I wouldn't say craft is the enemy, but it's no friend of mine
June 6, 2013 1:25 PM   Subscribe

"I just felt suddenly like I had to write and say craft is the enemy! You could labor your whole life perfecting your “craft,” struggling to draw better, hoping one day to have the skills to produce a truly great comic. If this is how you’re thinking, you will never produce this great comic, this powerful work of art, that you dream of. There’s nothing wrong with trying to draw well, but that is not of primary importance." -- Back in 1996 a young James Kochalka made a name for himself by writing a screed against craftmanship to The Comic Journal's letterpage. Now the whole exchange, including responses by Jim Woodring and Scott McCloud, is online at the Journal's website.
posted by MartinWisse (46 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yeah okay, I have some input on this.

So a few years ago I decided to make a comic, figuring I could draw reasonably well, and since webcomic artists seemed to just write a page at a time I didn't actually have to write a script. So I kind of mapped out a plot, then bought a huge pad of cason paper, and set to work. I would clear about a page a day, after coming home from work, which included penciling and inking all the panels and dialog. After 6 months of on and off work, it was done.

It was really fuckin' bad.

Like, just awful.

It is never going to see the light of day. But I learned a lot from it. Like: It's a good idea to have a script of the whole thing, even if you end up rewriting a lot of it as you go along. And: you should design characters beforehand, like what they look like, so you're not referencing old pages for everything. Panels should have some spacing between them. Locations should be designed and mapped beforehand. If the only visual difference between two characters is their hair, then your character design is really bad.

And I never would have learned any of that if I had waited until I thought I was "good enough".

With my current comic, I've taken all my lessons and applied them. For example: you can use a T-Square to block off panels, and that works a lot better. Micron pens have a better feel and are worth the money. You don't actually have to hand letter words and speech bubbles, you can use a french curve, a set of oval templates, and the magic plastic device known as the Ames Lettering Guide. Also: a drafting table is much better for work than a coffee table. Lastly: It is a lot of fucking work to make a comic.

I'm also clearing pages at a slower pace. It took about 6 months to rough out the pages (23), and it's taken over a month to ink 10 pages, and I'm typically up until 2am working on it. The art is much better, as in I might actually show it to someone. You can read the words most of the time. The plot makes some sense. You can tell some of the characters apart. I have all the inked pages hung up on my wall, and it actually kinda looks like a real comic, and it's so exciting and work intensive. I keep thinking how great the next comic will be, applying the lessons I learned from this one (if I ever finish it)

And if you had told me it would be this much work, I would have probably thrown my pens out and burned all my paper.

So craft is important, but you won't learn the craft unless you make mistakes beforehand. You won't make those mistakes if you're concerned about getting the craft perfect the first time.
posted by hellojed at 1:59 PM on June 6, 2013 [31 favorites]


I totally get what Kochalka is saying, and I agree - though, as McCloud points out, the argument gets away from him not by being a bad argument, but by his problems expressing his position clearly. It's still pretty easy to tease out the point, and I feel like the people arguing against him mostly missed that point by a mile. And holy crap do they like to talk down to him.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:02 PM on June 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's something off about Kochalka. I read American Elf for years, and I gradually came to see him as extremely self-centered and unstable.

He once wrote about how he had screamed at his son's friend and then kicked everyone out of the house, then had a panic attack while his (very young) son tried to comfort him -- all because the friend had tripped over a game console. He seemed unaware of how inaproppriate his reaction was, on all levels. I deleted him from my bookmarks then.

His letters here show the same narcissism.
posted by Toothless Willy at 2:10 PM on June 6, 2013


Kochalka's attitude, the will to naivete, is as old as the hills.
posted by anazgnos at 2:10 PM on June 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Craft is a verb.
posted by Floydd at 2:16 PM on June 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kraft is a cheese.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:30 PM on June 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


anazgnos, "the will to naivete" is now a new favorite phrase of mine.

And, Floydd, the use of the word "craft" as a noun is nearly as old, if not older, than the verb form, in English.
posted by strixus at 2:32 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


kraftwerk ist mensch maschine.

Toothless Willy: "then had a panic attack "

Panic attacks aren't some, I dunno, thing you can work with -- they come over you irrationally and without warning. It's a terrible situation with the kids, absolutely, but people get panic attacks over far more trivial things.
posted by boo_radley at 2:34 PM on June 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


First of all, Floydd, that is a wonderful observation. Conceiving of craft as an activity rather than as a tangible achievement clarifies its importance.

