on painting skin tones, and why lighting = pale is a fallacy
Okay guys. Rubbing hands together and pulling some of my own art to serve as a visual of sorts here. Whitewashing, as most of you know, is taking a character of color and depicting them as white or with light skin. It’s a controversial issue—and for very good reason. PoC are concerned about their reputation in media, and whitewashing PoC characters in fandom is naturally a subject that rubs people the wrong way—as it should. (To put it in a less nicety nice way, whitewashing needs to fucking stop.) Intentional or unintentional, painting PoC as light-skinned is damaging at the very least, and yet another expression in our society that PoC are somehow undesirable.
One of the protests that I often see in dubious cases of whitewashing is that “but skin tones change under different lighting”—and they do. But the thing is, the hues and values change, not their overall skin tone. First off—some basic color vocab. The hue is the variety of a color. Is it reddish? Is it bluish? Hues are created by mixing base colors. The value of a color is how light or dark it is—taking a hue and then adding white or black to make it darker or lighter. We’re going to investigate painting different skin tones—and how light changes dark skin tones.
Let’s take a look. I’ve pulled colors in each of these screenshots from the highlights on their faces, the mid tone, the shadows under their cheekbones, and the shadow in the darkest parts of their faces. Here’s Isabela.
Notice how her highlights stay a mid range brown—it goes rosy or sandy, but the values are similar. Now let’s look at Merrill, whose lighter skin changes even more drastically:
Merrill gets the benefit here of being in very bright outdoor light, of course (I don’t have a screenshot of Bela in a similar light, but: her highlights will not ever be as light as Merrill’s are.
Giruvegan and Isabela volunteered to demonstrate two skin tones in similar lighting situation—directional light and the same tone/intensity (a golden-ish light that’s soft, and not very intense). Gir has very pale skin, Isabela has medium brown skin. Notice how though their midtones and shadow tones can look similar when pulled from the painting with an eyedropper, her highlights never come to be quite as light as his—and her midtones are darker, even in similar lighting.
Now let’s look at two characters with a similar skin tone, under slightly different lighting. I didn’t have any current examples of dramatically different lighting, so these are a bit close. Esin’s skin is a medium brown with olive tones.
In harsher lighting, notice that the shadows change more than the highlights do. Also notice that his skin is cool-toned, while hers is warm-toned. The cool or warm tone of a character’s (or person’s) skin is important to keep in mind.
Now here are two more characters with different skin tones in similar, slightly darker lighting—darker lighting on fair skin will make it look dark, right? Taliesin has light skin, Esin has dusky olive skin.
Taliesin’s tones are still obviously different than Esin’s, but they’re in the same value range. It’s the hues here that are showing their skin tones.
Now let’s put the tones to the test in grayscale, where it can be harder to depict the difference in skin tones, right?
Wrong. Even in monochrome painting, Gir’s skin is still visibly lighter than Isabela’s. His midtones are much lighter than hers, and her highlights aren’t as bright as his. Esin and Isabela have similar skin tones, and therefore have similar midtones in greyscale—toned or tinted lighting is in the hue of a color, not so much the value.
Your midtones are what we’re looking at here. It’s true that in bright sunlight, highlights will be lighter. But they’ll still be in the same color family as their original tones—for Isabela, a golden brown. Here’s what happens when we whitewash (albeit quickly and crudely) Iz—
(I get it, she looks like a creepy ghost, but that’s my hasty photoshop job, hopefully in a real painting she’d be shaded a bit more in-depth). What’s happened here is that we’ve given Bela the same midtones as Gir, who is, well. White. Hence, white washing.
The bottom line is yes—the appearance of skin does change under light, but dark skin takes light differently than pale skin. Characters with dark skin under no light on earth or elsewhere come to have the same midtones as characters with light skin.
