Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Strangers Who Are Like Friends

Over on Facebook there’s a Legion of Super-Heroes fan page called Legion World.
Quite some time ago my Ladies of the Legion posts caught the attention of the admin of Legion World who stopped by to compliment me on my work and began posting the images to the Legion World page.
This – understandably, I think – pleased me.
After a while the images were all collected into an album on Legion World.  An album dedicated solely to my artwork.  An album entitled “Artwork of Jon Maki AKA Heimdall.”  The description of the album refers to my artwork as being “stunning.”
This also pleased me. A lot.
After all, though you’d never know it from this blog – or really, any other part of my life – this meant that I actually have fans.
Granted, they may not count as *ahem* a legion of fans, but even so, it feels good to be acknowledged and appreciated.
(I always suspected that it would, but had never been certain until it actually happened.)
All of which is a bit of a preamble to the actual post here, which, I think, requires some additional introductory text.  Not just because I’m prone to self-indulgent walls of text, but because I need to make my intentions clear.
Some of the little self-deprecating shots I took at myself above – like the one about only suspecting that it would feel good to be acknowledged an appreciated – may come across as me fishing for compliments.  That’s not what I was doing – I was, legitimately, engaging in self-deprecating humor.  I mean, I do that.  When it comes to the jokes I make, I myself am, by a wide margin, the most frequent butt of them.
It’s how I am.  There may be some deep-seated psychological issues at the core of the personality trait, but mostly I make fun of myself because I know I can take it.  And besides, I’m just a jerk, so why should I care what I think?  Make fun of me all you want, me; I’ll just shrug it off and chalk it up to my jerkiness.
Anyway, where was I?
Right.  Legion World.
Every so often in my FB feed I’ll see a Legion World post with a reference to me, usually featuring another Legion-related image that I drew at some point, with a caption like, “Legion World Needs More Jon Maki!”  (My favorite was when there was a post of a picture I did of Scarlett Johansson that was captioned, “Now I'm not saying Jon Maki intended this image to be a take on Night Girl, but I am saying I needed a valid reason to post a Jon Maki image.”)
Most recently, I saw the image from this post pop up.
Looking at the post on Legion World I noticed that 34 people “liked” it and 11 people “shared” it on their own timelines.*
This leads me, finally, to the point of this post.
Unless it’s completely NSFW, any drawing that I post here I also post on Facebook.  Even when it is NSFW, I usually post a link (with a warning) to the blog post containing it.
Most of my artwork posts on Facebook go unnoticed except by a handful of my friends.  Said handful consists of a few people who can be counted on to regularly like or comment on most pictures, though there are a few “drive-by likes” from people who normally don’t hit the like button.
(Of course, even the drive-by likers tend to be a pretty consistent subset of my friends.)
In any case, I’ve never posted anything on Facebook that has gotten as many likes as that image on Legion World did.
Granted, Legion World has greater “reach” than I do, but the thing is, I don’t actually know any of the people who visit Legion World.
So I can’t help but wonder why it is that I can count on people I don’t know to like my arwork, but most of the people I do know completely ignore it.  Again, at the risk of sounding like I’m protesting too much, the point of this isn’t to try to lake a guilt trip on people in order to extort some praise and validation out of them.  Do I wish that more of my friends would like and/or comment on my picture posts?  Of course, but this isn’t an attempt to get them to do that.
Really I’m just thinking out loud – or at least thinking in a blog post – about something that I sometimes wonder about.
This isn’t something I lose sleep over, or spend a lot of time obsessing about, but it does come to mind at times, particularly when I see something like that post on Legion World.
I’m really just legitimately curious – why don’t more of my friends “like” my artwork?
I suppose that the most obvious explanation is exactly that:  they don’t like it, for whatever reason.  Maybe they find it offensive, or too objectifying, or they just plain don’t think it’s any good or just aren’t interested.
That’s certainly possible, and understandable – I do obviously tend to focus on pin-up/cheesecake-style images, and people have different, equally valid tastes when it comes to art.
I don’t discount this, but in my real-world encounters with people – many of them numbering among my Facebook friends – the response to my artwork is overwhelmingly positive.**
So I wonder.
And honestly, all I can really do is wonder, even here.  Because let’s face it, no one is going to bother leaving a comment here (which is something I've done plenty of whining about already), and I’m not actually going to put this on Facebook because despite – or perhaps because of – my claims to the contrary it will look like I’m saying, “Pls liek mah picz!  I can has validayshun?”
Anyway, while not discounting the “Your art is bad and you should feel bad” explanation, these are some of the other possible explanations I’ve come up with:

High Signal to Noise Ratio:  Unlike me, most people have a lot of friends on Facebook.  Far too many to actually even notice, let alone interact with.  Also, while I keep my newsfeed pretty readable by hiding a lot of irrelevant stuff like updates about game activities and whatnot, it’s possible that many of my friends don’t hide anything, and so they’re inundated with too much stuff to notice my pictures.

Unplugged:  Maybe most of my friends don’t actually spend a lot of time on Facebook.

Unsubscribed:  Maybe people want to maintain a connection with me, but they don’t want my frequent posts of pictures and random thoughts cluttering up their newsfeeds, so they’ve hidden all updates from me.  Which means that I’m considered noise rather than signal, and honestly, that’s just as hurtful as “Your art is bad and you should feel bad,” but still, it’s possible.

For Games Only:  Maybe all they do on Facebook is play games.  Given how many game update stories I’ve had to hide and game requests I’ve ignored, this one seems likely, especially given that once I finally hid all of those updates the amount of activity I saw on my newsfeed dropped exponentially, so clearly if they’re doing anything on Facebook at all most of my friends aren’t doing anything that shows up in my newsfeed, which leaves games as the most likely suspect.  (Though this could also be a result of their privacy settings and the utilization of lists.)

What Is This I Don’t Even:  Back when I had a display for Heroic Portraits during the craft show at work a lot of the people who stopped by my table – even the ones who were previously aware of my artistic endeavors – didn’t understand that I actually drew the Portraits.  I’m not sure what it was that they thought I did, but it was clear that there was, until I explained the process to them, no understanding of the fact that these images were hand-drawn by me.  I suppose that it’s equally possible that when I post a picture to Facebook – even when I actually use the words “drawing,” “draw,” and “drew,” – that they aren’t putting the pieces together and figuring out that this is artwork done by me.  Maybe they think they’re just some random pictures I found and posted – I don’t know.  But I have seen that there are people who can look at my artwork and not actually grok the fact that it’s my artwork.

So those are my theories.  Now I’ll set them aside and go back to not thinking about it except on those occasions when I post something that I’m really proud of and pleased with and find that it doesn’t even seem to warrant crickets chirping…and then on those occasions I’ll just remind myself that I have an album dedicated to my artwork at Legion World and I’ll find myself liking total strangers more than I like my own friends.

*Admittedly, this probably had more to do with the text in the image, which is very funny if you’re any sort of fan of the Legion, and not the quality of the quickly-dashed off art.  Trust me; it actually is really funny.  It’s the kind of thing that people who find that kind of thing funny will find funny.

**If sometimes kind of nitpicky.  “Why is her arm like that?”  “What’s wrong with her nose?”  “That doesn’t look like her.”


Merlin T Wizard said...




Jon-Paul Maki said...

Yay, I rated crickets!

frog said...

No, you rated Scott impersonating crickets. The crickets couldn't be bothered to post.

Oh and I laughed at the Superboy/Element Lad thing...a LOT.