Page 45 Review by Stephen
"My potential is stifling me..."
Autobiographical insight into what makes an artist tick, so beloved by Jeffrey Brown that we suspect he designed its spine.
As much as anything it's an act of solidarity with other artists: comforting, consoling, encouraging, reassuring and commiserating with them in their doubts, fears, careers, artistic wrestling, financial struggling, ambitions, self-pity, deadlines and desperation for affirmation.
Note: these attributes are hardly restricted to artists, and Lauren makes the vital leap towards just enough universality for everyone to nod knowingly, sadly yet smilingly in communal, hands-held-up acknowledgement and perhaps a little guilt.
There's a lot of light self-mockery but commendably Purje stands her ground with confidence when it comes to the stupidity of squabbles, labels and one-upmanship within the "art world" like looking down on illustration (and, of course comics) and the establishment's longstanding disdain for humour as a subject inappropriate for High Art. See William Hogarth.
Her deployment of Magritte's 'The Treachery Of Images' ("Ceci n'est pas une pipe"), repurposed to burst the pomposity of furrow-browed, Oxfordian tomb-dwellers was particularly witty: "This is not a joke".
Then there are all the assumptions and presumptions which are understandably resented when they come from those not quite thinking things through, and one of my favourite pieces was the reverie catalysed by the innocent enough question, "How long did it take you to make this?" You can interpret the sequence that follows two ways (both of which defy what was meant) in its presentation of the multiple acts of discovery, research, experience, practice, study, confidence and indeed unlearning... all the time each of those elements took... both for one specific picture and throughout one's learning life to gain the wider perspective required to create that image.
Writers don't write a script in a vacuum, either, nor judges in the time taken to reach a verdict; doctors to diagnose, teachers to take a class, or monkeys to mash out a review.
That one was completely new to me, but some of these confessions you'll have seen made before - like the obligatory page on procrastination - but that doesn't make them any less true, "true" or True. (Those inverted commas and that capitalisation was itself borrowed from Dave Sim.) Quite the reverse, when you think about it.
"Fake It Until You Make It' is another case in point, but it's done so well. You know what I mean: everyone accepting their first job at a bar has to bluff their way in, because they all advertise "prior experience required". Additionally a great many well respected writers and artists - and indeed individuals in so many walks of life - have to deal with Impostor's Syndrome, occasionally (or perpetually) feeling a fraud and the fear of being found out.
"Honestly... Everyone feels like they're holding a front for others and whispering prayers that their inner demons remain private for fear of what would surely be a cataclysmic fall from grace...
"Except for the true narcissistic assholes out there."
You won't find an ounce of such arrogance in any of these 135 pages. This is about sympathy and empathy and honesty instead.
'Happy New Year':
"Every year we set new goals and reflect on our past accomplishments.
"I always seem to come up with the same resolutions, though...
"1. Try again.
"2. Fail again."
A slight smile flickers across Lauren's face as she pours herself another glass of wine...
"3. Fail better."