Home » ARTSY FARTSY » SHEP’S Kid Story Book Part 1–First Grade 2 & (46) ARTSY NYT Elephants

SHEP’S Kid Story Book Part 1–First Grade 2 & (46) ARTSY NYT Elephants


I had never drawn with my right hand in my life.  “Waaa,” I’m struggling away there and I can’t draw with my right hand, I’m a left-hander.  I’m drawing terrible.  All the other kids are drawing great butterflies and pumpkins and I’m drawing this rotten, lopsided butterfly with my right hand.

The next day she begins to teach us how to letter.  We’re lettering a big A.  Well, I grab that great big black crayon with my left hand and I start.

She says, “No!  Uh uh, Jeanie, your other hand now.  Your other hand!”

By the end of the first week we are having our daily exercise on how to draw A, B, C.  Every time I start out with my right hand my nose starts bleeding.  “Waaaaa.”  Miss Mead says, “Alright, come on, put your head back.  Now there.  Let’s go down to the washroom and put some cold water on your neck.”

My nose is bleeding because I’ve got that crayon clasped in my right hand.  But by the time I’m in the second grade, I can write, I can draw, I can do everything, with my right hand.

I’m right-handed.  But for one thing.  I am an ambidextrous batter.  In those days “switch-hitter” was not very popular in the grammar school playground.  I would come up to bat from whichever side of the plate I approached.  Guys began to needle me about it:  “Hey, you don’t know how to bat!”  From that I began to develop a hang-up.  I couldn’t decide whether I was right-handed or left-handed.

So I’m sitting in the back of a cab being driven by a left-handed cabbie.  I’m reading out loud to him that “Left-handers tend to be logos in the bogos.”  And that, “Left-handers tend to be non-compos mentis.”  I’m sitting there in this cross-town cab with a left-handed cab driver, and I’m a phony right-hander.  And both of us are gripped by the iron hand of fear.  Is it true what they say about Lefty Gomez?  Is it true what they say about me?



artsyfratsy 10010


How I Discovered Only One Elephant.


I was looking at the front page of the Sunday Review.

Interesting image of a herd of elephants.

elephant final


My designy responses to the image: I like the attractive look of their dark-gray mass; the small, scattered bits of white between some animals stand out, disturbing the grayness; refocusing my view to where darkness meets the pure white of the page. I see that the right rear legs of these perimeter elephants are all at the same angle; so are the left legs; the tails are identical; so are the ears, etc. The entire composition is made up of a single repeated elephant!

Why had it been put together this way? Maybe the illustrator couldn’t find a good shot of a group of elephants running away in a pack? What a great moment when he realized he could computer-manipulate what he wanted, bit by bit—with one elephant!


Did it occur to him that this way, the image could also make a comment, a statement that on the subject of Trump, the G.O.P. was single-mindedly a one-animal herd? By my thinking about the “design” elements–rather than just focusing on subject matter–am I being too cold in my technical attitude, and then unrealistically intruding my subjective self? Is it the inevitable consequence of my designy, artsy fartsy-ism? Is that bad? Or, discovering the one-ness of the elephants, have I recognized the statement illustrator Nicolas Ortega had made in his graphic design?

My artsy fartsy-ness coming to the fore, I searched for and found the artist’s email address and asked him about this multiple graphic/artsy mystery. He responded. (I make some cuts and adjustments related to his English usage-as-a-second language.)

… working for an important newspaper like The New York Times, all people involved: the art directors, the illustrators, really give attention to every detail in the conceptual process and in the production process….people understand or misunderstand the visual codes (based on their experience) than how the illustrator does, so you cannot be ambiguous or vague in the codes you use…. time here plays an important role of executing ideas: you normally have 24 hours to make an illustration for a newspaper.

….between the art director in charge and me, a lot of back and forth of ideas and execution. I think at the end, the idea of the elephants running away from “a mouse” was a beautiful metaphor that matches perfectly with the article’s idea. But as the article talks also how Republicans are turning to the center just not to be with Trump, we needed something that represented that. (That’s why, basically, Trump is on the right, and the elephants are running to the left). Technically, I found a way to do an elephant stampede in an easy and fast way–there’s no more explanation than that.

So, the symbolic use of the repeated elephant was caused by time-restriction convenience, and the layout refers to a simple, political, Left vs. Right political orientation? I’d hoped he’d give more content details, but I didn’t feel I could pressure him for elaboration.

Besides, I’d realized that with the entire page, which includes the text, I’d viewed the human figure as part of that text block–I hadn’t seen the Trump figure as simultaneously part of the fleeing elephants as it needed to be–for me they were fleeing the entire text block, which is a bit different.

elephant final (2)

A major slip-up, either on the final layout of the page, or on my viewing of it.

How many made my mistake?

Indeed, graphically, the figure of Trump is essential to the entire visual effect.

Neither does the idea that the elephants are running politically Leftward

come across for me.)

I adjusted the layout  using primitive cut-and-paste

with a scissors and tape.

(With proper computer tools, I’d tweak it more.)

elephants by eb

The herd stampeding

away from Trump by eb.

Maybe the entire herd should be further to the left!




1 Comment

  1. I thought Shepherd was righthanded?

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