The easiest way to paint skin accurately is to start with the midtone and then add your darks and lights over it instead of starting with your lights and then darkening areas. Starting with midtones gives a good general “feel” of the tone of your skin and is often darker than you might think to go when painting from your head. Look at references—and look at them very closely. Pull color samples. When painting in greyscale, a good trick is to paint your midtones in color and then turn it to black and white. Remember—in black and white, Gir and Bela still had very different skin tones. Sorry I didn’t have examples of intense bright or outdoor light, but it’s still going to work in the same way.
All the lighting in the world won’t make somebody white—the hues you choose to paint with (or in monochrome, the values).
Something I really need to get off of my chest ...
You guys should know me well enough to know I don’t think highly of my pony art here in Tumblrpon. I think it’s average at best but that never stops me to strive and improve in my weaknesses and eventually succeeding in my goals as an artist. I joined this fandom in hopes of learning new things like writing stories and comics, making friends and finding new inspirations. I found all that and more than I could have possibly dreamed of.
I never walked in preparing myself with the upcoming popularity I would earn or develop into the person I am today. It pretty much grabbed me by the arm and slapped me silly until I realized what was going on, I was being noticed. It happened all so fast it made my head spin.
I took in this new found confidence boost and tried to use it any where I could. Promoting and befriending smaller or non-artists was one of my favorite things to do. I know how it feels to be ignored by the bigger artists in fandoms and not knowing where to turn to. I also love making friends online, and I absolutely love helping people so why not do both. For a little while in my early months of Tumblrpon, every thing was going great. I had a lot of great friends and support with me and it felt like I was on top of the world.
But as my popularity grew to 5,000 … 10,000 … and now close to 20,000 followers, it’s increasingly became harder and harder to do the things I love. It also is increasingly hard for me to show you all who I still am in the beginning of my Tumblrpon history. Now I know how those bigger artists feel. Being pressured and swarmed with people trying to be their friends and also being accused of being “entitled-self proclaimed art gods who don’t care about their fans and only care about other popular artists.” To be completely honest, I was one of those people who thought popular artists were just like that.
Just like many of you, I looked down on those popular artists in spite of never actually knowing them or taking the time to talk to them myself. I just ate up what every one else was saying and blindly followed the crowd. After a couple of years by myself and soon rolling into Tumblrpon, my entire perspective was dramatically shifted into a different light. I am that popular artist. That’s what people think of me. I’m that self-proclaimed art god who only talks to popular artists now.
Popularity may seem nice but it has it’s major backlashes. I can’t draw my friends without being accused of “only drawing popular artists”, I can’t voice my opinion with another user publicly without being accused of “causing drama” or “sending my followers to attack them” and I can’t take breaks on my ask blogs without users sending me messages to close them down since I “never update them any way so why bother having them at all.” And honestly, it gets to me. It really does.
Recently I’ve been seeing an increasing amount of posts with my name being tossed around when pony artists or admirers talk about art in the fandom. This caught my attention immediately and I became curious. Why was I suddenly being compared to other artists like it was going out of style? I’m used to receiving some puplicity but it was starting to worry me..
I was seeing things being posted like “why is her blog popular” “it’s just kawaii desu crap.” “I should do this to get attention, too!” These things never really grind my gears for the sole reason of these people not knowing me for as long as some of you have. I didn’t just wake up and decide, “Hey! I’m going to sell my soul to Kyuubey and become a magical artist kawaii girl and I’ll be really popular!!”
It happened during an entire year of being on tumblr and keeping dedication to my ask blog. People happened to like the style it was drawn in and wanted to see more. I can’t control what people like, nor do I magically know how to warp my style into something people will love. I’ve been drawing anime for as long as I can remember and I never changed so people could love me and I never will.
This is getting extremely long.. so if you have read this far, thank you. I’ve been meaning to get this off my chest for a long time. But there’s one more thing I’d like to say here. Recently a friend of mine has been receiving a lot of hate towards her art work and has been belittled tremendously. One thing she’s been told is she’ll never be as good as me. Her art work is beautiful, and I definitely see her going some where with it and I have no doubt in my mind she’d exceed in being better than me some day.
