I was working on some watercolor illustrations for The Rumpus, when something——the same something that often compels me to take on time-suck high-labor/low-reward tasks like moving many thousands of files from one cloud storage space to another——makes me count up how many pictures I’ve made for that magazine and decide all those pictures should live on the same page.
It takes a couple hours to get this done, but now the portal to that wing of the lunatic asylum has been opened, demanding further action. I take a look at the Illustrations menu page and it becomes clear that it must be redesigned. There’s a small voice screaming for me not to do it, that nobody cares about how some page on an art website is configured, that nobody even uses websites anymore, that it’s all apps all the time these days. I ignore these urgent but reasonable pleas, because reason has little to do with the way I operate.
When the site started seventeen years ago, there wasn’t even an illustration page, but over the years, as I got more and more work making art for others and needing art for my own writing, this page metastasized into a dozen pages with a several hundred images. I’d split the main page thematically before, but now the leftovers spilled across four overstuffed pages.
I’d started rewatching The Larry Sanders Show a few days before this reorg mania overtook me. It became my soundtrack as I coded and coded and coded. Now there’s a sports page and one for Chicago writers and the lit scene. I moved some portraits to the Portrait section. Pet portraits are out of the Illustration ghetto and up there with top-tier categories like Books, Tabletops, and Cityscapes. My reasoning before was that anything not done from direct observation was illustration rather than art. I can’t be that strict about it anymore, especially since diving into collages. This tedious sorting exercise has some value in helping me rethink the way I define my work. At least that’s what I tell myself to justify where these last days disappeared.
It took over four seasons of Shandling’s neurotic brilliance to get to a stopping point I could live with. I say stopping point, because there’s no end to it. I’ll keep futzing, paring, and rethinking as long as the site exists. Whether anyone but me cares about it has little to do with it.
I just have to.