I enjoy design work (web design, graphic design, page layout design, arranging furniture, etc.) but only when there are not too many people to please. One other person is good (like my wife). Two others starts to cause trouble. A committee of five meeting on what the new web site should look like is guaranteed to turn out something ugly, even if everyone on the team is perfectly competent in and of themselves, possessing reasonably good taste and design sensibility. And so, though I’m capable of navigating the social waters of such a meeting, the resulting product is often so disappointing, that I’d rather just butt out. I’ll let someone else have their way with the design. Even if I know of a way to improve upon it, to try and synthesize that with their ideas would actually make it worse.
The artist works best alone, or maybe with an assistant to bounce ideas of.
This is a another poem by Billy Collins called Instructions to the Artist.
It’s fun to imagine the evolving expression on the portrait painter’s face as his subject rattles off this list of parameters!
I wish my head to appear perfectly round
and since the canvas should be of epic dimensions,
please trace the circle with a dinner plate
rather than a button or a dime.
My face should be painted with an ant-like sense of detail;
pretend you are executing a street map
of Rome and that all the citizens
can lift thirty times their own weight.
The result should be a strained
but self-satisfied expression,
as if I am lifting a Volkswagen with one foot.
The body is no great matter;
just draw some straight lines
with a pencil and ruler.
I will not be around to hear the voice
of posterity calling me Stickman.
The background I leave up to you
but if there is to be a house,
lines of smoke rising from the chimney
should be mandatory.
Never be ashamed of kindergarten-
it is the alphabet’s only temple.
Also, have several kangaroos grazing
and hopping around in the distance,
an allusion to my world travels.
Some final recommendations:
I should like to appear hatless.
Kindly limit your palette to a single primary color, any one but red or blue.
Sign the painting on my upper lip
so your name will always be my mustache.
Though I fail to see how it is related to the rest of the poem, my favorite line is certainly:
Never be ashamed of kindergarten-it is the alphabet’s only temple.
There is a whole nother story wrapped up in that one.