Category Archives: self promotion

Rembrandt

The Hundred Guilder print

Side-note: One of my favorite artists, Rembrandt, was a boy in the Netherlands while the Pilgrims were there. When I was a new Sunday-school teacher, I joked that everything I knew about the Bible came from looking at Rembrandt paintings. A benefit of the Netherlands being a haven for religious minorities was that there was a Jewish quarter in Amsterdam. Rembrandt lived in and had friends there. He depicted Christ and the Holy Family as Jews (which they were, of course), using his friends as models. This was a departure from tradition. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/rmbt/hd_rmbt.htm
Look at Christ’s hands in the Hundred Guilder print. Rembrandt drew with a steel stylus, cutting lines into a copper plate. Yeah, he could draw.

https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/1.5160992
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/371732

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Don’t forget: I wrote another Western Civ User’s Guide! Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space.

Going viral 1517-style

Some people are great self-promoters. Most aren’t. Johannes Gutenberg created world-changing technology but didn’t know how to capitalize on it. Martin Luther saw the printing press and knew exactly what to do.

It was movable type and the printing press that got the Protestant Reformation off to such a fiery start. Within days of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg, printed copies were circulating all over Europe. If the Pope had wanted to respond to each one, he’d have to wait for an army of monks to calligraph his remarks on parchment.

In England, across the Channel, they could read what Luther had posted in Saxony just a few days earlier. Can you imagine what it was to have news delivered so quickly? Well, of course you can. Nowadays Martin Luther would take a selfie in front of All Saints Church and post it on Instagram with a link to his blog where there’d be a pdf of his 95 Theses and you’d download it a few moments later. But it was 1517, so he used Gutenberg’s hot new technology to spread his ideas. He followed up the Theses with cheap, easy-to-read printed pamphlets where he defended his arguments in German. These were bestsellers and Luther even got big-shot artist Lucas Cranach to draw illustrations for them—his drawings were made into woodcuts. Luther’s pamphlets would be carried to every port city and printers there would run up copies and sell them.

Luther translated the Bible into German. It was a bestseller, too—5,000 copies.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-power-of-luthers-printing-press/2015/12/18/a74da424-743c-11e5-8d93-0af317ed58c9_story.html
https://www.history.com/news/printing-press-renaissance
https://www.nls.uk/exhibitions/treasures/the-reformation/95-theses/
Yes, it’s a word https://www.dictionary.com/browse/calligraph

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Don’t forget: I wrote another Western Civ User’s Guide! Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space.

The proud tradition of not making money in publishing

Gutenberg was able to print many more copies of the Bible than could be handwritten by monks in the same amount of time. His output left the scriptoria in the dust. More means less expensive—lots more people could afford to own a bible. Think of Henry Ford cranking out inexpensive cars, one every hour and a half. https://johnmanders.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/more-cars-please/ Gutenberg could crank out bibles all day long and customers could snap ‘em up as soon as they came off the press, right? The guy should have been a millionaire, right? Nope. It didn’t work out that way. What did he do wrong? This: he didn’t have a distribution system set up. Only a few people in Mainz, Germany could read, so his hometown customer-base was tiny. The tragedy is Gutenberg might have found many enthusiastic customers in Europe’s big cities. Put six bible sales-guys on boats to the universities and libraries in Venice, Rome, Athens, London, Alexandria, Paris—you think they wouldn’t bring home some big orders? It appears Gutenberg never thought to do that. In the business world, nothing happens until the sale is made. Gutenberg conquered every challenge except sales. He wound up owing everybody money and his creditors took everything in his shop. There’s an important lesson here (for me, especially):

Go out there and find your customers!

While I have you here—if you like this blog, please recommend it to your pals. Tell me if you’d like some promotional postcards (tell me your address at jmanders@aol.com). I cherish the hope that I’ll be able to print these Western Civ User’s Guides and start promoting them at comic cons and librarian cons and homeschooling events. I need to go out and find my customers.

As always, I’m very grateful that you weirdos read this stuff.

Door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen were a staple of gag cartoons a few decades ago. https://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/e/encyclopedia_salesman.asp

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Don’t forget: I wrote another Western Civ User’s Guide! Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space.

Pirates, Ahoy!

Many thanks to my hosts at the Children’s Literature Centre at Frostburg, Maryland for inviting me to present at their annual Pirates In The Park festival. I had a fantastic time! I read from Eve Bunting’s P Is For Pirate. The kids had me paint a parrot who is a pirate on a treasure chest in a pirate ship reading a treasure map. Whew! https://www.frostburg.edu/childrens-literature-centre/pirates.php

You can still buy an autographed copy of P Is For Pirate at Main Street Books. I signed copies of some other titles, too. https://www.downtownfrostburg.com/business/main-street-books/

My baby sister made me this pirate rig in one afternoon!

My clever audience came up with their own Pirate ABC! They told me the A, B & C pirate words to draw.

Dr Ornstein took all the great photos shown here. Thanks, Barbara!

Thanks, you guys!

This blog surpassed 200 followers yesterday. I am grateful for every one of you!

(If you’re not following and would like to, just scroll down to the follow/subscribe button.)

How my sketches evolve

Probably my best tool for convincing an art director to hire me is my ability to sketch. I like my drawings to look like they came together without much effort. That’s an illusion, of course. To make something look easy you need to put in a bit of work.

Here are the stages of the Hannibal drawing I did for the last post:

1) A rough thumbnail sketch of the idea. Believe it or not, I drew it 10 years ago when I first started planning this book. I like the carelessness of this drawing.

