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I sometimes feel like a bit of a moral coward, like a great many I know who are straight and white and male - the least persecuted combination on the planet! - but who are also very open-minded. I worry about saying what I truly think and believe - particularly online - for fear of getting into an argument with less tolerant, more puritanical people than I, or people that have faith in the unknowable (which is something I took a good stab at for a decade or so, but ultimately found misleading, hollow, insubstantial and unsubstantiated.) I hate conflict, and the internet often gives people bigger bollocks than they might have face to face. It gets pretty nasty, I've noticed, with very little tolerance and almost no give and take.

Sometimes, though, I feel a need to put my cards on the table. If I am to call myself an artist I should be clear about what defines me, who I am, and how I perceive everything around me. It is what drives me after all! So with that said...

What the hell is going on?

Half the world - maybe more - is conditioned by Iron Age belief systems or brutal and localized ideologies maintained by a thuggish elite. People, in this age where pretty much all information is freely available, choose not to think for themselves, or are afraid to. We claim not to trust our leaders, but we adopt the previous generation's thinking as our own - because... Well, because what? Schools don't teach free thought or personal choice, they indoctrinate whatever the local culture - and parents - demand. Religious leaders don't teach it because that's the last thing they want.

As a result we're all mutually intolerant.

I find it incredible to believe that race, sex and sexual orientation can STILL mark somebody out as a lesser human. People die, get thrown in prison, or mutilated because of an accident of birth and their geographical location at any given time.

The same root of a once singular religion now has dangerously conflicting beliefs in the three prime religions that grew out of it, and never the twain shall meet. They are mutually intolerant of each other at their core.

I don't care at all if people believe in some higher force. I do have to wonder where that force came from, how and why it evolved, and why it seeks dominion though. I don't relish giving up free-will (such that it is, in a limited capacity) for an eternity of subjugation and devotion. And I can't understand any being so petty as to create an eternal burning hell for creatures as insignificant as we are. It reeks, to me, of fear and arrogance - that we should believe ourselves so important!

The world and all things will end, and long after we have already gone no memory, nor eyes, nor ears, will be left to record that moment - and that's fine by me. It's in living that we should take care. It's in living that we should look skyward each day in wonder. It's in living that we should love our fellow humans. It's in living that we should learn, and think, and change, and not cast ourselves in stone, or build walls and rules based on the less-wise beliefs of a far more ignorant age.

I have no issue if somebody wants to believe in any of the many thousands of gods that have been worshipped. But they that confuse us with fear, that threaten with damnation, that force us to choose one or the other incompatible belief or be a heretic - them I have issues with.
 
We are blessed with a brief span of years on this island Earth. We have so little time, and there is so much to cherish and love. Not the tiniest speck of dust, nor the vastest of the galaxies matter one more than the other. In a gods eye it's just blinking a tear away. There's not enough time to be cruel. There's not enough days to waste on judgement.

The real issues remain around power, hunger, and money. The great thought-leaders of the world could change much very quickly if it was in their personal interest to do so. It's all so miserably self-serving.

And lastly - do I look like a wooly-minded weak liberal? To think for yourself is a good thing. To change your mind because you hear a better argument is not something to fear, it's liberating. To do it in the face of your ingrained culture is heroic. To cast yourself in stone is to be blind, deaf and dumb.

For me, to be an artist and a writer you need an open mind, to be able to free yourself from society's shackles - at least momentarily - so you can see the bigger picture. And you need to be able to question the morality of your own work too. Much of my work is violent, while I am a very passive person. So what does this say about me? Do people get the irony, or the gut-level wishfulfillment? The desire to be tougher perhaps, to live a less troubled life? I sometimes question whether I am also objectifying my subject matter, particularly women. I'm still undecided on this as I happen to be pretty red-blooded, and part of the admiration of the opposite sex is Darwinian I feel. It's murky water, but worth looking at seriously, otherwise everything remains purely surface, and therefore artefice. If we, as fantasy and sci-fi creators, are to be truly taken seriously these factors do matter. If what we do is allegory, then what is the message, what are we reflecting?

