Sheridan Instructor Attempts Art Criticism (and Fails) Sheridan Instructor Attempts Art Criticism (and Fails)
Bad Ideas

Sheridan Instructor Attempts Art Criticism (and Fails)

Ottawa Animation Festival

In my mind, the worst quality a teacher can have is to be close-minded because that narrow interpretation of good and bad is passed on to an entire generation of young artists at a critical time when they should be learning, growing, and exploring. That’s why I shuddered when I read this post on Sheridan instructor Pete Emslie’s blog in which he trashes this year’s poster for the Ottawa International Animation Festival (pictured above). The poster was drawn by Theo Ushev, who in addition to being an accomplished fine artist, is the director of amazing animated shorts like Drux Flux and Tower Bawher. In his post, Emslie he describes it as “blecchh!,” a “cat vomiting,” and writes that it’s proper place would be “taped to a fridge door by some loving mom.” It’s downright embarrassing to think that this guy represents the quality of instruction and critical thinking at a school that purports itself to be one of the top animation institutions in the world.

Emslie’s criticisms, if describing something as “blecchh” can be regarded as a valid criticism, drew a response from Ottawa festival director Chris Robinson who wrote on his blog:

What annoys me is the infantile hostility coming from a man who claims to have 30 years experience in animation as an animator and, egad, a teacher (I thought teachers are supposed to be guides. They introduce students to a diversity of possibilities and then let them go off and develop their own thoughts.). This guy doesnt even try. It’s just outright reaction. The work is ugly and pretentious and that’s that. There’s no processing, no attempt to contemplate and consider. He doesnt even encourage dialogue (isn’t that one of the primary functions of being a teacher?).

Animation director Michael Sporn also weighed in on the issue (and a lengthy comments thread follows his thoughts), while the artist himself, Theo Ushev, wrote on his blog, “I had much more daring posters in my life. But it seems that the animation community is a little special. And this conversation happens in 2009?!!! Not in 1909.”

Not sure what any of this means except that I was bothered enough to write about it. At the end of the day, life goes on. Sheridan students who are too young to know any better will continue accepting instruction from a guy who draws cartoon characters on a par with Chris Hart and throws in some tired Hirschfeld impersonations to boot. Theo Ushev will continue making beautiful films and drawings. The Ottawa International Animation Festival will be a great time for everybody who attends. And animation will continue to advance as an art in spite of those who wish to impose primitive rules and restrictions about what a piece of animation can and can’t be. If something good came out of all this, it’s that Marco de Blois, the animation curator at the Cinémathèque québécoise, started a new blog devoted to the art of the animation festival poster.

UPDATE: NY animator Elliot Cowan has redesigned Theo Ushev’s Ottawa poster to appease those who feel that the artwork should be more “animationy.”

  • So…we’re supposed to like this?

  • Emslie is a great cartoonist. He has a right to his informed opinion. I don’t think he needed to waste his time with anything other than “Bleach!” I tend to agree with his assessment. If this were a show about non-representational art, I would say…uh..well, my opinion wouldn’t really change that much. This is a really terrible poster.

    Amid, this poster is really not good. Did a friend of yours paint it? is that why you are so offended by Emslie’s comments?

  • Trevor

    Why is the animation community so full of drama. Calm down, people. It’s not a horrible work and it’s also not worth hailing a new era of animation art to the world. I’d hate to see this guy fired because he doesn’t like a poster.

  • Fred Sparrman

    You attack Emslie for belittling someone’s work, and then you belittle Emslie’s work. Classy. I keep waiting for SOMEONE to rise above the fray here; so far, everyone has disappointed.

  • a reader

    It’s all just personal opinion. And to be fair, in his own comment on his original post (that you link to above) Emslie gives a clear and reasoned explanation of just why he dislikes it so.

    I don’t know the man and will reserve comment on his own drawings, but he’s entitled to an opinion like anyone else. I doubt he’d sway students one way or another and in any case no teachers I ever had censored their reactions for us as far as I could tell.

    I’ve always disliked the argument that only people who do are deemed “good” or “worthy” artists should be allowed to comment on what they see. If he’d loved this image his own work wouldn’t be mentioned, so why bring it up if he hates it?

    Personally I think the poster is very striking, but I’d also agree that visually it has nothing particularly to do with or say about “animation”. Not that that bothers me. If it gets people to look twice or intrigues those who otherwise might not go, all the better.

  • Paul N

    So you counter what you consider to be an insult to an artist with an insult to an artist? How is your belittling Emslie’s work any different than him belittling the poster? Actually, there is one noteworthy difference – Emslie didn’t slag Ushev’s entire body of work.

  • tgentry

    Seems kind of harsh. If his -personal- opinion is that it’s “blecchh!” then he’s certainly entitled to it. It’s not his thing, fair enough. To me there isn’t a reason to question his worth as a teacher. I’ve had tons of great teachers that couldn’t stand one thing or another. That didn’t make them bad at what they do.

  • Gene Vandervoort

    Without being cruel or crude, the poster in question is a long way from what I would do.
    When I learned the principles of poster design, one of the guide lines was for the message to be quickly understood. I have studied this one several times and have yet to understand what is being portrayed, let alone what relationship it has to the art of animation.
    If a student of mine turned in this poster for a project I would grade it a “O”.

  • Max

    So…we’re supposed to like this?

    Yes. You’re supposed to like everything on the program at every film festival. And all art in all museums. Otherwise you should complain–because there’s really no possibility that other people could have different opinions, is there?

  • It’s just… not that great you know? I remember seeing a Rauchenberg show at the MOCA here in LA. Superficially the styles of this poster and his work are very similar, but the difference is an underlying sense of meaning and feeling which, I’m sad to say, is lacking in this poster. Also it’s supposed to be a poster, which requires that it also quickly and effortless convey information to the viewer, which it doesn’t.

    I’ll agree though, that panning a piece of art out of hand is never appropriate.

  • Kevin H.

    Hey Kettle, you’re black.

  • Jorge Garrido

    I don’t like the poster, either, Amid, you want I should apologize?

  • It seems to me when someone questions the validity of a poster, and the response is, “You must be lousy at your job.” someone is resorting to the logical fallacy of attacking the person, not the argument. Chris Robinson should go back to the drawing board and rethink his approach to debating the topic.

  • This poster sucks. What is it, like a puking llama or some shit?

  • Tim Schuit

    Sorry, but he’s right.

    The poster looks like shit.

    I think Amid needs to take off his high-art glasses and look at the poster for what it is.

  • Charles

    to me, the biggest surprise out of all of this is how animators or animation fans seem to think the art style of the poster isnt connected in any way to animation. just because disney, spongebob, and pixar are the most popular doesnt mean thats all there is.

  • Over-analysis. Ur all doin’ it rite.

  • I’ve known Pete Emslie for a number of years. He’s a nice guy and a very good artist. He also speaks his mind plainly. You always know where you stand with Pete.

    About the poster: It’s interesting. Would I want to hang it in my home? No. Will it entice anyone who wasn’t planning to attend The Ottawa Festival to run out and buy a ticket? I doubt it. Will it scare away anyone who was planning to attend? Again, I doubt it. But it will serve as a reminder to those who are planning to attend the festival to buy their tickets and confirm their hotel and airline reservations.

  • Peter

    A poster is supposed to explain the concept of the event to the viewer in a split-second. If you have to create an entire blog to explain the poster, then it is by definition an epic fail.

  • Old Fogey

    Pete Emslie vs Amid Amidi in a no-holds-barred match to see who is the most petty.

    More proof that every male who ever associates themself with Spumco quickly takes John K’s self-righteous venom deep into their arteries.

  • Doofus

    Dear Mr. Sheridan Teacher,

    dude, if you don’t know now,
    you’ll never know.


    In fact, where can I get one of those?
    I love the honest confident strokes.
    The whole piece is very vibrant and immediately grasped my attention. I want it on my wall.

  • “Oh crap! That poster was due today?!?”

    “Yeah, like ten minutes from now.”

  • Jim

    Perhaps a more productive use of our time would be to ignore purely aesthetic criticisms (taste is too personal) and instead re-frame the discussion around a particular comment from Mr. Emslie:

    “Frankly, I’m not sure of how it relates to animation at all.”

    Why is that line so important? Because it reveals assumptions about what animation IS or SHOULD BE — assumptions that are not only narrow but are widely shared among the animation community.

    Animation is not supposed to be serious, it’s not supposed to be personal, and it’s certainly not supposed to go outside the lines and challenge our conceptions of what it should be. And anything that dares to attempt that (including Ushev’s poster and, I suppose, this year’s OIAF) is apparently not animation.

    I’m all for personal taste and opinion, but I appreciate the fact that some people are willing to push our boundaries and the limits of the medium.

  • Lucky Jim

    I like it. It’s fun, it has energy, and it’s eye-catching. But then I like this type of painting.

    The big thing I got from Amid’s post is that criticism has to be intelligent and thoughtful. The minute you use “cat vomit” as a critique is when you lose respect as a critic. Emslie teaches at Sheridan; he’s not a writer for Ain’t it Cool News.

    The one thing I disagree with in the post is the comparing Emslie’s stuff to Christopher Hart. Nobody deserves to be compared to Christopher Hart.

  • Fred Sparrman

    It’s also worth pointing out that Emslie didn’t say the poster looked like the RESULT of a cat vomiting (i.e. cat vomit), he said it seems to DEPICT a cat in the act of vomiting. Which, you know, it sort of does. It’s not a qualitative assessment, it’s just an attempt to interpret the poster.

  • That’s fine Charles, I agree animation is more than Disney, Spongebob and Pixar. But what species of animated filmmaking does this painting resemble?

  • RoboFingernail

    I think the poster is really cool. I saw it before all this hoopla and remember it drew me in to take another look.

    I dunno, isn’t animation history full of cartoons about cats chasing birds?
    How is it not cool to have a poster of a cat vomiting as a bird bleeds yellow on his head…

    I think it’s a perfect fit for the Ottawa festival. Like saying F you normal animation, we like the stuff that stands out.

  • Tom Pope

    I like the poster. It won’t suit everyone’s tastes, but what’s worse is the personal attacks from both sides and Emslie’s “critique.” In my opinion, that type of criticism does not befit a teacher, no matter which school they serve. I also think there is a strong conservative streak that runs through a good-sized percentage of the animation community. This is certainly understandable; a lot of us work in “the industry” and it’s a pretty conservative industry, by-and-large. But festivals should benefit risk-takers, and this poster is risky. Even if it didn’t suit my tastes, I would approve of that.

  • Dan

    I was going to respond but, it seems that between Taber and Kevin I have nothing left to say.

