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Artistic Expression and Why it Matters by Veronica Jorge

October 22, 2022 by in category Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as
Old books bound by a new shiny chain with an old padlock. Forbidden old works artists on a wooden table. Dark background.

“Picture it. Sicily….” Most of us will recognize that memorable line with which the outspoken Sophia Petrillo, portrayed by Estelle Getty in the television sitcom, The Golden Girls prefaced her words of wisdom and advice.

And what movie goer can ever forget Marlon Brando’s husky voice in the Godfather as the Italian patriarch Don Vito Corleone? “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Charlton Heston will forever be etched in the mind as Moses parting the red sea in Cecil B. DeMille’s, The Ten Commandments.

And in my estimation, Omar Sharif’s interpretation of the apostle Peter in the movie of the same name was superb.

All of these portrayed ethnicities and faiths other than their own. And we loved it.

So, I don’t understand the current trend that considers telling a story other than your own taboo because it means you are appropriating another’s culture.

The world of literature has made important contributions to our knowledge of and understanding of other peoples and cultures. For example: Japanese born Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, The Remains of the Day, allowed us a glimpse into a stately English home through the eyes of a British butler. Arthur Golden took us into the world and emotions of Japanese geisha women in his novel, Memoirs of a Geisha. The white journalist and novelist, John Howard Griffin medically colored his skin to pen, Black Like Me, a novel that made us feel the terror of being black in the deep South. Pearl S. Buck, an advocate of cross-cultural understanding and racial harmony, left a legacy of philanthropy and literature that includes her portraits of China in the novels, The Good Earth and Peony. And, I Claudius, by the British novelist Robert Graves, written as an autobiography, revealed the mind and nature of a Roman emperor.

Let’s be honest, whether it’s a hairstylist, auto mechanic, doctor, technician, or politician, we want the person who can best do the job. We evaluate them according to their experience, competence, and track record, not by their race, color or creed.

Why should the arts be any different? For the price of theatre tickets today, I want to get my money’s worth with the best performance. When I purchase a book, I want captivating writing that merits it a place of honor on my shelf.

Actors and writers research the world and times of the individuals they portray and write about. They enlighten us on issues we may be unaware of. They speak for the voiceless and reveal the invisible people we often pass on the street every day and ignore. The characters they bring to life illuminate events and sometimes horrific stories that need to be told. We begin to understand the challenges that motivate people’s actions and choices. We feel their anguish, hopes and dreams that are often our own as well. Via the actor’s and writer’s skillful character studies and world building, we meet believable individuals that we will never forget, and that we enjoy seeing and reading about over and over again. Their work is often the catalyst that spurs us to act and make changes which result in a better life for all of us.

Whether you read Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell or, The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall, both offer valuable insights and perspectives for understanding the people and the times.

Based on today’s standards, many of the wonderful novels that we consider literary classics would have never been written, and some of the movies we make a tradition of watching each year would have never been made.

The following quote from the 1895 poem, ‘Judge Softly or Walk a Mile in His Moccasins’ by Mary T. Lathrap (1838-1895) summarizes the importance of artistic expression.

“ Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions and see the world through his spirit and eyes…”

One might say that the empathy in acting and writing, its ability to help us understand and share the feelings of another, is essential for creating and participating in a just and safe society.

The only requirement that makes such magic possible is unfettered and uncensored artistic expression.

I hope that actors, writers, and all artists will continue unhindered to depict significant works of art that capture moments in time, help us understand the world around us, show us who we are, and inspire us to be kinder and more compassionate towards one another.

Veronica Jorge

See you next time on November 22nd!

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August 15, 2013 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

My  most recent cover with Caitlin
Your book is your biggest asset. You’ve spent months writing, editing, and polishing. Now it’s time to design a cover and that is a critical step in creating a commercially successful novel.
Caitlin Proctor  has been my artistic ‘partner in crime’ for my best selling witness series and some of my single title novels.  I love working with her for many reasons, not the least of which is that she asks questions about my vision before she starts to design.
I thought I’d turn the tables and ask a few questions of my own. Hopefully, her answers will help  you when it’s time to choose a graphic artist.
1) When should an author to contact a graphic artist ?
An artist should welcome consultations at any time. Planning ahead and getting something on the calendar cuts out frustration for both the author and the designer.  However, the editing phase is generally a good time to get started.
2) What questions should an author be prepared to answer when talking with an artist?
I like to discuss my process and what deadlines we are working with. After that, I get a book description from authors over the phone so I can hear how they talk about their book. This gives me a feeling for the personality of not only the author but their work as well. Then I send a questionnaire. This covers everything from book size, genre and description, and examples of covers the author likes and dislikes with reasons why. This may feel like homework, but it’s an essential exercise when establishing a working foundation.
3) Do you choose a cover image or should the author have one in mind?
I welcome all ideas for images, and I imagine other designers do also.  I may not be able to use the one the author has for technical reasons, but it gives me more direction. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing images such as; how it fits on the cover, is it vertical or horizontal, what focal point is created, does it play nicely with type etc. If the author’s image doesn’t work, I can usually find a similar one that does.
4) Cost is a concern. Can you break down the steps you take to create a cover and prepare it for publication?
Sometimes it is hard for authors to justify spending the money on a cover. The truth is, the cover is your reader’s first impression of your work. If done professionally, it will create intrigue as well as creditability to your work. If done poorly, your book can be overlooked or dismissed. That’s why I take a lot of thought and time with my covers so the author’s work is well represented. Here are some of the steps to my process:
1) Consultation
2) Questionnaire
3) Research competition in the same genre
4)  Paper sketching (symbolism and overall theme).
5)  Computer design (images/illustration, text and form).
6)  Send up to three comp
7) Author input and choices for cover elements
8) Final cover for digital
9)  Back cover input for print
5) Is it beneficial or detrimental for an author to send examples of covers she loves?
I like to see a minimum of 5 covers the author likes and 5 they dislike I ask for the cover images or links to be sent with a bit of input. For example: I love this cover because it is simple and the title jumps out. Or, I like the color choice. Or, I love this image but not this font etc. I think most designers would find this input beneficial.
6) Beyond Malice is one of my favorite covers. Take us through the creation.
Beyond Malice’s cover has a classy vintage feel with modern design elements.  The upside down image forces the reader’s eye to travel down. Most of the image color was removed so the knife wound became the focal point. This leads your eyes directly to the title and then travels down to our victim’s eyes. From the time your eyes circle from the knife wound to the title to the victim, a short story has already been told. 
To see more of Caitlin’s work:

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