Tag Archives: bad art

An Awful Giraffe Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci

Polymath and “Painter” Leonardo da Vinci,

On this Friday the 13th I thought it would be appropriate to post a particularly awful giraffe, and as I began searching my files I received an email. Innocently enough, I unsuspectingly opened it to find the most … I can’t even find the words. How does one describe the failed efforts of the most gifted polymath that has ever lived, Leonardo da Vinci? Do I posthumously congratulate him for the effort? Do I lie down and hope the nausea goes away? Do I try and mobilize Pretty Awful Giraffe-ites to contact the Louvreand have this mockery removed?

“Painter”? Yeah, and I’m Queen Latifah (I’m not Queen Latifah)

I think I’ll go with the second option and let Mr. Lucas Rayala take the wheel from here:

This well-known painting by LDV, while beloved by many in the world, is in fact a very horrible attempt to draw a giraffe.  Perhaps the worst ever.  While the neck length approaches believability, the snout is completely wrong, utterly failing to incorporate the mouth and nose in a cohesive semblance of an ungulate mammals jaw structure.  Intended to be a picture of a giraffe standing on its hind legs and eyeing a leafy branch somewhere behind the viewer, the front hooves have been mangled and forced into a crossed pattern to amateurishly fit inside the canvas space.  Also, proper giraffes are two-toed, not four (or five?!) as LDV depicts.  This beast’s habitat has been purposefully blurred in the background because LDV, despite his much-flaunted intellect, was obviously uncertain of its native environment.

I think I’m going to be sick.

Minnesota Twin Gene Larkin's Pretty Awful Giraffe (4-16-11)

World Series-Winning Minnesota Twin Gene Larkin

The following comes from a good friend of mine, Andie Whitaker (twitter), who besides being active in the Twin Cities political scene also runs a blog called Goodbye Disposable Hello Cloth. After running into Gene Larkin at a hardware store in Blaine, MN, as he was there promoting the store and signing autographs, Andie was kind enough to wait around and get what I can only describe as the best damn submarine-giraffe I have ever seen. For those unfamiliar with Larkin, he is a former switch-hitting first baseman and right fielder for the Minnesota Twins. One of only seven Twins to play at both the 1987 and 1991 World Series, Larkin is perhaps best known for hitting a game-winning single during the latter championship game.

Photo Credit: John Iacono/Sports Illustrated

So, that’s pretty sweet, right?

I had the opportunity of meeting Gene Larkin at a hardware store in Blaine, MN. He was there as part of a promotion for the store. Many fans began lining up to meet the Twins legend at least an hour before he arrived. All of these fans were waiting patiently with their baseballs, bats and cards in hand with a great deal of excitement. There I stood in line with a blank sheet of paper and those surrounding me in line gave me a look as if I was lost.

When it was finally my turn to talk with Larkin and get his autograph, in a shy voice I asked: “I have a unique request for you and I hope you are willing to help me…” As I explained to him that I would like it if he drew a giraffe for me and why, he stares at me with the most confused look.

“You want me to draw a giraffe?” Larkin says, repeating the question likely with the hope that I was joking.

“Yes. A giraffe.”

He then told me that if I were willing to wait until everyone else in the line had received his autograph, then he would “look into this giraffe thing.”

I waited patiently and it seemed as though everyone within the hardware store was gawking at me, but I continued to wait, certain that my patience would result in a very special giraffe drawing.

And I was right. My perseverance did pay off.

Once the line has subsided, he called me over. He stared at the blank sheet of paper for a few seconds, pondering if this was something he really wanted to do; he then expressed concern in his ability to accurately draw a giraffe. So I began to quell his fears the best I could:

“Well, they have long necks.”

He scribbled the head of the giraffe very fast, so he could begin drawing a neck, followed by the body.

“They also tend to have a pattern, much like spots.”

He adds a few squiggly spots to the submarine-like giraffe.

“And they tend to have four legs.”

Larkin draws four box-like legs and declares that he is finished, baffled that this is what I had waited for.

I shook his hand and thanked him for his time and his “masterpiece.”

Minnesota Twin Gene Larkin's Pretty Awful Giraffe (4-16-11)

What the hell does one say?

Normally I would insert a really snarky comment down here regarding an individuals’ inability to draw giraffes, but all I can do is silently shake my head in shame.  I am disappointed, Mr. Larkin.

1: "I think I left it on the grill too long.” 2: “Yeah, this is an Awful Giraffe.”