To craft well is to craft with expertise and planning, it is to envision something that is alive inside of you and get it out into the world with that same life embedded in it. Jim Woodring does this - I consider Woodring to be one of the best artists of his time. His images are to me, immortal, his spirit will live on in them after he dies. Kochalka's will lay flat when he is no longer able to inflate them. Jim Woodring's drawings are so good that single compositions tell better stories, and paint a more vivid an alien world than entire science fiction novels. That is not an exaggeration - he is the proof of that old saw about a picture and a thousand words.

There is a real danger in a medium that lies at the intersection of two other media to do both of them poorly in the hopes that they will add up to something better. Of course it is unreasonable to expect hemingway writing with raphael draftsmanship in a comic but you can pursue the work with the same ethic.

I am actually sympathetic to Kochalka to a degree. Comics should be considered a third medium which succeeds in ways which are independent from its constituent crafts. However, the fact remains - if you think images are valuable enough to use, you should learn how to use them to their fullest. If he was the only person making images or comics I might be able to enjoy his work, unfortunately there are thousands and thousands of people on this earth who love images more than he does and whose work reflects that love.
posted by Teakettle at 2:35 PM on June 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Leave it to McCloud to cut through the bullshit. I love that man.
posted by Peevish at 2:46 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Concept started getting kinda jumbly there. Part of K's argument is based on art like the pencil drawings of Kevin Okafor. Nice bling at the top of his site. BEST ARTIST EVER! Proclaims a BBC YouTube bit. Drawings of famous people that look like photographs. OK.

(I would say that "photographic realism is a different story.)


In music: Rock minus craft equals the Shaggs. (YT link)
posted by kozad at 2:46 PM on June 6, 2013


There’s nothing wrong with trying to draw well, but that is not of primary importance.

...to you. Some people like doing good work as an end to itself.
posted by DU at 2:58 PM on June 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


From the start, Kochalka sounds like his first order of business is to get his name in the byline. The useful part of his argument—that cartoonists should not spend all of their lives studying and developing their craft, which he conveniently redefines as "formula" near the end—just about goes without saying. That said, if someone read this back then and it helped them muster the nerve to start a project they'd been putting off, good on them. But pressing the "craft versus art" discussion is about as dull as it is wasteful, and almost always requires imprecise language.

My interest was only piqued by the last letter: why the scarcity of professional cartoonists in Finland in the late 90s? Too little a market, or were Finns and neighbors let down whenever a new comic turned out not to have Moomins?
posted by mcoo at 3:00 PM on June 6, 2013


However, the fact remains - if you think images are valuable enough to use, you should learn how to use them to their fullest.

I don't think Kochalka's argument is at odds with this - he's talking about the trap of endlessly waiting until your craft is perfect to express yourself, and that's a real and devastating trap for any artist. He also, and unfortunately, started a separate but connected argument about intricate craftsmanship getting in the way of the immediacy of raw expression, which derailed the conversation.

But his core point isn't at odds with the importance of craft, it's really a warning against trying to put the cart before the horse. The only way to get better at your craft (at anything, really) is to overreach and learn from the attempt, if you're afraid to make anything because you're not good enough yet, you'll never get good enough. And you'll never produce anything, good or bad. Good artists have all leapt into the fray punching above their weight at one point, and gotten better from it. Great artists, including Woodring and all of the example artists presented to counter Kochalka's point, continually do this throughout their careers instead of resting on their laurels. So most of the people arguing against Kochalka are not as unfamiliar with what he's trying to get at, because it's Artist 101 stuff. But he wasn't talking to them, he was talking to people who are in that trap.

I honestly think the vitriol going back and forth came from Kochalka being unfocused and overenthusiastic in articulating his core point, and going off on tangents in his own argument.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:03 PM on June 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Craft" is how well you make your vision come out of your tools. And for almost everyone, that takes practice and honing. An artist that eschews being better at conveying his vision seems... off to me.
posted by gjc at 3:07 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The guy is so inane. 90% of it just an argument from taste, for which he assumes his is self-evidently superior. Craft fairs are boring, punk rock is cool, etc.
posted by anazgnos at 3:10 PM on June 6, 2013


Show me someone who is hindered by craft and I'll show you someone for whom craft is itself an expressive statement - it says, at least, I spend lots of time doing something I love, for no other reason than to do it.

