Hanoch Piven
Haaretz (Jack Nicholson, Ariel Sharon, Assad etc..)
posted: January 11, 2007
Published in Haaretz Weekend edition circa 1999...
A blog provides an opportunity to be a bit self reflective so here we go...
While I'm far from trying to do "my life in the slanted junkyard" as Randy Enos, I was looking at some past work and thinking of what I have enjoyed doing throughout my short-to-medium-length-size career. My special relationship with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz started with an on-going project which was a regular column I've had there during the years 1996-2001. These were the post Rabin years, the reigns of Netanyahu (fun times for caricature) and Barak. Every month I would choose the person of the month, clear it with the editor, make a portrait of him/her and add text. The text was worked in a similar way to the illustration. These were facts and quotes which I stumbled upon while doing the research (which I do anyway every time I draw somebody) and my 'job' consisted in arranging them in some way which made or didn't make sense. In a way the text was a 'readymade' as well. After 5 years in which I did a mix of international and local figures, I felt I was doing more and more cheesy Israeli TV personalities (cause the politicians weren't necessarily changing) I got tired of it and ended the column.
Of course what was great for me there was the fact that I as the illustrator had control of the content, since I was writing the text as well. Taking responsibility for both means being much more involved in a project which inevitably leads to doing better work.
I do not know what that instrument is but once I saw it I knew Assad had one of these at home....
This is how the column looked in the regular Haaretz weekend supplement. This portrait of Sharon was made when he was a minister in the Netanyahu government.
It fitted 'that' image of Sharon as a man of war....
Rabbi Ovadia Yossef was and is the spiritual leader of the Shas political party, which mostly represents Israelies from Sepharadic origins....
So the word "content" was mentioned:


(Warning - what follows might be perceived as a typical illustrator whining)

I know that there have been more discussions about the 'fight for content' here in Drawger and in other places I'm sure. My two cents of psycho-bubble on that issue are that many illustrators grow complacent because somehow the (American) market spoils us early by ringing us to do jobs, which we at least in the beginning mostly like, they are not too hard, and pay us sort of decently, (it seems HUGE bucks when we are young and fresh out of school). It teaches us to be passive. For most illustrators 'being active' does not mean thinking about new ideas, but it only means 'promoting', sending postcards, buying a page in the web or in a book in which they show work which they didn't initiate. Many successful professionals accept that deal. And it makes a fine life for many, and  although I don't mean to criticize whoever chooses to be that way, it is a collective attitude that in my opinion has influenced the way illustrators are seen. Only the minority are the ones who keep thinking of ideas and proposing them to whomever and try to shape their work week/month/year by themselves (for every Brodner, and every Staake, and every Zimm (just to name somebody - I know that many other people in Drawger can be added to that list)  there are hundreds of passive lambs waiting for the phone to ring. I have been like that at times. So I guess this post is to tell myself and others to remember that point. It is a mantra I always tell my students and other illustrators: 'try and take charge of the content, don't just settle for interpreting the content of THE MAN'

Perhaps, a good show to have in Drawger is of illustrations the illustrator initiated. We can call it: 'I made that happen'
John Dykes January 11, 2007
Bravo post, Hanoch. NO WAY would I perceive this as 'a typical illustrator whining'... but excellent advice for all. That passive state of mind has screwed with my artistic growth in the past... and it probably will try to creep in again. I try to have personal projects on the burners at all times - with the intent to propose to various markets. The trick is to not lose momentum...
Steve Wacksman January 11, 2007
Super cool, Hanoch! THIS is what I like best about Drawger. Sure, sometimes it's a platform for boasting and grandstanding and attempts atr humour get misinterpreted and dustups start over trifles. But there's great work here and that's inspiring. And there's discussion, and that's inspiring. And then there's articles like this. I feel like I'm just coming out of a 3 year fog. And I'm finally shedding my lamb's clothing and getting busy. Your mantra is now MY mantra- thanks for the pep talk! PS: I DID look pretty cute in that little lamb suit...
Joe Ciardiello January 11, 2007
Hanoch, you raise an excellent point. This is something I wrestle with on a continuing basis. While I generally have 4 or 5 personal projects kicking around, this businss has a way of conditioning us to be passive and also worn down. The term "burn out" comes to mind. It's an ongoing struggle to muster the energy, enthusiasm and time to pursue these things. Yet the older I get, the more urgent the need becomes. Great article... and wonderful work, as always.
Robert Saunders January 11, 2007
Ditto to all that you say, Hanoch. Thanks for bringing up the topic and reminding us once again of what our potential is, if we act, instead of just react. Your Sharon is a devastating characterization...as the "butcher of Sabra and Chatila." The others are beautiful too.
Hanoch Piven January 11, 2007
John, Steve, Joe and Robert, I am glad it connects with feelings some of you guys have as well. That Haaretz job was so good that it annoys me to see how few cases like this are in the US. Re burger Sharon I liked to think of him as sometimes wolf and sometimes sheep, as somebody immersed in a life of war, of blood and death. In a way this portrait is a refleccion of the whole state of Israel, not just of Sharon. On the other hand my wife Janet, when she sees this portrait she says: "look at him, from butcher to vegetable" (am I allowed to say this or its non pc?)
Flaherty January 11, 2007
Good post Hanoch! 5 Baaaaahhhs up!
Robert Saunders January 11, 2007
Wow, hilarious comment by your wife! Hanoch, it's totally PC to speak your mind here. There's no "administration" that has laid down arbitrary rules of what and what not to do. There's an underlying assumption by the two geniuses that created this thing that we are adults here (with the usual rare exception). Drawger is the real thing. You might ruffle some feathers, and you might say something someone's been longing to hear. So let it flow. And by the way, I'm enjoying the points you are making on here.
David Flaherty January 11, 2007
Hanoch, does your wife get cross at you for stealing the nights dinner from the fridge? "Hey where's the Pot roast I was going to make?!, oh, it's Sadam now!" (cleary men cook too)
David Goldin January 11, 2007
Great post Hanoch, burger Sharon is...well... putting the lifetime of war, blood and death aside... hilarious! Also funny, I just made a sculpture of my wife out of Liverwurst.
Javier Olivares January 12, 2007
Hola Hanoch!! Muy bueno tu Blog. Un saludo desde Madrid.