Maurice Sendak – truly treasure from the dark
3 they say, is a magic number. So I reserve Day 3 of my advent calendar for the magical storyteller Maurice Sendak.
My whole raison d’etre for compiling this advent compilation is to illustrate how the internet has forced artists into uploading their work for global access, but without taking the time to fully appreciate its potential.
What do I mean? In a single word
So here I celebrate the work of a genius who managed to tell the most magical and wildest stories with very few words. From the infamous Max, who stamped his foot and would not go to bed, finding himself in an adventure romp with the wild things.
Followed by Mickey, the boy who woke in the middle of the night and turned the dark into a mischievous escapade in cake baking with the Oliver Hardy chefs in the New York skyline.
And the most wonderful and touching gift that is Jack and Guy's rescue of a homeless boy and the family journey to paradise. Please read this wonderful Brainpickings tribute
So what qualities do I admire that marks his genius and how is he relevant to other artists and how they pursue an online presence?
There is no doubt that the seductive power of his illustration afford multiple entry points into the stories that he is trying to tell. Why is Max in an animal onesie? How do his bedposts grow into trees? Why is his bed so tall?
Sendak poses questions visually which aid the sparsity of his words. Being inspired by old nursery rhymes his actual text is an accompaniment to the goings-on we can clearly see page by page.
The reading aloud requires an internal performance where you might adopt the yelling of the boy and the sing-song quality of the rhyme… you become deeply involved on so many levels.
And even in his most touching tale, he is not afraid of raising questions on poverty, bigotry and mortality with the ending being a rise to God and paradise. And, as readers, we do not shirk from the politics but we embrace the genuine warmth and the intimacy with which he shares his concerns … we believe.
And so to us, creators, artists, poets 'n' all
How do we tell our story? How do we with humility and warmth gift our creations to the world?
Mostly, these days, we exhibit the majority of our works online.
In doing that, do we smile and tell the story of this precious creation? Do we reveal our influences or hint at other threads with our accompanying text? Do we enrich our audiences experience with open arms and gratitude?
The internet provides a brilliant and free opportunity to reveal all. But most of us, what we do is slap an image online with a title, size and price…
… then we wait
And isn't the world grateful for such experience? Are they not flocking to your door, handfuls of money, wanting to know more?
If not why not?
Simply because you are not telling a tale.
The internet has democratised opinion and allowed a stinking abbreviation as a response … 'like' or one press ❤️ icon
And we … we allow it. We immerse ourselves in the flash culture of endorphin driven reaction. We measure our success on the value of abbreviated and false opinion
THE VOTES MEAN NOTHING
Not without dialogue… not without a story.
Sendak was not arrogant. Everything he created he poured his heart and soul into preparing the welcome mat to his reader. We were ushered in through a window, through a door, through a refusal to sleep, through a waking dream.
Sendak was not lazy. He worked on sharing his stories from the beginning. Every narrative was a gift, every angle of that story was wrapped up for us to open, every illustration brocaded with tiny surprises to make us smile.
Do we do that?
PICTURE, Title, Medium, Price
Ask yourself … what are you giving when you do this?
If the answer is the gift of your work … then prepared for a smattering of anonymous likes.
You have the most intimate and unique relationship with your work, the dialogue, the decisions, the stories you told yourself while creating … do they actually mean NOTHING?