  • Mitch Kennedy

    Woaaa wait a minute!:

    1) Pete is one of the best teachers at the school — far more skilled than most — who actually teaches the drawing skills students need to become animators. He’s one of the few instructors who make some of the tuition worth paying.

    2) I think the poster is kinda neat — and Pete taught me.

    3) His blog isn’t his classroom rather, it is his personal board to post what he wishes.

    4) He has a right to criticize and vocally dislike any piece of artwork. It’s the unwritten contract which we artists sign when making our artwork public.

  • Stephen Barron

    Like anything else in the art world, as soon as an artist makes a name for himself, he/she can start phoning it in. This is a crappy poster and if a no-name did it, it would never have seen the light of day. I suppose if Theo Ushev sneezed (among other things) into a tissue, it would be sacred. I resent that attitude. If fame is more important to this blog than aesthetics and quality, I just lost respect for its authors. Bravo, Pete Emslie, for calling crap what it is and steering clear of the political, pretentious, artsy-fartsy choke hold.

  • Thanks for clearing that up for me, Max.
    Now I like it,….along with lima beans. ; )

  • I think the most I can say is that I would have liked to see some more mature and thoughtful criticism from an art teacher. But really, that’s it. The fact that Mr. Emslie’s is a teacher does not mean that he know longer has opinion his own opinions and cannot express them publicly. I do wish he had phrased his feelings on the piece in a more mature way, but he’s still entitled to his feelings on the work, as are we all. I don’t think either of the main writers here at Cartoon Brew have ever been shy about expressing their opinions – good or bad – about much of anything, including projects that haven’t been released yet or are only in the concept stage. If closed-mindedness is really such a sin, then why not wait until the CG “Yellow Submarine” actually comes out – assuming it does – to judge it? I hope you’re not saying that it’s fine to hurl insults at big studio productions, but anything from an independent artist must be treated with kid gloves?

    I know I’m not the first to have said it, but insulting Pete Emslie’s art while you are ostemsibly talking about his art criticism does not set you up as the poster child for calm, rational discussion either.

    For the record, I don’t love the poster. Don’t hate it either, but it’s not something I would want to buy and hang on my wall. That’s my opinion. You have yours. Pete Emslie has his.

  • DrewDraws

    I was going to stay out of this, not wanting to take over Pete Emslie’s blog with my own ranting, but this “controversy” seems to have blown out of proportion to the point where anyone and everyone has to get their own cheap shots in, so now I won’t feel bad to take my turn.

    I’m an animation student with a passion for full classical 2-D animation. I grew up in the 90’s during the “second coming of Disney” with a healthy dose of Warner shorts thrown in the mix. Since then I’ve learned my fair share of animation and art history,( through abstraction, dadaism, UPA, NFB, etc) seen a brief overview of the reasoning behind movements in art and recognize that while I may not always like the end result I can appreciate the boundaries that were broken.

    This poster doesn’t break any boundaries.

    It re-hashes and appropriates artistic styles that haven’t had anything to say for decades in a transparent attempt to “modernize” the view of animation. It has both nothing to do with animation and nothing to do with modern thinking. It makes the festival seem as “hip and cutting edge” as sunglasses and a surfboard do a cartoon dog.

    The immaturity in this debate came not from a few silly comments about cat vomit, but through a nasty turn of personal attacks against Emslie and his merits as a teacher.

    Since the idea that non-representational personal scribbling has become superior to classically trained skill, there’s been an overall decline in both the quality of art student as well as art teaching. Everything cannot be precious if one wishes to progress and you cannot lash out and scream “You just don’t understand me!” When someone dislikes your work. One of the best things a teacher ever told me was to “think of artistic license as you would a drivers license, you have to earn it.” Having clearly defined definitions of successful progress as an art student is not the sign of a repressive old curmudgeon but of a quality teacher. Unfortunately a rare thing in these days of “teaching creativity”.

    Or maybe I’m just “too young to know any better”.

    (Also to compare Pete Emslie To Chris Hart is so massively ignorant of animation principals and taste that I have to wonder how Amid Amidi gained the credibility in the “animation discussion” that he now claims.)

  • Azz

    But it IS a bad poster. Its terrible. I have no idea whats going on on it, where I’m supposed to look or what its advertising.

    Someone got paid to do this?

  • Frank

    This is the pettiest post I’ve ever seen on this site. It really disappoints me to see this. It’s one thing to disagree with someone’s opinion, but it’s another to attack them personally. This post is so obviously full of hypocrisy, it makes me laugh.

    I’m astounded that you use the fact that Pete’s a teacher to denounce him of a subjective opinion. Pete isn’t preaching his hatred for this poster in the classroom. He simply voiced his opinion on his personal blog. How can you condemn him for that?

    As a former student of Pete Emslie I can tell you that not once did he ever go off on a tirade about anyone or anything in his work place as YOU just did Amid.

    Not only have you so audaciously attacked Pete, but his students and Sheridan College alike. Amid, I believe you should be the one who’s embarrassed.

    You present yourself as being so enlightened, Amid. Here’s some wisdom for you: Art is subjective. Some people will like it, some people won’t. So stop throwing your little temper tantrum and act like a professional. The fact that this needs to be spelled out for someone as influential as you is extremely disturbing.

    Pete is a fantastic cartoonist, teacher, and person, but if you REALLY need to vent your hatred for Pete Emslie, Don’t do it on Cartoon Brew you fool.

  • David

    What a tempest in a teapot.

    Emslie’s entitled to his opinion on his own blog .

    Geez, Amid, like you’ve never been as harsh towards stuff you don’t like ? Give me a break. Pete Emslie is no more “close-minded” than you are , Amid.

    By the way, if anyone’s keeping score then count me in with the low-brow cartoonists who think the poster isn’t very good. Not because it’s “abstract” or whatever category you want to slap on it … I just don’t think it’s effective as a poster. To me it’s vague and sort of ugly. Yawn.

  • Leedar

    I think the best solution is for every festival poster to be blank with plain text!

  • Kyle Maloney

    The thing about art that abstract is that no one is allowed to dislike it, let alone properly critique it. that’s why I’m not a huge fan of that brand of Art. you either like it or you don’t.

    The only thing I can think of to say about this piece if I were in his shoes would be…uhh “the message needs to read clearer”. Other than that, “blech” seems pretty fitting to me. And I’m usually very specific about why I don’t think something is good.

    I looked at his caricatures, and he seems plenty talented.

  • ZigZag

    “What annoys me is the infantile hostility coming from a man who claims to have 30 years experience in animation as an animator.”

    But, isn’t infantile hostility one of the requirements for a career animation? I mean, we see it in virtually every comment thread on Cartoon Brew…

  • I’d say that’s a lame poster. It’s busy without any payoff in return for that busy-ness. And I agree that it’s not evocative of the subject. Posters are a commercial art, after all.

    It may not matter. Do posters matter anymore for an event like that?

    Maybe the artist was just exasperated at the task of creating something new in a field where there is just nothing new left to be done and that doesn’t matter anyway?

  • Frank

    I just read through the comment battle on Pete’s blog.

    I love how Amid , Theo Ushev and others have been so quick to denounce the overwhelming number of opinions against the poster and yet they haven’t been able to explain WHY the poster is such a masterpiece.

    The best they’ve been able to do is shine up their monocle and call Pete names.

    I don’t care about Theo’s reputation…I don’t care about “high art”…If you’re going to belittle us all for not liking it, then please, by all means…explain to us what we’re all missing.

    Steve Worth has invited Theo to explain the intent behind the poster several times.

    No response. In fact, at the first sign of controversy, Theo Ushev deleted his comments all together

    Here’s a quote from Theo’s blog.

    “I think I don’t have to explain what I meant with this poster, and why…”

    Hmmm…I wonder why that is?

    My guess is because it’s art for art’s sake.

    If he doesn;t want to admit that. Fine.
    But he shouldn’t act so surprised when people start to question art with no integrity or meaning.

  • Shart Critic

    In reaction to these qoutes:

    “It’s downright embarrassing to think that this guy represents the quality of instruction and critical thinking at a school that purports itself to be one of the top animation institutions in the world.”

    “There’s no processing, no attempt to contemplate and consider. He doesnt even encourage dialogue (isn’t that one of the primary functions of being a teacher?).”

    I would argue that Emslie DID “contimplate and consider” when forming his opinion and he concluded he didn’t like it! What’s wrong with that? Why shouldn’t he be free to express his opinion? Why would “encouraging dialogue” override what I assume is Emslie’s approach to teaching classical animation? Should everything anyone creates instantly be considered art? Should everyone have to like it? Emslie teaches animation not fine art.

    As for his teaching ability, I couldn’t say, but if I had to judge it based on his drawing ability, I bet he’s a damn good one. Anyone reading this site knows that traditional, 2D animation requires strong drawing skills and a solid foundation in life-drawing and the classical arts. To be any good at it, you’d better be able to draw well, or you’re just going struggle with it. I think an animation teacher needs to be critical about the art and style of things because animators are in the business of communicating ideas and emotions to an audience with simplicity and immediacy. To create good animation or tell any story well thru the use of film, you have to be critical and make judgement calls on what communicates and what doesn’t. That said, it’s from this perspective where I believe Emslie is coming from.

    Regarding the poster, consider its function. From a design perspective, a key prerequisite should be that the poster communicate very quickly that it’s advertising an animation festival. In this case, the poster fails. OK, it’s interesting somewhat from a graphic and color standpoint, but it doesn’t sell it’s intended purpose very well. And although, I don’t hate the poster, it doesn’t reflect a strong sense of artistic skill either. My gut feeling is that it’s pretentious and not very attractive.

    But this is just one man’s opinion. If you like it Amid, that’s your right, just as it’s Emslie’s right to dislike it.

    BTW, a friend of mine coined what I think is a pretty funny name for bad tourist art. It combines the word “art” with a word that means “feces”. She calls it: Shart.

  • I like the poster! Yeesh…

    “Frankly, I’m not sure of how it relates to animation at all.”

    Hmm. Is close-mindedness in vogue these days? Thank god for the George Griffin’s and Norman McClaren’s of the world. Give Emslie a break, his derivative drawings make it clear he can barely see past his nose.

  • Mars

    The artist Theo responded on Pete’s blog! and Pete wasn’t hostile to the artist.. although Pete may have gone overboard with his beef about the poster?? but, that’s what happens.. action-reaction.

    Hahaha! well, it’s good ole fashion taste!

    Some like Disney, some like anime, some like Picasso..

    I don’t know many people who likes EVERYTHING!

    hehe–do whatever works for you!!!

  • Pete Emslie was a teacher of mine two years ago and even though he doesn’t teach any of my classes now, I still enjoy getting feedback, advice, or just talking about animation with him.
    Like other people have said, he’s entitled to his opinion (especially on his own blog). But to write a long-winded post dedicated to ‘getting back at him’ isn’t very mature either.

