New Art: Endanger Cancer, not Elephants

I created this piece, Endanger Cancer, not Elephants, because I love and am passionate about saving elephants – and because I know several breast cancer survivors. I want this to be a symbol of hope for them. On the surface, elephant poaching and cancer may seem like vastly different issues – and you’d be right to say they are, but there exists a commonality between the two: Poaching, like cancer, steals the lives of thousands – and affects many more – each year. Mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, wives and companions die in great numbers – but they don’t have to. At least in an ideal future they don’t.

So, I hope.

I hope for a day when the group of women I know – a group comprised of family, friends and public figures I admire – doesn’t have to live in fear, or with the constant reminders of an aggressive disease. I hope for the healing of their emotional scars – and for their joy in life. With some of these women, I’ve created lasting memories that cannot be destroyed by cancer, or death. But, these are women, and stories, I could miss every day there isn’t a cure.

So, I cling to hope.

Statistics estimate that breast cancer will steal the lives of approximately 40,000 women in the United States (per year). Similarly, in the past four years, over 100,000 elephants have been victims of poaching. Their ivory was stolen. Elephants, a keystone species, are a necessity to their ecosystem – and it’s entirely possible that their ecosystem houses the cure for cancer. The reality is, we’ve identified [some] causes, we’ve evaluated the emotional and monetary impacts and we still work to end these devastating losses – but we don’t know the cure.

But still, I hope.

I hope you view this piece as a symbol and bridge between two very devastating issues. Yes, the face value of what I’m proposing may be a reach, but we can’t afford to stand idly by while a species and ecosystem vanishes. Our inaction could see the disappearance of a cure before it’s even discovered. So I’m taking a step to “Endanger Cancer, not Elephants,” by making equal donations to Susan G. Komen – in honor of those I know – and to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – for elephants.

I invite you to join me and use the hashtag – #EndangerCancerNotElephants – to say you will. This is my hope. Now, I present:

Endanger Cancer, not Elephants

view more of my art here

(c) 2014. Bobby James.

(c) 2014. Bobby James.

A Media Comment: Animated Feature ≠ “Kid’s Movie”

"Hiccup" from DreamWorks' How To Train Your Dragon 2

“Hiccup” from DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon 2

Have you seen DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon 2 yet? If not, do so – it’s a fantastic animated feature that, in a roundabout way, is the basis for this post.  While I was surfing Facebook, I saw Moviepilot Animation’s article:  So Let’s Talk About How To Train Your Dragon’s Gay Character.  Upon completing the article, I read through a few of the responses, but the top rated response said:

“He is not gay…my god its. A kids movie..people are such idiots trying to make something out of nothing…get a hobby!”

While those of you who know me may think this will focus on the emergence of openly gay characters in animated movies, it won’t.  Trust me, I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a research article analyzing gay characters in animated movies.  That project looks more like a go every day.  Instead, I’m going to comment on why ANIMATED FEATURE does not equal KID’S MOVIE.

This is something that’s bothered me immensely over the years, leaving me curious to know:  Why do so many people say animated movies are just for kids? Is it the bright and bold color, the catchy musical numbers (ahem, Frozen - I know, I should just “Let It Go”), or is it simply because it’s animated? A cartoon.  I can’t figure it out.

Now, if you’re like me, you love animated features – and you like to go to the theater while schools are in session, so that you may enjoy them without all the chatterbox-children around.  But doesn’t it just so happen that kids are almost always on break when the animated features flood the box office? It does. Then, you go to the theater not thinking much of it and surprise! A million kids.  The kids aren’t the problem though, it’s their chaperoning adult(s), right?

I generally make it a point to see every animated feature that comes out.  I’ve loved them since I was a child – and since the emergence of Pixar, the ante’s been upped!  Many more animated features are sophisticated and contain social commentaries (ex. openly gay characters emerging in animated features), subtle humor and storylines for adults.  The [mostly] breathtaking animation is still there, but that’s for the enjoyment of everyone right? So I can’t figure out why when I walk into a theater full of kids I’m shot a dirty look from time to time.  Am I not allowed to see an animated feature in theaters if I don’t have children?  Because I’m seeing the movie alone, am I weird? …or worse, a suspected pedophile?