His advice about fear and making mistakes is on the mark, in my opinion, but it takes much more than taking risks and making imperfect things to get better. It takes that combined with a profound respect for the power of craft in the context of expression. You need to be happy enough with your work to continue doing it, but disgusted by it enough to improve it.
posted by Teakettle at 3:11 PM on June 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was prepared to agree with him until I reached his third paragraph, and it all began falling apart. By the time he reached the "craft is boring" part in the next letter, though, I realized he wasn't making the point I thought he was making (which was that the young artist should just start working on the great stuff now, learn as he goes, and not spend too long in focused practice of tiny skills). If your aim is greatness--or even just goodness--and yet you find craft boring, you're working in the wrong medium. Craft is the struggle against the weakness of your skills, and it can be frustrating, sure, but boring?

It doesn't make sense. Even if you're a beginner, and you're drawing the same sort of picture over and over again, you're still learning how to draw that same sort of picture--so why vilify any reflection on it, any attempt to make that learning conscious?

While I love to draw comics, I'm not interested in expanding my skill at it. I'm very comfortable with where those skills are at--and comfortable (at this point in my life, anyway) that that means I'm not growing there, not reflecting, and so I'm not going to get anywhere with it, other than the pleasure I get at drawing the same sorts of things the same way, over and over.

But the area I am interested in expanding my skills in, fiction writing...oh my god. There is nothing for it but to work on craft. You get 100 pages into a book and it all crumbles, and it's miserable and you hate yourself, and the only cure for it is to reflect on what you're doing wrong and try to get better, because there is simply no way to move forward without it. There's no "great masterpiece ... within reach if only your will power is strong enough" because willpower alone does not tell you what should come next; willpower can't even suggest the next word to you. Every book you read, you find yourself tearing it apart wondering how the author got this particular effect; you find yourself reading 10 different books by the same author, just to figure out the tricks that you would've missed by only reading one.

I can't imagine it would really be so different, making comics. If you love the medium, can you read comics without learning from them? Because that learning is part of craft, too. What is he actually suggesting one forgo?
posted by mittens at 3:30 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually appreciate the upswing in craft that I've seen over the last five years or so. It's always been there, but for a while in the late '90s through early 2000s, there was a real fad for naiveté in art. I remember thinking, "Well, at least when there's craft, and the piece fails, you've still got something nice to look at. When there's no craft, and the idea fails, it's just crap."

(But hey, even Hyperbole and a Half puts in a pretty significant amount of craft into her work. It's possible — even often preferable — to have a naive aesthetic paired with a fair amount of technical skill.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:55 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I realized he wasn't making the point I thought he was making (which was that the young artist should just start working on the great stuff now, learn as he goes, and not spend too long in focused practice of tiny skills)

That's because he changed his point. The point you mentioned is what he started with. Then, because of his somewhat inflammatory headline, his correspondents painted him as being anti-craft per se, which, unfortunately, he failed to realize was not his position. He then became a passionate defender of something which was not really his idea to begin with--probably because his original idea wasn't clear enough in his mind, and so it was easily subject to distortion.
posted by shivohum at 4:01 PM on June 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think Kochalka was saying some important and true things badly so that they included some irrelevant and dumb things. Also he was just saying some dumb things, and using bad examples and false dichotomies.

His interlocutors were mostly (not all) just as bad, and sometimes absolutely horrible. If anybody can read that thing by Joseph Poole without wanting to punch him in the mouth, they're not a person I want to know.

I think that fetishizing "craft" and "good drawing" as if it is one single thing is unhelpful. There's no one thing called "good (comics) drawing," as anybody should be able to understand by looking at all the artists who are considered great in any given generation, and even more so, across generations. There are many ways to do good drawing. Perhaps as many ways as there are artists.

Lynda Barry is my guru. She knows that the Two Questions are the art-killer. They are: "Is this good? Does this suck?"

She's also "terrible" at drawing. She's also incredibly wonderful at drawing.

Kochalka's off when he sneaks in his own "is it good? does it suck?" by suggesting that craft is for the mediocre, but not the "great." Do you have to be "great" to create without waiting till your craft reaches an arbitrary threshold?

I'm ramblin'. Too many thoughts, not enough clarity. I'll have to think about this for a while. Enough for now.