    Pete is the kind of teacher that everybody is excited to get and wishes they could get every year at Sheridan. He has never forced his style or Disney influence upon us, if someone draws differently that’s fine, he’d help as much as he could so they can improve. He’s a big part of Sheridan, if he were to ever leave it would be a great loss. He’s one of the few teachers that draws for us in class, inspires us, and takes time to manage his blog and keep up with his personally artwork which is something to be admired.

    There’s nothing wrong with Theo Ushev. Other posters and book covers (Chris Robinson’s books by the way) were much more fitting.
    Besides this poster being unappealing I just find that it doesn’t do the job it’s supposed to; advertise. If I lean back in my chair and squint I have no idea what’s going on I can’t even read the text. If the festival wants to attract more people, even people not in the industry, this is not the best way to do it.

    Some of the posters that Marco de Blois has been posting are pretty nice. What the nice ones have is common is that they are CLEAR. The style doesn’t have to be like Disney or spongebob or whatever, it just has to be fun.

    To me, it would be way more fun to just open up the poster possibilities to the public. At the beginning of ever year just let the public make their own posters and give the animation fans a chance to vote. Artists can get exposure and the festival doesn’t have to pay, win – win.

  • zoe


    I’m so glad that you can tell me what an accomplished artist and animator Theo is, because I wouldn’t have known it from this poster. I also don’t think it’s fair to assume that Emslie is insulting this poster because it doesn’t align with the approved animation formula. I am certain that he is well-versed in art history and appreciates many styles.

    All he is doing is yelling out that the Emperor has no clothes, while you are scolding us for not being wise enough to see how beautiful they are.

  • As I have mentioned elsewhere, I am very pleased to see a poster for an animation festival that doesn’t have mice on it.

  • Jay Taylor

    When this was originally posted, I put a comment in asking if someone’s kid made this. Funny enough, they didn’t publish my comment.

    I guess Amid didn’t like my opinion…

  • Jon H

    I like the poster as art and I appreciate it on that level, but I have a problem with it as a poster because it does a lot to obscure the information.

  • For the kids in the cheap seats (you know who you are):

    This poster relates to animation in a way very few other print objects do.

    It exists over time, and you come to read it in time. The layering peels back and creates “story”. Eyes, hands, mouths, animals. The story is not dictated, it engages the creative faculties of the veiwer.

    The power of the strokes is active and kinetic. It vibrates with motion.

    Further, action is built in the “cubist-like” back side of the figure’s face.

    I’ll point out the color design as well, to me it speaks for itself. Classic warm/cold combinations, the grandson of Lenica.

    As for its strength as a poster on the street -that may be questionable. Will it cut through the Photoshopped montages for Hollywood blockbusters, Tim Hortons and “the New RO” that litter downtown Ottawa?

    The information is presented in a clear manner that is both integrated with the painting yet stands out. The dates -the most important thing to me -are readily visible (a problem many festival posters create for themselves).

    Beyond its use as a poster, its a successful festival icon. The layering, the existence in time is not good for a poster. For an illustration that will live on the programme and memorabilia for a week -its constantly rewarding. I’ve lived with the postcard tacked on my desk for months, and have been through many moods with this character.

    All of these things are in line with exactly what OIAF has been since its inception.

    Or I could just pound my chest and say it looks like a baby did it and tear asunder my robes crying to the heavens “Why, why, why was I not blessed with the vocabulary to understand things outside of my personal preferences!!!”

  • Jason

    Amid, you’re kidding me, right? You’re defending that piece of excrement? Can it appear as any less to anyone with eyes?

    Personally, I think “blecch” is too kind. Anybody who boosts Theo Ushuv’s “work” is an enabler of bad art and bad cartoons. Good for that teacher for speaking up. We need more sane voices like his, particularly in what passes for the arts these days.

  • chrisheadrick

    Dear Mr. Ushev–

    If you ever read these comments, I’d never heard of you before, but I love your poster. Even better, I then Googled your name and went to your blog, and I loved everything on there, too. Basquiat, Bacon, Peter Saville, Maholy-Nagy, the Stenbergs, Grosz…lots of great associations in my mind. Cool stuff.

  • Tom

    I guess someone’s going to have to explain to me why this poster is anything but an eyesore. My eyes are actually sore now.

  • coco

    The guy is entitled to his opinion. The poster sucks ass.

  • Barry McGuire

    This is what happens when old dudes in animation are unemployed/under-employed, a crazy crossfire on internet message boards. If I didn’t have a job I would start and anthropological study :(

  • Mike

    I’m an animation art teacher myself, and I’ve been working professionally for commercial as well as independant animation projects in south America. Guess this whole discussion has to do with what is your standing point to judge how the poster conveys the concepts of ANIMATION, ART and FESTIVAL. As an amateur, as general audience, even as an animation fan, you may like or dislike the work, and that’s ok. Go and vent about it. But I just can’t accept that a TEACHER have a such narrow minded view of those subjects… Mr. Emslie may understand commercial production values in the north american animation industry, but he clearly doesn’t understand ART, MODERN ART particularly, and ignores the history of animation from all around the world, as well as some pedagogical modern theories… Hopefully, his students won’t grow into industry drones and will think outside the box for their own good…

  • chris robinson

    hey guys, what’s going on? what’s everyone been doing?

    I’m pretty excited about the hockey season. I wonder if Heatley will get traded.

    Go Sens!

  • FP

    What is this, some kind of “emperor’s new clothes” deal?

  • I had a painting professor at USC who just trashed my work all year over and over again. It was terrible cause all I could do was crawl back to my studio and try again. But no matter how hard I tried my paintings got ripped apart. When the end of the year came he pulled me aside and gave me the best advise i’ve ever gotten as an artist. He said, “Don’t take criticism personally or else you’ll never survive as an artist.” I walked away with an A and a pat on the back for not giving up and trying so hard. It turns out he loved the paintings.

    I’ve met a lot of people in animation who don’t know how to take criticism. Some times the critics are right some times they’re wrong. Thats comes with the job, don’t make a big deal out of it just learn from what they’re saying and save your energy for your next project.

  • I like it… c’mon now, show of hands, who else likes it?

    I think the teacher may have an eggy face after this all boils down. No worries, todays headlines are at the bottoms of tomorrows bird cages… does that saying still work??

  • Mr. Sheehy, the issue is not the artist’s ability to take criticism -it’s the animation professionals’ ability to give criticism.

  • Pez

    I think the poster reflects what is going on in most of the animation industry today. People who hate cartoons are in charge of making decisions. I would think that the purpose of a poster would be to excite people that love animation. the fact that most of us on this blog don’t like it tells me that they are no focused on people who visit cartoon

    I thought Gabe did a nice poster a few years ago.

    And What does DRUX FLUX have to do with animation?

  • Pete Emslie’s work is great. I regularly read his blog. I thought his post about this poster was excessive, I was surprised when Michael Sporn posted about, and I’m not surprised you did. My question is:


  • watch

    Hmmmm….I think that buying this poster or the t-shirts from this Year festival will be a good investment. As I see the comments – guaranteed place in the history of art… It will cost money on e-bay in several weeks…

  • Wow, this is one heated debate going on here. I think the cardinal sin that Emslie committed is that he made fun of the work, (“taped to a fridge door by some loving mom…too much in the style of faux five year old kiddie crudeness… ” and posting a picture of Bill the cat as a better substitute, is not a professional critique of the work.) and naming the person responsible for commissioning it, Chris Robinson. He also calls out Amid for posting it on Cartoon Brew, and assumes Amid supports it given his support for other work that, in Pete’s eyes, is questionable. (Sure, Amid makes fun of Pete’s artistic abilities in this post, but I’ll let is pass, as what would one expect after Pete took the first jab.)

    I hear comments to the effect of, “It’s Pete’s blog and he can say what he wants to say. He’s not talking to his students.”. In theory, yes. But in reality, we know that that a lot of his students do read his blog, and I would gather a sizable amount of people that are not his students, including me (He’s got a really good caricature of the late Ted Kennedy up right now. Very nice! Back to topic) This is a testament to his artistic abilities. Yes, Emslie is talented, very talented. So it is because his fact that we even know about Emslie’s post and Cartoon Brew and other popular blogs took the time to comment about it. Therefore he has an influence over the animation debate that goes on the blogosphere. So we’d be kidding ourselves if we said his blog is his private ramblings and he doesn’t have to think of the consequences his words have on other people. (Even if they are minor on such a non-serious subject as animation.)

    Sadly, Emslie’s own rational is that other high profile people with blogs have written immature critiques of various works so he has the right to. Yes Pete you are, as you say, “entitled to our opinions and, yes, how we choose to state them.” That’s called freedom of speech. But there is something else that makes any type of freedom worthwhile. It’s called responsibility.

  • Further, action is built in the “cubist-like” back side of the figure’s face.

    I can see the big blue backside with the bird perched on top of it, but I don’t see a face. If I say what the yellow stuff dripping down in front of the bird looks like, I’ll get in trouble. The problem is, “the stories that reveal themselves in time” from this painting are pretty “visceral”.

  • Mars

    When you show a Rembrandt or Da Vinci— I think, most of the entire world’s population would agree that it’s great!
    But, if it’s something like the above poster… tsk-tsk!

    Now, you got a problem.

    75% of the guys who responded here (count them) thought the poster’s crap.. if u go to Emslie blog, another bunch of ’em thought the same.

    What does that tell you?

    The World is NOT blind!

    Solution – CHANGE the poster.

  • Frank

    Mr. O’Connor

    So only superior intellects such as yourself are “able” to have an opinion?

    The “ability to give criticism” isn’t the issue either.
    It’s the ability to allow both sides of an opinion.

    Even if the issue was the “ability to give criticism”, your justification of the poster’s conection to animation was just as abstract as the image itself. And do you really think Amid presented a professional and intelligent rebuttal to Emslie’s personal opinion? Or are personal attacks acceptable as long as they’re coming from an individual “blessed with the vocabulary to understand things outside of their personal preferences”.

    The amount of pretentiousness emitting from you “high art” folk makes me gag.

    and Pez…I couldn’t agree more.

  • how long will this go on until the president invites us all over for a beer? I don’t see how all this bickering is constructive for the animation community.

  • Sugar Pops Pete

    This is not the first time that Pete Emslie’s myopic version of what makes for appealing design has spurned arguments on his blog. It would seem that anything that exists outside the Preston Blair/John K school of design is immediately dismissed as sub par work.

    I applaud Amid for finally calling him on his narrow minded thinking, and hope that Pete’s close minded atitude hasn’t been passed onto the the students he’s been preaching to over the years.

