Monday, August 27, 2012

Movie Review: The Forger

Imagine if you will, a world where the most prestigious forums of fine art are filled with counterfeit replicas...a community of artists that can only seem to generate substantial incomes by creating said forgeries...a homeless teenager who has the raw savant-like talent to copy the style of any master painter without any practice whatsoever being thrust into the underground society of fine art forgery.  This is the premise of The of, if not the, most atrocious movies I have ever seen.

Let us begin our critique with the cover of this "lifetime" movie:

Does that font look familiar?  Full disclosure, I am aware that Josh Hutcherson is indeed in both of these movies.  Do you think the designer of this cover could be trying to capitalize off the success of the other?  Or even worse, trying to trick people into picking the wrong movie at the Red Box?  The flames are an applicable design element on The Hunger Games cover while I can not recall one moment in the movie where fire was part of the plot in The Forger and on that note, the handwritten script apparently edited out when this movie went straight to DVD.   Also left on the cutting room floor...many details of the storyline and smooth transitions from scene to scene.

The storyline of this flick was entirely unbelievable.  It was almost as if the writer - if there was one - had a primary goal of showcasing Josh Hutcherson's (or JHutch, for the 'tweens out there) constipation face.  The cover says it all...Two hours of that face.  He's so serious, so tortured.  Getting back to the story, JHutch, a homeless teenage vagabond, serendipitously stumbles into the retired artist community of Carmel, you know, by the sea (which evidently was the working title for the flick according to IMDB).  While in Carmel, our protagonist runs into an artist, played by Alfred Molina/Doctor Octopus, who seemingly makes a living by selling his kitschy landscape paintings in his various "high class" galleries around town.  As the plot thickens the unfortunate audience learns that this sheister has a secret workshop in his mansion where he replicates master paintings for millions of dollars.  His main client apparently is some ignorant sheik from an unidentified country who has an unlimited budget to purchase paintings for his wife.  So long story short, Doc-Oc discovers the hidden talent of this homeless boy and enlists him in his forgery scheme by enticing him with his riches - a mansion, a sports car and a menagerie of gaudy watches and cuff links.  If only his character from the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark could see him now!

The thing that kills me about this movie, aside from the tepid acting, is that the main character is never practicing his craft.  An early scene in the movie shows a self portrait on a mirror along with a monochromatic ceiling mural (insulting nod to Michelangelo) he completed while squatting in a cheap motel.  One scene depicts him accidentally finding a half-finished fake of a Charles Rollo Peters nocturne, which he deftly completes simply by copying a photograph.  In another scene a pen is literally thrust into his hand while a drawing pad sits in front of him and he draws a flawless rendition of Hank Ketchum's Dennis the Mennace - the forger's favorite artist.  The same scene also diminishes the achievements of two of my most influential muses Leonardo and Pablo.  And aside from one inferred instance where we briefly see - and I mean two, three seconds tops - the drawings of his love interest (Hayden Panettiere), this is about it.  I guess he was just born with the gift of natural artistic prowess - sarcastically speaking of course.  In conclusion, this movie is not recommendable save for the many laughs you will get from the ridiculous and audacious liberties the crew took in making this one.  I think it is fair to say that this movie was not created by anyone working in the art industry, and was definitely not made to portray integrity/ethics inherent to being an artist.  Furthermore, this movie is spreading the falsity that the only way to be financially successful as an artist is to be a hack.  If you do end up watching it (on purpose or accidentally) just kick back, relax and at least get a good laugh because it will be two hours of your life you will never get back.     


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A periodical search for new clients.

The internet has made it possible for creative professionals to generate client lists for nearly every market and forum that their individual work is applicable to.  There are some great resources such as Agency Access and, now under the same umbrella, AdBase that offer marketing services to thousands of contacts for a subscription fee.  But if freelancing in a down economy has left you in a less than lucrative situation and you're looking to cut some business expenses (or your free trial has expired for either of the previously mentioned sites), well then it's time to roll up your sleeves and get down n' dirty with the periodicals at the local book store.

Most magazines will openly divulge most of the information you need to generate a  successful promotional campaign in its masthead; art directors, creative directors, editors, publishers and other people you may want to contact and start a business relationship with.  Any information not supplied by the magazine can usually be found through some further digging in the "about us" or "contact" pages of their company website (Hint: it is not common practice for email addresses and phone extensions to be printed in the magazine).  This method of finding clients is also a great way to customize your campaigns, marketing to those that publish your style of illustrations or where you feel your work will be a nice fit.  Simply flipping through a magazine and finding some spot illustrations will usually give a good indication of the tone the publication is going for.  So, grab a stack of magazines, a sketchbook and get ready to write down as much information as you can handle...then write down some more.  If you get bored, just draw some random people in the cafĂ© for a while then get back to finding clients!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Book Review: DAMN GOOD ADVICE (for people with talent!) by George Lois

As a self proclaimed voracious reader, I usually read multiple books at once depending on many factors (e.g., time of day, location, leisure, etc.).  Flipping through DAMN GOOD ADVICE for the first time, I thought to myself A) short, numbered anecdotes + B) larger than 12-point text + C) lots of amazing images or "eye-candy" + D) relevance to the creative industry = what a great book to read when I'm taking a shit!  However, my shallow first impression of this small - but mighty - book was soon dispelled as I began to realize the wealth of knowledge author and legendary ad-man George Lois shares in this read.  Drawing from his own personal experiences in the industry, Lois recites his credo of being a successful creative, relevant page after relevant page.  Autobiographical by nature, one of the most important lessons to take from this book is to never turn your back on integrity.  In an industry and economic downturn where it's really easy to sell your soul to succeed and make money, Lois is here to remind us all that it's okay to say "F-off" to somebody who wants you to be unethical.  Another one of my favorite points in the book is No. 92; a brief story about how the author resents being associated with the TV show Mad Men, thus continuing on the theme of upholding your principles and working hard not just for yourself, but for the benefit of your co-workers and the public (who will ultimately be influenced by your work).  DAMN GOOD ADVICE is just what it says it is, which is another valuable lesson in and of itself.  So, literally from beginning to end, if you can't find even one thing either agreeable or inspiring from these pages, well then you may just have to find a new profession.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Good Thing Kerning Isn't an Olympic Event

Now that the Games of the XXX Olympiad are in full swing, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look at the array of distracting kerning on some of the uniforms from around the globe.  Keep in mind that the following examples can be accredited to the shoddy installation of a simple zipper and I'm sure it's not bothering the athletes...but that simple zipper is wreaking havoc on my attention span during the events: