When you think about it, blogging about someone as fascinating as Masamune Shirow in a single post is impossible. You know him right..? The guy who drew the Ghost in the ShellAppleseed and all that other manga stuff? The guy who seems to have a fascination of scantily-clad buxom beauties strapping themselves in giant mechanical armor?

... among other things. One thing is certain -
Masamune Shirow (a pen name, no doubt) loves having strong leading lady types in his work. If it isn't in his comics, it'll find its way in his art. Funny how this obsession got to a point where it almost ruined one of his stories, but more on that later. For now, let us ogle at some of his work.

Yes, as you can see from these examples, it's very hard to take Mr. Shirow's work seriously.

Just kidding! Shirow's stuff is fantastic. I mean, just look at it! Pirates in bikinis. Cyber-girls in bikinis. Cowgirls in bikinis. And they're all drawn in a fairly unique
oh-so cute anime/manga style!

Artists, take note: add sexiness to your female characters by making their bodies glisten.

One blog puts it "...Many of his images will be unappealing or downright offensive to some women. Ironically, strong women are the central characters in his comic stories." Hahahahahaha!

An Incomplete and Badly Researched Look at Shirow's Work

Despite the grins on the women on Mr. Shirow's art, he had a really tough time getting his work published and recognized. He finally got his break publishing with some manga called "Black Magic". This eventually landed him a publishing deal, which in turn got him to create
Appleseed. Does it ring a bell? It's the popular manga series that eventually got made into a bunch of movies (the ultimate honor for a Japanese manga artist!), and put Shirow on the map.

Appleseed, to put it simply, is a Japanese manga about the trials and tribulations of an anime chick named Deunan Knute and her cyborg pal Briareos. They're part of an elite team out to keep the peace in a last-bastion type city where bio-robots things live peacefully with humans.

Yes, you heard that last part right. Appleseed's backstory is actually loosely based on a novel called "Brave New World", a story about about a totalitarian state where its citizens know nothing of wars or illnesses, and have access to every material pleasure known to man. This delicate order is in turn preserved through genetic engineering(hatching?).

Appleseed brings up the point that the more 'perfect' bio-robot people (known as 'bioroids') have been selected as the next step of humanity's evolution. Sounds crazy?
Frederik Shodt interviewed Mr. Shirow about this how this "co-existence" would work, and this is what he had to say:

"...if a robot becomes so advanced that it can coexist on an equal basis with humans, is it really a robot? Perhaps it's just a human made of different materials...[laughs]. Of course, you could argue that the robots that can't think at all, the ones working in our factories today, are already coexisting with humans. When we get to floor cleaning robots, vacuum cleaner robots running around, and so forth, they'll probably seem a lot more human-like. The real problem is when we get to true humanoid robots."

My thoughts:
Yeah... Maybe in a hundred years. But that's the thing. Shirow's work is full of that stuff, and none more so than Ghost in the Shell.

This version of "GiTS" should not to be confused with the anime movies directed by Mamoru Oshii, even though both are about the same secret police force and star the same impossibly sexy and headstrong cybernetic chick who goes around killing people. Did I mention that both properties deal with a lot of "deep" philosophical and existential stuff?

I've read half of the original manga, and my overall impressions of it is that it's OKAY. Mr. Shirow's panel is chock full of crazy details that help flesh out this weird cyberpunk world. There are instances when there's so much weird sci-fi elements thrown in that you can't help but take them at face value so you can move on with the general plot.

Looks kind of like... something from Ghost in the Shell...

What if the entire human brain was digitized, and wired to the internet? What would happen to our identity if it can simply be hacked like some computer?? That's the kind of stuff you have to contend with when reading some of the earlier Ghost in the Shell manga. It's interesting to know that this smörgåsbord of ideas aren't exactly... unnatural in the world of GiTS. Mr. Fred Schodt interviewed Mr. Shirow about this and he said:

FS: Much sci-tech information in your manga seems to be delivered as a sort of background, ambient noise, which many readers probably don't understand right away but eventually soak up unconsciously through osmosis. Is this a deliberate strategy?

MS: No, it's not something I do deliberately. It merely happens because of the way the stories are structured. I don't deliberately have a lot of explanations about the reality in which the characters live. To the characters this information is obvious, and natural; the readers enter the world of the characters, and it should ideally become a "natural" world for them, too.

Man-Machine Interface is one of the later (and allegedly better)
Ghost in the Shell books

FS: Do you ever get complaints from people who can't understand what's going on in your stories because there's too much complicated information?

MS: Sometimes readers do complain. I realize my stories should be easy to read, and I try to make them easy to read. It's a tug of war; I don't want to make the stories too simple, nor do I want to make them too complex. I struggle to find a good balance... I know it's tough for the readers sometimes...

My final thoughts on that

Tough is right! His stories can get really whacked out sometimes. Now I know I can cover some more of Mr. Shirow's other works like Dominion: Tank Police, or maybe Orion, or perhaps his more recent works - but I won't. I haven't read them, so why bother?

Moving on!!

Another subtle action oriented piece by good ol' Masamune Shirow. Some fans
have were concerned about Shirow's art taking a drastic turn when he switched
to the digital medium

Mr. Shirow works alone. Does that surprise you? In fact, he doesn't even hire underlings to help him deal with tedious stuff like adding screen-tone and all that crap to his work. Too expensive he says!

And yet the amount of work he has produced all these decades means he's doing something right. According to one interview, Shirow said:
"...For The Ghost in the Shell I drew an average of forty pages per episode and it took me around forty days to do one episode. But the number of hours I can work, and the efficiency of my work fluctuates, so it's not always possible to do a page a day. It's a real struggle simply to adjust my schedule to "meet the deadlines!"

The Man We Know as Shirow

He laments that while ".. There is currently a vast gap between the lowest and the highest incomes of manga artists." But for all the success Shirow has had in his career, he's still an artist at heart. According to this fan known as Puto:

"..Name alone clearly means nothing to Shirow; if it did, he would have leapt out of the closet and taken the credit for his work. But this rich and successful man still hides in the shadows, happy to let his art speak for itself. By refusing to be identified or photographed, he ensures that his fans only see his work, not his personality. The fact that many companies seem to be paying for his name and not his immense talent, is something that only careful management can prevent from becoming a problem in future."

Shirow's Work

The thing with a lot of Japanese sci-fi work (as I've said numerous times before) is that they're hodgepodges of different elements all rolled into one crazy package. On the surface, this truth can be easily be seen on much of Shirow's work. But as so many have mentioned before, artists like Shirow have made these worlds their own.

Toren Smith interviewed Mr. Shirow on his 'influences', and here's what the good man had to say:

"Of course I do believe that my work is original in its own way, but there's always some past experience or memory that triggers the ideas I come up with. I may be able to build on ideas, to adapt them, and thus come up with something new, but I have doubts about whether it's truly possible for anyone to create something completely new and original.

Emphasizing a combination of females and mecha, as I do, is something that's been around for a long time, and neither the idea of cyberbrains nor Special Forces units are themselves new, either. But as with cooking, even if the ingredients are the same, the way they are mixed together and the goal of the person doing the mixing creates a different flavor. In that sense, if the result of cooking can be called original, so, too, can my work. I always try to draw manga that are true to myself."

According to Puto's Masamune Shirow fan site, a common characteristic in Shirow's works, at least according to the artist himself, are that they:


And that's about all I can say and stand. Masamune is the best, and his cute little art shows what kind of a person he really is.

Now I know what I forgot to talk about when it comes to Masamune Shirow. His mecha designs. Drat! I've focused too much on posting these "cute" pinups. Oh well. Perhaps next time? In the meantime, why don't you watch this weird intro cutscene from an old Playstation game called Project Horned Owl, which features designs by Masamune Shirow. No reason.

I had no idea what I was doing when I first tried to design a layout. My design sensibilities were... still are pathetic. I thought Times New Roman was God.

And that's probably the time when I started spending my money on graphic design books. An integral part of this is something called Typography. Uuuuuuuuh. What is typography? Watch this popular Youtube video about it if you haven't:

Typography. Lucky for this generation, thousands upon thousands of font faces are readily available to all of us in a single click. Anyway, that's typography - how you arrange your type not only in an aesthetically pleasing manner, but also in a sensible order that would fit the material at hand.

One of the more interesting thing about Typographers is how they take their stuff very, very seriously. They sure can criticize a font! It all depends on the application of course, whether the font used was too round or too thin, or when it was kerned right and all that jazz.

I was quite amused to hear that just about every designer hated the
Comic Sans font (among others). I sort of recall a funny story back in high school when people really abused that crappy font.

When someone says its a Linotype font, just remember its a machine that produces a "solid line of type".

Another thing I took notice of was European design. Swiss design, to be exact. An integral part of this style is the font known as
"Helvetica". Heard of it? This has been the choice font for every designer, for almost any kind of project, be it a design bible, concert poster, you name it!

The font has a...
legibility to it that has attracted folks for fifty odd years. The only problem is that for all Helvitica's popularity over the past decades, people have come to define "Swiss Design" as freakin' boring. It's too clean, too orderly for some designers.

Other fonts that gained some popularity were the
Univers (45, 55 type) and Akidenz font types. People loved using those too for all kind of stuff. I probably won't go into too much detail about all of this though. I just wanted to give you a very basic idea of what Typography, and what I've encountered so far when reading up about it.

Now, let me discuss in brief, the role of the
Graphic Designer. What does they do, exactly?

This article will focus on magazine design, since I mentioned this was something I'm reading about earlier.

The person who runs this gig is usually the Art Director. The Art Director is the guy who manages the overall design department and design of the (in this case) the anthology. He fixes the publication's format, oversees work of other senior and junior designers, and even designs some of the pages himself.

Freelancers are usually hired to support personnel to meet "...excess creative and production needs... Freelancers are hired to do secondary design, while skilled freelance designers are often assigned to work on primary components of a publication." (How to be a Graphics Designer)

The thing to remember when designing is that
Content always dictates Style. According to Chriswell Lappin, art director for Metropolis Magazine, "Content of the story often dictates approach. So the visual look of a section varies from story to story. The rest of the magazine is more standardized."

The goal, according to Lappin, is to help the reader understand the story, thereby making it the
first priority. The voice of the designer would come naturally as you continue to solve these styleproblems.

"When Design Goes Bad", by Simon Young -
Read this article later. Click the pic.

The worse that can happen, according to Nick Bell, Creative Director of Eye Magazine, is when a magazine's content competes with the design of the magazine. "...A magazine is by definition a
collection of different things, so if there is no sense of variety when you flick through it, the design has failed."

Typography is king, and things like color are secondary. It's all about the sense of completeness and coherence that would help keep the pacing just right. From what I've heard, people have done everything to solve this problem. Some have tried injecting fine art techniques in order to establish harmony in the overall design. Some try to take things from real life, and inject it into the design.

Tokion magazine, once an avant-garde fashion magazine, decided to adopt a new "bolder" look. "It's almost as bad as Surface!"

conundrum of magazine design is that it's always got to be fresh to look at, and yet thematically similar. Rhonda Rubinstein noted that new content, new interpretations, new collaborations, new structures and new contexts helps do this. It doesn't have to organized too, mind you. Disorganization, according to some designers, are actually quite enjoyable when done right. Area Duplessis puts it simply, "No concept, no real guide, just great intuition."

So how about
magazine covers? How important are they in the design process? Cuz' I've gone through like five redesigns, and nothing seemed to satisfy me. For Arem Duplessis, Art Director for the New York Times Magazine, the cover tells a person whether the magazine is actually worth picking up. But wait, in the world of design, you can have the most beautiful cover ever, but the most disappointing content possible.

If your content sucks, or doesn't have a lot of market appeal, then you should at least, according to Tod Lippy, editor of
Esopus, try to make it attract customers with strong visual design. "That said, the design is never meant to overwhelm or obscure the material it frames." Funny though that I've seen some magazines obscure certain text descriptions...

A very good article too!

So, as one's design techniques grow over time, he or she usually develops tricks to fall back on. Some would smash type toger, some would make a cacophony of upper case letters floating all over a page, others would create little sidebars and stuff to make things a little more interesting.

So anyway, this is the end. I might as well finish with an irrelevant video. Bask in the glory of...


If a man has a talent and cannot use it, he has failed. If he has a talent and uses only half of it, he has partly failed. If he has a talent and learns somehow to use the whole of it, he has gloriously succeeded, and won a satisfaction and a triumph few men ever know.

- Tom Wolfe

Hey kiddies! How about another round of CONEPTART DEBATES!?

Do you ever get that feeling you’ve got this new job that you somehow get tongue-tied trying explaining what it’s really about? Then people laugh at you and go “What??” Well, that’s sort of what happens when some decided to open up a discussion regarding…

Yes! “Fine art vs. Illustration”!

Are you a fine artist, or would you consider yourself an illustrator? For fun or profit? Is one better than the other?

Yes folks, I will warn you in advance that this is likely going to be a fairly pointless discussion. Still, I do hope that towards the end that you might have learned something.

The topic began when forum-goer Andabatae posted that he was doing some research for a paper about the differences between Illustration and Fine Art - How they clash, why and who mainly focuses on concept art” and “Does comic art go against art the likes of old master paintings and modern fine art?” The usual.

Andabatae remarked that some artists such as Ashley Wood, Kent Williams and Yoji Shinakawa, have managed to cross the “fine line” between these two "labels".

Additionally, Anda’s notes that he’s been receiving some flak during his fine art classes that most of his work blatantly shows his influences to be mostly from illustrators and other artists whose work has a big presence of narrative and reason.

Meridiani, a helpful forum-goer, begins with the well-meaning reply that, “... there are only a few things that distinguish illustrators from fine artists (and they're blurry at best.) One has to do with order of payment; illustrators are contracted first and then do the work. Fine artists do the work first and then struggle to sell it (though commissions really throw a wrench in this distinction.)

“Another has to do with the preeminence of the story or 'product' (in illustration you can't make dramatic changes to these simply because it makes for a better image.)”

Museum's Closed

Additionally, Meridiani supposes that gallery owners pimp artists to the pretentious upper crust, whereas publishing houses will whore you out to the increasingly image hungry masses and “… Chances are you're going to get fucked either way, and yet in the fine art world, everyone is a necrophilia, so there's an added bonus that they'll try to fuck you again after your dead.”

The discussion’s off to an interesting start, eh? Andabatae agreed to most of what was said, however he states that there’s a lot more to the debate than that. Apparently, a lot of the criticism that he got was directed at how his worked mimicked the so-called ‘comic book style’.

“It gets at me a lot when that happens because surely, illustration is just as emotionally valid as fine art as it’s done with fairly similar intentions. Does it not more rely on the artist themselves?”

Kev Ferrera, one of the senior members of the forum, offers some… interesting advice:

“Fine art is sold in a Fine Art gallery. That is its definition. If illustration gets sold in a gallery it becomes fine art.

Fine Art was a distinct category from everything else. It was a political distinction drawn by ideologues circa 1900-1920, coinciding with the rise of illustration... The camera also played a part because ideologues can't see the poetic components of art; they just see the literary components, which dovetail with their "social realist" interests. Thus they could not see a significant distinction between, say, Waterhouse's Lady of Shallotte and a photograph of a similar event.

If you read Howard Pyle, Harvey Dunn, or Robert Henri's notes, they make very plain the difference between photography and illustration.

The depression and the rise of films effectively killed illustration as the bete noir of the "fine art community". Since the fine art community is ideology based, they simply have chosen new "oppressors" to rail against as time has marched on.

The Fine Art community has now effectively hated on everything it could get its hands on, including itself. And now we are at the end of the cycle.

Lady of Shalott Sample of Realist/Representational Art

Which is why the distinction between Fine Art and Illustration is falling away and "realist" work is becoming popular again. There was never a distinction in the first place, only a false one.

Read Thomas Wolfe's the Painted Word. This is not to say that the twentieth century wasn't a marvelous time for the invention of new decorative schemes. All of which have been taken up by Architects and Fashion designers for their work.”

Wow. Thank you, society! People just love to put name everything, don’t they? And people sure do love to argue. Laqueatores, another forum-goer, has this to say about the subject:

“I agree with everything you said, just not quite on this one… I don't think that fine art is necessarily confined to 'gallery space' - so to speak. In my view, Fine Art has as much to do with the spirit of the piece (as most dictionary definitions will echo) as the way it is commercialized.

This, of course, makes it more fuzzy.

In fact I think separating the two terms (Illustration and Fine Art) is in itself very problematic, and taking a "vs" slant on the whole thing is, as far as I can see, going to end up as something polemical rather than academical.”
Andabatae then offers his perspective:

“If you take that look. You kinda start to realize that even most gallery artists would fall under commercial artist as its in their intent to sell their work and gain profit. Boxing ones self into an area once they realize what the consumer is looking for and sticking to reproducing similar looks. Self marketing.

Art in general carries with it emotional ties. Whether its dictated by a publisher or dictated by the market at the time. So saying there is in some way more emotion or depth to "gallery/fine art" (which is typically what ive heard) is downgrading the planning and executing that goes into commercial art.

I produce work for my own personal release (when i have time) and for profit and publishers. I'm an artist. I don't need to add another label and I'm comfortable with my own position in life to not to need to feel like I’m better than anyone. You get flak from both sides. People in commercial art criticizing gallery artists and gallery artists criticizing commercial artists. There is a lot people can learn from both sides and they can get past their egos."

Just when things were getting pretty good now, Dimacheri offers his clearly annoyed perspective in the mix about what Kev had said about the false distinctions of Fine Art and Illustration, the rise of "realist" work, and how the 20th century became host of decorative art. Or something:

“Ahhhhh...I never had it explained to me so clearly before. Since it's apparent… that this "reconnection" can occur only when all work is "realist," supported by the implications in the that "non-realist" work is basically a bunch of new
"decorative schemes". I guess I'll have to start referring to my earlyinfluences and references to my own learning process as interior decorators or gift-wrap designers...

Surrealist Art, produced by some of the artists mentioned below

So as not to confuse any one in the future, Klee, Arp, Johns, Duchamp, Miro, Nevilson, Pollock, Klein, Shawn, Tanguay, Picasso, Matisse, Rothko, and maybe 3-4,000 others, as well as every other artist of any stripe that they ever influenced in any way (including probably 25,000+ professional illustrators), will be immediately removed from my reference list of "artists" to refer to.

And I hope all of you learned a lesson from this finally. You have been told over and over that the only "true artists" are those who adhere religiously to strict "realist" work or "realism," but none of you ever seem to learn.

Rothko's Abstract art is... interesting

Ah, things get weirder. Laqueatores defends his position, stating that not every artist can have the same comparison as being merely “decorative”. “... Just some Miro, most Pollock, most Rothko, most of Arp, most of Klein, not so sure about Shawn or the rest.

And so-called "realism" casts a very wide net indeed. So I wouldn't exactly call it exclusionary.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with decorative art. I happen to believe that all art is poeticized versions of life, so even Pollock is offering us a narrative. I consider the distinction to be related to the generality of the aesthetics of abstractionist work.

Because these works have no specificity (not even to themselves, because their styles are easily duplicated by a competent craftsman), they apply rather poorly to our specific experiences in life. They are expressive and beautiful without being tethered to realism. This makes them emotionally associative works, like wordless classical music.

