Laughter is the Best Medicine

Artline Bling: Tattoos, Shia Labeouf, & Laughing at Art | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

[MUSIC PLAYING] Hey, everybody. Today, we’re answering more
questions from our art hotline. Bling. We actually had a great
suggestion from comments in the last video, just
to call it Artline Bling. That’s a good idea. All right. So our first question
is about pencil holding. [BEEP] So I like lots of
different kinds of drawings. I like scribbly
drawings and strange looking drawings as well as
really precise, realistic drawings. So I don’t necessarily
agree with your teacher that following her lead results
in more professional looking drawings. Yeah. I mean, I think what
your teacher’s probably trying to do is to get
you to use more muscles so that you have
better fine motor skills when you’re drawing. I’m not sure that that’s
really the key to drawing well or professionally. There’s a lot to be
said for trying out different drying styles
before you discover your own. I mean, even Matisse
used attach chalk to the end of a long stick or
dowel and then draw that way, just to change the
quality of his line. And that was a
fruitful exercise. [BEEP] That’s what the
internet’s for, Novella. Yeah, I mean, the
internet is sort of a way of being free from
the judgments of adults as young creators. At least for now. I think, in most
cases, children shouldn’t feel pressure
to professionalize their creative work. I think that they
should be allowed to be creative without trying to
necessarily fit that creativity into a marketplace. And I think also because
if you’re a minor, you’re much more likely
to be taken advantage of by your parents, or
a dealer, or an agent, or whatever it may be, I think
there’s a reason why it’s kind of good to develop your
own artistic voice on your own before you take it public. As for judging an artist
based on their age, I mean, we’re always inserting
biography into our readings of art in lots of ways
that make me uncomfortable. And I am uncomfortable
with all of it. And if I’m judging a
student art exhibition, I think it’s
important information that they’re students. I mean, there could be a
lot of raw talent there, but they’re just
not quite there yet. [BEEP] I think this is totally
and completely normal. I felt this way. I remember people in
school calling me “artsy,” and it made me want to die. I don’t know why I
cringe, but I still cringe whenever people call
me a writer or an artist. I cringe when the word “art” is
used in the context of anything I do. It’s like they’re
calling you an artiste. Yeah. It’s like you’re taking
yourself too seriously. Yeah. It’s like your pronouncing
Renaissance, “ren-AY-sance.” It’s OK cringe, just
keep making art anyway. Yeah, I mean, we’re all
kind of working together to build better definitions
of art and artist. [BEEP] JOHN GREEN: Yeah, I quite like
Shia Labeouf as an artist, actually. I mean, he’s not
my favorite artist, but he’s also not
my least favorite. He’s a bit of a
buffoon at times, but so are lots of artists. Actors often
struggle when they try to cross into other disciplines. Yeah, but I mean, there is
precedent for this stuff, right? Like Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen
both became respected poets. SARAH GREEN: That’s true. And Dennis Hopper became
a respected photographer. You know who’s actually
a pretty good artist? Spock. Leonard Nimoy. SARAH GREEN: Oh. What’d he make? JOHN GREEN: Paintings, I think. SARAH GREEN: You can also
think about James Franco, who’s been working as an
artist for a while. Actually, there’s a really
interesting interview between him and Jerry
Salts that I just read that’s about how
actors-turned-artists can use this fame as their material. So I don’t think the
tendency of the art world to exclude actors is
all pretension though. I think some of it is sort
of an unfair advantage. Like most people who
become famous artists have to start out from nothing. It’s like celebrities who
write children’s books, it’s kind of not fair. It isn’t fair. But much like celebrities who
write children’s books, when the books aren’t
good, they tend not to sell well in the long run. Like there’s a reason
that Jamie Lee Curtis is a well-established
picture book writer. It’s because her
picture books are good. Whereas for instance, Jimmy
Fallon, wonderful comedian, I’m sure a lovely person, not
a great picture book author. So in sum, I think we start
to take celebrities seriously when they cross into other
boundaries and they do it well. [BEEP] So I don’t believe that
all responses to an artwork are created equal. I don’t believe
that all responses are equally legitimate. I believe there are
right and wrong answers when it comes to art. Sometimes, you can
laugh at an artwork because you’re laughing with
it, which I think is good. There’s lots of
art that’s funny. But I’m not sure that
laughing at serious artwork is the best possible reaction. Right. Are you laughing because
you’re uncomfortable? Why are you laughing? I think you have to
ask yourself that. That said, a lot of times
you might be laughing because the art seems
to you ludicrous and you don’t have much
art historical knowledge to contextualize it. And I have to confess that I
have laughed at some fairly serious artwork over the years. But I do you think you need
to respect the experience of the art viewers around you. And that means not talking super
loudly or laughing or egregious selfie-ing. I think you can laugh
as long as you’re laughing to yourself quietly. Like I’ll give you an example. If you’re just like
[CHUCKLE] Picasso. That’s OK. [GIGGLING] [BEEP] So my first tip would be
to not actually network at art openings in London. The walls of the art world
in London are super high. And even though you
sound really lovely, you’re not just going to walk
up to somebody and charm them and they’re going to
give you an amazing job. Yeah. I think in general, my
experience with this has always been that you’ve
got to try to work with people who are at where you’re at. So when I was a student
trying to write, I mostly published in
student-run magazines. When I was in my early
20s, I was mostly working with other people
in their early 20s. And I think building those
networks can be very helpful. But you’re not going to
be able to build a network like tomorrow with Chuck Close. Who doesn’t live in London. Apparently he doesn’t
live in London. That’s another reason you’re
probably not going to meet him. I think right now you have to
focus on being a good student, maybe developing
internships, developing a good network of your peers
as John suggested, and then go from there. And then eventually, you’ll
meet the right people. The only other
thing I’d say here is that you never know
what opportunities are going to be available to you. And that’s always going
to shape your experiences in both your work and
your personal life. Like I had no idea when
I graduated from college that I was going
to be a YouTuber because there was no YouTube. And I thought I wanted
to be a graphic designer, and I ended up a curator. I think you have to play
your hand as it lays and see where it takes you. That’s a fascinating
mixed metaphor. [LAUGHTER] [BEEP] This is a legitimate
question because you do have to consider
what part of the museum you’re going to work in. Is it a public facing
side of the museum? Are you going to be constantly
interacting with donors? And are they going to ask
you about it all the time? They may judge
you, or they may be impressed by how cool you are. I think in general, it’s just
like with any other career. It’s not so much
about whether you have a tattoo as how
awesome your tattoo is. So no pressure. But pressure. Really great questions. Thank you so much
for calling in. And please continue to do so. Yeah. We’re going to do more of
these videos, so call our art hotline, our artline. Bling. [MUSIC PLAYING]

