27 July 2013

Homemade Hanafuda


Seems like every time I come across someone possessing the most mind-boggling levels of incompetence, lethargy, and childish stubbornness, I end up making something related to card games. 
That's not actually true, I had this in mind and made long before I essentially drove someone to bawlete (you know what? I'm teaching that word to my auto-correct) their account by having the sheer gall and nerve to suggest that they do their own work and stop making excuses why they won't. I know, I'm such a complete and utter bastard of a troll. How dare I bully people into not leeching off others and standing on their own two feet for a change. Who do I think I am to write someone off as untalented because they say so themselves as an excuse as to why they post other people's work to their gallery? 
She'd been here for a year or so, posting over 250 uploads of advertising images from Korean fashion magazines, all with the same sentence in the description: (la imagen no me pertenece, créditos a su respectivo creador) 
See, merely saying, "not mine, someone else's," which is what that sentence translates to in simplest terms only goes to show what a stupid moron the speaker is, refuting ownership and then wildly suggesting that it may well belong to someone else, so she tries to sound smart by using a term like "respective owner." See, it has the word "respect" in it and has more than two syllables, which makes it dignified and sophisticated in the eyes of a stupid moron who doesn't know how words work outside of mimicry. What followed my calling her out on this was what you may well expect, everything from insisting they don't know any better to sharing for the benefit of the original to not being especially talented themselves to everyone else appears to them to be doing this as well all came out of the same rambling, incoherent pie hole as if she couldn't even decide how best to quantify her own parasitic laziness. 
Anyone who uses the excuse, "Well, lots of other people do this." when it comes to the wholesale copying of other people's work is absolutely worthless in every sense of the word. No, really, I mean that. It is such a pregnant declaration, putting the speaker's outlook into such crystal clear perspective that I don't even hear those words anymore. Instead, I hear, "I want attention, but I don't want to earn it." 
To be fair, let's be honest and ask, "What motivates us to do anything?" There's nothing inherently wrong in copying a formula (keyword: formula, as in the basic blueprints for something); mimicry is our oldest survival instinct, it's how we learn and adapt. We see a piece of art we like or we see people doing something that looks fun, there's nothing wrong with, well, wanting in on that. Copying is the gateway to finding our own potential, I wholeheartedly believe that. However, along with "formula" we have to take on board the other keywords, like "gateway" and "potential" when discussing emulation. It's simple evolution, really. Creatures that reproduce asexually have the same set of genes passed down from generation to generation. There may be the odd mutation, some typo in the genetic code, but it's rarely beneficial or even remotely with the fundamental flaw of asexual reproduction: the complete inability to adapt. Other creatures that reproduce sexually, on the other hand, mix and match genes, taking a little from column A and maybe a little more from column B and seeing what fits together and what doesn't. These are mutations, too, but since there's more code to work with, the typos are drowned out by the benefits of differing sets of successive genes that can adapt to change. 
This is how art works, you take a premise and run with it. You take inspiration from others, not the fruits of their labor. 

Some of you may be laughing or at least feeling very smug right now, given that here I am going on about originality when in fact this handmade hanafuda card is practically a reproduction of the "Full Moon and Red Sky" card from the Susuki suite, representing the month of August and one of the more valuable cards in a typical deck. It's all right here if you wish to see for yourself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanafuda . I'd heard of hanafuda cards before, but all I'd been told is that they're Japanese playing cards. It's like how people say Shogi is Japanese chess, which, while certainly apt, doesn't give you nearly as much insight into how the game is played as you may guess. More recently, I saw a video from YouTuber and avid Nintendo collector Lithium017 showing off a special set of Hanafuda cards Nintendo distributed to members of their points club. In that set, the "full moon" is a giant Boo-diddly (which is awesome). Going back to the original designs (which date back to at least 1800, putting them well out of copyright in case anyone feeling humorously smug didn't know), I really love this kind of artwork. I love its purity, its simplicity, its stark color palette, the contrast, and the way it all overcomes its own minimalist sensibility entirely on its own terms. Between this and the sumi-e inkwash paintings, every time I make a silhouette piece or a "red and black on white" piece, that's what I'm going for. That's what I'm trying to capture. This was a learning exercise, a test in patience and perception. So, yeah, I copied a design, but I did it to learn, and there's far more in my gallery that's unlike it than like it. It was also a way for me to finally use a piece of illustration board I had lying around that I was hesitating on using thanks to a nick in one of its corners from where my corner punch failed to bite through. 


In case you're wondering, no, I'm not going to make a full set of hanafuda cards the way I made this one. Even with it being well within my 50-piece limit (typical decks have 48 cards), that would take forever, illustration board is rather pricey, and I've got another card game-themed set on my to-do list I can take up if I feel like it. I do find it interesting to have the white be what draws your eye instead of the red (like in my BaRoW pieces), especially when it's framed by black, so while I won't make any more hanafuda cards, I will take some of its themes and ideas into other works. 
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