If you could be so kind as to send her a small message, maybe telling her some advice or a positive message, it would make my day and I’m sure hers. Thank you for reading this and I apologize for the wall of text on your dashboards.
Yessss I finally got one of these.
Sorry followers, this is a disability blog today, we should be back to normal soon.
Why do I apologize for that.
For the uninitiated, “HFA” is shorthand for “high-functioning autism” or “high-functioning autistic,” and it’s a really common and really problematic thing to say. I try not to get into the nitty-gritty of disability politics on this tumblr (trust me, what you’ve seen before is NOTHING,) but this is an issue that comes up a lot in people commenting on Kurt Hummel Is Not A Cat, so I figure that, now that I have an excuse, I’ll talk about it.
So. Why is it not cool to call an autistic person “high functioning?”
I don’t mean to get all first-world, but there is something so heart-stopping, so awe-inspiring about revolution that I feel you have to be a robot to not feel anything about what’s going on in Libya and Bahrain, and what’s happened in Egypt and Tunisia. It’s a bloody and terrible moment in history, when a people decides that they cannot and will not stand for oppression any longer and rises up in revolt against a powerful dictator. But it’s also incredible. A nation that says: I can’t take it anymore. That says, I want to be free. And of course that leads to complicated discussions of what freedom truly means, but that sentiment, that desire to be uncaged, to walk the streets without fear and to live without shame—that is everywhere. It can only be tempered for so long before it bursts out.
'not a season 7 supporter.' Can you explain what exactly that means? Is it just because Cas is gone?
No it’s not just because Cas is gone. But yeah. I hate their treatment of Cas. I hate their treatment of Misha. The no fucks to be given dismissal, the lack of grieving. Fuck the lack of mentioning him. To the point where we jizz ourselves if we hear his name spoken. But bro, that isn’t even close to being all.
I hate the lazy, complacent writing, I hate the character and plot regression, I hate the multitude of filler episodes, I hate how much of a mockery of itself it’s become, I hate the fact they ignore the fans and treat us like crap now, I hate that misogyny and heterosexism is pretty much commonplace this season.
I hate that they’re acting like the past three seasons never happened, I hate the desperation and how “try hard” it feels, I hate the ridiculous amount of plot holes. And I mean fucking ridiculous. That shit is insane.
I hate what they’ve done to Dean, I hate the hypocrisy in the writing, I hate that it feels like each episode is written by someone who’s only ever read the cliff notes on supernatural. I hate that the writing team don’t seem to give a shit about the characters. I hate that they haven’t got a firm plot yet. I hate that they’re revisiting the same storylines and plot ideas over and fucking over and then sweep over whatever development happened in that episode to go in the fucking opposite direction the next. And then they have the goddamn audacity to say that the angel storyline had run its course. OH I SEE. BECAUSE THE FRESH NEW DIRECTION WAS THE BROTHERS HAVING TRUST ISSUES WITH EACH OTHER, DEAN BEING AND EMOTIONALLY STUNTED DICK WITH A DRINKING PROBLEM, HUNTING MONSTERS OF THE WEEK, LOOSING THEIR FATHER, ACTING LIKE THEY’RE THE SAME MEN THEY WERE IN SEASON THREE. SO MUCH ROOM FOR EXPLORATION THERE. NOT TIRED AND STALE AT ALL.
I hate how damn lazy it all is, like they just opened “Early Supernatural And You- How to Produce a Very Poor Copy of It” and got high instead of coming up with anything halfway quality, creative or original. I hate that they’ve decided the best course of action is to isolate the boys from everything but each other like that’s good writing. No, it’s not moving, it’s not clever. We get that their each other’s everything, okay? We get it. That doesn’t for a goddamn second mean they don’t need Bobby, or Cas, or the Impala, or the fucking samulet. They have lost enough family, it’s not good writing anymore. It’s beyond lazy. It just feels like they couldn’t come up with decent plot ideas for the other characters, didn’t have a fucking clue what to do with them so they figured they’d just kill them off. Like their nothing. Replaceable. Cannon fodder.