  • Evee

    This is completely ridiculous. This is such a childish, dirty, and completely unprofessional attack. To Amid, and the rest like him, this was the wrong way to vent out your frustration with criticism.

    This isn’t even about the poster anymore, its about who can bash who the best! I can’t even wrap my mind around this bullshit. I have completely lost my patience with the opposing side of this argument because it continues to make asshole moves such as this one, and to completely blow things out of proportion. Swallow all of your bloated egos and learn how to professionally deal with something that you disagree with it.

  • i don’t understand it but i sure don’t hate it.

    in fact the more that i look at it the more i am mesmerized and drawn to it.

  • Sam

    As an outside reader, and artist myself, I find this poster to be the worst definition of animation I have ever seen. The animators I know (and there are plenty of them) don’t put out art that looks terrible. They try and try again to make the perfect picture. This looks something that was rushed and made last minute. It looks like ET on crack, and as someone else had mentioned.. a cat coughing up a hair ball?

    The fact that you are also bashing a man that had his own opinion is childish and disrespectful. Let someone have their own opinion. You may disagree, but don’t be rude.

  • No, “Frank”, I didn’t make any claims like that at all.

    Ordinarily, I don’t let other people speak for me -but since you’re intent on fabricating my words, I’ll refer you to Jodie Hudson’s eloquent post to summarize my thoughts on the matter.

  • I like this, but not for the purpose it’s supposed to serve. A poster for an event like this should make the message stand out, and be easily accessible to the outsider. This artwork is, in a way, hiding it from the casual looker.
    It doesn’t make me feel like I’m welcome to join in…

  • Doofus

    I’ve concluded this guy’s a fucking genius.

    Just look at the generated buzz! There’s so many people’s egos hurt in the process. I for one think that the excitement generated alone dictate this poster a raving success.

    I’m really excited for Theo Ushev. Big props for kicking people in the nuts with this poster. Looks like there’s a killing out there!

    Keep on Rockin’, Rocker!

  • Wayne L.

    plain and simple: Using this poster to represent animation is no better than CN Real.

  • no offense but i think this post is silly.

    so the guy doesn’t like the poster? big deal.

    his blog, his opinion, don’t read it if you don’t like it. if his students can’t see that then they’re probably not too hot at holding pencils and drawing on paper vs stabbing themselves repeatedly in the spleen with the eraser end [ie. i’m pretty sure they get it].

    after reading his post it seems like the brew took it a bit as a personal attack, and i can understand that being upsetting/wanting to retaliate. but hey, this isn’t livejournal guys.

    chill out.

    birds pooping on zombie cats isn’t for everyone. neither is octocat. i don’t mind em myself…but they’re not for everyone. it’s cool.

  • Waaaaaa! This is great! I love when the people don’t like my works, it means I did it right. I was not hiding, I was just watching soccer, and, so sadly, my team lost…No champions league this Year, f… But it is not possible to respond to all of the critics. Just a note – for me the good art was always an art that is accepted by 15-25 % of the folks. So – I’m happy. Thanks to all the people who supported me in this …like a “campaign”??! I admire – I was quite surprised – I did more than 100 posters up to now, I never had such a response! Even that 11 Years ago was a creative director of a political election campaign, it was nothing, compared with this… And I love cartoons, my daughter too- in all styles and forms – so keep up the good job! Love You:)

  • I would say I like this poster as a piece of art. I probably wouldn’t buy it but I think it has something.

    Now putting on my advertising/marketing professional hat…
    There we go it still fits.
    In my opinion this poster doesn’t work well for branding, marketing or advertising of the festival. If I knew nothing about the festival it would take me awhile to figure out what it is for. And by the time I might have I would have moved on.

    With that being said it is just my opinion and if I was calling the shots I may have gone a different direction even though it is still great, respectable work. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but when we start personally bashing each others work over opinions I would say pick your battles better and show some respect.

  • Robert Schaad

    Ok…guess I’ll have to re-read everyones comments, etc.
    Initially, I was not overly fond of the poster…but now, in light of this re-examination…I kinda like it.

    One thing (in fact, a major thing), about the the internet/world and instantaneous critique is that it is an hindrance to creativity.
    Just about every creative endeavor/project (animation only a part of it) is derivitive. This poster, to me, seemed to be like Basquiat’s art.

    So what?? At least it’s not run-of-the-mill, CGI stuff.

    The purpose of a movie poster is to attract. This, as a poster, attracts more than the insider animation community. People into fine art, avant-garde films, etc. would give this, the festival, and animation in general a second look…because of the proliferation of disappointing generic animation foisted (recently) on the world at large. There is great animation that has been made recently, and the feeling in the air is that there’s a resurgence (as a reaction if nothing else).

  • Neal Patten

    I am not a great artist myself, but I have always truly felt (no teacher told me to believe this) that abstract drawings like this are not art. I like form, structure, art that you can make out. I see too many ‘artworks’ that are three brushstrokes that are a gradation of the color green. That’s not art. Is that even a color study?

    So, I must agree. Many artists go to school for years and train hard to make believable characters. I have nothing wrong with stylistic touches – but this doesn’t represent all the training an animator has gone through to bring life into art. It looks like something I could have finger-painted with my eyes closed.

  • Karma

    Uh, yeah. No. First off, 2 points i’d like to make.

    1. He’s entitled to his criticism.

    2. ……..he’s right.

    I mean… look at it. No seriously. Look at it. I agree with absolutely everything he said. It’s ugly and pretentious, and that IS that.

    Anyone who thinks this is art, rather than just being a vomited pile of ugly crap, is a fool, who thinks that they are looking at something worthwhile, instead of arbitrary smears and blobs.

    Yes. Sometimes a piece of crap really is a piece of crap. This is one of those times. Get over it.

  • Ben Lo

    The poster is successful. Why? look at all this heat generated already from it ) I personally don’t like the poster at all, and I think it has nothing really to do with animation festival other than the text written on it…

    And I think you have went too far, over reacting on what emslie says. I don’t see what’s wrong with Emslie saying what HE think of the poster on HIS blog. Its just a mere an opinion > >

  • I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been already, except maybe we should all take ourselves a little less seriously.

    The fact that I can’t find anything that’s directly related to animation aside, I didn’t like it because it has zero appeal to me (as in I think it’s ugly). That and the info isn’t presented as clearly as it could, and getting info across is the reason for a poster I think.

    On the other hand, thanks in advance to everyone who commented for giving me a good read for down times at work tomorrow.

  • Katty-kat

    I am a Multimedia and Digital Arts student in Melbourne, Australia. I am also not a fan of the poster. For one thing, it is quite difficult to read. The composition, in my opinion, is too busy and the type seems lost in the image that is competing for my attention. Therefore, I do question its ability to function as a poster in order to, advertise the Ottawa Animation Festival. The aesthetic side of the piece, does not appeal to me. I struggle to understand the image subject and wonder about its affiliation with the animation theme. The poster is a bit too abstract as a whole. On a positive note, the piece does force a heated discussion here. People either like it or don’t like it. There is no in-between, which in itself solidifies the piece as an art. Like I said, I am just not sure whether the image works as a poster.
    As for criticism from Pete Emslie, I too believe that comments such as “blecchh!” (Did I spell that right?) used to describe art, is immature and unfitting for a man in his position. I have to say that I would be a little embarassed too, If I overheard my lecturer describing art in this manner. I would lose a little respect for them even. I think its one thing to have an opinion, but you should go in depth when expressing it, whilst supporting it with reasons. I believe its called “constructive criticism”. And what is “blecchh” anyway? Merely, a sound effect and nothing more than that.

  • victoria

    I don’t like the poster for the fact the poor bear/cat’s mouth is sewn shut :( and the bird seems to be pooping on him

  • Adam Trout

    Pete was a teacher of mine as well. He is one of the best teachers I’ve had at Sheridan, and is a very kind and supportive person.

    What annoys ME is that someone would conjure him up to be some sort of an animation dictator and discredit his artistic merit, based solely on his opinion of a poster – An opinion that he is fully entitled to, ESPECIALLY on his own personal blog! Based on my experience, I can assure you that your claims on his personal character are completely unfounded.

  • Amid, I’m with you on the poster and with the immature reaction that this poster has generated, but I’m afraid that I’m not with you on your retaliation in this post. I felt that you went a little too far in dragging Pete’s name through the Chris Hart mud, as I feel that Pete has much more talent than Mr. Hart.

    I’ve said my piece on Pete’s blog post, and I’ve since refrained from commenting on this matter anymore because what’s been said has been said. Nothing more is to be gleaned from all this — reading all 80+ comments here is proof enough. My feelings are that the poster is IN MY OPINION a great one. I love it. Very expressive and intriguing. Not sure why the ones who hate it so much want those who love it to explain thoroughly why it’s worth their time. Can a poster just BE? You don’t like it. That’s great. We get it. ‘Nuff said.

    It’s just getting to be embarrassing. From both sides.

    It would be nice to hear from those who actually go to international animation festivals, by the way.

    Oh, and I’m loving any and all of Theo’s comments, here and elsewhere. Dude, you’ve got a great sense of humor. I love it.

  • “the worst quality a teacher can have is to be close-minded because that narrow interpretation of good and bad is passed on to an entire generation of young artists at a critical time when they should be learning, growing, and exploring.”

    Tell this to John K. !!!


  • Charles

    @Stephen Worth

    “But what species of animated filmmaking does this painting resemble?”

    Here are two examples of that species of animation (that I have made):

    Yes, I used real paint to make the first one. And my point is that they are definitely not the first of their kind.

  • Charles, I really dig your videos, man! Thanks for sharing. Cool stuff.

  • Thanks Amid – I haven’t had as good a laugh in a while…

  • Amid, I agree with you, but maybe you were wrong on being so hard with Pete Emslie, and what about John K? okay, he’s got a lot of theory behind his thoughts but he’s not too far from Emslie, does he deserve the same treatment?

  • J E R E M Y

    Say what you want about Pete, but that poster is hideous.

    I’m so tired of this Canadian abstract garbage; – great – another product of random thought, un-deliberate strokes, the mess and draftsmanship of a kindergarten child, all of which so desperately claims itself to be REAL ‘art’ and must be accompanied by binders worth of artistic explanation.

    The illustration works well on the fridge for mommy and daddy. The fact that you had to write an entire post in protest because one teacher reacted differently to this monstrosity only helps to illustrate how desperate you are to defend it.

    Be honest, you think this piece is worthy of debate? If so, you yourself are too single minded and would do well to keep your thoughts in that small world of yours instead of bashing a well respected teacher, school, and community as a whole.

  • Okay, I went to Pete Emslie’s blog and read the whole damn thing, and now I feel as hateful as you are! what’s wrong with that guy!? who are all these conservative bastards? I usually agree with the “importance of good drawing” approach but come on! its an expressionist poster for an animation festival!! what’s wrong with that?! grow up!!

