Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

Art students more like athletes than not.


Extreme Boredom: Classroom Edition



I love learning but I have learned to not love the classroom. Whoever invented putting people in a classroom for over three hours and expecting them to be still and passively absorb tons of complex information must have been insane. I now completely understand why hardcore jocks hate school; the lecture hall system takes kinesthetic learners and traps them in a desk for long periods of time which is the exact opposite of how they operate. If the boredom of the situation makes it hard for a much more sedentary art slug like myself to cope with concentrating, more physical people have to be climbing the walls from the inactivity and I sympathize.

This is why TED lectures are perfect: someone introduces their subject material with clarity and precision  to you in under twenty minutes.

Unfortunately, I don’t see the college or university system of education ever innovating anything more dynamic. Professors do not want to put the extra effort into helping visual learners or hands-on learners have a better classroom experience when mass dumping verbal information is easier. Packing people into classrooms and lecture halls (and now online videos) is just too profitable to abandon for a better system.

And this is where sporty people and those who go to art school are actually a lot more alike than different. In art school, you are expected to make stuff. Very few of your classes are total passive learning situations and studio classes are often completely hands-on in continual active creation. The real opposite of being active like athletes or art students would be the students who truly thrive on sitting around a lecture hall like potted houseplants.

Categories: Rant, Uncategorized

Imgur: A sad, toxic social media site

January 15, 2016 3 comments


Imgur is a sad, toxic social media site and is useless for designers and artists. The general user base sucks and the functionality of the site is weak. I will explain the cause of both opinions which stems from a two week experiment in heavy use.

Read more…

Categories: Rant, Uncategorized

Free Back to School Tool

August 12, 2015 2 comments

Eel Kiss

Back to school season is upon us again, you can tell by the merchandise displays in the big box stores. Use this free poster for your upcoming art class, especially if it is a college studio class. Hang one in your locker or student lounge as needed. Pass them out to classmates and see if anyone actually picks the first choice. No one had for my survey attempts: sea eels FTW big time.

Originally blogged 9-11-2010

Categories: Fun Stuff, Rant

New Category: Cartoons & Comics

Surviving Winter Shellie Lewis

I started this blog to mainly do one thing: dump my art school education online for free.* (I saved you all tens of thousands of dollars. You’re welcome.) Also, I tried to serve as a translator for the real world to have a portal to the academic art world, but doing so in plain English, hitting some of the more interesting parts of theory or art history while avoiding any snootiness.

I looked to particularly post practical things that non-art people would not know offhand, like the difference between acrylic paint and oil paint. I added art media tips, digital resources and troubleshooting tips like getting oil paint off a dog. I’m kind of surprised how many people have needed to Google that last one.

Well, after 1,287 posts I am crazy bored of my own blog. Really, crazy bored. I never went for junk blogging: like ranking something via numbers articles, re-blogging other people’s content for quotas or teaser click-bait posts. It’s not too late, I can still write “CLICK HERE to Learn the Top 5 Reasons to Not Recycle Posts From Other Blogs!”… but I won’t.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes I’ve experimented with an animation program and have been doing cartoons and short form comics the past year when I found the time. The cartoons and comic art was mostly autobiographical and local Chicago stuff which I have circulated as physical media, and I’m talking photocopied zines; because that is exactly how you get wide circulation in the 21st Century digital world. The only thing more useless is large scale paintings that no one wants to buy and are hard to store in an urban apartment.

I am now adding a Cartoons & Comics category to this blog. This is what fine art programs tell you is garbage and anathema but what is most accessible to the general public –and probably the most appreciated art form. Basically, if it is fun and people like it, the academic fine art world will denigrate it as rubbish by calling it illustration, fan art, commercial art and a number of other things that indicate it is trash and not “art.” The fine art world can be really cerebral but also a real drag. They are cranky because of decades of economic distress.