I hate season seven. But more than that, I hate that I hate season seven because this has been my show for five years. I’ve never connected like this with anything else, it was damn near perfect to me. It meant so much. And it’s become this. And I’m angry and I’m bitter and I want nothing more than to fuck it without lube. I hate that it’s come to this. LOLZ I HATE EVERYTHING.
Self Care for Monsters
This isn’t so much a list of self care activities, more things I wish every monster could hear.
It’s okay to be a monster.
- Even if society says it’s not.
- Even if you feel like monsters aren’t okay.
- It’s okay. You have a right to exist.
- Being a monster isn’t the same as being someone who is actively hurting others.
- It’s really okay.
You don’t deserve to be hated for who you are.
- Nobody does. Including you.
- You are not inherently less than others, and you deserve respect and decency.
- Even if society disagrees.
You deserve to have a safe space if you want it.
- Even if it’s just a small patch, you deserve somewhere to feel safe.
- Everyone does.
- But sometimes what’s safe for a monster isn’t safe for others.
- Make sure people understand about your safe spaces, and that not everyone will be welcome, or even encouraged to share it with you.
- But it’s still okay to want to feel safe.
It’s okay to express yourself.
- You have the right express your emotions.
- That includes anger.
- You don’t have the right to harm others in your expressions of emotions.
- But you should be allowed to express yourself in nonharmful ways.
- Even if your expressions look weird or different or may look scary to others-this goes with safe spaces-find ways and beings you can express things too.
Your voice matters and your opinion deserves to be heard.
- You are not less of a person because you are a monster.
- People will try to say you are.
- They are wrong.
- They just don’t want think about monsters as people because it’s messy.
- You matter.
Having violent thoughts does not make you a bad, wrong, or not worthy of consideration.
- It just doesn’t.
You have the right to your sexuality, as long as all involved are consenting and no one is being harmed.
- Even if it’s weird. Or kinky. Or different.
- Having fetishes and paraphilias doesn’t make you a bad person.
- Society will judge you for this. You’ll have to be careful who you trust. I’m so sorry.
- It’s still okay to have your own expression of sexuality, and your own relationship with sex. No one should force you to change it.
You should be able to receive help IF YOU WANT IT.
- Finding someone who will help monsters can be hard.
- But you still have the right to competent help. That doesn’t change just because you’re a monster.
- You also have the right to refuse help.
- Some people would rather stay monsters, and that’s okay.
You don’t deserve to be demonized.
- I’m sorry you’re a scapegoat.
- I’ll never know your full story, I just know mine.
- You don’t deserve this.
- Being a monster doesn’t mean you need to be punished or hurt.
It’s not easy to be a monster in a world full of not monsters. I wish I could help. I wish I could make it easier for you. All I can say is my inbox is open if you need to talk. I won’t judge you. I won’t yell at you. I’ll just listen.
Yahoo buys Tumblr
The news is official, Yahoo buys Tumblr for 1.1 billion.
There are a lot of people up in arms about it for good and bad (mostly bad) reasons. It should be made clear that startups (and companies) are in the business to make money. Startups are built for exits. Sometimes that timeline has a long horizon (IPO). Sometimes they are short (acquired, sold, fold). That’s why investors are willing to invest in them; so that one day they might bring back a large return for their risk.
As much as I love milk tea, Boba Guys isn’t “just for fun”. Our goal has always been to be the very best at what we do and to change the tea game like the Blue Bottles and Philz Coffees of the world have been able to do for coffee. Building and owning your own company is a lot of fun, but we’ve also put in a huge chunk of our life savings and countless hours into it. It takes its toll.
No entrepreneur in their right mind spends a huge chunk of their life building something for free. Money isn’t everything, but it’s certainly part of the equation. How it comes (through advertising, paid subscription, talent/tech/user acquisition) isn’t always uniform but payment is unequivocally rendered. If Tumblr gave me the option to get paid out for putting ads on my site, the left side would be Phoenix College and the right side would be penis pills before you could refresh.
