Ballerina-at-SunsetI got fabulously lucky to take this gorgeous snap at sunrise! I took this in December, 2012.

Now, folks, if you are at all familiar with me or my work, and you are the type of person who doesn’t just look at something for a split second and then click “like” ’cause it reaffirms whopping cliches, you may sense that something is amiss.

You may suspect an experiment or hoax is at hand. You would be correct. Fortunately most people will never read down this far, because, well, nowadays people have more of an Instagram, Facebook, Twitter mentality, where everything is summed up in a single image and a snappy sentence. It’s fortunate because if they get this far, they might be offended.

Let  them enjoy the mindless, sexist, treacle that is this image, designed to cater to people’s appetite for gilded cliches. It’s not  even a photograph at sunset. I used a stock image of a ballerina, made it into a silhouette, and superimposed her on a beach scene. Why? I’d seen lots of people using this easy trick and getting accolades poured over them. I did the same with the Pelican.

If you pay attention you will notice the Pelican is shitting, and the shit is going to hit the ballerina or gymnast in the face.  People don’t look that closely. Of course you can’t really tell where the Pelican is in relation to the woman, and thus the trajectory of its expelled waste also can’t be determined. However, it’s definitely possible she’s about to get an unwelcome surprise.

Why did I ruin an otherwise lovely image? I just can’t help myself. I lack the gene for selling out. I have to subvert mindless drivel as art, and deliver instead a Trojan Horse mocking sentimental kitsch and facile, glib, easy techniques. It’s a parody of bad art.

When I originally shared this on DeviantArt, back in 2012, it was an instant success. People loved it, and far more than art I’d worked infinitely harder on, and hundreds of times as long. It received the following glowing critique:

critiqueWell, I kinda’ felt sorry for people loving this crap, so I admitted it was Photoshopped and supposed to suck. And I’m admitting that here, now.

It’s been nearly 4 years since I dumped this garbage on the public, and since then I’ve produced a lot of new work, including things I’d never have imagined and which exceeded my own expectations of what it was possible for me to do. However, my work tends to get deeper, not more shallow, and so the mass appeal is not there, and my guess is that the Ballerina at Sunrise will get more positive response than, say, my latest piece, or all my work put together.

This is easy to understand. In a nutshell, people like the conventional. Me may even be hardwired to like the conventional. But if you are an artist, and you are into discovery, and trying to go beyond the conventional, you won’t appeal to those that want the familiar, expected, standard…

Yes, I think it’s a little cruel to dupe unsuspecting clickers into liking a bird crapping on a girl’s head, but, if they can’t be bothered to read about the image, and don’t look at art for more than a split second before coming to a conclusion on it, they kinda’ deserve it, and besides, they’ll never find out. And they really should notice the bird poop.

If you are an artist, and not a sell-out kitsch manufacturer, and your work gets no recognition or sales, you can occasionally get a little fed up before getting right back to work on your next piece, and other strategies.

Don’t feel bad if you like it though, because I did make it to my aesthetic standards, and it’s supposed to be visually seductive, even if it’s a joke.

~ Ends

17 replies on “Ballerina at Sunrise

  1. The problem is that art appreciation basically comes down to taste, and I think its wrong to judge other peoples’ taste (no matter how crap some taste is 🙂 ). My own art is meant to please me and I don’t really care what others think of it (OK – a bit of a lie there because I do love compliments, but would do the art even if I got none). My only ever sale has been something that I personally felt to be a bit substandard. However the buyer adored it. So I guess I should be happy about that.

    BTW – I prefer your more recent work because it reminds me of fantasy and science fiction illustrations from the 30’s and 40’s (illustrations and cover art are a particular interest of mine)


    1. Thanks for the response, Greg.

      I kind of agree with you on people’s tastes, but I was just talking about this, and I’d have to admit that I don’t know anything about wines, and probably prefer crappy wine. I wouldn’t know a distinct quality wine if someone gave it to me. I’d probably prefer a $5 bottle of wine to a $500 one. But, I also wouldn’t be upset if someone thought my taste in wine, or even beer (which I’m a tad more sophisticated about, because it’s more in my price range) was crap, er, because it is.

      And I think of music in the 80’s, when prog groups of the 70’s who were really innovative and ambitious tried to go commercial and make loves songs and have simple repetitive choruses. There’s a selling out to the lowest common denominator.

      I might keep it to myself, but I do think a lot of people have pretty terrible taste in music, but it’s almost always because they haven’t been exposed to anything beyond what the corporate music industry is churning out.

      Much like my wine example, to have good taste you need to taste different things, and be looking for something better or different or new. Generally, people look for what they already know, hence radio stations that actually promote themselves with slogans like, “You know every song we play”.

      But, again, at one time in my life I listened to those stations and loved the music, and before that I loved top 40.


      1. It’s so funny that you used a wine example, because I was going to and then changed my mind. You see I really love fruity wines and some years ago my wife and I did a wine appreciation tour and were told that our tastes were plebeian. “You have immature palates” the wine expert told us. Well I reckon, if I love cheap plonk (and by definition it’s cheap!) then all the better for me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ok, so here’s the conundrum, I like the sentimental & kitsch at times.
    But I also love your sci-fi related drawings. Earlier I also commented on EUOF, which is great!
    It is reminiscent of something Gerald Scarfe might have liked/drawn, albeit in his more cartoony style?