Around 85 – 95% of Chicago’s smaller or entry level art galleries have gone under since 2008 and Chicago’s largest art show died in 2013. William Conger wrote an article about how art schools are self-perpetuating –that art schools just turn out students and some go on to work at art schools– and that it is impossible to have a fine art career anymore; then Judy Chicago went and wrote a whole book about the same subject. When it comes to the business aspect of the real world, art school teaches outdated information about having an “art career” that has no basis in reality. All the rap about “being serious” and doing things “right” to be a “real artist” is claptrap. The college I graduated from was repeating pedagogy from before I was born like a broken record, steps on a path that washed away and is a memory now. Lack of success which falls in the “paying your dues” mythos thus putting blame on graduates and not the school. Art school is people whose income comes from teaching ironically teaching you how to sell art in a way that would not even work for them. The things they added to the traditional “art career” pedagogy regarding social media and the internet for self-promotion is laughable.

Case in point: the last gallery show I had paintings in, about seven people came and they were all relatives of or dating the artists. No one bought anything. That gallery went under afterward.

The moral of the story is: never go to art school. They don’t teach any secrets and do not confer any kind of beneficial pedigree. There is plenty of informative books that you can read for free or cheap. You will find far more information online than will be taught in any degree program.

I have had all sorts of an art career but not a dime in profit from making art. I think you can make art or you can make an art career. I’m just going to wander off into the social media world and have fun. Check back for some cartoons or comics as they appear.

*Any ads you come across on this WordPress are being inserted by your Mac, Apple device, internet service provider, browser, etc. I still have zero ads or monetization on this blog. When I made this blog to be free, I meant it.

Laser Collage Article

August 22, 2014 4 comments
Art Sharks by Shellie Lewis, paper collage and laser cutter, 6x8 inches, 2014

Art Sharks by Shellie Lewis, paper collage and laser cutter, 6×9 inches, 2014

I came up with a new method for collage or at least a variation on the process which I published here. The intended audience is people within the hacker/maker community and are more likely to have access to laser cutting technology.

If you are enrolled at a college or university and you are not learning how to use current tech in laser cutting and 3-D printing, see if there is an available hackerspace / makerspace in your area. Laser cutting and 3-D equipment was on the campus I graduated from in 2010, in one department and locked behind closed doors, the private playthings of the professors. Students did not even know this equipment existed on campus. Demand education and access to this technology if your campus is missing it or is restricting access to the equipment. Robotics, rap rep [rapid reproduction] and being able to prototype creations on your own are current technologies that a wide range of creative and technical fields are using now. For me, becoming proficient with a laser cutter has opened new doors creatively, has been interesting and a lot of fun.   

College for Profit: Poised to Break the Tenure System

October 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Something that really has me disgusted is the degree to which colleges have been corporatized in the past ten years. The costs of tuition have increased tremendously and the product is not essentially different or better in any way. The expensive, private, for-profit art and media college I attended was years to decades behind current technology and best practices in the various programs. The cinema program literally has kids still running around with 16mm film cameras because the school won’t buy digital equipment! That was how that program was in the 1990s. The ongoing economic recession or depression gives colleges and universities further excuses to corporatize, especially downsizing staff and faculty, and the college I graduated has taken this a step further by figuring out how to eliminate tenured staff.

Getting rid of tenured staff is simple: they just are not going to hire them anymore.  From the 1990s to present they shifted tenured instructors in favor of adjunct instructors. The last published number I had for Columbia College placed adjunct faculty at 77% for the whole campus. That is 77% of a college workforce for instruction that is part-time, has no insurance, no vacation time, no sick leave, no retirement or investment benefits, can be eliminated at any time and is paid substantially less than the tenured professors. The adjunct instructors are unionized but the college was able to roll them for three years without a contract and little improvement in their current employment contract. They probably should have gone on strike yet the same time there was “prioritization” downsizing of staff and faculty. (SAIC took downsizing a step further and just outright broke tenure and fired a bunch of tenured professors to get them off their payroll.) No one at Columbia wanted to strike when the college was eliminating positions and everyone was at risk of losing their jobs. For many, their adjunct teaching job became their only or their primary source of income. The reason why a lot of people were and are willing to bite the bullet on being an adjunct professor was under the belief of paying one’s dues and proving one’s worth in hopes of getting hired into a tenure track position. Also, white collar, professional jobs are few and far between in Chicago and especially in this ongoing downturn economy. Now that the college administration appears to have firm dominance, the word is the administration is going to now open full-time positions but things will be different. With other schools following this pattern, it is not like people can shift to jobs elsewhere.