What’s troubling to see is that there is a lot of entitlement towards something we didn’t create. Even worse, there’s backlash when a startup decides to monetize. We saw it happen with Instagram. It’s a free service and it’s awesome! We use the service and we can leave at any time.
One could argue that the services would be nowhere without the users (or early adopters). I would counter that I have acquired far more value from Tumblr, than they have from me. And I’ve been on the service for almost 5 years and paid nothing. When Google Reader decided to shut down, I was disappointed but optimistic that someone would pick up where it left off and make it better because again, I paid nothing and deserve nothing. If I cared enough, I might even build my own.
We live in interesting times..the tools and technology available today enables anyone with an Internet connection to build and deploy anything we want to see in the world. Don’t like a blogging platform anymore? Roll your own. Hate ads? Learn to pay when you receive value. I’ve never bothered to e-beg like Maria Popova but would you be upset if I did?
The Dumbing Down of A Country.
I’ve often said that Americans are stupid.
Now if you get mad at this statement, then I might be talking about you. Sorry.
While fighting this bitch of a summer respiratory infection (Thank you, DB and your 4 year old twins) this morning, I caught a piece on how women in America are getting dumber.
In the piece, college age women were asked to name the three branches of government, the wars we are currently involved in and one major international news headline.
Most could not name any of the above.
But when asked to name the Kardashians, they rattled off names, ages, significant others and children without even thinking. They knew more about Lindsay Lohan’s woes than the woes of other women around the world.
When asked about their dreams and goals, more women wanted to be famous than win a Nobel prize. More would rather be hit by a bus than be fat. Many believed we have made significant advances in women’s rights, yet few knew that we are one of the few “Western” nations that has never had a female head of state. Even countries deemed “developing nations” like India are ahead of us in that regard.
Like I said… stupid.
This is not a personal indictment though.
I believe this is on purpose. Keep the populace so obsessed with celebrity and pop culture, they are unable or unwilling to absorb, understand and question what their government is doing.
How many people know that more than HALF of the total federal budget is military spending? Most people don’t. But all you have to do is look up the 2011-2012 fiscal budget and there it is in black and white.
“If more than half the budget goes to military spending, less than half goes to whatever its defeding.” -Dilated Peoples | Big Business
How many people are aware of the legislative assault on reproductive health rights for women?
How many people know that the wealthiest Americans pay (proportionate to income) the lowest taxes? Or that major corporations move their headquarters overseas to avoid paying corporate taxes altogether? Yet these same corporations sell you cheap products AND service the government?
How is it that the financial system went from being “okay” to “on the verge of The Great Depression Part Deux” in less than 72 hours? (Hint: It didn’t).
We are at the precipice that every great empire was at right before collapse. I say we may have already gone over the edge….
Panem et circenses.
My thoughts about becoming an artist
I’ve read a number of articles by illustration professionals about the profession, pointing out the truth behind working in the art field. I think had I not read them, I would have said the exact same things they said, but the type of questions these professionals get asked make me feel like aspiring artists these days may also have forgotten the most important part of being an art professional, or any professional. So I’ve decided to write this even though most of this is really obvious. I don’t consider myself too much of a professional, but I feel the road I’ve taken to get to where I am suits the subject.
TL;DR 4CHORDS IS DUMB AND I HATE IT
Once again kingofbutthurt has convinced me to complain about Homestuck stuff. Unlike my critique on Gamzee, I don’t think this one’s going to be very long, mostly because this is the kind of a rant where the only people who’ll enjoy it are the ones who already agree with me before reading.
Today I’m going to talk about 4chords, a “Homestuck” fancomic by Emily Hu.
Critical Assessment and Aftermath of Art School
This is an updated account on how things are going years after having left art school, the effects it’s had on me, and my personal thoughts on attending. My views here aren’t wholly different than the few rants I’ve had on the subject in the past, but it’s one I believe I have to continue talking about to assist others in making the right decisions for themselves and their future path. (I should also mention that this is the viewpoint of an american in America.)