But this stuff matters to me. As somebody who's accumulated a lot of craft at drawing over time but not nearly enough to consider myself an equal to "professional" artists. And yet here I am drawing anyway, and getting paid a bit for it sometimes.
posted by edheil at 4:10 PM on June 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


His advice about fear and making mistakes is on the mark, in my opinion, but it takes much more than taking risks and making imperfect things to get better. It takes that combined with a profound respect for the power of craft in the context of expression. You need to be happy enough with your work to continue doing it, but disgusted by it enough to improve it.

Right. Willingness to fuck up is a necessary but not sufficient condition for good art. Some sort of technical skill is (in most cases) a necessary but not sufficient condition for good art. You've gotta get the balance right: if you worry too much about technique, you won't fuck up enough or take enough risks, but if you're too unconcerned about the risk of fucking up, your technique won't improve.

In other words, Kochalka's got exactly the right advice for people who are naturally inclined to focus too hard on technique -- and exactly the wrong advice for people who naturally lean too hard towards freeform dicking around. Which is probably why it's getting the reaction it's getting: half the people who read it say "this is exactly right" and half say "this is exactly wrong."
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 4:19 PM on June 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


My best mate gave me one of Kochalka's books. He's the drummer in my band. Until he started in the band, he couldn't play drums. I can't sing. I'm all about pure passion, and think that things like technique and polish lead to proggy wankery. there's great crafted comics, and i appreciate good art, but would you rather have Alex Ross' static drawings or the nervous scribbles or a n R Crumb?

However… his very best painting, the first “Woman,” has nothing to do with craft. It was a violent attack, an error, in fact he rejected it and threw it away… luckily a friend rescued it. And it’s got so much more life than his many countless well-crafted works, which get a little boring actually.

'A violent attack'. Exactly!
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:43 PM on June 6, 2013


but would you rather have Alex Ross' static drawings or the nervous scribbles [of an] R Crumb

See this is what I love - when people just assume that there's no craft because they already think craft isn't cool. This suggests you wouldn't even know naievete if it bit you on the ass. Crumb is one of the most skilled, works-like-hell-on-his-craft draughtsmen in all of comics but its all "nervous scribbles" to you.
posted by anazgnos at 5:07 PM on June 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think that is a very interesting exchange.

I found myself sympathizing strongly with Kochalka. Of course craft is great, but I like what he says about using the skills you have now.
posted by Unified Theory at 5:22 PM on June 6, 2013


Yeah, R. Crumb is a bad example to hold up to the cause of freeform naïveté, because he is a manic demon master of Craft, and believes in the necessity of mastering his tools to achieve his own goals in art.

What he is not, and tries to not be, is slick.
posted by ardgedee at 5:44 PM on June 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am basically for craft.

I am also basically for fucking shit up right now and learning from your mistakes.

This, I submit, is how you master your fucking craft.

I used to draw lots of shitty, amateurish comics back in high school. Then I kinda trailed off. Not long after college, I slowly started putting together ideas for something I thought would be a pretty damn good comic. I tried to start it, realized I just couldn't make it come out how I saw it in my head, and kinda stopped. Also I was in the animation industry so my drawing was directed in different ways.

But I kept looking at comics. And thinking about comics. And drawing pictures that were not arranged into comics. I drew a lot of pictures and I got pretty good at 'em. And I had a lot of comics theory in my head.

Eventually I persuaded a friend to help me write a script, and started drawing a comic that was intended to be fluffy throwaway stuff - I mean, it was furry porn, what's more throwaway than that?

And then I broke up with him, and couldn't keep working on that. But I wanted to draw comics, damnit. So I started doing something by myself. And somehow it is turning out to basically be my PhD thesis on comics. As well as, if what people tell me is any guide, a pretty fun thing to read.

I guess I'm kinda on both sides of this argument, is what I'm saying. I'd have done some kind of PhD thesis several years earlier if I hadn't let that Big Awesome Story sit there blocking everything else, if I'd just been "fuck it I'm gonna draw some comics and make lots of mistakes". But honestly? I think craft is really fucking important, and I really have no interest in looking at Kochalka's work because his drawings are so damn naive. I don't need to see super-tight rendered stuff - my own stuff's definitely cartoony - but I wanna see better drawings than I ever see him make.
posted by egypturnash at 5:57 PM on June 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love a lot of virtuoso stuff in music, but it is very easy to hear that being a too highly skilled player is bad for you in simpler styles. Think about how a band of top studio musicians sound playing blues. Everything is note perfect, but it is just wrong. It's too precise. The guys who really play blues simply cannot play that precisely, they have no need to. Also, they are playing closer to the edge of their ability, which makes, I think, a difference in the way their playing comes across.

