critical examinations of art

Artists, especially young artists: do not feel bad about wanting to create beauty with your art. If what you want to draw is beautiful people, go and do it, and do it the best you can, without reservations. There is a kind of ugliness-elitism that seems to come from art schools and similar institutions that says that beautiful art (especially beautiful representational art) is shallow, and that valuable, interesting art is defined by ugliness. I’m here to say that it is much, much easier to make something bad than it is to make something good.

The worst case of this is young female artists who want to draw pretty girls. These people get shit on by adults for drawing this stuff. Girls who want to draw magical girls, shoujo girls, or bishounen, who want to draw people that they find beautiful. Fuck those adults. That ugliness-elitism is a way for self-defined arbiters of taste - whether this is the critics, the examiners at art school, or your art teacher at school - to get to decide in advance what is valuable and what isn’t, instead of allowing the art to speak for itself.

Representational art is valuable. Beauty is valuable. If it’s what you want to do, then go forth and work your ass off creating something you find uplifting and lovely to look at. It will take a lot of hard work, trust me. It is easier to make something bad than it is to make something good. That work is worthwhile and don’t let anyone tell you it’s a waste of your time.

To himself every one is an immortal: he may know that he is going to die, but he can never know that he is dead.
—  Samuel Butler, Victorian-era author who was a true Renaissance man. His most famous works include a satire, a semi-autobiographical novel, and Greek-to-English translations of the Illiad and the Odyssey. Butler is also known for his criticism of religious orthodoxy, examination of evolutionary thought, studies on Italian art, and the theory that the Odyssey was written by a Sicilian woman describing her native coastline.

Ep 5 - Critical Examinations of Art

Sorry for the delay- it’s due to overtired staff and overtired software.
Both of which we have fixed with naps and money. 

Some of you have mentioned having some audio problems. After a quick check it seems to be a Youtube glitch- for whatever reason the embedded video seem to work just fine, but when watching it on Youtube- the audio cuts out on one side.

The wonders of technology.


  • Gamers: Games are art!
  • Critics: Okay, let's start to examine games more critically. Let's analyze their meaning, their impact and influence. Let's start looking into proper ways of archiving and preserving older works. Let's actually start treating games like art.
  • Gamers: nah fuck that shit
That’s the fandom

two long long long threads running at the moment - 

An critical examination of the private art collection of The Honourable Phryne Fisher as a reflection of twentieth century fine art connoisseurship.


Jack’s crotch.  

for  floydsroom and chewinggumfortheeyes

Nation Conversation: Ariel Bissett

If there is one word I would use to describe my interview with BookTuber Ariel Bisset, it would be profound. She is an impressive young person with big ideals and a passion for life so big it could not even fit inside a football field. Ariel has become a pivotal part of YouTube’s BookTube community after starting her channel a few years ago. Running platform-wide events such as this year’s BookTube-a-Thon, it seems Ariel is only beginning to enter her Renaissance period as her channel evolves with her literary tastes. If you are new to the BookTube community, she is the perfect introduction. She eases you in and engages you in way that is both challenging and energetic.

The 20-year-old Canadian has racked up an impressive 60,000 subscribers on her channel, and has an extremely loyal audience of viewers and YouTube creators alike. But this big number isn’t what really defines her channel. What’s impressive about Ariel is her ability to be unique and relatable – two things that when they collide can be magical. Or maybe it’s her curly mermaid hair. Either way, Ariel is a YouTuber with a very bright future.

Last week, Ariel and I sat down to discuss her beginnings on YouTube, the #BeCritical movement, and her unique relationship with sponsors.

Angela Sauceda: Ariel, I’m so happy to finally chat with you today! Especially because I’ve noticed a bit of slow change happening with your channel. I see you’ve been expanding your horizons!