On countless occasions, I’ve had friends tell me they wanted to see whatever the newest animated feature was, but they can’t go alone because “it’d be weird.” Why is it weird? Why can grown men or women not go see an animated movie alone? Who says and what authority do they have? Then I think, it all comes back to this idea that animated features are “Kids’ Movies.”

Newsflash: They’re not.

Animated features, like all other Hollywood productions are rated in accordance with the MPAA.  Generally, these movies are rated G or PG (you can explore all that who, how, etc. here), but that alone doesn’t mean the movie is strictly for kids. When I envision kid-centric entertainment, I think of programming like Baby Einstein, or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, just to list some obvious (TV) examples.

Carl and Ellie from Disney-Pixar's Up

Carl and Ellie from Disney-Pixar’s Up

Have you seen the Shrek or Ice Age franchises? I don’t think I need to elaborate on all of that adult humor.  What about more subtle movies like Disney-Pixar’s Up?  The entire Carl-Ellie relationship is adult-oriented, as is the “Married Life” montage.  Sure, it’s brightly colored and full of wondrous imagination and imagery, but Up‘s core (its heart) appeals to both children and adults.  My point is, these animated features are made for the enjoyment of everyone.

By design, animated features resonate with each of us differently.  They could inspire a child to become an animator.  They are proponents of imagination (children may want to be ruling princesses or explorers imagining great adventures of their own).  In the same way kids are inspired, adults may find humor, they may reminisce of days gone by, or they may be inspired themselves.  An adult may write that book or screenplay they always wanted to write, or to take the adventure they’d always imagined (I went to New Orleans in 2012 because of The Princess and the Frog), or just to laugh and love as much as the animated feature suggests.  Through the lens of adulthood we “see” and take away more from animated features, we understand their souls and not just the pretty pictures.

Now please, don’t think my last statement discredits a child’s ability to understand a movie (or any piece of media or art).  I’m the last person that would do that.  In fact, in my own endeavors, I find myself fighting for the kids, saying they deserve complexity, subtlety and perfection in the media they may consume.  What I am saying, is that adults have a greater understanding (sometimes) and that just because it’s animated doesn’t mean it’s not for them too.

Call it a Family Movie or better yet, just call it what it is – an animated feature or an animated movie – but unless it’s directly stated to be so, don’t call it a “Kid’s Movie.”  Recognize they’re made for the enjoyment of everyone – take away the weirdness and the odd looks.  Give everyone the chance to be inspired, just because you’re grown doesn’t mean you don’t need it.   Go watch any one of your childhood favorites now, and as Beauty and The Beast suggests:

“There may be something there that wasn’t there before.”

I’d like to know, is there a movie you feel bridges the gap between childhood and adulthood?  What are some of your favorite animated moments or quotes?  How about your favorite animated characters and why? What themes do you see in animated features that appeal to adults?  Let’s talk in the comments section!

New Art: Nina, Mya and Queen Isis

Last week, there was a bit of a clown craze.  This week, I’m tackling sexy.  The three pieces I present here, Mya, Nina, and Queen Isis, all began with an idea for hair.

Nina was first in this group.  On my wall there’s a Marilyn Monroe poster.  I looked at that to draw inspiration, but didn’t want to simply duplicate something in existence – so I exaggerated some features (eyes, lips) to create a lusty Russian-esque woman.  I’m satisfied to present:

Nina

(c) 2014, Bobby James

Nina

Nina. (c) 2014. Bobby James. Pencil/Marker

Next, I wanted to create a desirable, perhaps exotic American girl.  That’s Mya.  She’s got flowing black hair, a dark tan complexion and an innocent face.  She’s that diamond you may find in small-town, Midwestern or Southern America.  Here’s:

Mya

(c) 2014, Bobby James

Mya

Mya. (c) 2014. Bobby James. Pencil/Marker.

Finally, the most recent creation (6/15) is Queen Isis.  Knowing I wanted to create a strong black female with a ‘fro, for whatever reason, I kept thinking of Beyoncé’s character “Foxy Cleopatra” from whatever Austin Powers movie that was.  I knew I wanted Queen Isis to command attention and to fill the page.  She’s strong, she’s beautiful, she’s powerful and she’s … ready to disco?  I’m really satisfied with the final result, I think the “Queen” turned out exactly how I’d envisioned her – with beauty, power, attitude, and bold color! All hail:

Queen Isis

(c) 2014, Bobby James

Queen Isis. (c) 2014. Bobby James. Marker/Pencil.