Blogger and Deep Sea Biologist “Southern Fried Scientist”

Late on Thursday (or was it a very early Friday?) I was surprised to find a mention to the @AwfulGiraffes  twitter account (a mention and its context now lost to my ignorance of the site’s functions) from @SFriedScientist from SouthernFriedScience.com, a science blog run by three Carolinian graduate students with an interest in marine biology. Thinking it may be a long shot, I figured I’d extend an invitation to him to contribute to the website. It didn’t take long to get the following reply:

@SFriedScientist: @AwfulGiraffes at the rate @kzelnio and I are drinking, there is real potential for a DNS/SFS collaborative giraffe.”

Shortly thereafter I received this – what I can only perceive to be a threat:

1: "I think I left it on the grill too long.” 2: “Yeah, this is an Awful Giraffe.”

1: "I think I left it on the grill too long.” 2: “Yeah, this is an Awful Giraffe.”

Offensive. Fucking offensive.

I am sick and tired of people portraying scenes of giraffes being mercilessly slaughtered. No one would like to see a dead giraffe. Even more so, no one wants to see someone eating said dead giraffe. Whether one is T.C. Boyle, a mammoth excavator [giraffe still to come] or a someone who studies “population structure and connectivity of deep-sea hydrothermal vent endemic invertebrates in the Western Pacific,”  it’s still tasteless.

Dear readers, as you may already be well aware, I am not someone one could call a “scientist.” Sure, I know what you’re thinking, my literate internet pal: “But you’re a political scientist and you’re a part time lecturer on theoretical physics!” And you’re absolutely right, friend, but my biologicy background extends as far as reading Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth (2009) and a score of 1 on an high school AP exam. The reason why I am saying all of this is because I would like to believe that I am someone who should not be drawing snarky cartoons regarding esoteric divisions of biology that are way over my head:

"I keep boiling but these fuckers dont die."

Oh, I’m so funny!

Assuming every picture I found on Google (“Hydorthermal Vent Animals” to be an actual hydrothermal vent animal (including the Cyclops Kitten and James Cameron), I can only extend, on behalf of the world, a sincere thanks to SFriedScientist for holding back from the public’s eye the creatures perhaps best confined to an H.P. Lovecraft tale. (But not too much thanks since you totally – to the misfortune of all – failed on the James Cameron front).

Author Sam Lipsyte's Pretty Awful Giraffe 4-8-11

Novelist Sam Lipsyte

Sam Lipsyte (facebook) is a writer whose writings have appeared in a wide array of publications including Slate, The Washington Post, GQ, Esquire and Playboy. Hailed for his creative use of language and black humor, Lipsyte was in Minnesota recently as part of a tour for the paperback release of his 2010 novel The Ask (Amazon; NYT’s book review). Though I had not actually read much of his work (or more specifically: any) I happened to be in town, still high from meeting Michio Kaku, and thought I would stop by. Having read some reviews of his latest book, he seemed like an interesting enough guy to shamelessly exploit for a cheap website.

Sam Lipsyte by Ethan Hill

Photo Credit: Ethan Hill (Also, he does not look nearly this sour in person).

When I attend most book readings, I’ll admit that more often than not I have failed to read much of the author’s work. Often, as an aspiring writer, I’m more interesting in the conversations that follow when one gets an opportunity to really pick the person’s brain and learn more about the writing process and Leviathan-nature of the publishing industry. (For anyone considering adopting the title of “published author” I would strongly encourage you to find someone on a tour so that they may try to convince you otherwise).

Finding him at a Magers and Quinn Booksellers event, when he took to the podium before a small crowd of 15 to 20, he presented himself as a fairly straightforward guy (like the kind of guy who would say, without a long introduction, “I’m just going to read a few lines and then call it a night”) Also, he was not the kind of guy willing to sell his book short: “[The Ask is] a book about how shitty life is and how it only gets shittier.”

He had my attention.

Being a big Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk fan this was sure to be right up my alley. And now that I have started by God I’ll be damned if Details Magazine isn’t right when they say that “With his third novel, about the painfully hilarious adventures of a failed painter in a dead-end job, he should finally get the acclaim he deserves.” Honestly, it’s pretty fucking good, and the fact that I do not expect to pick up any homework until I’ve reached the back cover should be evidence enough for this claim. If you have time on your hand, Deadspin.com has the first chapter of the book online (if anyone is seriously interested in reading it, I’d be happy to lend my copy).