It’s become increasingly clear to me over the last year that out of my 25 years on this Earth, there’s only one decision I ever truly regret: and that was going to art school. Now, there’s a good chance that I may not be saying this had I attended a different school, but there’s no way to ever know, so what I’m really saying is “I regret going to the school I chose, not school in general.” I feel as though I was let down by my school. I held up my end of the bargain (some $80~$90K in tuition) and failed to get anything in return that they had promised me on my open house tour 5 years prior. “Substantial experience in the major of my choice, incredible networking both on a peer and professional level, a career I’d be passionate about!” After reviewing that checklist years later, those three boxes remain unticked. (1. My school had poor curriculum. 2. I am better friends with artists met online through DA and Tumblr than anyone I knew at my school. 3. Boston has limited opportunities.)
Now, obviously I know just throwing money at an institution wasn’t going to transform me into a powerhouse artist like an upgrade in a video game. But it’s not as though I didn’t put my work in and really try to come out with something to show for myself. My problem is that I feel as though all of that personal growth happened entirely outside of the classroom by my own curiosity, interest, and motivation. And I feel that my growing regret toward my experience there is more my fault than theirs: but only because hindsight is 20/20. I say to myself that I should have had the intuition to recognize all of the little red flags the school was presenting me with:
- Things like mandatory useless, distracting classes that had nothing to do with my major.
- Things like an atmosphere that was too sensitive toward criticism and rewarded bad habits through luke-warm “constructive compliments.” — Instructors have gotten fired in the past for being too hard (I say motivating) on students.
- Things like a course load that only had a fraction of a handful of classes that WERE relevant to my major, and even then instructed poorly with little direction.
- Things like giving me an expensive “internship” that was more something like a personal favor for a friend and had NOTHING to do with illustration.
- Things like recent previous-year grads now teaching classes with no more than 1 year of field experience.
- Things like no one else in my entire class (not even me) being pushed to give it their all and to prepare them for a future professional career in new and exciting media opportunities.
I tell myself I should have seen all of this and run, RUN for the hills, save my money, and go my own way, but… well, like I just said. Hindsight is always 20/20.
So, it’s a choice I now have to live with, probably for well over the next 15 years of my life. I have the equivalence of a mortgage with nothing to show for it, and it’s not a good feeling. It feels crushing, emotionally draining. As though it’s over my shoulder mocking me saying “I’M GOING TO IMPEDE YOU IN WHATEVER YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS WERE FOR LIFE. NYAHAH.” (That’s a bit dramatic and exaggerated, I know.) But it really goes to show you how ill-equipped many of us, (ourselves AND our parents,) were when it was time for us to go to college. You know — as we were always told by our parents — you HAVE to go to college. “It’s the ONLY way you’ll get anywhere today!” Alright, maybe if you’re going into business, medicine, or law, you wear your degree and high test scores on your sleeve. But … for art?
It’s amazing how art colleges will never tell you that the BFA/MFA degree you’re working toward means shit in real life. Well it’s not that surprising, really. Why would you disprove your entire offered product in one sentence? Still, I’m sure you’ve started to hear this more and more just as I have: people who hire you for art related jobs don’t care in the slightest what your degree is, what your grades were, whether you had honors, etc. They want to see the work. If the work in your portfolio looks like it’s good enough to be used as legal tender, you’ll go places even having never stepped foot in a college classroom. “But!” you say, “I want to go to college to learn discipline, work ethic, and be exposed to group-based peer-reviews!” — All right! That’s fine! You just don’t have to go to a huge expensive 4-year University/Institute to get that! Know where you CAN get that for a fraction of the time and cost, but with way more substance? Workshops. Trade-specific schoolsthat hone-in on exactly what it is you want to develop. You’ll get more experience in places like these in 1 year than you will in 4 years elsewhere, and get a serious ass-kicking to boot. You’ll never receive a degree from these schools or programs, and they’re fine with telling you that. What they will tell you is that what you will walk away with is something more important: skills and knowledge. Wish I paid more attention to things like these before I put all my chips on University. (By the way, if the school name has “Institute” or “University” in the name, you will be expected to take high-school level general education classes such as science, math, and history along with your art classes. DOESN’T THAT SOUND LIKE FUN AND A TOTAL APPROPRIATE USE OF YOUR TIME?!?!? At a college/university you usually attend a class once or twice a week for an average of 3 hours each session IF the instructor didn’t randomly decide to cancel the class that day for no reason. At a specialized school, some as if it’s a full time job — one class, 5 times a week for over 6 hours a day. Now which sounds better?)