Ariel Bissett: Yeah, I have. I really have. It feels like a time of change is coming. Part of the thing is that Booktube seems to be pretty polarized. It’s mostly a YA (Young Adult) community and then there’s adult books like classics. It’s almost like YA versus everything. I do read a lot of Young Adult. I love my Young Adult! But I have been doing a lot of other stuff as well. I feel like I’m in the middle of the two things a little bit, which I’m happy about.


AS: What made you want to start your own channel?

AB: I think that for me that I had already been watching YouTube videos for awhile, like probably nearly two years or something. I had just been watching vloggers. I had a real interest in making videos, but I didn’t feel like I had a topic that I felt passionate enough to talk about. And this one time I had just finished reading a book, I don’t remember what the book was, and I wondered if anyone had made a video of this. So I typed it into YouTube, and low and behold I found Pricilla from The Readables. I probably spent a week avoiding everything and just watched BookTube. I was like, “Sign me up!” We had a camera and I set it up and started talking. And it was the best. For me, part of the thing that made me was a little bit of courage. People can be scared of what they’re doing, like maybe they’re not doing anything of value. Or that people are going to find out about it. I was very much in a friendless situation and so nobody was going to find it. But if they did it wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t change my social status. I didn’t even care because I was having so much fun. It’s just too much fun to get bogged down in all of the reasons not too.


AS: What was your family’s reaction to you joining YouTube?

AB: I’m extremely close with my family, my brother is my best friend. They were totally game for it. And now my parents and brother are super involved. My brother is totally game whenever I need help. And I’m not one of these people who try to hide it, I want to share it with the world, I think it’s the coolest thing! I have so much fun with it and I’m really proud of my content so I’m happy to share it with people.


AS: How do you plan out your videos? Do you have a certain schedule or are you more spur of the moment?

AB: Well, I never make a schedule for my videos because it is pretty much a hobby. My main priority is school. A schedule has never worked for me, I just try to be consistent. That’s my main goal. I try to put up as many videos as I can and I try to film them when I can. On my channel, I make book discussion videos and with those book discussion, I am trying to accomplish a few things. First of all, I want to put out my opinion; secondly, I want to explore the other side of the argument because I never want things to be one sided. With those things I usually need to script, but I’m very happy to change the script while I’m actually recording. Usually, I make a bullet list. But it depends, like in my book reviews, I don’t usually [use a] script. I remember everything I think about a book so I’ll just hold up the book and share my feels.

AS: It’s good that you don’t hold yourself to any standard but your own.

AB: Yeah, it’s very important for me that I’m happy with my video. I think that’s really important, you should be the biggest fan of your own videos.


AS: By the way congratulations on reaching 60,000 subscribers!

AB: It’s amazing! I love my subscribers. You know I’ve made a point, and I don’t know why specifically, to never ask for people to subscribe. I want people to just subscribe because they like the content. I want the video to be the reason to hit that button. That to me makes it even more amazing.


AS: What’s your favorite part of interacting with your audience?

 AB: Like I mentioned, my favorite videos are my discussion videos and they tend to get a bit controversial. But what always astounds me is that about 98% of people are respectful. I’m always afraid that I’ll get a lot of hate, but it’s never there. I get a lot of disagreement and that’s great! Disagreement isn’t a negative thing, it’s just discussion! And everybody is so respectful and [I] so appreciate that. I get these long comments and it’s great because this person is legitimately engaging in conversation with this discussion topic. And that fills me with glee! I often get people telling me that they wish they had me for a teacher and that’s beautiful. Teaching at the core of it is a wonderful thing, getting to pass knowledge down, that’s beautiful.


AS: What do you think #BeCritical means?