I don't ever expect people to share my views, but my life has led me here. You can find all of the above in my work in varying shades. It's who I am.  When I view your work I expect I'll meet you too. :-)




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:iconjohnarmbruster:
JohnArmbruster Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Amen. Couldn't have said it better and more people like you should speak out in hopes that others will hear what's being said in hopes that they too will hear a better argument and change their belief or ideologies. That IS how things change.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2013  Professional Artist
Thanks John! I genuinely think that people who have this thought process are generally pretty gentle, peace-loving, and non-confrontational by nature - which makes the squall of conflicting belief and zealous believers pretty intimidating. Even if you DON'T believe, having people tell you you're going to burn in hell - which has happened to me - isn't particularly pleasant, no matter how ridiculous it seems! To be a white devil, in league with satan - it's all imagery to scare people, and I hate that with a passion. As such it's always a bit like raising your head above a parapet and waiting for the missiles...  :-)
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:iconjohnarmbruster:
JohnArmbruster Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
:)
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:icondremalone:
DreMalone Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013
Thanks for sharing, Liam. As a writer, I'm constantly looking at what makes me happy in my writings, and what makes it fun for me. In some of my short stories, violence is key. Don't know where it comes from, really. But, I write for me, and if anyone likes what I write, then I must be doing something good.

Putting your cards on the table isn't a bad thing. It's good to let folks know where you stand, but it makes you open up to yourself and let you know what you're about, as well. It's gotten you a kick-ass comics career, and Madefire.

Bless you for both, senor. You're a hell of an inspiration. :)
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013  Professional Artist
Thank you for the kind words, they are much appreciated. Cheers. :-)

And yes - I try to be honest and clear about who I am! It's part of the job.
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:iconragesevenqb:
ragesevenqb Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013
Amen, LOL.  I mean.  Right on ya Liam.  
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Professional Artist
Amen brother. :-)
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:iconkikyounez-sama:
KikyouNez-sama Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Artist must be "open mind" to write and draw any character no matter gender, but make it real to the story, to make the reader part of the story (sorry my english here, I am trying) and if some one says " I am open minded" and make a bad critique about that, then is hypocrite and opposite to open mind.
I think your work is obviously one of the most real in creation of character I have the pleasure to read. 
We all have Ying/Yang in our inner self... evil & darkness are part of us, the same way that goodness & light, and we all do use of both in the day by day.

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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Professional Artist
Nicely put. Thank you! :-)
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:iconkikyounez-sama:
KikyouNez-sama Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
most wellcome, sir
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:iconexquisiteoath:
exquisiteoath Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Student General Artist
Ya know, I don't know all of your work, but I do believe that you're one of the more fair-minded writer of women that I've come across.  I don't think any one is perfect but you do try to grow and accept that it's important.

With the portrayal of women in comics being such a hot-button issue this past couple of weeks I think the important thing to remember is that if you write a person and that person happens to be female that's probably solid.  If you write a prop and that prop happens to be female, you're probably doing it wrong.

On the religion front, I believe in an approach of being militantly moderate; accepting that inherent value of each person's experience to that person.  The flip side of that is that I'm certain that evil can only be defined as subjecting another person to your will without their consent.  And it sounds like you're in a similar place so I can't help but support that view.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Artist
I would say amen but...
Ah, what the hell!