On the other hand, a lot of people seem to think that if they suck at their instrument that automatically means they are soulful, which is not quite how it works....
posted by thelonius at 6:21 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


(And not to single out Kochalca - there's a lot of comics out there these days with super-naive drawings that just make me wince.)
posted by egypturnash at 6:22 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm reading this as Kochalka possibly having just been criticized by some rando as doing "primitive" or "unsophisticated" art, and taking the contrarian view about as far out as he dared, maybe just a little too far to walk it back. As if I didn't have enough reason to love Jim Woodring: "You say there is 'no such thing' as good drawing. Wish it into the cornfield, Jimmy!"Scott McCloud making a sensible, logical argument and then claiming that it's what he thought Kochalka was trying to say is just McCloud being kind. (And I say this as a big admirer of Kochalka's Superf*ckers.

Also, if the last letter-writer was trying to make the point that the Sex Pistols didn't have a substantial amount of craft--at least, the pre-Sid Vicious Pistols--he's insane in the membrane. It's amazing how well Never Mind the Bollocks still holds up.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:44 PM on June 6, 2013


Rock minus craft equals the Shaggs.

Only now that the track has finished playing can I uncurl from the foetal position and get back up off the floor and breathe again.

Holy shit.
posted by flabdablet at 6:48 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]



Rock minus craft equals the Shaggs.


This doesn't sound that bad, honestly? It reminds me a lot of The Incredible String Band, who are obviously pretty produced, but it doesn't sound any worse or muddier than lots of the garage I listen to.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:51 PM on June 6, 2013


(But hey, even Hyperbole and a Half puts in a pretty significant amount of craft into her work. It's possible — even often preferable — to have a naive aesthetic paired with a fair amount of technical skill.)

Yes, exactly. I was trying to think of just that example and failed. If I tried to do that comic, the "me" character would not be recognizable from one pane to the next. Nothing would be consistent. That's craft. The fact that you can recognize Charlie Brown's or Calvin's handwriting isn't because it's bad, but because the artist spent time figuring out how it should go and making sure it is the same from one comic to the next.

Perhaps this guy is skilled enough that he never had to think about these things. But he is too ignorant to realize that most of the best artists spend their entire lives honing their craft.
posted by gjc at 7:10 PM on June 6, 2013


In comics – cartoons – you need to be able to draw what you need to draw. Sometimes that is not very much. '60s-'70s Doonesbury did fine. John Callahan did fine.

One venue of confusion here is that there are at least three pretty distinct crafts that go into making cartoons. There is the drawing, there is the writing, and then there is – I don't know what the best term for it is, but "staging" or "director's sense". What goes where and how people will read it. Gary Larson, for example, did not have the first craft very highly developed but was much better at the second and third than most anyone else who's done one-panels, hence his success.

If your theory of craft in cartoons can't account for Garry Trudeau or Gary Larson you don't have a theory.

It's easy to come out against Kochalka here because in the subsequent 15 or so years the no-craft space has been absolutely fucking strip-mined by webcomics which never seem to get tired of it. Comparatively, Kochalka's drawing craft is in the mid-high end, a bit above Chris Onstad. In 1996 the baseline was much less minimalistic and more "professional" so to speak.

Unless you actively avoid slickness the way Crumb does a high level of drawing craft will usually create a professional distance in your comics. A lot of Fantagraphics-affiliated artists – Woodring, Seth, Clowes, Ware, Charles Burns – use the shit out of that distance. Others prefer the comparative closeness a less slick style demonstrates: it's like your friend drew it and handed it to you in class. Kochalka, certainly. On the more extreme end Hyperbole and a Half and XKCD, both of which definitely draw what they need to draw, but only just that.
posted by furiousthought at 7:58 PM on June 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, if the last letter-writer was trying to make the point that the Sex Pistols didn't have a substantial amount of craft--at least, the pre-Sid Vicious Pistols--he's insane in the membrane. It's amazing how well Never Mind the Bollocks still holds up.

