Suffering for one’s art

I don’t know who created the Google cheeseburger emoji but I do know how he or she feels.
Surely you’ve heard about it. It was on all the news programs. CNN even turned away from Trump’s tweets for a minute. Kevin Spacey sent the graphic artist a bagel basket.
The big news?
The cheese on the cheeseburger was (gasp) under, yes under, the beef patty not on top of it.
I know. I didn’t sleep that night either.
But unlike all those holier-than-thou burger purest anchoring the news or taking to the internet to show their disgust, I was sympathetic. That’s because I understood exactly why the artist put the cheese on the bottom: he or she wanted to.
It’s called artistic license. And I think it was a good choice. If you look at the design from an artistic point of view rather than a culinary one, you must admit the cheese looks pretty cool melting over the bottom portion of the bun.
Another reason I am sympathetic is that I’ve been there.
Back in high school, more than 50 years ago, I entered a poster in a “Hire the Handicapped” contest.
My design, executed in tempera paint, showed a large keyhole in the center of a black background. Through the keyhole you could see a beautiful, vibrant, thriving, colorful city. A large key grabbed the viewer’s attention. The text proclaimed: For a bright future, hire the handicapped.
I got second place.
Afterwards, the judges told me they thought my poster was far and away the best and would have been a runaway winner except for one thing: “That key could never open that door,” they said.
The keyhole I painted was the kind you’d see in the front door of an old home. Because that’s the keyhole I wanted. But the key for such a keyhole is one of those old-fashioned skeleton keys, long and thin and, to me, boring. So I painted an interesting key. A fat key with lots of intricate “key stuff” going on. The kind of key you’d use on, say, a Master lock.
I knew it wasn’t the right key. But it was the right key to my artistic sense.
I explained all that to the judges.
But it won’t work in that keyhole, they insisted.
Right.
And the cheese doesn’t belong on the bottom.

Ed Ackerman