The new word invented for tenure dodging is “lectureship”.  Adjunct professors, who can find themselves out of a job from semester to semester, will have an opportunity to apply for lectureship positions instead of tenure track professor positions. A lectureship is basically a one year contract for employment and some full-time benefits but without the full benefits of tenure track or tenured professors. I had my share of lazy, do-nothing and unaccountable tenured professors but I also had my share of good ones. This system maybe would help to oust under-performing professors but I see it as holding more power in union breaking by undermining and ultimately eliminating the tenure system for profit. Maybe the school will try to spin lectureship jobs as an innovation or an improvement but for me the bottom line is that administration has figured out that the highly educated sector of the workforce is as desperate for employment as the workforce in general.

College for profit is demonstrably in existence in all colleges, even “non-profit” colleges. Illinois States Attorney Lisa Madigan looked at the books for UIC and Northwestern and asked how they can be non-profit when UIC had over $300 Million in trust and Northwestern had over $800 Million in trust. These non-profit schools with their massive resources, having legal programs and medical programs with hospitals are not in the business of handing out free educations to the children of the poor, legal aid or medical help to those in need. On top of that, they hold billions of dollars in prime real estate and buildings, none of which is taxed. Lisa Madigan advised that both universities should consider “doing more for the community” or be taxed. I wish more investigation and pressure to change would come from this line of thinking. Just because college and universities have non-profit status does not mean they have justifiable reasons for having that status when in fact they are highly profitable operations.

Colleges and universities also love to “cry poor” as much as they can, stating loss of government funding and lower student enrollment as proof they are in financial hardship. Mathematically, about three or four students in a class pays for the class itself, especially if taught by an adjunct professor as per some of the numbers I have learned about. The schools hide how many people in a class actually make the class break even. Colleges and universities are not in the business to be self-sustaining; they are in the education business for profit.  Schools have been packing in twenty to thirty students a class and getting side money on online classes. Columbia owns at least 17 high rise buildings in downtown’s South Loop area and a mansion for the school President, but the school claims poverty from lower enrollment.

Part of my concerns is that these changes in higher academia are coming out of the greater culture of Chicago which has been systematically dismantling public education on the grammar school level and shifting the tax dollar resources into private enterprises. The city did that with recycling and our street parking meters and a thousand other things I don’t know enough about recent history and politics to name. This is the city of expert corruption, the buddy system and the income based kick-back through contracts. Trying to understand all of it is numbing. This is the city that since The Rahmfather has shut down 50% of mental health services closing two of the four available facilities, took 49 schools in poorer neighborhoods and shut them down (originally slated to be 54) and has the highest sales tax in the nation. If tax money can be gift-wrapped and handed to private industry, Chicago knows how to best tie the bow on top. Colleges and universities in my city are suspect because they are in the business of learning and have a great seat to watch just how much people will put up with and how far profit motivation can go unchecked. It seems the game is won by those who will be boldest in their greed at the expense of the public good, their own students and their own faculty.

Categories: Chicago, Rant, Uncategorized

Petition to Remove the Location Restrictions for the Peddler’s License



Please sign this petition and please forward to others to sign. Let city government know people want change:

City of Chicago: Remove sections 4-244-130 through 4-244-140 from the Municipal Code.


Panhandling was made illegal in Chicago until the A.C.L.U. sued the city and won on the basis of those laws being a restriction on Free Speech.  The A.C.L.U. lawsuit only covered panhandling and left out artists, musicians and street merchants.  This has led to the current laws which radically restrict peddling.  What is worse for the city’s economy and image: someone offering to sell you something or someone panhandling?  The current laws make paying for a Peddler’s License less beneficial than begging.  Begging costs nothing to begin as it requires no investment in goods, it offers no revenue to the city in licensing fees, is outside of the systems of state and city taxation and is a deterrent to visitors.  Ongoing reform to the Peddler’s License, starting with removing the regional bans, will offer a legal alternative through micro-business start ups that wish to vend merchandise to the public.