75 thoughts on “Artline Bling: Tattoos, Shia Labeouf, & Laughing at Art | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

  1. I would love to see an episode of "The Case for…" that's about Shia and tattoo artists (not at the same time, of course). Tattrx is a good place to start to see who's producing innovative art in the tattoo world (although the functionality of their website has declined precipitously recently, much to my extreme dismay). I'll put in a shameless plug for my own tattoo artists: Deanna Wardin (watercolor) and Adal Hernandez (fractal/psychedelic)

  2. I disagree with your answer to laughing about art, I think it's definitely okay!

    I, too, find myself often amused by art in museums, and to me it often stems from the emotions of the figures portrayed. For example:
    This painting is at my local art museum and it's large so you can clearly see their faces and they all look so emotive! The intensity of the stares looks unreal, so I think I laugh because I've lost my suspension of disbelief.
    Furthermore, I laugh when the descriptive plaques next to paintings and sculptures completely differ with my interpretations. In keeping with the same example, the plaque next to "The Music Lesson" states that the woman and man seated across from her are deeply in love, when in reality, it seems like she's trying to focus on the music, and the guy in the back has lustful and covetous feelings for the man on the left. I laugh because it seems the plaque writer must have been squinting at the painting to not see the homoerotic tension on the scene.

  3. Haha, my son is a big fan of that Jimmy Fallon children's book. His vocabulary is still pretty limited, but one time after we read it together he sat and flipped through it on his own, saying, "Dada. Mm. Dada. Mm. Dada. Mm." He didn't get the animal noises but he definitely understood the rhythm of it 🙂

  4. wow this was so helpful. I can really relate to Rachel, the future creator, and I liked your answer to her question, I would just like to add that by creating a network along your peers during university is amazing because at some point we are going to be the future curators and artist of the world! so maybe try to make projects with this people, think about art shows featuring people you know and admire the work and that will be a great way to improve your resume + have first hand experience in the area! Thank you Sarah an John for this amazing channel, lots of love from brazil <3

  5. Ahhh, glad someone else asked and you answered a question about Shia. That's one of the things that's been bothering me for a while about how to approach whether I like the art separate from the irregular circumstance of who the artist is.

  6. I love how much fun you two have in these hotline videos. 🙂 Great questions, great responses!

  7. High fives, guys! Really great answer. Covered exactly what I was thinking but couldn't fit into a phone blurb. I can't believe I didn't think of Dennis Hopper, as well.