Classical music can be associated equally well as background for a Hollywood melodrama, a bugs bunny cartoon or a commercial for diapers.

Modernist decorative schemes are the same way. They can work for furniture, clothing, architecture, magazine layout... or any other thing where blank or boring surfaces are an integral part of the utility of an object. There is definite merit in that kind of creativity. I am not knocking decorative art. But it is, by its very nature, a surface-oriented art. It is not deep, despite all the verbiage spilled on its behalf.

Meridiani offers us some MUST READ ARTICLES regarding the topic (but won't be up for discussion here):

Mary Eaton's Defense of Illustration as Fine Art

According to Meri, the following articles show the folly of it all. The first article is about “… illustration being celebrated/plagiarized in the Fine Art sphere.”

Fine art = $10,000 Illustration = $100

Despite the fact that they’re both being the same picture! But “… when you engulf one in ideological smoke and mirrors...” Meri then says:

“I suppose the text book difference is that fine art serves it's own purpose, but illustration does exactly that - it – illustrates it's point, i.e. it's a describing process there to aid someone understanding a page of text from a novel for example, or to aid someone to imagine the pro's of buying a product in advertising.

That is not to say that illustration cannot become fine art or the reverse, it's just that illustration on paper (excuse the pun!) is there to perform a task I suppose.

I did a similar essay at college about Mervyn Peake, who was a fantastic fine artist and an even better (in my opinion) illustrator.

I suppose we, with the mind of 'artists' find it difficult to say the piece is fine art, and that isnt, but I often come across people who enjoy 'hang on your wall' artwork, but have no interest in illustration (these later are the repulsive
people who do not buy illustrated editions of the same book by different artists... for shame.”

A Beautiful Painting To Break The Monotony

Ah, I think we have enough for the topic. It’s been very edu—what’s this? Provocator, another forum-goer, throws his two cents:

“In my isolated opinion… Illustration should now be called “commercial art" and often is and "Fine Art" should be renamed "non-commercial art”, thus removing any value judgment inherent in these titles and subsequently thus all the ego bumping. Learn what there is to be learned from both very different disciplines, then recombine and cross-pollinate with lessons learned form both and other disciplines as well.

Interesting, but unfortunately, this didn’t sit well with some people. Elwell laughed his head off by this point in the discussion. I think it was when he knew people reading this thread had enough.

“I was being facetious... trying to point out the silliness of caring about these labels.... and its a given that no one will really re-name anything ... I’m sure you remember all too well, a recent mammoth thread about the futility of the whole debate.”

Well, yes. What else is new? People love labeling everything. When discussions go as far as this, I am reminding me of how people once debated about the distinctions of goth, emo-goths, and all these other weird stuff people keep coining generation after generation.

Anyway, the last few statements aside, I do hope you learned something. Apparently, the origins of this age-old debate go way back. And what’s with 20th century art? Can this debate ever be put to rest?

See The Full Thread

I've always adored the manga/manhwa/anime visual style. Critics say it's a knock off of the Japanese visual style, but I don't care. You may have read about my favorite artists of this style before. Do you not recall? I've written other fluff pieces in the past about this stuff! Here are the links:

There's another artbook series series in town, published by Udon Studios. APPLE!

Apparently, the ongoing APPLE anthology, a.k.a. “A Place for People who Love Entertainment”, is an art/comic book in the same vein as the ROBOT artbooks. The point of these pricey tomes is to showcase the talents of the best, and brightest illustrators and graphic artists around Asia (mostly Korea and Japan).

The interesting about APPLE though is that the talent pool will be derived solely from Korea.

Most of the guys (and gals?) involved with this this project are the artists behind some of Korea's most popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games.

Seoul Visual Works partnered with Udon to make this dream come true. Founder Eddie Yu has this to say about the project:

“They want to create something more personal and subjective. APPLE is a showcase for those illustrators and their personal creations...

...APPLE isn't a big budget project but the creators are happy to contribute to a worthwhile project, one in which they can see what other artists are up to, learn from them, and study the current trends.”

And don't they look purty? Honestly, despite typing out the distinctions between manga and manhwa months ago, I am unable to really articulate the difference about the two styles. But there is something... judging by these previews. Whereas in the Philippines, wannabe Filipino artists have managed to create a very distinct look with their works (most notably characters having tanner skin tones), I just can't tell, but for some reason, I love these preview shots from the book.


The only bad thing about these books is that they never come cheap. $35.00 is still a lot of money. Time to break the bank again...

Check out: http://www.udonentertainment.com/apple/

The Koreans have gained notoriety as some of the most skilled illustrators in the world, thanks to their works in video games, artbooks, and even animation. This line of artbooks will only solidify the Koreans grip on the young, unsuspecting artists. Outsourcing is awesome!!! *Sigh*

However, lets look back at the amazing ROBOT series, and see the roots of this project, and what all the fuss is about.

