Embarrassment is Good for the Complexion

I don't know how I convince myself to do these things.

If it isn't telling myself that yes, at 29, I can learn how to rollerskate, and do it in front of audiences while wearing hotpants and falling down (a LOT), ... then it's me thinking that, yes, I can compete in a crazy live art competition where I have no idea what's going on.

So this past weekend (after taking some ill advice from fellow comicker and artist Mike Bracco), I signed up for the Super Art Fight Idol competition. Super Art Fight was described to me as "pro wrestling for artists" and involved costumes, frantic drawing, music, and live commentary. Really, that's all I needed to know. So I dared myself to be stupid and threw my hat in the ring to compete.

Sixteen artists. Fifteen-minute bouts. Five hours. Three judges. Two finalists to go on to compete at Super Art Fight XI. One bored boyfriend (well ... bored until he realized the AWESOMENESS that was going on, then he was totally into it).

Each artist starts off with one topic in mind to draw - in my first bout, I chose "velociraptor on a skateboard" and my opponent Ashley Harnden more wisely chose "portal". This gave her the range to draw all over the canvas and attack my drawings from every area imaginable. I knew, at this moment, that I was screwed. I know the boyfriend plays portal, I know I've seen it, but I had no idea what to counter with .... until I remembered I've seen Jurassic Park 897 times and OH could I use that. The point of Super Art Fight is to use your theme against your opponent's and dominate the canvas - populate it with your drawings, take over their drawings, and direct as many witty drawings toward your opponent's drawings you can ... all without making the canvas one huge, stinking mess of scribbles. Oh, and every five minutes they spin a WHEEL OF DEATH and change the topic you're supposed to draw. Utter and complete madness? Yes.

But ingenious. While I was trying to be witty and drawing little jokes on the canvas, hearing the announcers describe what I'd drawn, and then actually hearing the crowd laugh in response was, needless to say, something artists rarely get to experience themselves. Sure, you're onstage under terrifying spotlights, but the fact that you can do what you like best - draw - in front of an audience, and get an instant response is pretty incredible. Normally, after hours locked away in a room by yourself, you decide that what you've drawn is funny, and no one can argue with you until you post it online. Instant feedback and instant crowd involvement was something I never hoped to experience as an artist.

So it was awesome, and intimidating, and terrifying, and every artist there made nervous. I had no idea what I'd be up against. But somehow I lucked out and won 2 rounds, tied the 3rd, and joined two other canvas champs (Daryl Gnau and Henry Alexander) in a three-way tie! All three of us get to move on to the Super Art Fight XI on August 20th.

And before you ask, no, I don't even want to think about how I'm going to beat another contestant at the drawing board, let alone two simultaneously ... (that's what she said).

(Pictures courtesy of Peet!)