Amen brutha! :-)
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:iconexquisiteoath:
exquisiteoath Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2013  Student General Artist
:hooray:
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:iconablebaker:
Ablebaker Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013

Good to know.:)

 

However 1 thing I have noticed (at least here in the U.S.) is that a great many people refer to themselves as 'open minded' and 'tolerant' when they are anything but. It seems that those who preach the most about these things end up knowing the least about them. You are correct that we as human now have easier and greater access to information than at any point in time. Yet, most people (again, here in the States) pick their own pet issues to care about and purposely remain ignorant of issues they deem petty and/or boring. :(

 

When it comes to 'objectification' of women; stories would be boring and fairly unrealistic if they only had male characters and I feel that you give as much detail and attention to the male characters you draw as you do to the female characters you draw. Also, does the Venus de Milo objectify women? Does Michaelangelo's David objectify men? Those are considered fine art and I see your works as being no different. :)

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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Artist
Thank you. I think my thoughts skew the same way yours do. :-)

Still, always good to check your thinking! It's important to know what lies behind the art!
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:iconablebaker:
Ablebaker Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013

I like to know where others stand on different issues because I respect their right to believe and feel whatever they wish to and I have no desire to insult anyone for what they do believe.

 

When you stop questioning yourself, you stop growing. :)

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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Artist
I feel the same. It's the path I chose for myself that brought me here. That, for me, is the important thing. It's not even really about free thinking, it's about thinking for yourself. Nobody owns us. Nobody can or should tell us what we should think. :-)
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:iconezekielcrowe:
EzekielCrowe Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013
I also want to say that I agree with you. Much of what the Church has done has destroyed what Jesus actually taught. It is a form of control.  Intolerance was never one of Jesus' precepts, at least He never spoke about it nor did he ever say anything about homosexuality. We live today in a world that seeks to continue to divide each other. If it isn't through sexual preferences it will be someone's belief or non belief system. Much of this is fueled by people who crave power or greed. TV evangelism has almost ruined Christianity, if it weren't for free thinkers like C.S. Lewis then many believers would find themselves still victims of doctrine and not thinking. Your post is well written, if it sounded like I gave a knee jerk reaction, it most likely was and I had to re read your post to see that you are actually speaking out about the pain humanity is going through. It was well articulated and to the crux of the matter that has always plagued civilization. 

I apologize for my initial post =) 
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Artist
No need need! I understand that it matters to people. I was a Christian myself once. It's the root of who I am. I just moved on because I couldn't believe in any logical concept of god - at least not anything I could make sense out of. And I realised that if I'd been born in India I might well be a Hindu, and have complete faith in that without question. My thinking hustles me in a different direction in the end, and - for me at least - it's made me a much happier person, and also a much more questioning person. But honestly - thank you for your lovely consideration above. It's appreciated. :-)
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:iconezekielcrowe:
EzekielCrowe Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013
We have the tendency to blame religion for the acts of man.  The problem never has been religion, take atheistic governments like the days of Soviet Russia or China that promoted atheism. Their human violations stacked as high if not higher that the ancient church. Hitler wanted to go after Christians next after eliminating the Jewish population simply because he knew that they would never support his ideology of eugenics. Man is the culprit, always has been, man will take any ideology, any religion and pervert it into something for his own gain. 

But in saying that, I have no issue with what anyone believes or disbelieves. So I hope that you do not take my comments as being disrespectful, I am just showing the other side of the coin. 
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Artist
All cool. Thanks for sharing. But Hitler was a Roman Catholic. There's good and bad perpetuated by those that believe and those that don't. Before religion was invented we still lived together and created successful tribes and societies. It's Darwinian to care about other humans. But then I wasn't really blaming religion for anything, just highlighting their innate incompatibility. If all religions rubbed along nicely it wouldn't be an issue. It really is man's greed at the heart of everything. IMHO!
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:iconezekielcrowe:
EzekielCrowe Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013
Other than that, I fully agree with what you said. Man seems to want and want, it is only through conscience that we can survive, something that we are taught less and less of these days. We see Wall Street players rewarded for bad behavior and politicians thriving on corporate funding. We are no longer a Union of states but of corporations. It is sad. 
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:iconpjfriel:
PJFriel Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Nicely said.  While I do believe that there's "something" divine out there...hell if I know what "it" is.  I'm not sure that "it" can or even should be defined.  Obviously, putting a name to "it" hasn't worked out very well for mankind thus far.  I am baffled by people who hate so viciously all while claiming to worship a god who was all about love and acceptance.  I just can't wrap my head around it.  At the very least, you'd think that common sense would tell them that they could catch more flies with honeyed words than caustic vitriol, but they're too blinded by the dogma to truly understand the message.  *sigh*