The hook of ROBOT was always to the disturbing mix of really nifty looking anime artwork with the European style of coloring/graphics, coupled with the visual and storytelling abilities of Japanese manga.

I just don't know. In the comic world, (probably more popular in Europe) there is something known as the "painted comics". Painted comics are literally just that, every panel, every frame is painstakingly painted and detailed to such a level that a page looks almost like a work of art. The Blacksad and Hipflask comic series are what comes to mind when I say this.

But when you throw in that style to anime? I don't know, there is that magic in it that makes it look even more dreamlike. Yoshitoshi ABE, one of the regular contributors of ROBOT, manages to pull this off quite well. His series has achieved quite a bit of fame from readers of the books.

Another highlight of the books is the work of Imperial Boy (image above), and how he paints these massive worlds, and crams it with unimaginable detail. And what's crazier is that with one page you would have this view of the overall world. The next page would be a "section" of that world, like a cramped walkway or something. He really wants to capture the feel of a crazy world, and he does it quite well. It's weird, but its great.

The books has a fair amount of the fan service stuff, which is probably why they've got the Mature rating, but hey, if it sells right? It's also got these impossibly cute stuff in it, with some rather disturbing twists (The story involving a bird and a girl is what springs to mind). The only problem I got with ROBOT is its translations can be a little funky, and some of the stories don't make a good deal of sense. Oh well. I'm in it mostly for the art anyway.

Good day to you!

Following my post about High Renaissance, you'd think I would post about the Baroque era next... Sorry Void™. Maybe next time, or maybe not at all.

Instead, I'll focus on this one Baroque painter guy. And that would be...

"All works, no matter what or by whom painted, are nothing but bagatelles and childish trifles... unless they are made and painted from life, and there can be nothing... better than to follow nature."

Michelangelo Merisi a.k.a. Caravaggio (1571-1610) was a jerk. Yeah, that's what I hear anyway. But despite having a short fuse, he was one of the greatest, most influential painters of ye' olden days. He never really ran out of commissions to do, and for some odd reason, he always found the time to finish em'.

Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio, 1599

According to our favorite cheat sheet Wikipedia, Caravaggio's artistic philosophy was greatly influenced during his stay in Milan. His style therefore emphasized 'simplicity and attention to naturalistic detail', as opposed to going all out.

Artchive described his situation quite well, saying that "...Caravaggio aimed to make paintings that depicted the truth, and was critically condemned for being a 'naturalist'. In spite of adverse reactions, Caravaggio was commissioned to produce a number of large-scale paintings. However, certain of these after 1600 were made only to be rejected by patrons on the grounds of indecorum or theological incorrectness."

The Rest During The Fight from Egpyth

See? I told you he was a jerk. Now, all this talk about Naturalism... but what does it mean? Why was it so important, especially following the two eras of the Renaissance? Well, according yet again to the Artchive, everything depended on the "...depiction of the human body, and where the eccentricities of his successors, who did not paint from life at all, distorted the popular notion of what the eye actually sees."

Artchive continues to described it further that "...He painted with an intensity of realism never before equalled, and his impact was so immediate, profound and lasting that it affected all the great painters of the first half of the seventeenth century."

Sleeping Cupid by Caravaggio

Ooooh! This is also a great thing about his life "Caravaggio created himself. He was antinomian, despising all laws of life and art. But his fatal propensity to break all the rules, which turned his life first into anarchy, then tragedy, also made him an artist of astonishing originality and creative power. He destroyed the old order and imposed a new one." Yes. He's got into a lot of arguments and brawls in his life. He got into trial eleven times between 1600 and 1606! He was suspected of sodomy, but got away with it. This was confirmed posthumously. The worse part is that killed a guy during a brawl after a game of tennis, forcing him to be a fugitive for the rest of his life.

Poor shmuck.

The Raising of Lazarus by Caravaggio

(Patrick Hunt comments: Lazarus's crosslike pose as an allusion to the "Cross-Bearing Fathers" and some have also long commented on Caravaggio's allusion to Michelangelo's Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel with life returning to Lazarus's hand from the command of Christ while the rest of his body is still in the sleep of death...

The contrasting light and darkness on the hand of Lazarus also reminds one of the famous passage in Genesis 1:3 when God says "Let there be light". Second, also in parallel with the darkness of Christ's face hidden in like shadow on the left - also suggestive of his yet hidden deity both before and after his Transfiguration.

So what about his work? Oh boy. Despite his rowdy reputation, he really got a lot of s**t done. His "Naturalism" style meant the he painted with such care to detail that in one painting, people could literally identify every individual plants being held by the subject!

Caravaggio was a real sucker for detail, where his philosophy has led some to speculate that where he born born during the "...twentieth or twenty-first century, Caravaggio would have been a photographer or a film maker. But that is nonsense." (Artchive)

Artchive states that "...His fundamental ideas were always absolutely clear, though he continually changed and improved his techniques. He believed in total realism, and he always painted from life, dragging poor people in from the street if need be."

