Tag Archives: houston

Amanda Palmer on the Art of Giving Giraffe Drawings

Amanda Palmer Drawing An Awful Giraffe

Amanda Palmer Demonstrating the Art of Giving, September 2012.

Amanda Palmer (Web|Twitter) is a musician and writer. She is one-half of the “Brechtian punk cabaret” group The Dresden Dolls and the frontwoman of Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra. Recently she published a book titled The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help (2014) based on her popular TED Talk on the same subject. Even if some of her ideas are tone deaf there’s no denying she’s an immensely talented artist (her album Theater is Evil is brilliant and rarely leaves my CD player).

Palmer passed through Houston the other night (two years ago), which was my first introduction to both her and her work. Drunk and amazed, the only trouble I had was trying to make small-talk with the fans who only wanted to talk about Neil Gaiman. Still, everyone was a friendly bunch — and when I asked Palmer to draw a giraffe she did so with only modest hesitation (the guitarist — whose name I’m excluding here on principle — thought I was a joke).

Please note that I take this project very seriously. And how could I not? Look at this:

Amanda Palmer Giraffe DrawingThis is the gold-standard of Brechtian Punk Cabaret giraffes (?).

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When David Mitchell Drew A Space Giraffe

David Mitchell Drawing a Giraffe

Author David Mitchell illustrating his cosmology.

David Mitchell (Web | Twitter) is an English author of six books of fiction including the international bestseller Cloud Atlas (2004), which you may recall was made into a film starring Tom Hanks. Recently, our paths crossed when Mitchell was in Houston reading from his latest work, The Bone Clocks (2014). If you aren’t familiar with his work, both I and the literati highly recommend it.

Following his reading, Mitchell spoke with author Mat Johnson, observing that at age 45 he’s had an epiphany: He’s not a novelist but rather a novella-ist. As with Cloud AtlasThe Bones Clock is a series of novellas that reference and situate one another to tell a larger narrative – in this case, a woman’s life from birth to death. Even though “people don’t buy novellas,” he prefers the format as it allows him the privileges of the short story without carrying on past its “natural” conclusion. (I think we can all name a few works that, like some dying animal, resists the end).

When Johnson asked if he noticed certain themes or tropes appearing throughout his work, Mitchell answered that there were two: The first was predatory and the other miscommunication. As he identified instances of these in his work, he added that every author is merely a handful of archetypes. As these stem from the author’s experiences, this limitation is not a bad thing. All it means is that one has to keep finding novel ways to orient them – through new environments, characters, and so on.

After his reading I waited around to get him to sign my copy of Cloud Atlas — and that was when I made the ask. Even though the woman behind me (rudely) groaned and, under her breath, kept telling me to “hurry up,” Mitchell drew what I regard as The Little Prince fan-fiction. I present to you: The Planet of The Giraffe.

David Mitchell Awful GiraffeAs I said to him afterward, “If your writing career ever sours, I don’t think illustrating is an option.”