The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

People are so ga-ga over Gmail that they're willing to cough up something of value in exchange for an account. The market for buying and selling Gmail accounts isn't particularly robust, probably because people like me have given away invitations (although I did offer one up as compensation for participating in my no-blog news diet experiment, but I actually didn't have to give it to Steve Rubel because he already had a Gmail account). Still, it seems to have gotten to a point where Google is now prohibiting the business of Gmail profiteering.

I don't know how Google's edict will affect Gmail Swap, a bulletin board-type exchange site where people can propose services they can offer up in exchange for a precious account. Gmail Swap specifically prohibits money deals, so maybe they're safe.

Regardless, I decided to partake in the Swap insanity a couple of weeks ago (coincidentally, on my birthday). This offer by one Jennifer Light (aka lytegirl1) intrigued me:
Ok, this has been a hobby of mine since I took Latin in HS (I tend to be a bit of a nerd, but hopefully in a cute way.) I find it endlessly amusing, and just maybe if I am lucky I am am not the only one. I will draw an epic or historical event of you choosing completely in stick figures. An example would be The Crucifixion or The Battle for Bunker Hill. I could render an event in your life, if you sent me a lot of details. Or perhaps something fictional. This medium works best if there are many figures, so think epic.

I can deliver the drawing in PDF or JPEG format, in 2 to 3 days (I need time for research.) Or (the better option in my opinion) I can mail you a hand rendered and inked 8 1/2 x 11 drawing on vellum.
There was little chance I could let this opportunity get away. Since I had a half-dozen Gmail invitations to my credit, I decided it was worth giving one up for this. So I took her up on it.

I thought a bit about what epic scene I wanted to see rendered in astounding stick-figure form. I considered Biblical epochs, scenes from Greek, Indian and Norse mythology, and even Civil War battles. But ultimately, I decided to go with something a little different.

click for larger image

The above image is from The Dore Illustrations For Dante's Divine Comedy. Specifically, it's Plate No. 134--The Empyrean from Book Paradiso, Canto XXXI, Lines 1 and 2:
In fashion then as of a snow-white rose /
Displayed itself to me the saintly host
It's a stunning piece, my favorite of all of Dore's Divine Comedy illustrations. It seems to almost glow from delicate balance of greys, black and white. I thought it would be neat to see Jennifer take a crack at this piece. So I asked her to transform Dore's work into stick-figureness.

The result:

click for larger image

Nice work, huh? It took her a week and change, but I think Jennifer did a bang-up job of it. I've got the drawing in digital and vellum formats; I'll be framing the vellum shortly and hang it on the wall. If I can find a good frameable version of the Dore print, I'll get that and display both side-by-side.

So that's the power of a Gmail invitation. Thanks again to Jennifer; put your address to good use. And stick to the drawings!