  8. Couldn't you meet other interesting and relevant young people in art at an opening or show? If that individual is there, wouldn't others like herself be likely to be there? And if you're encouraging her to pursue an internship, couldn't meeting someone higher up the chain help to make her stand out among hopeful interns? I don't know anything about the visual art community, but in theatre that sort of thing is highly encouraged and people build careers out of it, so I was surprised by the response. And I'm not sure how you're supposed to move up in the field if you only interact with others at your own level, unless every group of peers starts their own gallery/company/whatever.

  9. I WOULD like Shia LeBeouf as an artist but half of his work is plagiarism…

  10. Notice most of the people who you cited as being actors who crossed into being successful artists in other fields were mostly men and all white. I think a lot of being considered "credible" to most people in most fields means being a man (and usually a white man) and it's incredibly depressing. No matter what I do, I give my all, and yet what I create is never taken as seriously as the works of men. People always say "Well, if you don't like sexism, then why would you go into XYZ field or travel to/live in XYZ country?" as if it's my fault for merely existing as I do and as I am. I want the freedom that white men have to be able to create and make things and be taken seriously and not sexually harassed constantly.

    I am writing a book now and when I send it to literary agents, I am thinking of using a male pseudonym, because then I'll be taken seriously, I bet. At least with writing, you can pretend to be a male fairly easily to be taken seriously. But in other fields I love such as acting, science, diplomacy, and philosophy (god, especially philosophy) it's hard to hide your identity as well.

    In philosophy, it's the worst, because it's members claim to be rational thinkers, and yet they behave irrationally towards their female colleagues/classmates. I am a member of the vegan feminist movement and one of the members has pointed out that although animal rights activism is made of 80% women, almost all of the self-appointed leaders and often-cited authors are male. So, she's decided to only cite female activists (and especially females of color) to counter-balance this. But her doing so has made me realize how being male gives you so much instant-credibility, and this allows you to automatically have a much higher chance of working in a field that you love and having an influence on the world. I was going to take a class in Animal Rights this fall, but I decided against it, because the professor cites himself as one of the founders of the animal rights movement, which completely erases thousands of years of animal rights, much of which was done by women who weren't taken seriously. And his views could hardly even be considered consistent with true animal rights, because he condones their exploitation (I am actually thinking of not going into the Masters program that I was accepted into and into another instead because I find such a notion so offensive).

    Anyway, it's not just about working being "good enough," it's about the public's perception of you as a person and whether you are deemed worthy of serious consideration and much of that has to do with the circumstances of your birth.

    So, away with public opinion, because public opinion will largely be influenced by sexism, racism, specieism, etc… And I say away with capitalism, which says you are only worthy of being able to create art and live well if you adhere to what is popular enough to sell in a marketplace.

  11. Shia LaBeouf "transitioned to art" largely because he was kicked out of Hollywood for outright plagiarism and the art world is constantly tempted to take him in because it has trouble differentiating between substance and spectacle.

  12. I like how people are asking questions about art training to a couple of writers. There are artists you could talk to on the net, for instance: Also, Picasso didn't use the stick to change his line quality. He used it because he was drawing such large scale, he needed to stand back so he could see the work properly. Try standing close to a picture that big, and staying in proportion.

  13. Small point, Leonard Cohen actually started out as a poet and then turned to music because he needed money. He published some books of poetry in the 50s and 60s and also tried to be a novelist before finally turning to music in 1967. But yes he did find more success in poetry after his music career was established.

  14. As an aspiring actor and creator in other mediums, I'd just like to point out that acting is art too! Sure, film may be more commercialized than theatrical acting, but I think that all actors can be considered artists.

  15. I'm really loving the channel! But I have to add something–Saying that drawing from the wrist is "unprofessional" is bizarre, but there's a grain of truth to it. If you're drawing a lot, using your wrist all the time could really injure it in the long run. It's not an invalid technique, but do stretches, take breaks, and work the elbow and shoulder when you can. Wrists are delicate!

  16. i love seeing the two of you together. i'm an old school vlogbrothers fan, so i still think of her as the yeti, but i'm so glad she's sharing her knowledge with everyone.

  17. I remember reading Madonna's children's books when I was little. I didn't really understand that Madonna was, well, Madonna, but I do remember enjoying them.

  18. Ah John, FYI Leonard Cohen was actually a (somewhat) respected and published Poet/author (in Canada) before he ever released music. He decided to release his first album when Music seemed like a more financially fruitful pursuit, which was a very happy accident for fans like me!

  19. The funniest piece of art I ever saw was from a traveling exhibit of paintings that had been saved after Hurricane Katrina. It was a painting of Jesus risen standing outside of the tomb holding a shovel. Nothing particularly funny at first, until my mother turned to me and said, "Good thing they left the shovel in there for him." I could not stop laughing and to this day mentioning Jesus' shovel is sure to send my mother and I into a fit of giggles.