Supper at Emmaeus by Caravaggio, 1598

Caravaggio revolutionized painting in general. I mean this guy, did no preparatory drawings prior to painting his works. He just painted straight onto the canvas, and this method alone earned him some criticism from his peers. Bellori was quoted saying "The painters then in Rome were greatly taken by this novelty, and the young ones particularly gathered around him, praised him as the unique imitator of nature, and looked on his work as miracles."

The Lute Player by Caravaggio, 1595

Artchive sez "..Not a single drawing by him has survived and it is likely that he never did any. He simply stood up to the canvas and painted directly onto it, from the living model."

Death of the Virgin by Caravaggio

His religious art, like I mentioned earlier, received some flack for being "inaccurate", such as the depiction with the Death of the Virgin. The church rejected his works based on how the Virgin looked, when she was either "indecent" or seated, or whatever. What's interesting was how these rejected paintings were still sought after by wealthy Dukes and whatnot.

David with Head of Goliath by Caravaggio

Why are his paintings so dark? Well, that's the secret actually. According to Artchive, "...To achieve realism, he liked to pull his subject out of surrounding darkness into strong lateral or overhead light, as close to the viewer as possible."

Artchive sez "..Caravaggio told the story of Christianity as it had never been told before, as an actual happening"

Crucifixion of Peter by Caravaggio

In the end, his works became objects of debate. His works were a little discomforting. Artchive described how "...The Church, which bought more than half his output, recognised the huge popular appeal of his vivid presentation of the faith. But it sometimes found Caravaggio too real for comfort... What in effect Caravaggio is doing systematically and deliberately, for the first time in the history of art, destroying the space between the event in the painting and the people looking at it. He is giving us direct windows into life, whether religious life or ordinary life."

So woohoo! Woohoo for realism! Woohoo for Caravaggio!

He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.

- Leonardo da Vinci


What a way to begin the month. A freakin’ post about a bygone era. Ah well, might as well be researching about this rather than looking for the zillionth science fiction/fantasy artist, right? I jest.

Patron of d’Arts is a series of posts that is aimed to educate me on the very basics of the works of the “Masters”. Y'know, masters like Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne and all those other guys you heard about while sleeping in art class. I decided to begin this series during the Renaissance, Era of Classicism a time when man was truly in touch with God. Or at least, they sa they were.

Madonna of the Harpies
Some kind of masterpiece / altatpiece made for some nuns

So when did this so called “High Renaissance” era occur? Well folks, it allegedly happened sometime around 1450-1550 or 1500-1530, but one can't be too sure... Oh well. It was, as someone put it, a time when the artist had perfected chiaroscuto (shading) and other techniques, and achieved the photo real. It was said in some book that the best- known artists of the Italian Renaissance grew famous during the High Renaissance. As usual, only the rich and well fed could or would support these artists. I think I mentioned something about the Medici family in my last related post.

A site called “Gutenberg” mentioned the Renaissance as “..the grand consummation of Italian intelligence in many departments—the arrival at maturity of the Christian trained mind tempered by the philosophy of Greece, and the knowledge of the actual world. Fully aroused at last, the Italian intellect became inquisitive, inventive, scientific, skeptical—yes, treacherous, immoral, polluted. It questioned all things, doubted where it pleased, saturated itself with crime, corruption, and sensuality, yet bowed at the shrine of the beautiful and knelt at the altar of Christianity. It is an illustration of the contradictions that may exist when the intellectual, the religious and the moral are brought together, with the intellectual in predominance.

Titian Young Woman Combing Her Hair (1514)

So, basically everyone was hypocrites at the time. So who painted the good stuff? Well, there’s Titian. Yeah, “Titian”. Well, fine, his real name was Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (1485 – 1576), and he was like this leader of the 16th-century Venetian school of the Italian Renaissance. The man Titian isn’t important though. He’s just good with colors and composition. You can tell how influential these old painters simply by how popular their works are (Duh). Here’s two of his more notable accomplishments:

From Wikipedia: The Rape of Europa (1562) is a bold diagonal composition which was admired and copied by Rubens. In contrast to the clarity of Titian's early works, it is almost baroque in its blurred lines, swirling colors, and vibrant brushstrokes.

And yes, this pic is known as the Venus of Urbino. According to art historians, “the ‘frankness’ of Venus' expression has often been noted, seeing as she stares straight at the viewer, unconcerned with her nudity. In her right hand she holds a posy of flowers whilst her left covers her vulva, provocatively placed in the centre of the composition. In the near background a dog, symbolizing fidelity, is asleep.”

The Gutenberg site also states that “…in his 1880 travelogue A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain called the this painting "the foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses". He proposed that "it was painted for a bagnio and it was probably refused because it was a trifle too strong', adding humorously that "in truth, it is a trifle too strong for any place but a public art gallery". Funny guy.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Yeah, there was that Da Vinci guy. Leonardo da Vinci allegedly epitomized the renaissance ideal. He’s good, that’s all you needed to know.