    In fact, I want an Ottawa 09 poster T-SHIRT.

  • Charles, both of your films, particularly the first one exhibit much more clarity, better color choices, and far better composition than this poster does. (The music you chose is a mess though…)

    I’m not arguing against abstraction in general. I like Fischinger, Lye and McLaren, as well as Klee and Kandinsky. I’m not even arguing against deliberate ugliness- I like Grosz and Bacon too. Abstract art still has to express ideas with clarity. With great abstraction you aren’t left searching for random shapes in the clouds to discern meaning. The artist’s point comes through without question.

    This poster doesn’t express anything in particular. It certainly doesn’t express the concept of “animation festival” or even clearly present the pertinent info as text. The whole thing has the feeling of an “exquisite corpse”- random and arbitrary with a layer of obfuscation laid over the top. As fine art, that’s a recipe for mediocrity. As poster design, to use Amid’s word, it’s a “FAIL”.

    This isn’t an argument over abstraction vs figurative imagery. It’s a case of an image created for a specific purpose that just isn’t communicating. I’d much rather watch Theo’s animation than look at this poster. The film of his I saw at YouTube was very good.

  • greg manwaring

    Dude, you just get on Pete about what he says and then you go on to say:

    “…will continue accepting instruction from a guy who draws cartoon characters on a par with Christ Hart and throws in some tired Hirschfeld impersonations to boot.”


    Pete is an AMAZING character designer and caricaturist! I hired him for a job once and what he delivered was Gold!

  • From Theo Ushev’s blog:
    I didn’t know that such an usual drawing and poster can make such a noise…Incredible… I had much more daring posters in my life. But it seems that the animation community is a little special.

    I can’t really argue with that; ‘Special’, in the schoolyard sense, being the operative word.

  • I don’t care about style or big names or important meanings. This is a poster, and as Peter already mentioned, it just needs to work: announce an animation film festival. Which it doesn’t, at least not for me. Seen out of context, or better, between lots of other posters at the bus stop, it doesn’t say “animation” at all. Maybe it says “art exhibition”.

    I’m an animator as well as a graphics designer. Both fields have their own rules and requirements. A poster needs to advertise, it needs to communicate within half a second. If I have to decode the image first, to sort out which parts are illustrative and which parts are something to read, then it’s not a good poster. A good graphic designer has the skills to choose style and colours which instantly set the right mood for the product or event he’s going to sell. My first reaction to this poster was “dull colours”, and I wasn’t interested in a second, closer look then. As a poster, this is a fail.

    As much as I like the idea to have festival posters designed by animators, as much I fear that not many of these are equally skilled as designers. That’s the reason why often a graphic designer teams up with an illustrator, so their combined skills result in a good poster.

  • Personally, I like the poster but Mr.E is more than entitled to his opinion on his own (excellent) personal blog. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t seem to claim he is doing anything other than giving his opinion.

    It’s not like he’s leading the animation conversation or anything.

    And you then try to devalue his opinion by flinging shit at his (excellent) art work? If this is how it works, should I post some of my godawful doodles to see if I am worthy of an opinion?

    Look, I love Cartoon Brew but, Amid, you are no stranger to flinging shit. That’s what makes it (and you) fun to read. But Amid, live and let live. Fling shit and let fling shit. Or something…

    Anyway, I like the poster, like Mr.E’s artwork and I’m only really commenting on this to avoid washing the cup that’s sitting on my desk. In that respect, your post has offered some value to me.

  • I think the poster is interesting looking. My first reaction was not that it was worthy of insult, just that the colors looked nice together and that the brush strokes were interesting. Everytime I look at it I think about how cool it would look like if it were moving.

  • Joe

    So, evidently, any attempt at expressionistic art is a masterpiece.

  • Jorge Garrido

    Pete Emslie is one of the favourite caricaturists. Some of the caricatures he did of Chuck Jones, James Garner, and the Rat Pack are incredible.

    It’s incredible how quickly every single big argument in the animation community turns into the oldest argument in the book: low art vs. high art. The same thing happened with the big UPA bruhaha a few years back. And, of couse, this same argument was since UPA was founded.

  • Royce Day

    If this poster was for an abstract art exhibition, that would be one thing. As an advertisement for an animation festival… Well, speaking as a viewer rather than a creator, I’m forced to admit that it would repel rather than attract my interest.

  • Just for the record, I did the poster for the event – way back when it was held in Hamilton. Was it 1982 or 1983? To be honest, my effort “stunk on ice”. It was terrible, if I say so myself.

    But the point is, nobody said a word of criticism. Everyone was gracious and accepted it as a poster advertising the event. Its interesting how times have changed now that everyone is an expert.

  • Jerrett Zaroski

    It seems that some people, frustrated with the task of arguing “good art vs. bad art”, have decided that the OIAF Poster should at least be judged by how well it adheres to conventional marketing tactics and tried-and-true design principles.

    It’s clear that this an unconventional poster… so why assume that it was commissioned for a conventional purpose?

  • If you like the poster or not, it’s got people talking and that’s a good thing.

    I can’t wait for the festival this year, it’s always a blast!

  • JDoe

    Get over yourselves people. It just is his opinion thats all. If he thinks it looks like cat vomit that is fine. I personally dislike some of Picasso’s work. Doesn’t mean Picasso’s work is bad work it just isn’t to my tastes.

    Other than taking jabs at the Brew Admins, the guy is pretty much in is right.

    Personally, I like the poster but I can understand his dislike as personal preference

  • Dino

    In my mind, this isn’t so much about the painter or the blogger as it is about Chris Robinson. Robinson for years has been pushing the aesthetic that animation is most artistically valid when it deals with ugliness. Anyone who saw his hand-picked “Best of Ottawa” touring show from last year might know what I mean. Now, I like ugly art. Ugly art can be beautiful. But when Robinson forces his narrow artistic dogma onto the continent’s biggest animation festival, he deserves to be called out for it. This poster is Chris Robinson’s ego, and it was itching for a fight from the get-go.

  • Sharon Robinson

    I had a look at your poster. I used to be a sign painter and have a good eye and my daughter has gone on to do animation also. Yuck. I was told he was famous. Hello, you still should care about what your doing. It looks like he slapped it off and said “OK, I’m famous so you take whatever I do and like it, because I’m famous”. Of course the guys who paid for it are gonna kiss ass because they paid for it and will be too ashamed to say they didn’t like it. It is a good word for it. By the way if this is the quality of the art at this animation festival I realllllllly don’t want to go. It looks like the arm of the statue of liberty holding the flame with an eye in it. Doesn’t make me think of Canada or animation at all. Actually if I saw the poster on the street I’d just say yuck and not bother reading it.

  • Personally, I don’t mind the poster, but then again I’ve never really been one to really gauge gauge how good the festival will be based on the poster. I always considered their designs bizarre and illustration. This one is no different. My critique is that you can’t read the text well enough to know in a split second what the poster is advertising.

    However, I do have to say that I have lost the last shreds of respect I had for this blog and this poster for bashing another human being outright on his own very, very popular blog.

    Amid, you have got to be the the most self-righteous scrap of human being I never care to know. Grow up and stop critiquing people and resume critiquing animation again. At least reporting on animation going ons in the world doesn’t make you sound like a hateful prick.

  • Eva Liang

    I’m willing to bet that this lame, immature, unprofessional attempt at a counter argument to someone’s reasonable critique of this poster resulted from someone out there getting extremely butthurt just because someone else jabbed a knife into their self-inflated ego.

    This poster is hideous and does not give me incentive to go the festival, especially if it is a representation what is to be expected. Heck, if it wasn’t for the horridly scribbled title at the bottom, I wouldn’t be able to tell that the poster’s purpose was to advertise an animation festival.

    As for your attitude: Get over yourself. You should feel ashamed that you had the need to throw personal attacks on someone for their own personal opinion. I’d like to think this site is a place for professionals not MySpace spheeshul snowflakes that QQ whenever they get offended by someone who tries to critique their work.

    Also, as for the update to your article. REAL CLASSY.

  • Now that this had gone on probably far longer than it should, I think what bugs me the most is how both sides are resorting to mudslinging and seem to have zero respect for the opposing point of view. “If you like this poster then you must be some highbrow monocle-wearing elitist.” “If you don’t like the poster then you have no idea what art is and you must be upset because it doesn’t have Mickey Mouse ears.”

    I don’t like the poster, but I can understand that other people might. I think Mr. Emslie’s comments were a bit childish, but nothing of a level I haven’t seen before. I thought Amid’s reaction mainly undermined his own position by resorting to attacks on Mr. Emslie’s artistic skills. And please don’t give me the “He started it” defense. Can I also look forward to reading some “I am rubber and you are glue” rebuttals?

    Honestly, If Mr. Ushev is fine with only 25% of the people who see his poster liking it or understanding it, why are we even having this discussion? (I don’t think it’s a bad attitude to take either, as there are any number of good or great artists out there who aren’t understood by a lot of people.) What point is there in getting angry and offended on someone else’s behalf? All it’s doing is perpetuating the juvenile and insulting discourse you’re supposedly so upset about.

    It’s a poster. You like it or you don’t. The artist is apparently cool with it if you don’t. So if you must comment, take a cue from the few posts that manage to stay calm and reasonable. Otherwise, just let it go.

  • Well I believe he was stating his opinion on a personal blog and not a classroom, so it’s sort of unfair to hold Emslie to a standard of not being able to dislike something just cause he teaches during the day. Although I would say, as an artist, I love it when old people hate my work… it lets me know I’m doing my own thing. I think Theo Ushev is fine with the criticism cause he is in a different category of animation. I would say it’s cool that ottawa is willing to try out different types of artist every year because nothing is worse than predictability.

  • Lucky Jim

    I’m annoyed by the number of posts that insinuate that Theo Ushev just threw this poster together with little thought or effort. Speaking as one who’s worked with painting, even doing a bad job is a tremendous struggle. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ushev knew what he wanted, and did his damnedest to get it.

  • “In my mind, the worst quality a teacher can have is to be close-minded because that narrow interpretation of good and bad is passed on to an entire generation of young artists at a critical time when they should be learning, growing, and exploring.”

    I understand your sentiment, but I totally disagree. I think that the best teachers I’ve ever had in any subject were mostly cranky bastards who told you exactly what they liked and what they thought was crap, and who cares if you disagree. The key is to have MORE THAN ONE of these crotchety, closed-minded-but-brilliant teachers, preferably who disagree with each other. THAT is how you put ideas to the test: put them through the crucible of a panel of knowledgeable but biased authority figures and see which ideas survive.