At the risk of being sued for copyright infringement, I’ll post a brief excerpt I came across yesterday since I think it effectively captures Lipsyte’s sense of humor:

“… I’m all for capital punishment. I’m a huge death penalty guy. I like everything about it. And don’t tell me how it’s more expensive to the taxpayer than life sentences. Because if you ask me, we should pony up a little more. We should feel the cost of our ritual, revel in it. It was probably a drain on the Aztec economy to capture and drug all those people and carve out their living hearts, but are you going to tell me it wasn’t worth it? Yes, sir, the death penalty is where it’s at. Is there a chance innocent people die? I should fucking hope so! Innocent people die constantly in this world. Why should things be better for those scumbags in lockdown?”

“But you said they were innocent.”

“Innocent? Please. No thanks, buddy. Keep that knee-jerk liberal crap on your side of the aisle. I’m not ashamed of the sacrifice a balls-out civilization must make to survive ….” The Ask, p. 82-83.

So it was with only mild surprise that, when I made the ask, he looked confused behind his Coke-bottle glasses, a smile stretching across his face. I, frankly, did not expect any hesitance on his part since I was under the assumption that he was asked this question fairly frequently. I asked again.

“Well … Well, I guess … so.”

What followed would, in retrospect, be a clear sign that he is certainly someone who should not be drawing giraffes.

Author Sam Lipsyte's Pretty Awful Giraffe 4-8-11

Almost forgetting that this was an actual book signing (as was almost the case with T.C. Boyle), I presented my copy of his book in which I can only assume is an official endorsement for PrettyAwfulGiraffes.com:

Sam Lipsyte's inscription to Josh Preston's copy of The Ask (4-8-11)

"To Josh, Good ask with the giraffe thing. Sam Lipsyte"

Eboo Patels Pretty Awful Giraffe

Writer and Blogger Eboo Patel

[The following story comes from fellow Editorial Board Member Lucas Felts.]

Eboo Patel has been a member of Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Relationships since 2009. He is the founder and Executive Director of Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international non-profit dedicated to the promotion of interfaith cooperation.

Eboo Patel is a truly inspiring man of whom I met one beautiful weekend in Decorah, IA at Luther College for the Nobel Peace Prize Forum.  It was Friday night where Eboo was guiding a discussion from former Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi.  I, with a twinkle in my eye, looked on as I saw two miraculous things unfolding before me.  First I saw a message being delivered with power and conviction from Shirin Ebadi promoting social justice guided by the calm collected presence of Eboo Patel.  But I also saw something else that fateful day upon that stage.  As I sat there furiously scribing away in my metahipster journal I saw giraffes on that stage.  Not living, breathing, 14-foot tall giraffes, don’t be silly how would Luther College get those in an auditorium? No, I saw the potential for some poorly drawn giraffes on that stage.

Eboo Patel is a Rhodes Scholar and one of today’s foremost experts on religion and interfaith relations.  In my humble opinion I would have to conclude that this man has no business whatsoever drawing a giraffe.  So, when the conversation had come to an end I, like any sane and fully competent person on a mission, decided to disregard the barriers preventing me from going on stage (it is a well known fact that if you act like you know what you are doing people perceive you to know what you are doing and thus don’t question you) and I approached Eboo with all the desirous emotions of a childhood boy on the verge of fulfilling his dream.  He looked me in the eyes, the aura of an important man ever looming about him, and said, “What’s up?”  More noble words may have never been spoken because in that instant I was frozen, the only thing standing between me and immortality by virtue of Giraffes was my own fear.

Nonetheless I was able to muster out, “Eboo, I have a strange request for you.  Would you draw me a giraffe?”  With a confused look on his face he grabbed the notebook from my hand and began to sketch.  He then stopped and looked at me half serious half confused and said, “I don’t know if I should be doing this,” as though there was some moral dilemma in drawing a giraffe.  Or maybe his reservations came from the terror stories floating about the internet of how US Congressman Tim Walz’s inability to draw a giraffe resulted in what may be one of the year’s biggest controversies.  Nonetheless once I assured him there was nothing to fear in contributing to the biggest revolution since the civil rights movement he then resumed, commenting briefly on how his son would love that he is doing this(it’s true, your children will love you much more if you draw a giraffe for us).  After some time spent working on his creation, he realized his giraffe looked more like a camel without humps than it did a giraffe.  Not to be discouraged, however, the final product was finished and handed back to me with a signature and the look of a man who had truly accomplished something. He also wrote giraffe at the top so the viewers of this website dedicated to drawings of giraffes would fully understand that this was, in fact, actually what he was trying to draw.