I'm glad that you wrote this journal.  It's comforting to know that a man whose work is viewed by so many young minds sees the bigger picture in life and is willing to make his voice heard.  :)
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Artist
Thank you! And ironically it was my understanding as a Christian - back when I was one - that sewed these seeds: Turn the other cheek. Judge not. Thou shalt not kill. It amazed me how few Christians actually lived by that! :-)
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:iconpjfriel:
PJFriel Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I think they get so caught up in NOT doing all the things the book says they'll go to hell for that they forget the things that they're actually supposed to do...like love one another as they would love themselves.  But then again...perhaps they are following that commandment.  Sometimes, we're even more hateful to and judgmental of ourselves than we are anyone else.

Isn't that depressing?  :P   I need to go make a happy picture or something.  lol!
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Artist
It's true! I treat myself much more harshly than I would anybody else! :-)

Happy pictures sounds good!
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:iconkarret:
Karret Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013
I don't understand why you wouldn't expect people to share your views. I expect only the vocal minority ding bat whackadoodle nut jobs in the world would disagree with you.
Like school, for example. It's a joke, and most people are aware of that. Luckily, we are able to learn many things outside of school's restrictions.

Also, you shouldn't worry if your opinions are going to offend someone. I mean, obviously there's a time and place for everything and being tolerant of others' differing views is important too, but don't let their right to have an opinion smother your right to the same thing. A lot of those intolerant religious extremists probably also denounce homosexuality as a sin and tell gay people/anyone who's not of their own religion they're going to burn in hell, so if they are able to say and think such offensive things, you shouldn't feel bad about expressing your opinions which might offend them.  You deserve a place to speak your mind just as much as  they do, and you shouldn't forget that. If they don't like your opinion, they can look away; if they choose to comment about how omg you're such a terrible person for having an opinion that offends them or something, well... -shrugs-  It's a free world.

As for the why trolls exist thing, I think it's mostly to do with the freedom that comes with anonymity. Some of them might often think to themselves 'Ohhh I just hate people who do such and such' but they don't say anything in public IRL because they could get their ass beat or something. However, online, they're just some random person online, and the person they're trolling is likely states/countries away from them, so there are no real repercussions for them acting like an asshole. Other people are probably just the young teens [or people with such a stunted mental capacity as to easily be mistaken for a young teen] who merely revel in being annoying, and trolling gives them the freedom to be annoying to an exponentially larger group of people.
There are lots of different types of trolls, too, like Cannibal trolls and White Knight trolls for some more subtle types, it's all oddly fascinating.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Artist
Thanks for this. I don't expect people to share my views because the world is a rich and varied place and people have a billion reasons to believe what they do. It's as it is. To expect anything is to be disappointed. And frankly I've been burned before. Either way, I say what I feel, and I try to say it in a meaningful considerate way that might encourage people to think for themselves a little bit.

You seem to know a lot about trolls! I'm now likewise fascinated - I had no idea there was sub-categories... :-)
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:iconkarret:
Karret Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2013
True, there is a lot of variety, but at the same time, I also believe that everyone has views and opinions that are shared with other people, regardless of if they know that person or not. Basically a 'no one is ever really alone' sort of thing. However, you do raise a terrific point about expectations. I don't like keeping my hopes up too high either.  I approve of your method of self expression. UuU <3

