2. Marjane Satrapi
I love her wit, I love the deceptive simplicity of her drawings, and I love how she can tell the most wrenching of tales with tongue firmly in cheek.

3. Daria
Really, more for characterization and dialogue than art style-- though the animators were able to squeeze an amazing emotional range from Daria's fairly limited set of facial expressions.

4. Georgia O'Keefe
Yes, yes, obvious bit about flowers and discovering beauty of femininity, etc. Nowadays I don't care so much for the flowers. Her macabre paintings of bones against desert landscapes, however, have a breathtaking sharpness.

5. Jorge Cham
Cartooning, science, snark, and academia-- these are a few of my favorite things. In addition to his famous Piled Higher and Deeper, Cham has done several comic strips on "serious" academic topics that do an excellent job of demonstrating the medium's potential in that field.

6. El Greco
Again with the chiaroscuro and the macabre subject matter. But where Caravaggio's style is sharp and tight and punches you in the face with focused emotion, El Greco's style is loose and elongated, giving a more diffuse, spookier aspect to his work.

7. Megan Gedris
Reading her YU+ME dream (which is one of the major influences on my as yet mostly theoretical graphic novel, The Mad Priest) , and watching the story (and the art) evolve from a fairly typical schoolgirl lesbian romance into the whacked-out, phantasmagorical, totally awesome surrealist acid trip it became was one of the main factors that convinced me that I, too, could make comics. (MG is around my age, and you should go to her website and give her current projects, Meaty Yogurt and I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space! some love.)

8. Alison Bechdel
Dykes to Watch Out For
was the first comic strip I followed seriously during its serialization, and I became deeply attached to all the main characters (except possibly Stuart, who is a self-righteous twit.) Then Fun Home came along and demonstrated the heights of artistry to which a graphic novel can rise. There's nothing I don't love about her work-- the minute details, the technically flawless draftsmanship, the sheer erudition of her writing, the way she can shift pace between manic and reflective between two panels.
Also, AB is a mensch (and a fellow Obie). Last year, Girlfriend and I carved a jack-o-lantern to look like Mo, the main character of DTWOF. We sent her a picture, and she put it up on her blog!

9. Salvador Dali
Yes, yes, overhyped, blah blah blah. I don't care. He's too damn weird for me not to like him.

10. Edward Gorey
I liked Gorey long before I thought of him as a cartoonist. And long before that, The Wuggly Ump scared the bejeezus out of my six-year-old self. He combines freakishness with whimsy and absurdism in a way no one else can pull off, and his exhaustively cross-hatched line drawings are to die for.

11. Frida Kahlo
Another artist whom I admired as a teenager and admire differently now. Then, her emotional pain and use of symbolism attracted me; now it's her black humor, the way she composes her whole picture, and the way she contrasts raw feeling with a deliberately stiff painting style.

12. Marc Chagall
I like the way he plays with religious symbolism and surreal imagery, and for better or for worse, he seems to have defined "Jewish" art.

13. Mervyn Peake
I love the (first two) Gormenghast books, and I've lately come to like his drawings as well. They remind me of Gorey somewhat in their style (meticulously cross-hatched, ink line drawings), but have nothing of his cheerful absurdism; rather they have something of El Greco's elongated spookiness.

14. Bill Watterson
Calvin and Hobbes. Need I say more? I read this strip religiously as a child; now I appreciate just how revolutionary it is. As with Bechdel's work, there's nothing I don't love about it.

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