    Most of the time I draw slutty cartoon-babes and acerbic dysfunctional aliens. However I often also find myself
    being a hopeless romantic at times and I’ve learnt not to fight it.
    I can listen to death-metal one minute and switch over to ABBA if I feel inclined (Split personality?).
    My “art moods” also fluctuate.
    I think quite a few of my drawings are seriously inane drivel. But I’m fine with that these days.

    There are times when I also add something to a picture that is just ever so slightly “off”. Few people notice it.
    That in itself gives me some satisfaction, keeping it a “private joke”.

    “Yes”, to get back to your very funny and thought-provoking post: Generally I believe that people like the “conventional”.
    If you are serious about creating art that makes a statement, “conventional” people can be most frustrating, seeing that they “just don’t get it” at times.
    I also got over that. Sometime I might not be the one “getting something” in the scientific or medical community? Who knows.

    The humor with regards to your ballerina-pic had me sniggering on the train.
    At least it is visually pleasing, I can’t argue.

    There is one final complication that I’ve seen in the work of some artists.
    They try so hard to bypass cliches by being bold, brash and controversial that in the end that in itself also becomes a cliche.
    The true eccentric or mad genius is often quite unaware of his gift for bucking the system, therefore he will always create something original, or at least so terrible it still draws attention.

    Thanks for making me think this morning!


    1. Great comment Thys. Note that the Ballerina now has 14 likes, and my last piece has 3. If you consider how long my new piece took – probably well over 100 hours – as compared to the Ballerina (2-3 hours, tops), I am working in a wildly inefficient, and even counterproductive way. And the lesson is that even deliberate garbage is highly preferable to my most difficult and successful pieces. But I can tell myself, “I told you so”.

      Yeah, I enjoy lots of lowbrow stuff, including prank videos on YouTube. I’m sure there are tens of thousands of people who would prefer EUOF to Ballerina, but it’s not easy to reach that wide of an audience. “Infinite Objectivity”, which is probably my most ambitious piece, has only been viewed 100 times.

      Oh, looked at your art and I confess to rather liking cat woman. You can guess why.


      1. Hahah ok, thanks! Now here’s another question, how does one strike a balance without selling out? Ever wonder why Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon still remains one of the most popular albums of all time without being “commercial”? I wish I knew ….


  3. Firstly, when I saw this drivel I knew that you were up to something. (all due respect) Next, I noticed the ‘photoshopping’ (for lack of better term) and laughed at the gull shit.
    I’ve enjoyed this, you are a creative genius.

    These days we are spoon fed agendas from every angle. What we like has been and is being suggested to us from the media and everyone’s got the virus. We want to all be the same and all like the same things and all agree on norms …… don’t get me started.
    Thanks Eric, very entertaining and though provoking.


    1. Glad you found it amusing. I’m interested in your ideas about how we are all supposed to like the same things and agree on the same norms. I guess that’s obviously true, but artists also, if they are good, have a tendency to be non-conformists (though faux-non-comformity is also a kind of conformity).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We are not supposed to like the same things and agree on the same norms, especially when it comes to art which is/should be a representation of self expression. I think that the conformity is part of the social virus and it’s spreading fast. And it surprises me how everyone seems to be volunteering themselves. The agenda is pushed and everyone jumps aboard without really even knowing what they are submitting to (and that they are submitting). It’s not easy to hold on to individual thought and personal self expression while being bombarded constantly by what is politically and socially correct..
        I think that I have avoided the virus but I don’t know. It is probably difficult for artists to walk that fine line between doing what they know will get the “likes” and doing what they are driven to do.
        Sorry for the rant. Not sure if I answered your question.


      2. Oh, I most enjoy such rants. Sometimes I got out searching for them without success in finding them. Yes, it’s not easy to separate oneself from conventional thought, and especially from consensual reality, which I think we rather desperately cling to rather than free fall into the void, so to speak.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I found the picture a bit crowded, even before I realised the unlikelyhood of its being real.
    Wrt the bird shit: The bird is flying, so anything it drops will arc forward, like something you drop from a plane. The “trajectory” you see is an illusion, the lady is in no danger of anything untoward hitting her in the face.

    I do hope realistic colours and scenes will come “back”.


    1. Uh, you do realize it’s a PARODY right! You know I’m deliberately making fun of cheesy fake silhouetted images, and lamenting the fact that people like my fake bad art better than my real art (note that this post has 16 likes, and the post about my last serious work has only 5 likes).

      Anyway, not sure why you think when something is in flight, if it jettisons a load, so to speak, that will move forward. Presumably the shit has no propulsion to move it forward, while the bird has wings. You may look up pictures of birds shitting in the air, and the shit does trail behind – birds shitting in flight.

      Good eye, though.


      1. If you are moving forward and drop something, that thing has an initial forward speed (compared to the ground) as it’s moving with you when you let go. This forward movement will slow as there is no forward propulsion, that’s why it will arc down. The trail you see looks like the dropped shit moves backwards, but as I said, that is an illusion caused by the things being dropped later starting their drop at a different place (i.e. more in the direction of flight).


      2. Oh, right, I see what you’re saying. That makes perfect sense. The shit moves backwards relative to the bird, but a little forward relative to the ground. Thanks for pointing that out, as I’ve never put that together before.


  5. Can’t remember which band it was, but the record cover people at Hipgnosis once did a pastiche of cats, alps, chocolates and flowers as a cover for an LP that had songs about drug addiction, deviant sex, and various horrors. It was on the shelves of Woolworth’s until a Daily Mirror reporter caught wind of what was going on and publicised it with a story that suggested the misleading cover could result in frail lady-folk unwittingly buying it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s