  • I love it.
    Have some fun and don’t fear change, people. It’s just a poster.

  • King Nope

    I for one think it’s pretty charming.

  • Wow! When I first saw Ushev’s poster for the festival I thought it was the best one they’d ever done. I had no idea at the time that he was the artist behind the poster. But I stared at that poster for a long time trying to figure out what made it so good. I watch Ushev’s films the same way – closely and for a long time – over and over again.

    You know, I hate to point out that animation is just loaded with people who don’t know even the slightest thing about what makes a good image. Frankly, it’s an embarrassment. Ushev seems to be an artist who happens to animate. Animation really should be nothing more than another tool at an artist’s disposal. ‘Animators’ as a professional group bore me.

    I cannot go to a movie theater and watch a feature film animation any more. Not Pixar. Not Disney. Not Dreamworks. They suck. They are professional and slick and seamless. And they uniformly stink.

    Here’s how I think of it in simple terms: When Disney sends its artists out to the zoo to draw the animals so that they can come back and draw them really really well in the movies – well, what they are really doing is holding everything back. It’s a huge mistake to draw the animals accurately. Huge. It’s the Disney disease. It all looks like the art you might see in a frame over a bed in a furniture warehouse. If this comment makes you angry, well, you ain’t comin’ over to dinner at my house.

    Ushev’s poster is a middle finger delivered with great aplomb and intelligence to professional animators and their typical view of good image-making.

  • Twitch Jenkins

    Not sure what this piece has to do with animation. It looks more like a flier for a contemporary art event. So anyone has a valid argument against it. It’s not that it’s BAD necessarily, it’s just not appropriate for the event it’s presenting.

    But i kind of side with Pete because I’m not into contemporary pieces, and I’m certain a lot of cartoonists and animators aren’t digging it.

  • hee hee!

    This is all very funny! Like a Bugs/Daffy or Pink Panther/Moustache Man cartoon …or somesuch.

    Do you think the most successful poster is one that compels folk from all over the world to argue passionately about it? :D

  • First off, Pete’s a great guy and he’s entitled to his opinions and all that blah blah blah, its been covered.

    b.) I’m in that 75-80% that doesn’t like this poster and feels that it doesn’t represent animation in any way. What’s really got me frustrated is the explanation that the poster “exists over time, and you come to read it in time”. Sure that’s all artsy and great but as pointed out, this is a poster and has to be read quickly and clearly. What hits me as awkward is that animation doesn’t exist over time, it happens with time, its timed out. That doesn’t read well but my point is that if that were on a screen for 1/12th of a second, no one could read what the hell’s happening. In addition, I can’t stand the lack of motion in this thing. Besides the laser beam coming from its mouth(?) its standing still. How do I know? A bird landed on it! Without motion (implied or actual) its not really screaming animation to me.

    So, I agree with Pete that this doesn’t represent animation. Its not elitist, its traditionalist.

  • Andy

    The poster was certainly good for one thing. It sure increased traffic to the site!

  • Jimbo2K7

    Stephen Worth says:

    “Charles, both of your films, particularly the first one exhibit much more clarity, better color choices, and far better composition than this poster does. (The music you chose is a mess though…)”

    A poster is not the same as animation, however it was very easy to make the same connection that Charles did between the poster and his work, both of which I personally like.

    And then you go off on the music…

    Having seen your comments so many, many times on this blog, and likewise on the meandering ASIFA site – I have to say you are one of the most tiresome close-minded self-appointed authorities I have ever encountered.

    Please do not take that personally.

  • Thought I’d link to a few abstract pieces that DO say animation to me…



    These images aren’t static scratchy dark blobs anchored to the edge of the canvas and crowded in to fit like this festival poster. They feel like they are alive inhabiting a space and moving. The people who are framing this argument as traditional art vs modern are missing the point that this particular abstract image is downright mediocre. Because it’s modern and different, it doesn’t make it good.

  • Charles

    @Stephen Worth

    This is the part where we will have to agree to disagree. You think the poster sucks, I think its lovely. But I don’t think you can really count it as a fail right now. Never have I ever been more aware of the Ottawa Film fest. Like it or not, it’s gone far.

  • OMG people!!! Animation is ART (*NOT just cute-animals and Pete Emslie-Hirshfeld-like drawings!)

    Both Pete and Amid are at fault here, but going by stories from people at SHeridan, Pete’s more at fault cause he’s actually supposed to TEACH students. Any “teacher” that thrashes our fellow animators work(*publicly) is an idiot.

    His professionalism should have a check-up.

    PS-The poster is amazing!(If you like Art! And i believe animation falls in that category)

  • Having seen your comments so many, many times on this blog, and likewise on the meandering ASIFA site – I have to say you are one of the most tiresome close-minded self-appointed authorities I have ever encountered.

    No one is holding a gun to your head to read what I write! Feel free to cheerfully ignore me. It isn’t my fault if you aren’t secure enough to be able to do that.

  • some guy

    regardless of whether this piece is considered “wonderful” or “god awful ugly” maybe you should ask yourself, “does this achieve the intended purpose?”

    a) is it eye-catching?
    -sure, if by eye-catching you’re thinking, “wtf is that?”

    b) Are your eyes then drawn to the relevant information the poster is supposed to provide?
    -huh? what information? where? OH there it is…

    I went ahead and put my own answers in there but I encourage others to answer those questions themselves. I tend to come from the school of thinking that, while there are definite rules to art, the truly masterful will break those rules with intent and purpose, therefore something ugly and alien can still function as a skillful piece of work.

    I think many contemporary and outsider artists either ignore this or are completely ignorant of this line of logic and seek out randomness for randomness’ sake whereas the forerunners of their chosen genre had purposeful intent to what was only superficially perceived as “random.”

    Even pollock’s paint splatters had purpose. I find it difficult to see the purpose in this. Either because the artist has ignored purpose or the message is idiosyncratic to the artist himself and has gone over all of our heads. But I must say that regardless of either outcome, a poster intended for the public to read and disseminate information from should be fairly clear and eye catching. In that respect, I do think this poster has missed the mark.

    different for difference sake is should not be confused with brilliance.

  • Johnathan Kay

    Hey Man! If you don’t like it you’re too old, man! Get oot of the way and let us young Canooks get a slot, eh? We’re doin’ stuff here! Did you ever see Johnny Test? That’s the new animation and it’s all up here!

    You old farts are oot of your senses, eh?

  • some guy

    of course, the purpose may have been to intentionally make the viewer take a closer look at it through the act of confusion and reactionary shock. If so, I think that then makes it a fairly cheap gimmick and not even a new concept. It is unfortunate.

  • some guy

    I’m just gonna go ahead and state that there is some thought behind this, if you see the way the information is broken up into sections by colors and shapes and boldness of lines. I cannot claim this piece to be completely random.

    It appeals to me on an intellectual level, being forced to try and break it down and see what he’s trying to say.

    however it’s purpose is like hiring an English professor that strictly speaks in old english to be a wal-mart greeter. Kinda a bit over the plebe’s heads innit?

    I’m also only in my mid 20’s in case people think I’m some old fogey that can’t appreciate “the new.” Haha, this poster is actually quite a bit for the intellectuals and has nothing “new” about it. the thought behind it is simply on a different axis from most people.

  • The image is okay as a quasi De Kooning piece of art, but completely fails as a poster design. How does this image convey the animation festival concept? The type is too small and nearly illegible. We can debate aesthetics indefinitely, but it’s clear when a piece fails to function as a form of visual communication.

  • Debbie u

    I am so insulted because you discredited one of my favourite teachers (who is also very dedicated to his students) as unfit to teach, and insulted ALL of his work which I admire a lot. That was totally uncalled for! I see the some people say that it’s wrong of him to critique a piece of artwork (that is controversial in the first place) the way he did because of his responsibility as a teacher…… I think, with so many readers from the animation industry has a much bigger responsibility. How you dedicated an entire post belittling Pete’s opinion and work is just so embarrassing and rude.

  • Nicolas Cage

    Emslie is a poor artist, it’s not important what he thinks.

    Nice colors in the poster.

  • Yamroller

    Wow, Pete Emslie bashing something now that is news! He seems to make it his personal quest to put down any form of art that he can’t comprehend. I remember him going on a personal quest to destroy Yam Roll and the Happy Kingdom just because he didn’t agree with the shows art direction. The funny thing is that some of his former students worked on it. It’s a shame that he spends most of his time spreading his opinion on various sites and that people actually consider what he has to say valid. Mr. Emslie reminds me of a chef who becomes a food critic.

  • Yamroller

    Whoops, I mean a FAILED CHEF that becomes a food critic!

  • andy seredy

    Why is there a bird on the kitty’s head? I thought they were mortal enemys?!?!

  • Pete Emslie’s a great guy, and Sheridan’s students are very, very lucky to have him. It’s a shame to see him nose to nose with Amid and Michael Sporn, two of my favorite people in this business.

    All this reminds me that the founders of Cal Arts were very wise when they divided the animation program into two departments, one for traditional character animation and one for experimental animation.

  • J Lee

    How effective the poster is depend a lot on who the target audience is for the event. If the poster is designed towards attracting the attention of people inside the animation industry, or if it’s designed to be sold on T-shirts at the event, then I’d say it’s somewhat effective. But if it’s supposed to be getting the attention of just the general public, than it’s got problems because what it’s promoting is obscure at first glance — the design and the size and style of the type demands you study it to get its message. A casual viewer would most likely pass the type by, which isn’t good if the goal is to attract new people to the festival.

  • Johnny

    Wow, what a horrible thing to say. Even if Pete was a horrible artist (which he isn’t by a long shot), he’d still be entitled to an opinion. Anybody on the street is entitled to say what they think and that’s what Pete is trying to say. That to anyone, be they pro artist or Joe Smoe, this poster is unattractive and somewhat alienating.

  • “Modern Art. What do people see in Modern Art ?” —

    Tate Gallery Liverpool “Modern Art” spot – animated by Richard Purdum

    high-quality frame captures of the animated piece linked above , courtesy of Hans Bacher

    (by the way, my posting of this piece is merely tangential to this extended discussion of the Ottawa Festival poster. It’s not meant to be a commentary one way or the other on the discussion. But I thought the Tate Gallery Modern Art spot animated by Richard Purdum was great when I first saw it in the late 80’s and I think it still holds up. Enjoy.)

  • Henry Hilllman

    Debbie has a point. Amid, you’ve had finer moments.

  • I really don’t see what the big deal is for Pete to have given his own opinion on his blog. So what if he thinks it looks like a cat vomiting with a bird perched on top of it’s head taking a piss. Sure he’s also a teacher at Sheridan College, but so what, it’s not like he’s going into the classroom and shoving this poster in every students face and telling them this is shit, never draw / paint like this or you’re going to fail in life. It’s his opinion and he happened to make it public. To be honest, if he was teaching me to create art like this rather then the proper approach to designing characters I’d want my money back, but thankfully he doesn’t. So again, it’s his opinion so build a bridge and get over it.

