When I was a kid, a paper put out an art contest for kids. The theme was racism, resolving or engaging with the problem. I made a comic that scandalized my parents so badly, they refused to send it in. It was two panels: a black cat was fighting with a white cat: a black and white cat walked by and its presence stunned and shamed the fighters. I still have that comic in an envelope somewhere, miracle of miracles.
The process of working on that comic cemented my sense of healthy ambition, it helped immunize me to being subjected by anyone. Which is best for everyone. An unbroken spirit is safer than a tamed one.
Treating kids as freelance illustrators is a good idea. Putting out a call each week to have a story or two illustrated would be a good idea. A contest where the prize is seeing their work, or work of their peers, published on a regular basis. That is much better than a trophy. Sensitizing. Normalizing. Purposeful.
It would foster a talent-pool from which to develop career illustrators. Nation-building in a way that is about as real as it gets. As a related aside, the illustrations in Horizon Herbs’ catalog are moving; they were done by the business owners’ daughter.
It would help acclimatize kids to the workforce, break those glass walls and ceilings placed around them by well-meaning family. Both gangland and the bourgeois are secretly jealous of their children being less miserable than themselves. Behind closed doors. This could give kids the coping skills they need to build their personal autonomy. Treating kids as regular contributor would give opportunity to a sympathetic, mutinous aunt to break up the system of control, the status quo, without being too obvious or invasive. Letting some fresh air into the kid’s lives, connecting them with the wider world.
The re-skilling movement includes good old-fashioned pen and ink. Hobby Lobby has expanded its ink, nib and bristol-board section. The art schools have not been teaching this as a basic course. The competition is lacking, exposing the abject parvenu to potential skill-peonage. Also hindering an illustrators ability to connect with their peers as equals. Hide your light under a barrel. An artists’ group becomes the new ghetto or small-town this way, where one is punished for rising above and being the best they can be.
It would do the staff good to come in daily contact with such Free Speech as only youth can conjure up. It would be nearly impossible to overstate the worth of that.
Mrs. Morgan Alexandria (Xandria) Woodham