From the Gutenberg, who can explain this a lot better than I can: “In 1482, Lorenzo de Medici purchased a lyre which Leonardo had fashioned in the shape of a horse's skull, intending to send it to Ludovico Sforza ofMil an. Leonardo asked to personally deliver the gift, and when he did, Sforza persuaded him to remain in Milan, where he painted his famous mural The Last Supper on the wall of a monastery.

Leonardo da Vinci the Swan or something or another

Leonardo da Vinci took full advantage of having all these wealthy bastards who wanted good art, traveling all over during his career, “..leaving every place he visited awed by his presence... His notebooks, recently published, contain ideas for such inventions as the scaling ladder, rotating bridge, submarine, armored vehicle, and helicopter, none of which were built until decades or centuries later.”

Another Madonna Pic
Leonardo remained in Milan seventeen years, returning to Florence in 1499 when the French invaded Milan. In Florence, he became chief military engineer, a position he held until 1513, when he went to Rome in search of a commission from the pope.

As an aside, I really wanted to buy this Da Vinci hardbound book, but it pisses me off that these books cost more than my basic salary. F**k that!

I used Google to find this image! *Groan*

Pope Leo X preferred the work of the painter Raphael, however, and Leonardo moved on, becoming court painter to Francis I of France, where he remained until his death in 1519. In addition to The Last Supper, Leonardo's best known work is the Mona Lisa, the most famous portrait ever painted. Many of da Vinci's greatest ideas remained just that, and he recorded his plans for future inventions and his notes on life around him in notebooks that have given historians insight into the true extent of his genius.”

Michaelangelo Buonarroti

Whoopee for Michaelangelo. According to Guntenberg yet again, “he enrolled in the school for sculptors established by Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, when he was only thirteen, and soon attracted the attention of Lorenzo himself. Michaelangelo lived for a while in the Medici palace as a member of the family, absorbing the principles of humanism and Neoplatonism that freely flourished there.

Pope Julius II wanted Michaelangelo to create a tomb for him. A grand monument with over forty statue. It took Mike eight months to select the stone. The Pope eventually got impatient and cancelled the project.

Later, Michaelangelo, inspired by the belief that he had a divine calling, traveled to Rome, where, at age 23, he carved the Pieta, a bust of the Virgin Mary, bringing him instant fame. When he returned to Florence in 1501, he was commissioned to sculpt the Hebrew King David, just as Donatello had. Michaelangelo's David became the symbol of Florence's prospering artists, and remains there today.

The Sistine Chapel?

I always dreamed of taking a tour around Europe. Oh well. I guess I should just make plans to visit this recreation in the game Second Life.

Second Life Sistine

In 1508, Michaelangelo began his work decorating the walls and ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. The project was arduous and time-consuming, and when he finished he had painted over 300 human figures. The painting of the ceiling has assumed legendary status and is considered one of the great artistic undertakings of all time.”


Now here’s Raphael, born Raffaello Santi. I typed this guy’s name on google, and that Raffaello name kept popping up. Now I know. Thank you, ignorance! Anyway, like what Gutenberg said, “Raff was the leading painter of the Renaissance. In 1508, Pope Julius II summoned him to Rome to decorate the papal apartments in the Vatican. The most widely known of the series of murals and frescoes he painted is the School of Athens, which depicts an imaginary assembly of famous philosophers.

Raphael - purest of all classical works, possessing serenity/harmony even when representing rigorous action

The Harmonist of the Renaissance is his title. And this harmony extended to a blending of thought, form, and expression, heightening or modifying every element until they ran together with such rhythm that it could not be seen where one left off and another began. He was the very opposite of Michael Angelo.

Raphael maintained the favor of the Julius II and his successor Leo X, and thus painted for papal commissions all his life. He was widely renowned as the greatest painter of his age, and considered so important by his contemporaries that when he died at the premature age of 37 he was buried in the Pantheon.”

Finally, we have good ol’ Andrea del Sarto (1486-1531) who was some Florentine pure and simple. He did a lot of madonnas and altar-pieces, and wasn’t religious himself. Gutensberg described this man more as a painter more than a pietist, and was called by his townsmen "the faultless painter." So he was as regards the technical features of his art.


He was the best brushman and colorist of the Florentine school.

Gutenberg sez’ “He was influenced by other painters to some extent. Masaccio, Ghirlandajo, and Michaelangelo were his models in drawing; Leonardo and Bartolommeo in contours; while in warmth of color, brush-work, atmospheric and landscape effects he was quite by himself. He had a large number of pupils and followers, but most of them deserted him later on to follow Michelangelo.” Yeah. That sucks.

So that' High Renaissance for ya'. It's badly research, woefully incomplete, but that's because you have to pay forty bucks for all the good essays. Will Baroque be next?

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