Yeah that struck me too. I have a feeling people equate Sid Vicious with the Sex Pistols and forget the other four guys who had talent, played on the records and wrote all the songs (and many of which went on to long fruitful careers as professional musicians-for-hire). So much of this anti-craft talk reads like people just sticking their fingers in their ears saying "I actually have no insight whatsoever into the artistic process, but I assume it's really easy".
posted by anazgnos at 7:58 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you draw comics regularly over a period of time, you are going to get better, but you are not going to do that if you are too freaked out about your drawing abilities to even sit down and make a shitty first draft of a comic.

And while you can point to Hyperbole and a Half and XKCD as "anti-craft", both of them have noticeably changed over time and acquired a consistent style and a greater command of subtlety. Allie Brosh started out drawing with her mouse in Paint but transitioned to drawing with a tablet in pro drawing software, trying to recreate the style that comes from dicking around for fun. XKCD's oldest strips were doodles on graph paper and now it has some extremely sophisticated arrangements of figures in space, even if these figures are precisely rendered stick figures. There is more to making comics than drawing detailed, realistic images.

My philosophy of comics is that not making comics because you think you can't draw is like not writing because you think you can't spell. It's not that drawing isn't valuable (and I make my writing students do quite a lot of it), but it shouldn't be the thing that keeps you from making meaning through comics. Not surprisingly I am a Lynda Barry devotee as well.
posted by Tesseractive at 8:39 PM on June 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah that struck me too. I have a feeling people equate Sid Vicious with the Sex Pistols and forget the other four guys who had talent, played on the records and wrote all the songs (and many of which went on to long fruitful careers as professional musicians-for-hire). So much of this anti-craft talk reads like people just sticking their fingers in their ears saying "I actually have no insight whatsoever into the artistic process, but I assume it's really easy".

Funny, Chris Thomas who produced the Pistols album also worked with The Beatles, haha.

Classic punk (The Buzzcocks; The Clash; Wire) just had perfect memorable melodies. Not slick, but not slack either; everything is rather tight.
posted by ovvl at 8:43 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess its a kind of craft -an important kind - to present personality to simply. Like XKCD and Cyanide and Happiness are both stick figure comics, but Cyanide and Happiness' characters feel so much more alive. and South Park's simple characters are instantly recognizable and relatable
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:44 PM on June 6, 2013


it is very easy to hear that being a too highly skilled player is bad for you in simpler styles

I think it's more often than not a matter of basic arrogance. When I see an artist "speak words without knowing the language", I assume (and when I can discuss it with them, am usually correct) that they're approaching it as something which is beneath their skills, and they haven't put in the time to really absorb it on any deep level. I believe that authenticity in simple styles isn't about having or lacking skill at all, it's about having empathy, seeing its practitioners as equals, humans, not just recordings or lines on paper. Learning how they do their thing, what their imperfections are, why those imperfections are significant and how they relate to (or even define) the style.

It's hard to hide a feeling of superiority, so I prefer the approach of constantly feeling inferior, and relentlessly plugging away at it despite that inferiority. That's hard too.

I play rear guard for the Dunning-Kruger Cougars. We are the worst!
posted by jake at 9:30 PM on June 6, 2013


oh god make it stop
posted by flabdablet at 2:34 AM on June 7, 2013


I like their old stuff better than their new stuff
posted by flabdablet at 2:47 AM on June 7, 2013


How it happened
posted by flabdablet at 2:57 AM on June 7, 2013


Craft is what happens as you pursue doing something you really want to do. Craft, in and of itself, is not a destination you can arrive at purposely. There aren't direct routes to craft. Craft happens.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:39 AM on June 7, 2013


Seems to me that the direct route to craft is focused, deliberate, self-motivated, persistent practice.
posted by flabdablet at 6:08 AM on June 7, 2013


James Kochalka will always be okay by me for making President Kochalka, pretty much the happiest song ever.

Thanks to people for bringing up Hyperbole and a Half; it is indeed a really great example of a naive style that is still superbly crafted. Someone in the last thread about it said "She doesn't worry about crafting the perfect sentence" and I bet that commenter would be surprised how much care she puts into each word. Though I could be wrong!
posted by dfan at 11:37 AM on June 7, 2013


Metafilter: almost always requires imprecise language.
posted by herbplarfegan at 3:47 PM on June 7, 2013


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