Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Oldest Garden gets weeded out

It has been a while since I hauled out some really old artwork of mine. I feel in a bit of a retrospective mood; perhaps because I’m looking at my bank account and thinking about the money I used to make back as an advertising illustrator back in those heady days of the 80’s and 90’s and what I earn now. It’s true to say I can still buy a sav for $10 a bottle, but... frankly that says little about the wine.

This illustration was from the first book I had a go at; The Oldest Garden in China. The book after that (The Old Man and The Cat) was published and we came back to this one after a couple of false starts. When I say we, I mean the author Anthony Holcroft and I.
15 glorious double paged spreads rendered in airbrush, inks and coloured pencil, fairly well murdered by the hideous typesetting and design work offered up by the now defunct Whitcoulls publishing. Oh for Gecko Press back then!

When I look at this artwork I feel amazed and sad at the same time. Amazed because I spent 6 months illustrating that book in a way I doubt that I could ever do again; the eyesight just isn’t up to it anymore, and sad because it made negative dollars and was shuffled off onto the sale tables within months. But that’s the nature of publishing. You can be in or out at the market’s whim. Melinda Szymanik puts this perfectly in her latest blog.

I feel sad too, not just because I drink cheap wine, but my hopes and dreams at the naive age 24 of taking over the world as an award winning illustrator have materialised into an attic full of artwork twenty odd years later that the world might never see and my children may throw into a skip when my time is up. So praise be for the blog, the virtual publishing space where one might offer up your art-soul and if anyone is tempted to ask, sell it. Blame my commercial art training, but I’m pretty much anybody’s for a buck.


Anonymous said...

Hi Fifi

I'm glad i'm not just talking to myself on my blog (although that thought hasn't stopped me yet). I've been thinking about supplementing my writing income (or the lack of income) with a paid job and i'm finding it hard to think of what i could do. Writing is the thing i do best. And its a bit sad to think that the thing I do best, this tricky creative thing, is so at the mercy of market forces. If i'd been best at rugby things could be so different. I hate to think of your beautiful art work hidden in the attic.

Whoever is minister of the arts purse strings next year should be invited along to the conference. Can i be on the panel for that discussion? I have a few questions...


Vanda Symon said...

We love your pictures Fifi - keep unleashing them on us. Sorry we can't unleash money in return!