Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Gary Baseman

So far I've used Drip! to basically post doodles because its quick, easy, and a good way to motivate myself to keep busy making art. Nothing more than an annotated online sketchbook. So, this post will be my first official "rant" of sorts. My apologies, but I need to get something off my chest.

For the past couple years or so, I've been trying to come to terms with nearly everyone telling me my work either looks like, resembles, or references Gary Baseman. As of late, it has been a point of annoyance, because I am continuously striving for originality. And there is nothing more that I hate than someone doing a lame rip-off of another artist. So, I take it personally...it bugs me when people mention this. I proclaim, "Gary Baseman doesn't own vintage cartoons!" and "All art is derivative!" But all of a sudden I think I may be on the road to acceptance...or that I'm coming to peace with what amounts to a common obsession with cartoons.

To be fair, Gary Baseman has made an enormous impact on how I have developed as an artist. He was easily one a handful of contemporary illustrators I knew by name 6 years ago when I began my major in art school. Baseman was the main artist I used in defense of creating cartoon-inspired illustration. I plastered his work all over my studio wall, and from him I was able to learn what it really was that I loved about cartoons. He did a lot of the heavy-lifting for me. Because of his work, I've delved deeper into the essence of my passion. I've watched countless cartoons from the 20s and 30s...which eventually spawned Jinx the Monkey. Through his illustrations and paintings, I have been able to zero in on a pleasure point. But, my hope has been to move on. I've studied Baseman, digested his work, and I'm on the path to discovering something more personal. And this is why it bugs me when people say my work looks like his...because I want it look like my own. It probably unnerves me because it likely reinforces a fear that my work is too derivative.

I have a number of artists who I would call influences. To name a few: Bill Watterson, George Herriman, Chris Ware, Ron Regé Jr, J Otto Seibold, Jason, Crumb, Christian Northeast, Dr. Seuss...and countless others. But what it boils down to is that I love offbeat comics and cartoons. And what I'm beginning to conclude is that it's okay for people to say that Baseman and I share a visual affinity, because we do. I also feel comfortable in the fact that I'm truly making a unique mark as an artist and will continue to do so.

So, my apologies for harboring any resentment towards you Mr. Baseman. Every artist gets compared to some so-and-so. I guess it's the quickest way to describe an artist's work—by drawing obvious comparisons. You must get sick of people asking you for your the secret formula behind your work. By the way, I love Creamy.


maxi said...

nadie es dueño de un lenguaje grafico que se invento y se reinventa desde el año 1920.
y tambien me gusta Gary.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

One of the first things people do with new information is they do a search in their brain to see if anything is comparable. If there is they can stop thinking about the subject and use the last conclusion they came for this new piece of information .. this saves energy so we don't constantly have to analyze our surroundings.

Baseman has been an inspiration to many .. including myself.. and all though this style of illustration existed before BASEMAN .. he really popularized it outside of the cartoon/comic world .. and brought it into adverting, merchandise, editorial ... etc. I have tremendous respect for BASEMAN .. but when I first saw his work .. I did the same thing people do with your work .. I compared it to something I already knew ... I called it "Uncensored Early Disney" .. but overtime I saw it as something unique. I am sure when BASEMAN was starting off .. he was compared to someone else.

I think you have great work and although I see some similarities in your work with Baseman I think you bring a lot of unique things to the table as well ... of course it feels like your talent is being undermined when people call it a rip off .. but I would take it with a grain of salt ..

Nate Williams

Bob Flynn said...

Wow, thanks Nate! You nailed my sentiment exactly. I know exactly what you mean about your brain automatically kicking into "compare this to something else" mode. I do it myself, when I'm trying to describe a band, visual artist, movie, or any type of art.

And you can't deny that every artist has their influences...that's what drives the evolution of the form.

Baseman is the name everyone knows. If people knew the likes of the other comic artists and cartoons I admire, they'd likely compare my work to theirs as well. It's funny, because I would probably take a more obscure connection as a compliment!

Thanks again for chiming in on this!

Anonymous said...

Your work is great. I wouldn't worry about it. People used to tell Marshall Arisman that he was ripping off Francis Bacon. Not anymore...

John Coulter said...

dude. your work is awesome. i just looked through a bunch of it, and never once thought of baseman.

at any rate, have you ever seen basemans work from about 10 years ago? it was a rip-off of some other illustrator (who's name escapes me right now--Somebody smith maybe?)