  • Ariel

    *Figures that most students of MR. Emslie would back him on this one(*Debbie, Chris T, Johnny? and others.. I’m looking at you ;)

    But they fail to realize that in a subtle way, Mr. Emslie IS telling you what’s “good” and what’s “bad” in Art. Whether you like it not kids, that’s not very professional for a teacher.

    In fact, Mr. Emslie has admitted this in his blog now.

    To Eddie Fitz, i think having devided the CalArts Anim. prog. to two seperate classes was a mistake. Now look what it’s created, people who love art(*which is what animation is) and people who love “cartoon” art. The Ottawa Fest. i believe celebrates both, which is why this poster has importance. It shows that animation is an “art” form.

  • Yeah, he’s a real manipulator. Totally used the Jedi mind trick to tell us the barfing cat is bad. Hark, how could he?

  • Mr. Emslie IS telling you what’s “good” and what’s “bad” in Art. Whether you like it not kids, that’s not very professional for a teacher.

    I don’t know what school you went to, but my professors at the UCLA School of Design were free to express their opinions and often did just that. My best professors did that a lot.

  • Jim

    Geeze y’all! This is an effin’ poster to remind folks who’re interested about the date of the festival. (It’s not intended to explain the history and techniques of animation to aliens from another galaxy. And it’s also not a highway billboard that must be interpreted in one-second flat. It’s simply a unique little arrangement of color that you’ll recognize next time you see it. You really don’t have to hang one in your bathroom if you don’t want to.) The festival has commissioned it and they like it fine. If you don’t like it, well ok. If you do like it, well that’s groovy.

    This blowhard brawl has spilled over onto how many blogs now?! A debate of aesthetics is not anything that can be “won” folks. Tastes differ and everybody has a different P.O.V. The best we can do is to find like minds and band together to create stuff we like.

    Both Pete and Amid are pushing buttons because that’s what they do. They both want attention & they certainly have got it here. Everybody else is a self-enlisted footsoldier in their happy little playground “war”. Sheesh almighty!

  • Ariel said:”To Eddie Fitz, i think having devided the CalArts Anim. prog. to two seperate classes was a mistake. Now look what it’s created, people who love art(*which is what animation is) and people who love “cartoon” art. ”
    Really? How did you draw this conclusion? What evidence? Did you poll everyone in both departments for the past 30 years about their likes and dislikes? Have you followed the careers of a select group from both departments to see how their tastes developed? I’m going to go ahead and assume no. If you did, you would find that the people in both departments appreciate all kinds of art in a variety of media. You would also find that many folks from experimental became fantastic character animators and designers (Chen Y Chang, Anthony Wong, Ellen Woodbury to name a few) while many from the character side embraced art and media well beyond the realm of the “cartoon” (Miles Thompson, Steve Garcia, Joey Marsocci, Adrian Molina, Emma Coats). Don’t make gradiose statements you can’t support.
    In my experience, no teacher can change the way a student thinks.
    As a student, I heard a variety of teachers express all manner of opinions on art. I had a teacher at RMCAD deride Frank Frazetta and Norman Rockwell as hacks. It didn’t change the opinions of the student body one iota. Another thought that the Bauhaus school was the be all and end all of design. Most of us could have cared less.
    Mr. Emslie had a right to say what he had to say. Some of his students will agree, and some of them will disagree. He is NOT telling you what to like or dislike, he is telling you what HE does and does not like, which he has every right to do. There is NO WAY he is changing the opinions of ANY one, student or professional, that has already decided that they like the poster.

  • Nicky

    It’s a Sheridan teacher.

    Mystery solved.

  • Ariel – I’m sorry to inform you but at the age of 25 that no longer puts me under the category of being a “kid”. Luckily, part of aging has allowed me to develop a mind of my own that tells me what I find tasteful; and the more animation and art that I’m exposed to the more my views change / evolve. So I’m sorry to inform you but Pete has nothing to do with my views on this poster. I also fail to see how this poster illustrates animation being an art form. Sure it’s supposedly considered “art”, but I wouldn’t be caught dead trying to animate it. Thus, how does it apply to animation?

  • mike

    Pretentious slop art.

  • Ace Weems

    This poster says nothing to me about animation.

  • I say we lynch Emslie!
    Who’s with me???

    (Sorry Pete, I couldn’t resist.)

  • Wayne L.

    I think it’s a portrait of Amid.

  • tim

    I see your argument, but this site has its share personal opinions too that may or may not be agreed with…….let that guy have his…………criticisms happen in art, that is why it is a subjective medium.

    This is a great site, please dont stoop to the level of bashing other people just to rant over something silly like one mans opinion. Bloggers dont want to read hate mail.

    Its a little bias too since Amid, you are on the board of reviewers for Ottawa.


  • Nick

    I’m a student of Pete. My thoughts, for what they’re worth, follow.

    In regards to the OIAF 2009 poster in question: I don’t like it. I think it’s not representative of animation, uninformative, and aesthetically unappealing. Sorry Ushev, but the cards are being put on the table, and that’s just what I think.
    Pete Emslie’s response on his own blog to the poster was perhaps a bit harsh, but it is how he feels, and it’s on his own blog. It says nowhere on that website that he is accepting of any and all art. In fact, it is obvious from his posts on the Cartoon Cave and on other websites that he has specific tastes. I think that anyone visiting that blog should bear that in mind.
    I’m not quite sure what to make of Amid’s reply on this site. I agree with his opening statement that “the worst quality a teacher can have is to be close-minded.” However, I don’t think that that description fits Emslie. He’s not close-minded. I’ve had him as a teacher. I’ve read his blog. I know he has specific tastes, but he’s receptive to all sorts of ideas. My artistic tastes are different from his, but I wasn’t asked to repeat the year, so I’d say he was able to stomach my work.
    And anyway, what’s all this about attacking his credibility as a teacher? Where’s your evidence for that? Have you sat in on his classes to confirm your suspicions? I can tell you from experience that Pete is more than capable of separating his personal opinions from his curriculum. So I don’t want to hear any more about that until you have some hard evidence that his classes aren’t any good.
    Also, Ariel: What exactly do you expect a teacher to do? If my teachers didn’t tell me when my work was bad, I’d demand my money back. THAT’S WHAT I’M THERE FOR. I’m not sure what you have in mind when you think about being taught, but I was shopping for professional opinions when I paid my tuition.
    Anyway, there’s a lot more I could say, but it’s either already been said, or goes without saying. Also, it’s way past my bedtime.
    See everybody at fan expo?

  • Jim Engel

    I don’t care for the poster, but that’s neither her nor there. What bothers me is Amid’s snarky dismissal of Pete Emslie’s work (who, for the record, I don’t know, and have never met).

    Obviously Emslie admires Hirschfeld, but his own work is hardly “tired Hirschfeld impersonations”. You can see Hirschfeld’s influence, but Emslie’s got his own STYLE. I think he’s an incredible caricaturist, and I visit his site regularly just to admire his work.

    Is Frazetta a tired J. Allen St. John impersonator? Is Jeff Smith a tired Walt Kelly impersonator? Is Bruce Timm a tired Jack Kirby impersonator? Give me a break.

  • Nick

    Also, it’s scary how tight-knit/miniscule the internet animation community is.

  • Hmmmm, John K himself doesn’t seem to agree with Amid’s rather myopic assessment of Emslie’s teaching skills. Read for yourself:

    Sounds like a pretty good teacher to me.

  • DrawFlipper

    i think somebodys just pissed because they couldn’t be a part of this years ottawa poster. this will make him happy camper.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s funny that Amid will often follow up his comments until now…

  • Now after wading through all that commentary, I kind of dig the poster. Not brave of them to change it.

  • Oh. Ha ha. :)

  • Ariel

    To put things to rest.. art(postering) is subjective so let’s move on.

    Two, whomever backs Mr. Emslie’s comments in his own blog about this poster is probably a student or ex of his. You shouldn’t expect this kinda of behaviour from a “teacher” in a “public” forum. If he WASNT a teacher, he can spew whatever he want’s on the internet. Hell, i do :)

    And three, to people who “don’t get it”, this poster “says” animation simply by being an “image”. To all who mindlessly agree this isn’t “animation”, obviously hasn’t been to many International Festivals to see that practicly “anything” could be animated. I’ve seen music video’s in this style, and they (*gasp!) called it animation.

    Boohoo if it wasn’t cookie-cutter-saturday-morning-cartoon network-style postering here folks. Ciao.

  • Adamdraws

    So…I am just wondering if people understand how crazy this is. Really, I mean is a mans opinion on a poster really reason to attack him and his students? I mean, one would assume that the author of this article would have had better things to do then get upset about something someone said about a poster, but I guess not.

    I think everyone needs to take a step back from their computer and find something better to do with their time, assuming they can, and realize that there are more important things in life then crying about a guys opinion on the internet.

  • Andrew

    if 1000 monkeys type at random for an infinite number of years, eventually, what they type will make sense. Not only will it make sense, but it will be the complete works of Shakespeare.

    probably not the case though here.

  • Joe

    Explain to me again why a teacher can’t have an opinion?

  • Wayne L.

    oh! well! Ariel has officially put this duscussion “to rest”. I guess we can no longesr say anything on the matter.

    The all mighty little mermaid has spoken.

    “If he WASNT a teacher, he can spew whatever he want’s on the internet.”

    I still don’t undestand this concept you superior intellects keep throwing around that teachers are not allowed to have personal opinions. ESPECIALLY not on their personal blog’s.

    I don’t know why your latching to such a rediculous argument.

    How is that any different from me saying that I think people named Ariel aren’t allowed to have a personal opinion either.

  • Personally I don’t like it, though I applaud any attempt to be original. To mindlessly dislike something because you don’t get it is also just as disingenuous as to like something that you don’t get because everyone else likes it.

    The comments were brash. I think that pulling the whole teacher thing into it is not valid because the guy who made it isn’t a student. As an artist you have to accept criticism, it happens. You don’t have to like it or do anything about it. As an artist though who criticizes others you do have to have a level of decorum that isn’t this name calling and lack of depth in commentary. Calling it ‘cat vomit’ is just bad critique.

  • Anonymous

    Remember Robert, Pete said he sees “a cat vomiting”, not that the painting looks like “cat vomit” ;)

  • Anonymous

    A teacher should be cool and open about art!