AB: I think it is an important movement because I literally have 60,000 people that think my opinion is valid. And to abuse that position I think is inappropriate. Also, at the end of the day we are a community of book critics and we should exercise that power. We should use that power to discuss books in a way that excites people and that comments on our culture. I think it’s fantastic for people to read for entertainment, I do that all the time. I don’t think that is in any way less valid than anything else. I think that the fact that books can used for escapism is one of the best things that books can do. But on the flip side, I also think that it’s really important and really beautiful when we are able to look at books critically and say, “I think that this commenting on current culture because of…” or “I think that this book is valid for our current climate because of …”. Also I think that some people are mixing up the word critical and the word criticism. Critical doesn’t mean negative, being critical examines a piece of art for both it’s merit and it’s faults. I think it’s so important to be critical of what we’re reading otherwise what are we really doing? It’s not bad in any way to just have fun. If that’s what you really want to do, then I want you to do you! Have a good time, that’s equally as valid. And I also feel like some people might feel pressured by the community to rate books differently than they would. I have an example! I read The Fault in Our Stars and when I finished it, I went to Goodreads and gave it a five out of five stars. I said in my review that it was one of the most emotional books I’ve ever read. And I mentioned that it made me cry. That was a complete lie and I’ve never lied in a review before. But I felt this crazy amount of pressure to relate with everyone else about how emotional they were about the book. It took me a month to go back and write about this lie. This is obviously more about BookTube but I would extend #BeCritical to all readers. Also BookTube has immense power. It has the power to shape the literature that is coming. There are so many teenagers talking about books, and then you have young adults, and then adults; there are all of the age ranges, all of sexualities, all of the genders, all of the ethnicities and races. If we use our diversities to critique books, I think we can build the canon. We can build a canon that we are proud of and that is inclusive and diverse.


AS: You recently discussed sponsorships on your channel. What are your thoughts on sponsorship?

AB: I have nothing against sponsored videos and have a lot of YouTube friends that are trying very hard to make this their career. I think they highly deserve to do so because they put so much effort into what they do. And sponsorships are probably the best way to make money on YouTube. But personally, I was getting to a point when I was feeling very uncomfortable about reviewing books critically and getting paid for them at the same time. And I know that when a publishing company pays me money to review a book, they want me to sing its praises. Objectively, if I was a business person I would want that too. But I never want to be selling a positive review. That to me is not ok. I’m happy to talk about a book critically and to exercise as my right as a book critic. Also, it was starting to impact my videos in a weird way. Where I had to schedule my videos, I hate having scheduled videos and that would stress me out. Also, I would have no idea what video I wanted to mention a book in, it wouldn’t fit into my usual content. It just felt very unnatural to me. So, I’m not on a ban against sponsored videos, but I’m going to be so much more selective of the sponsorships I do take on. My audience is more important to me than any publishing house. Actually, that is something very difficult for me to admit or champion. I just can’t morally abuse my subscribers in any way, I owe them everything.


AS: So what’s next for your channel?

AB: I do feel like I’m at a point of transitioning right now and it was not at first a conscious decision. I started BookTube when I was sixteen and I had just recently discovered Young Adult and I was having such a good time with Young Adult. I was brand new, didn’t know what I was doing but I was having a good time. Part of the fascinating thing about my personal experience with YouTube is that it is so directly linked to what I am reading. And what I’m reading is changing, because of that my content is changing. Makes perfect sense now that I can be introspective about it, but I never would have guessed that. I am making a conscious effort to read more diversely. I love Young Adult and I’m never going to stop reading Young Adult because I have so much fun with it. I think it does hold literary value, but I also think that classics are vastly important and I want to spend more time reading them. I want to try and read more diverse authors because otherwise who am I supporting? It really has been a thing that has happened over the past few months. It happens to every reader, their taste evolves and changes, but because my reading is being documented on the internet people are noticing the shift. My content is changing a little bit, but at the same, it’s still me! And the truth is, I am so excited about it! I’ve never been happier with the types of books I’ve been reading and the kinds of videos I’ve been producing. I’m going to transition at my own pace and hopefully transition with my audience, and hopefully they enjoy it!

You can follow Ariel on Twitter here

Angela Sauceda is YouTube Nation Curator who loves to read under trees.