Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mystery Solved, Wound Salted

Well, we opened my RISD transcript, today, and it turns out that I did slightly better that I'd feared. Very, very slightly: my GPA was 2.73. And I can tell you that a lot of it was largely deserved: I was, for the first couple of years at RISD, a lackluster student. Not, I should point out, a lackluster artist - but I was up against both my own social awkwardness and my sudden application of lousy work ethic to art homework. When in high school, I blew off all other work to focus on doodling and drawing constantly - I was very focused and productive. But when all of your homework suddenly becomes art homework, it's no longer the escape. It's then the thing that you need to escape from.

Little wonder that I started to seriously become a musician when I got to RISD.

The thing that turns my crank is that I actually got a 'D' in Drawing, in my first semester of Sophomore year. Which is, if you'll excuse my ego trip, fucking outrageous. There are few things I'm good at: I can't work in color for shit, so a 'C' in painting is justly deserved. In art school, you don't get points 'for trying.' I can't design so well (although I make my living at it), I'm a pretty poor photographer (to my endless chagrin) and I definitely can't sculpt to save my life. Yet I received an 'A-' in Design, a 'B+' in Photography, and even a 'B' in Sculpture.


I can fucking draw. And I could draw much, much better when I was 18 than I can now. So, unless I blew off every single assignment and then raped the male model during life drawing, I can't even imagine what the insane requirements were for getting on in that class. I can't even rage against the teacher so much: Mahler Ryder was (unbeknownst to us) dying from cancer while teaching the class, and in fact, died sometime the following semester.

I suppose it would be easy to blame my lousy grade on his deathbed crankiness, but I understand that he was just a harsh grader all the time. I wish I could remember the class better - I do know that I was given an seriously hard time for my figure drawing, being that I was a cartoonist and exaggerator well above being an illustrator. But even still: I've seen my figure drawings from that period and there's no way it's 'D' work.

But maybe that was it. I do recall a pretty strong bias against cartooning in the Illustration department. Of course, now RISD actually offers something they call a 'certificate in Comics & Sequential Art' - fucked if I know how that differs from a BFA in Comics - so I'm guessing that some of that bias has gone away. But I got seriously pounded in critique - by both teachers and students - anytime I turned in an assignment in my cartoony style. Doubly so if it was in pen and ink, which is kind of the bastard step-child of drawing media in general, and one that gets little respect anymore.

(I see that I received a 'C' in Pen & Ink Scratchboard second semester of my Junior Year, so ha-ha on me.)

Anyhow, I'm glad to see that my major, major hang-ups about drawing after I graduated from RISD were, at least, justified. No wonder I gave it up for over a decade; who amongst us likes to be told that the thing that they believe they're best at and most passionate about in this world is in fact the thing they suck at most? And to add insult to injury to insult, I stupidly neglected to get with the program and still insisted on doing my senior thesis as a comic in my full-on Dave style. I knew I was in for it when the one guy among the review group who was at all familiar with comics told me that I should do it more like what he took to be the pinnacle of the form, a syndicated strip named Apartment 3-G.

I ask you: if you're presented with this:

Do you say to yourself and the person who made it, 'No, no, you're doing it all wrong. You should draw it like this:'

Jiminy Fucking Crickets on a Slice of Christsucking Motherfisting Rye Toast.

And for my senior thesis? That's a 'C+' you're looking at, right there. All 40 pages of it.



Anonymous said...

I'll corroborate and validate..

Yes you could always draw..

I've been a fan since I was 13..

You and Dave Z are the best artists I've ever known.. and have ever known..

I never thought that the RISD environment suited you at all.. You wouldve done much better elsewhere..

Plus, you caught the music bug.. which I feel partly responsible for.. Bran deserves the other part of the blame.. But you were also talented in music so what the fuck were you gonna do?

From my experience RISD was filled with complete fucking douchebag assholes... nora being an exception..

just not a good vibe..

It's a testament to you that you got through it at all..

2.73 to me is a fucking GREAT GPA to come out with after all that Sterm and Drang..

One of my most vivid recollections of that era is the time where me and Bran (after getting into one of the countless huge fights with our parents) took off and drove to RI after only having been there once and somehow found the place you were staying in the middle of the night to find you in a drunken stupor brooding over the fact that you were in love with BOTH of your roommates.. who were Shawesqueianly enough in love WITH EACH OTHER!!

Then we all proceeded to have one of the best weekends ever.. at least to me..

Dave Kopperman said...

Thanks. Two quibbles:

a) 2.73 is equivalent to a 73. 'C-' is not, by any standard, a 'great GPA.' But thanks for tryin'.

b) When I haven't yet related an episode about myself on the Rambler, that might mean that I'm not sure if I want to tell it. The lesbian roommates story is fine. But, uh, chill with that, okay?

c) John actually was a douchebag at RISD, albeit a lovable, but I was, too. It's part of the protective coloring we adopted.


Dave Kopperman said...

(that's three quibbles, isn't it?)


Anonymous said...

Whoops.. sorry..

Can I delete the comment?

That was annoying of me..

Anonymous said...

73 is more like a C..

Dave Kopperman said...

Addendum: I guess that's a 78, or 'C+.' My mistake for thinking that the GPA scale was actually a true percentage of 100.


Dave Kopperman said...

Nah, leave the comment, it's fine. It is a story I'll get around to telling.

I should clarify: my policy on what I talk about on the Rambler has less to do with concern for my own public image - in fact, I have no worries about looking like a complete tool, as many of my own entries display* - but more where I draw the line about revealing other people's private lives. That's why the Rambler sometimes seems a little superficial, true, but it's also something that I don't have to worry about causing undue harm in the long term.

Exhibit A: although my entry on Lizard Music the other day seemingly was critical of Erik and discussed events from our interactions, you'll note that I didn't say anything about his private life. The artist and their approach to their work and the personal interactions in regard to the creation of that work is something that I consider open territory.

Of course, I'm a total believer in free speech, and if you wanted to relate any and all sordid anecdotes about my past on the Hermit - complete with naming names and all - that would be your right, and something I have no control over.

(It would be the posting of a dick, though.)


*I don't even have to tell a personal story that makes me look like a tool. My writing style alone gives it away.

Anonymous said...

You weren't even critical of Erik in a loose way.. I was..

yeah, I wouldn't ever name names.. I don't even name names of people that I despise.. although I'm sure if they would read it, they would know who they are..

I feel bad for blurting out that story.. especially because of how private I am about not revealing stuff about myself in my own blog.. wasn't thinking..

It was more meant to illustrate how turbulent (to us) that time was.. the actual story was of no consequence..

I only mention names when I want to promote someone.. never to tear down..

Unknown said...

I prefer the term "twerp." I wasn't really a douchebag. "Douchebag" suggests someone confident and outgoing, which I wasn't.

Ah, memories.

Dave Kopperman said...

Ans: Nah, don't feel badly. One of the inherent features of maintaining an open, unmoderated comments section is the occasional bit of extra info from an outside source - and that's the thing I like about it. I specifically relish the comments that are critical of me, because it allows the Rambler overall to be a fuller picture of myself than I could provide alone.

John: I'll accept 'twerp.' You did have a mean streak a mile wide, at times. But it was hard not to go through that educational and social system and not get a little bent as a result.