  20. About the tattoo question: this is something I deal with too. In my field, it generally wouldn't be considered a big deal, but I might conceivably apply to places where they might not like it. There are several places on your body where a tattoo can be visible only if you want it to be. I have one on the inside of my forearm; it's exposed most of the time, but easily covered by long sleeves.

  21. Sometimes I laugh when I find something awesome, or fun (but not necessarily funny). It's a reaction of "omg this thing is so good!"

    I laughed throughout Batman VS Superman because of how awesome I found some aspects of it – and the guy sitting next to me actually asked me what did I find funny. Nothing – I was just happy about the thing.

  22. I have to disagree about the pencil question.

    From my experience, art teachers are not trying to squash your creativity or artistic vision, and instead are there to tell you from experience what will or will not be successful. Perhaps wording it as "not professional" to hold a pencil a certain way is not very nice, or true, but at the core is good advice. Artists should draw from their elbow and shoulder generally, to start and in professional level fine art and illustration, to keep their muscles healthy, and to have greater control over the image(s) they are making. That said, artists will be able to control their work better if they forge this habit early, which is what I expect that art teacher is trying to help the caller with.

    I appreciate the Matisse example, and I believe that artists must earn their way toward experimentation – be familiar with art history and with historical art practices, before engaging in novel processes. But maybe that's just my opinion.

    As someone working in art education and as an aspiring artist myself, the answer in this video fell a little short to me. Always enjoy the assignments and videos, thank you for continuing this project!

  23. I'd love it to have a digital hotline, or email address for recordings, so people outside the US can still take part. 😀

  24. I still think you should do a Case for Shia Laboeuf. I honestly think he is the most brilliant male performance artist after Ai Weiwei (whom I'm happy you did Case for this week!). I'd be curious how you and your team interpret his art!

  25. I don't understand why some artists cringe when called an "Artist". That should be something to be proud about I thought?

  26. Okay, though, taking a selfie with Mona Lisa is, in my opinion, the best way to take a picture of Mona Lisa. The mob surrounding that painting never lets up and it's not like you can spend a minute appreciating the art. Might as well snap a quick selfie once you're shuffled to the front of the line, against the barrier keeping you five feet from the painting anyways. Plus you are stuck at the front until you can locate an escape route out. It's weird because while the Mona Lisa is a great painting the viewing experience is set up to take away from that. Instead of a piece of art to be studied, it is a celebrity that you get a quick shot and then move on.

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  28. am an artist and I laugh all the time in art spaces, often uproariously. If I had an art show I would feel like a failure if some people didn't laugh while viewing it

  29. I'm not sure I totally have an issue with the mean art teacher. Her job is to unable to understand and create art, whatever art you want, as best you can. Using more muscles helps you do that. Counter, you may be able to reach the heights of fine motor skills with a different technique, idk.

  30. I've been a bad subscriber. (as most youtubers are, I think) I'm binging to catch up though. I love seeing you two enjoying one another's company. Y'all come to my neck of the woods and discuss the curation of a Frank Lloyd Wright house by Chrystal Bridges. It's on the grounds of the museum and I can't stop geeking out about it. Perfect opportunity to talk about architecture as art. Also, neck hugs.

  31. Got to disagree straight away with your answer to question one. When students are drawing from observation they always struggle with a mechanical pencil and ‘handwriting grip’. Yes, the object of drawing is not always achieving a realistic likeness. However, we all know observation helps us learn how to look critically and honestly and there are definite ways of doing it well! If you want/need to make a broad, sweeping curve, you’ll need to make controlled use of your whole arm not just your wrist. If you want to build up soft clouds of tone as well as precise lines, you will need a sharp graphite pencil. These aren’t the only little tricks that help but they are two most common I teach!

  32. cringing over someone calling you an artist doesnt mean youre shy, it means youre unpretentious. good job! 👍

  33. I find it weird that someone would make art and exhibit it and then cringe when people call it art. If you’re making art, you will be called an artist.
    It should be considered a good. The word artist is generally connected with a person with a great mind or a genius.

  34. To the pencil question. Ask yourself why your teacher is a teacher and not an artist with an exhibition of something. I find that most art teacher put their students in a box because they are a failed as artist themselves and they do not want to see their student succeed.

  35. You know how narcissist like Trump project his true self on to others like when he act retarded talking about a reporter who is disabled. Shai does the same thing about other things. He is too fearful of being creative. Being authentic. By laughing, he proof he is just a pussy.

  36. I’ve laughed at some pieces that were openly satirical. Sometimes it might be the intention of the artist to add subtle humor into their works, but only have the joke understood by few.

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