Working on getting work which increasingly is less about scanning the classifieds and other employment websites for a nine-to-five job but rather will have to involve creating the money machine myself. Business, books in progress and not forgetting the art and photography entirely – suddenly there are not enough hours in the day and often I’m still at it in the early hours of the morning.
Part of ‘the plan’ involves reviving my t-shirt business of years ago but this time rather than just airbrushed shirts, I’m also adding screen-printed into the mix. Sounded easy enough but a few hours research was enough to discover it’s actually quiet involved if you aim to make anything someone might actually want. The technicalities of getting a design onto cloth in such a way it is somewhat similar to what was intended is difficult enough but before that one needs to be a creative genius, especially in these days of gross oversupply, and come up with colors and shapes that displayed on the wearer’s chest will satisfy his or her need for peer approval.
So full of enthusiasm and putting leftist philosophies aside I decided to engage in some capitalism, ordered equipment I no longer had due to past bills and later garage sales and then and after setting up the accounting software – oh the horror – got stuck into doing some designing. Well, couldn’t help myself and after churning out a series of sentences, images and jotting down other ideas for shirts that would for sure rake in the orders, the question of what I was actually doing came to mind.
Designing shirt graphics of course but beyond that and seeking ideas it occurred to me that a ‘good idea’ is one that adds to a human debate that is ongoing and probably started as soon as humans realized there are aspects to their lives they knew to exist but could not grasp sufficiently to fully understand. How many texts are there about Love for example? Starting from the first recorded which could be ancient Greek such as the writings of Homer or Plato and up to “Pretty Woman” or present day debates about gay marriage? The important thing is not arriving at a final answer which is beyond our abilities anyway but rather is the perfection of the debate. It must include all voices and be unlimited in scope and working on a seventies style counter-culture design and realizing I was self-censoring and have less freedom than the artists of the mid-twentieth century, it occurred to me that just as climate change could already be a runaway process, if in the simple act of designing a T-shirt I feel a need to exercise caution then all those important social debates have been closed by ill-informed legislation and democracy is already in an advanced state of decay.
And in Paul’s “also” section – a thought on why people don’t buy newspapers anymore. I was going to make this the subject of a post but a few examples are sufficient to make the point that the Internet is not solely responsible for killing print news.
From the BBC style guide a few examples of what we get these days in broadcast and print,
Dying more than once…
For the second time in six months, a prisoner at Durham jail has died after hanging himself in his cell.
A suicide bomber has struck again in Jerusalem.
It’s a sad and tragic fact that if you are a farmer you are three times more likely to die than the average factory worker.
Running out of celebrity rapists? No problem for this writer, the dead can do it as well.
Sixty women have come forward to claim they have been assaulted by a dead gynecologist.
OK – now compare the above to the beautiful piece below,
The boy’s spindly body sank slowly to the dusty gravel road. He lowered his head to the pebbles, resting his sunken cheek on his hand. His dry cracked lips did not close. He tried to cover his bare feet, but the torn dirt encrusted rags he wore were not long enough. He placed an empty tin can, his only possession, near his stomach. And then he started to cry.
Afghan Children Die in Streets of Hunger. James Sterba. New York Times 1972
Notice the rhythm created in the repetitions,
He lowered his head – His sunken cheek – on his hand – His dry cracked lips – He tried to cover – he wore – He placed an empty tin can – his only possession – his stomach – he started to cry
Poetry in prose in which the repetition of “he” and “his” in this single paragraph achieves the writer’s goal of drawing readers into the tragedy of the 1972 Afghan famine and in a way that establishes a personal connection between the reader and this Afghan child whom we know, in the following moment, died of starvation. He forces the reader to make that conclusion his or herself and hopefully write a letter demanding humanitarian intervention. (Which by the way, had we done at the time we would not be fighting the Taliban today.)
I’d buy a newspaper everyday if writers such as James Sterba filled its pages.