Crazy advice time:
I can’t stress enough to anyone currently in high school to do your research — ALL THE RESEARCH — you possibly can on whatever school you’re even remotely thinking of attending. It is SO easy at that age to just make a decision and roll with it without thinking twice about it. Make sure you have a direction you want to take with your art, like a career be it self or corporately employed. Time spent in school floating around not knowing what you want to do is time that could have been spent more wisely — because remember, classes don’t start the moment you figure out a plan. If you take until your final year to establish a career goal, that’s three prior years you lost in school that could have been more appropriately allocated. No refunds, no free do-overs. And your college will NOT likely encourage you to make up your mind before advancing. College is NOT a requirement the year after you graduate high school. If you need time to figure things out, take it and don’t feel ashamed of “taking some time for yourself.” — your future self could seriously thank you.
Research the school to its fine print. Look at every course path for your major. Ask for printouts of class sign-up sheets. Make sure the classes being offered are in the majority for what interests you. Make sure the teachers are reputable. Read public reviews for the school and even individual classes if you can find any. Find someone who has attended that school and ask their opinion, even briefly, on what it was like there. Do NOT settle. Constantly be aware of your surroundings in your classes, question whether or not the instruction you’re receiving is satisfying your needs and standards, whether what you’re getting is worth the money you’re shelling out. If you start to see red flags in a particular class, see if the class is offered by another, more qualified teacher. Most colleges offer 2 weeks at the start of a semester to switch classes, don’t take this grace period lightly. If you see red flags being set off in every class, this may be a sign that the school itself is a problem and evaluation is required IMMEDIATELY. If upon further inspection you find that you made the wrong choice to attend this school, you may still have the opportunity to leave and get a tuition refund. Worse comes to worse if you ride out the year, you’ll have only one bad year instead of four. Take additional time to figure out what you want to do.
And lastly, know it IS possible to be a successful professional artist all on your own. If you take it upon yourself to be a badass indvidual, keeping inspired with a strong work ethic, you WILL do what you’ve always dreamed of doing in time, and for little to no cost comparatively. (Or, go to college for something COMPLETELY different to art and do art full time off to the side anyway. It’s doable.) I’m not trying to instill doubt or fear if you’re planning on going to school — or indeed if you’re even IN school right now. I’m not trying to tell you NOT to go. All I’m doing is trying to encourage people think more about the choices they’re making, and know that they carry more weight than you might think years down the line.
Anyway, in the end, I have to live with this path I’ve made. I’m not stopping, no. It’s tough right now but I can get through it. It bothers me that I COULD have made better choices in the past. You learn from your past mistakes. I learned from this one. It’s just unfortunate that this is a mistake you don’t necessarily get to repeat again in your lifetime, so it seems squandered. Thus, I offer these learned lessons to you.
While I do want people to take my advice and experience seriously, I don’t claim this to be the best advice for everyone. This is mostly me getting this pent-up rage off my chest. Take from this what you will. Current art school students and grads, your mileage will have varied from mine.
The Miyuki-zoku: Japan’s First Ivy Rebels
The first Japanese to adopt elements of the Ivy League Look were a youth tribe called the Miyuki-zoku, who suddenly appeared in the summer of 1964. The group’s name came from their storefront loitering on Miyuki Street in the upscale Ginza shopping neighborhood (the suffix “zoku” means subculture or social group). The Miyuki-zoku were mostly in their late teens, a mix of guys and girls, likely numbering around 700 at the trend’s peak. Since they were students, they would arrive in Ginza wearing school uniforms and have to change in to their trendy duds in cramped café bathrooms.