2) I grabbed reference for Hannibal’s elephants and drew this sketch by tracing over the thumbnail and refining it. I added a guy behind the elephant for some drama. I think it looks way overworked, like I’m trying too hard.

3) So I traced over the tracing. This one feels light and fun, like the thumbnail. But, I overlooked one thing…

4) …that howdah needs to be drooping further back on the elephant. That change makes the elephant look even less in control—the balance has shifted—there’s tension because he could go tumbling at any moment. I didn’t redraw the whole sketch, just the howdah.

If I use this image in the printed version of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing, I will paint it traditionally. I will concentrate on keeping it light and fun.

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Fit for a Pirate Queen

I sold a painting through my Etsy shop! My take on Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley—from Eve Bunting’s P Is For Piratehas found the perfect home. My patron and his girlfriend are pirate history aficionadoes whose house they transformed into a pirate museum, Musee Libertalia. “It’s named after Captain Mission’s fabled pirate paradise—Libertalia, on the Island of Saint Marie off Madagascar.”

She looks right at home.

I’m so happy. What an honor!

Post scriptum—If ye’ve a mind, shape a course in this direction for a fantastic reading of Treasure Island.

Amerigo

The next guy to visit the New World was Amerigo Vespucci (vess-POOCH-y) from Florence, Italy. Amerigo was a navigator, a mapmaker, a trader and astronomer. During one of his trips he calculated the circumference of the Earth (how big around at the Equator)—and was off by only 50 miles!

Amerigo Vespucci was also a writer and promoter. If Columbus didn’t realize how big the New World is, Vespucci surely did. He wrote pamphlets (short, easy-to-read) to tell people about the New World and all it had to offer. Vespucci promoted the New World to Europe. Promotion, gang. Amerigo Vespucci did such a good job of promoting the New World that a German mapmaker named the newly-discovered continents for Amerigo—North America and South America—and it caught on.

It’s a tradition to name continents in the feminine form—Asia; Africa; Europe (Europa to the people who live there); India; Australia; Antarctica. So the boy’s name Amerigo became the girl’s name America.

How do people promote nowadays? Writing a pamphlet was the way to go in Vespucci’s time. How would you promote something big that you wanted everybody to know about?

Happy Fat Tuesday!

I used to make up these puzzles for my Sunday school class. Apologies to the JUMBLE® guys: Henri Arnold, David L. Hoyt and Jeff Knurek!

Speaking of libraries, I’ll be at the Grove City Community Library this Friday (2/28/20) evening 6:00-7:00 to talk about illustrating kids’ books. If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by!

More Maimonides from my pal Ilene

Ilene Winn-Lederer is a talented illustrator pal of mine. She’s written about  Maimonides and also created this beautiful image of him. I asked her to contribute her thoughts about Rabbi Moshe—here’s what she has to say. Incidentally, if you like Ilene’s illustration it is available as a print. Purchase info is at the end of this post.

Here is the text I promised to send. You may know this info but it’s what I provided to the JCC and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation when the painting was exhibited and later purchased. MAIMONIDES’ DREAM 1998
Sumi Ink, Acrylic on Paper 20″ x 24″

Maimonides… rabbi, physician and foremost intellectual figure of medieval Judaism is depicted in this acrylic on paper painting. As the prolific writer whose ideas about philosophy, religion, and medicine continue to influence these disciplines today, he is best known for three works: his commentary on the Mishna, his code of Jewish law, and his ‘Guide of the Perplexed’.

Born Moses Ben Maimon to an educated, distinguished family on March 30, 1135 in Cordoba, Spain, he lived in a time when nearly one-fifth of the people in Southern Spain were Jews. In 1159, a fanatical Islamic sect began to persecute the Jews of Cordoba and the family left Spain for Fez, Morocco. There, Maimonides began his study of medicine, but again his family fled persecution and moved to Palestine. By the 1160’s, they had finally settled in Fostat, Egypt, near Cairo where the practice of Judaism was permitted. Soon after their arrival Maimonides’ father and brother died and Maimonides began to practice medicine to support his family. He was in great demand for his learning and skills as a physician, and soon became court physician to Sultan Saladin. Maimonides also lectured at the local hospital, maintained a private practice, and was a leader in the Jewish community. Maimonides died on Dec. 13, 1204, and was buried in Tiberias near the Sea of Galilee.

I have envisioned Maimonides embracing the Torah, which is encased in a Sephardic style container known as a ‘tik’. He is seen in flight reflecting the phases of exile he and his family endured. His Egyptian sojourn and subsequent rebirth of his career as a physician is represented by the phoenix, which according to legend, was originally called the Bennu. It was associated with the Egyptian deity Osiris and identified as a heron with its long, straight back and two erect head feathers. Later named Phoenix by the Greeks for its brilliant red-gold plumage, this mythical bird was said to create itself from the fire that burned on the top of the sacred Persea tree in Heliopolis. Rising from the ashes, it symbolizes healing and immortality, just as the new sun rises from the old. The burning spice tower on the horizon alludes to the Golden Age of Spain when Judaism and Islam lived harmoniously. The tower burns, but is not consumed because of the memories that survive to become hope. Finally, the sun and moon image represents the timeless nature of dreams.

Thanks, Ilene! Here’s where you can purchase a print of MAIMONIDES’ DREAMhttp://magiceyegallery.com/PicturePage.aspx?id=42