Queen Isis. (c) 2014. Bobby James. Marker/Pencil.

There they are, the latest additions to my 2014 art collection:  View more of My Art here and use the comments section to express your likes/dislikes about the work.  Thanks for looking!

New Art: Enter the Circus!

I’m on a clown craze lately! I’m beginning to think I’m designing creepy clowns to overcome my fear of them?  I have to prepare for the upcoming Freakshow season of American Horror Story, after all.

That said, there are a few pieces to introduce to the new (organically so) collection!

First I’ll begin with Burlesque.  Recently I was told that my art – and all of the skinny subjects – were perpetuating stereotypes and reinforcing current ideas of body image.  I considered this thought.  Was there a point?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps the images I present are what is necessary for the piece as I’ve envisioned it.  Either way, I created Burlesque with a woman named ShowMe Charlotte (Charlotte Sumtimes, etc.) in mind.  She was the first burlesque performer I’d ever seen, and I loved how completely comfortable and beautiful she is.  She’s also seductive and knows how to own her stage.  Currently in the mindset for clowns, though, I gave this image a twist and created a very colorful, curvaceous burlesque woman, the first of her kind – I present:

View More of My Art Here

Burlesque

(c) 2014, Bobby James

Burlesque. (c) 2014. Bobby James

Burlesque. (c) 2014. Bobby James

The next piece, Sin & Lust is intended to not only be homoerotic (you can thank National LGBT Pride Month for the current excess of homoerotic art being produced), but to be an idealized vision of a dark, twisted circus act.  The two, as you can see are co-stars and suggestively lovers (as intended by the similar tattoos).  Sin & Lust are intertwined – linked together by fate and the circus.  (note:  I really, really want to find a way to have this circus-themed underwear produced! Anyone know how to sew? Haha).  Here are:

Sin & Lust

(c) 2014, Bobby James.

Sin & Lust (c) 2014. Bobby James.

Sin & Lust (c) 2014. Bobby James.

Thirdly, I present The Recruitment.  For this piece, I have a white man and black woman (the circus power couple) recruiting a new clown to the circus.  Her offer is a balloon, his offer is her.  Controversial?  Maybe, maybe not – that depends on your reaction.  Will he or won’t he accept the offers and join this group? Is the circus all he’s being recruited for? Here I decided to play a bit more with hair – and the concept of hats and wigs.  The black male clown features a wig I created separately and applied to the picture later.  I present:

The Recruitment

(c) 2014, Bobby James.

The Recruitment (c) 2014. Bobby James.

The Recruitment (c) 2014. Bobby James.

Finally, I give you Circus FreakCircus Freak is intended to be dark and unsettling.  He’s peering over his shoulder – he’s coming for you.  For this image, I wanted to try my hand at circus lettering, which I worked in as a tattoo prominently featured between the clown’s shoulders.  Here is:

Circus Freak

(c) 2014, Bobby James.

Circus Freak (c) 2014. Bobby James.

Circus Freak (c) 2014. Bobby James.

I hope you’ve enjoyed all the pieces.  Feedback is not only always welcomed, but encouraged.  What do these images make you think? I’m dying to know!

New Art: Spray!

Guess what?  I drew an ELEPHANT!

That should come as no surprise.  The true surprise of Spray! though is that upon finishing the outline, I hated this piece – but, instead of scrapping the piece altogether, I had an instinct to make it work.  I added a squiggle here and there, some contrasting lines and boom!  I created a new elephant that I am both proud of and that I love.  Here is:

 

Spray!

(c) 2014, Bobby James.

View More of My Art Here

Spray (c) 2014. Bobby James.

Spray (c) 2014. Bobby James.

New Art: In the Garden

I spent the last couple days working on a new piece titled In the Garden.  After receiving some feedback that people would like to see my work feature more women, I decided to deliver.  In the Garden is a piece I hope translates to represent serenity and beauty.  After sketching the image, I took a break to decide the color scheme, which was ultimately determined by what came next – the flowers.  I decided the flowers could serve dual purpose, to remove the totality of nudity and to add to the peaceful nature and beauty of the image.  What’s best is that I allowed the color selection for the flowers be an organic, but complimentary decision – and they subsequently dictated the rest of the image.

I love the finished product.  I hope you do too.  I present:

In the Garden

(c) 2014, Bobby James.

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In the Garden, (c) 2014. Bobby James.