The following night Eboo gave an incredibly moving speech on interfaith relations, recurring through his speech were examples of important historical figures who promoted the idea that we are better together.  I think I can say with full confidence that when the blank page of my journal said we were better apart, Eboo Patel and his giraffe/camel said we are better together.  You can find Eboo on twitter(@EbooPatel) or you can read his blog at the Washington Post.

But there is only one place you can find his poorly drawn giraffe.  And that is right here my friends.

Eboo Patels Pretty Awful Giraffe

Our Apologies for Missing Friday’s Post

Normally we like to try our best to post a new giraffe every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but unfortunately we dropped the ball yesterday. Instead of scheduling a new giraffe I found myself bumming around the Twin Cities visiting friends, writing, walking DinkyTown and giving Michio Kaku‘s powerpoint presentation to a crowd of 500+ at the University of Minnesota Bookstore as he calmly stood beside me with laryngitis (podcast and giraffe to come).

Needless to say: I was busy.

Also, I made my way over to see the always funny Sam Lipsyte at Magers and Quinn booksellers. Lipsyte is a satirist/black humorist/terrible artist whose latest book The Ask (2010) is a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (Slate did a nice review here).

Though your Friday was likely an empty one filled simply with decisions of whether or not you should kick it in the front seat or sit in the back seat, I will make it up to you by making this Monday (4/11/11) extra awful with a double post – I just have to decide which giraffes to use.

In other news:

  • Many thanks to Dillon McBrady for not only obtaining a giraffe from U.S. Senator Al Franken, which will make its way online in the near future. Also, thank you Dillon for bringing to light U.S. Congressman Collin Peterson‘s refusal to help his constituents in their entrepreneurial undertakings.
  • PrettyAwfulGiraffes.com would like to publicly apologize to U.S. Congressman Tim Walz for causing a recent controversy that has the potential to overshadow Nixon’s Watergate. Our bad, dude.
  • A friend of a friend was able to get a giraffe drawn by Philip Glass, who according to Wikipedia is “considered to be one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century and is widely acknowledged as a composer who has brought art music to the public.” Pretty sweet, huh?
  • It’s very likely that we’ll have buttons and stickers ready in the next two weeks. Be sure to join the Street Team and tell all of your friends to do the same.
  • I’m not sure what to do with the giraffes that have been finding their way to my inbox lately. Should I just throw them up online and let the people decide? Help!

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

R.T. Rybak is the current mayor of Minneapolis, MN, (serving since 2002) and a former writer for the Minneapolis Tribune who has also contributed to MPR. More importantly, he’s been known to crowd surf at First Avenue concerts. Yeah, that’s Minnesota for you.

So I will start by saying that I have nothing less than the utmost respect for Mayor R.T. Rybak. The guy is kind, smart, passionate and is often the best speaker in the room regardless of the venue. With that said, it is with a heavy heart that I must report the following: when I invited the mayor to participate in GDBWSNBDG at a recent local foods banquet in Montevideo, MN, the first reply I got was “What does a giraffe look like?”

Needless to say I was speechless. Though I do not know the mayor on a personal level, I have spoken to him at enough political functions to know that this question must have been in jest. Or, at the very least, a question of metaphysics.  After all, I as an armchair philosopher I can sympathize: what does anything truly look like?

At least for both his sake and mine this is the story I’m sticking to.

“Well, they have long necks,” I said.

“Right!”

He then took the notebook from my hand and began to draw, clarifying that he would need to draw a rough draft. (One could say that he was drawing a rough gir-aft, but one should probably not say that because it would make them look like an asshole).

Figure 1: Mayor Rybak’s Rough Gir-aft.

Commenting on his work (“Hm, not bad!”) he then tore the draft from the notebook. Becoming serious, he took to his art like a bird to flight …

… If said bird was filled with helium, therefore making it a fowl-ish Hindenberg.

Normally the story would end here, but the moment he finished (taking the time to “touch up” the work with neck-arms and a pigtail) he then took the sketch and ran off. Not knowing what was going on (and hoping to get my notebook back), I followed only to see that he had sought out his wife with cries of “Honey, honey, look what I drew!”

The reply? “That’s very nice, Raymond.”

Yes, very nice indeed.