    Teachers should behave in a aloof way about art. They’re likes and dislikes should stay out of it. They should push the student to get better at what the student wants. If a student should happen too like cat vomit, he should be able to make cat vomit and get better at making it! If a student likes to make classic disney/modern 3d stuff then he should be pushed to do that really really well. I know no teacher can truly do that. Esspecially because if your a teacher you became one because your a biased prick who has too preach to the world that he knows what is best. But let’s at least try teacher people to give people a shot at what they need! The world needs all kinds of art ranging from cat vommit to correct disney/ modern 3d stuff. From rough expression to delicate technically correct rendering of feelings through characters this should all be in the world.

    Btw, people with blogs who complain on they’re blogs are pathetic! Get a life!

  • Oliver_A

    It’s funny that people here are discussing how unprofessional it is for a teacher to criticize a poster in the comment section of an article, which is full of juvenile, vicious, personal attacks against said person. People here preach for open-mindedness, yet at the same time, act totally contrary to this idea by shouting down one single negative opinion, as if open-mindedness excludes the ability to challenge ideas and decisions.

    If art is meant for free interpretation, what’s wrong about saying that this poster resembles a vomiting cat? To me, it looks like a femur bone from which the flesh is being ripped off. I also come to the same conclusion as Mr. Emslie: what has this to do with animation? No one so far, could really answer that question, neither on Mr. Emslie’s or this blog. Is Mr. Emslie a bad teacher because his personal opinion differs from the artist, or the people who commissioned this poster?

    Grow up, and get some sense of humour.

  • Jamie

    It’s a beautiful poster…

  • matt

    If anyone’s still out there,

    Floyd’s comment is my fave! For the sly humour especially…

    As for me, all I’d say is that even if this has generated “buzz” or “controversy”, the supposed logic that it’s successful is wrongheaded. There’s nothing that supports the idea that even if this poster gets us all in a tizzy that it actually makes us want to GO to the festival. The two are not related. And for that reason if no other, it has failed in what it should have set out to do/it doesn’t “work”.

    And at this point I don’t really have to go on about Amid’s stance not only in relation to this but to most everything he ever says about say, 3d?!

  • Anonymous
  • I think the poster is effective in the sense a rock art poster is effective: it’s visually striking and compells the viewer to slow down for a moment and read the information for the event —one of the fun things in a rock poster is to try to read the wild hand-crafted letterings, even if they don’t follow the rules of being clear and easily llegible.

    Is the design of the poster related to animation? Maybe in the same way a figure of a voluptuous she-devil riding a motor pison is related to rock & roll —you don’t need to include guitars to let people know it’s a rock poster, likewise I think you don’t need to use conventional animation elements to let eople know it’s an animation event.

    That said, I do think that the purpose of the net is for people to express their viewpoints freely. I don’t agree with Mr. Emslie (I like his cartoons, but the style of his webpage is desperately in need of some re-design) but as far as I’m concerned he can write what he damn pleases on his own blog.

    Like many others have already commented above, this poster is bound to become the most succesful one in the history of the event, because of all the free publicity it has prompted.

  • I’ll say what’s already been said: this poster sucks, and the teacher is entitled to his opinion regardless of his profession.

  • Anonymous

    Anyways people with too much of a opionion are called biased. Don’t mix up a bias with an opinion. If someone has an opinion he shows it through being critical and explaining why he feels what he feels and not being blunt. There is a diference in being blunt (calling something cat vormmit) and showing what you feel about something offcourse. The heat that this post arouses is because it’s a teacher. A teacher should be an example of how it should be! So if a teacher has such an ‘opinion’ he should think about it before posting it on a blog. Esspecially a teacher working at a big school like sheridan!

    Also this whole post shows that the creator of the post cares that an art teacher would call an abstract work cat vormmit. He definetly has a point that abstract work rarely gets any recognition! And someone calling it something stupid esspecially an art teacher at a highly regarded animation school shows how closed minded this industry really is!

    Btw yes it gets free publicity now but what the hell does that have to do with the teacher giving his opinion. Stay with the subject. Also Saying that having an opionion about an opinion is stupid is also going of subject! Give your opinion about the subject and don’t be so frigging recursive! That’s just another way of saying that you either don’t care about opinions or that your scared of having an opionion. So why post then!

  • Anonymous

    A lot of people commenting are still misreading; “looks like a cat vomiting” is completely different than calling something “cat vomit”.
    The later, would be meant as an insult, which is NOT what Pete said. He was trying to see an image in the abstract poster and clearly said that the only image his mind is seeing, is an image of a cat who seems to be barfing. NOT that the image looks like cat vomit.

    If you’re going to post here, make sure you read the whole argument first. Misreading something and writing about it is not helping your argument.

  • Mac

    While I don’t agree with the critics critique, I also think there has been much hullabaloo made over a very trivial matter. Maybe a tad on the harsh side but come on, who of us here has never thought of much worse language in our own critiques.

  • Hmm, interesting discussion going on here. Huzzah for internet discourse. I do enjoy Cartoon Brew because whenever someone makes a silly point, there’s someone else there to provide an eloquent counter. While we may not all agree, cumulatively this discussion is wide ranging and makes many valid points in all directions, which cancels out any invalid points that get made along the way.

    Anyhow, just to add the discourse, if I was going to criticise this poster I’d say it lacks clarity in the all-important what,when and where elements. Although red pill junkie did raise a very valid interpretation of this point. Although a website address wouldn’t hurt.

  • Some people on here still don’t get it do you? The issue is not the “cat vomiting” interpretation… it’s the “class-less” criticism a teacher made of this poster.

    Do we also seem to forget that he also described it as “something his mom would put on a fridge door”? In my day, I heard my Sheridan teachers talk that way in class.. but not outside of it.

    Ahh… the internet age.. we can say whatever we want now cause we’re not face to face with that person.. sweet! :(

  • Anonymous

    I think a lot of people “get it”. Most people here don’t care that a teacher made a “class-less critique”, as you say.

    They care because this personal attack was made on a website (that not only one person posts on) devoted to giving animation news, not getting back at people like a myspace page or livejournal, where you can vent your anger. I would definitely not be so annoyed if Amid posted this attack on his own, personal blog.

    Sure I can say Pete was being an ass for posting it on his blog. He really didn’t have to. And I would never do something like that myself. But Amid is even more of an ass for not even trying to be the more professional person in this situation. I doubt he contacted Pete privately asking him to take the post down, instead he did exactly what Pete did and without thinking, compulsively posted whatever the hell he thought was necessary to make the other feel like crap. Both sides are at fault here.

    This is supposed to be a professional website where people can come to get animation news, not to hear pointless bashing of somebody else.

  • Anonymous

    Be happy people are bashing each other on the internet. The teacher clearly is trying to take a shot at cartoon brew for being unproffessional and he took the fisrt shot. Also saying that liking Octocat is having bad taste! This is like the most stupid comment ever! As it was made by David O Reilly an artist that very well knows the rules of art. You can read his essay about making shorts on his site! You’ll notice very quickly he ain’t no idiot. Btw somebody made the remark that teachers talk that way at sheridan! Well if they do! The whole of sheridan is pretty messed up! It’s got a world view that everything in art should be literal. That’s like going back to the middle ages!

    Also the picture is open to interpretation some people say that it looks like a cat vommiting you could also see this weird head (because it doesnt neccesarily show a cats’s head):

    breathing fire
    spitting laserlight
    spitting a red shape
    etcera etcetra!

  • Roger Thornhill

    Such asswackery. Such vile, primal, cat-humping fervor. The Nazis have returned.

  • Another Anonymous

    I must admit, this is quite a strange post at Cartoon Brew. Maybe this is why I don’t keep up with it religiously. If there was an honest wish to discuss art on an open level, it would not have been presented like this. It very easily could have been “Poster for Ottawa International Festival Released” and everyone could have expressed their opinions straight up without Amid’s clearly biased opinion of another animation professor. Isn’t that silly? It’s not promoting positive discussion at all. “(and Fails)”? Come on. I thought Brew was more respectable than to bash the opinion of someone else in the same industry over something so small. It’s not necessary.

    I’ll even join the conversation. I can’t say that I’d love to have this poster on my wall. It’s not a favorite of mine. But as an art student, if I passed it while walking around, yes, I would actually stop to see what it was advertising. On a whole, I find it quite eye catching. As an artist, I want to know more about it and therefore it garners interest for the event it’s advertising. That’s all we can ask of poster design. It reminds me of Ah! Real Monsters. I never liked it, but I knew a lot of people who did. That same reaction seems to be what people are giving with this. Theo, if you read this, thank you for giving us something to talk about!

  • Daphne Yue


    For those who feel the need to keep throwing shit at ONE guy, his job, and his students (who can likely think soundly for themselves) NOT because of JUST his OWN PERSONAL opinion, but ALSO at some point or other, they’ve PERSONALLY become extremely BUTTHURT over what he has to say and everyone else here supporting his opinion on this fiasco have to say.

    I’ll leave this here, to summarize you continuous need to raise your opinion above those of… “inferior minds”:

    …because really, while you are up there in the clouds, we’re wondering what’s with all the crap you’re throwing at us.

    Your need to continuously insult people who are friendly with this guy have officially escalated the drama caused from this article from a level of civilized debate to a level of immaturity worthy of 4chan.


    Here’s a gold medal.

  • Ariel

    Hi Daphne Yue,

    Thanks for your insightful opinion.

    Also, while you’re up in there in the clouds with us, explain to us how a professor of a respected animation school has thrashed publicly, not only Ushev’s art, but other respected industry directors and animators in the past aswell.

    I guess he doesn’t put that in his blog. Just the funny stuff.

  • Al

    I think these guys are on opposite sides of the same crappy coin.

  • Dave Nielsen

    This can’t be a huge surprise, considering the idiots they have working at that school. None of them are exactly the cream of the crop. This guy has just revealed himself as the boob he is. He may actually have a rival as far as emptyheaded pretentiousness, though. Mark Mayerson (which can be seen from his blog) is even worse. Sheridan doesn’t deserve its reputation (which isn’t well regarded outside Canada, despite what they will tell you).

  • O

    If you stand far enough away from it and with the right amount of myopia it blends beautifully. There is a cylinder like form to the face like a wooden mask.

    Up close it looks like a kindergartener painted it haphazardly.

  • The poster is beautiful. Isn’t that obvious?

    • Dino

      Thanks for the laugh!

  • I actually quite love this poster. I’d love to see an animated version of it even more. I’d even go so far as to say this style of poster inspires me to animate and isn’t that one of the purposes of an animation festival? To inspire animation?

  • Dino the dinosaur

    This kind of crap passes for “art” today only because the so-called “artists” who produce it subscribe to a generally accepted permissiveness that is encouraged by “teachers” (and I use the word loosely) who have duped people into believing that they know all about being an artist without possessing any demonstrable skill.