And what duds they were. The Miyuki-zoku were devotees of classic American collegiate style. The uniform was button-down oxford cloth shirts, madras plaid, high-water trousers in khaki and white, penny loafers, and three-button suit jackets. Everything was extremely slim. The guys wore their hair in an exact seven-three part, which was new for Japan. They were also famous for carrying around their school uniforms inside of rolled-up brown paper grocery bags.
What lead to the sudden arrival of the Miyuki-zoku? Although Japanese teens had been looking to America since 1945 for style inspiration, these particular youth were not copying Princeton or Columbia students directly. In fact, Japanese kids at this time rarely got a chance to see Americans other than the ever-present US soldiers.
The Miyuki-zoku had found the Ivy look through a new magazine called Heibon Punch. The periodical was targeted to Japan’s growing number of wealthy urban youth, and part of its editorial mission was to tell kids how to dress. The editors advocated the Ivy League Look, which at the time was basically only available in the form of domestic brand VAN. Kensuke Ishizu of VAN had discovered the look in the 1950s and pushed it as an alternative to the slightly thuggish big-shouldered, high-waisted, mismatched jacket-and-pants look that dominated Japanese men’s style throughout the 1950s. As an imported look, Ivy League fashion felt cutting-edge and sophisticated to Tokyo teens, and this fit perfectly withHeibon Punch’s mission of giving Baby Boomers a style of their own.
When the magazine arrived in the spring 1964, readers all went out and became Ivy adherents. Parents and authorities, however, were hardly thrilled with a youth tribe of American style enthusiasts. The first strike against the Miyuki-zoku is that the guys — gasp! — would blow dry their hair. This was seen as a patently feminine thing to do.
More critically, the Miyuki-zoku picked the wrong summer to hang out in Ginza. Japan was preparing for the 1964 Olympics, which would commence in October. Tokyo was in the process of removing every last eyesore — wooden garbage cans, street trolleys, the homeless — anything that would possibly be offending to foreign visitors. The Olympics was not just a sports event, but would be Japan’s return into the global community after its ignoble defeat of World War II, and nothing could go wrong.
So authorities lay awake at night with the fear that foreigners would come to Japan and see kids in tight high-water pants hanging out in front of prestigious Ginza stores. Neighborhood leaders desperately wanted to eradicate the Miyuki-zoku before October, so they went to Ishizu of VAN and asked him to intervene. VAN organized a “Big Ivy Style Meet-up” at Yamaha Hall, and cops helped put 200 posters across Ginza to make sure the Miyuki-zoku showed up. Anyone who came to the event got a free VAN bag — which was the bag for storing your normal clothing during loitering hours. They expected 300 kids, but 2,000 showed up. Ishizu gave the keynote address, where he told everyone to knock it off with the lounging in Ginza. Most acquiesced, but not all.
So on September 19, 1964, a huge police force stormed Ginza and hauled off 200 kids in madras plaid and penny loafers. Eighty-five were processed at nearby Tsukiji jail. The kids got the message and never came back, and that was the end of the Miyuki-zoku.
Starting in 1945, Japanese authorities generally viewed all Western youth fashion as a delinquent subculture. Despite looking relatively conservative in style compared to the other biker gangs and greasy-haired rebels, the Miyuki-zoku were still caught up in this delinquent narrative. In fact, they were actually the first middle-class youth consumers buying things under the direction of the mainstream media. It was Japanese society that was simply not ready for the idea that youth fashion could be part of the marketplace.
After the Miyuki-zoku, however, Ivy became the de facto look for fashionable Japanese men, and the “Ivy Tribe” that followed faced little of the harassment seen by its predecessor. The Miyuki-zoku may have lost the battle of Ginza, but they won the war for Ivy League style. — W. DAVID MARX