Hehe, spending too much time online can do that. X'D Yeah they're grouped according to who they tend to go after and I think what kind of methods they use to troll. The ones that are more subtle have quite a skill of towing that line of being JUST sane enough to believe, while otherwise being completely ridiculous.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Professional Artist
Well thank you for my education in trolls! I'm an anthropology geek so this seems like something worthy of study! :-)
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:iconkarret:
Karret Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2013
Hehehe it was my pleasure!
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:icon8-bitasher:
8-bitAsher Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional General Artist
How dare you espouse beliefs that coincide with mine - you monster!
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Artist
I'm sorry! I should be ashamed... ;-)
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:iconfrazamm:
frazamm Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013
I agree with most if not all. I have a different view of religion but respect that.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Artist
Thank you. :-) as I said, it's where my life has taken me...
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:iconethicallychallenged:
EthicallyChallenged Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013   Digital Artist
Way to go!
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Artist
Cheers! :-)
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:icontakatarikuzen:
TakataRikuzen Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
As I child reading comics, it shaped my ideas of justice, doing what is right, seeing who I am, accepting who I am (feckin wuss, avoids conflict at all costs), to put myself in someone else's shoes, about love, sexual attraction, the opposite sex... (I can keep going on but you get the idea) - more than I'd like to admit.

As a known artist/author you have so much power over the younger generation through your stories beyond entertainment and intelligent, beautiful storytelling. To inspire for what is right, what is true. And that makes all the difference.

And what makes me a fan... I noticed how you've been replying comments. Don't get me wrong, your artwork is -write preferred expletive here- awesome, that's bleeding clear and true, but that you bother to reply comments... that's the bit that made me see who you are. It amazed me.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Professional Artist
Aw. Now that's really touched me. Thank you. Really.
And believe it or not I was a very timid, shy and generally scared person when I was younger. None of this comes easy, but I take my position seriously and I care very deeply about the creative community. :-)

Thank you, thank you and thank you. It all matters!
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:icontakatarikuzen:
TakataRikuzen Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm trying to get to where you are to be able to do everything I said that you have.

Every kid deserves to be inspired to know that their dreams can come true, and not to be told to be something else (more often than not, parents are the cause), but stories inspire dreams, and so long as that dream stays alive, that kid is alive. Comics really are so much bigger than what they are regarded as.

I've been an adult for far too long...

That pencil in your hand is more powerful than A-bomb over Hiroshima. I mean that. *hand clasped in a fist, eyes closed, a single tear drop from one eye* (okay, I was getting a little too serious - needed to lighten things up)
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Artist
Not too serious at all! Thank you for caring! And yes you're right about comics. :-)
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:icontracer70:
TRACER70 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Hobbyist Interface Designer
I just shared your post just  because you make sense to me.

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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Professional Artist
Thanks. I only ever try to make sense of things so that I can understand things! But frankly I still end up confused by man's inhumanity to man... :-)
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:iconigotmo4:
Igotmo4 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013   Digital Artist
I real enjoy reading this journal an agree with you about the elitism that purge this world we live in and lack of true education that take place in school you right we do not teach people to think for themselves but indoctrinate them not to have free thought because this is how the elites keep themselves in power for greed, wealth knowing when our journey in life has end you can't take that power or wealth with you to your grave. Why, what is the meaning of this purpose when no one is promise tomorrow.  Why can't  we love and cherish life and everyone  who lives it I truly do not understand. Film poster artist Reynold Brown had the same dilemma when it came to his art about the glorifying the objection of women when the film industries started sexualizing women in film posters art Reynold Brown step away from the business and became a fine artist instead. Being an artist is being a storyteller because life is a story and sometime that story is not so pretty but if you can get people to think or make people happy an  get their minds out of the society shackles it does not matter whether the story is violent , science fiction or fantasy then you are doing what god intend  art to be.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Professional Artist
Thank you for this warm response. :-) I think many of us have these feelings deep down inside us.
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:iconigotmo4:
Igotmo4 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013   Digital Artist
You welcome and so true keep up the good work!
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:iconterranabassador:
TerranAbassador Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Student Digital Artist
This is, more or less, my entire world-view, but put more elegantly, succinctly, and completely than I ever could do so myself.

We, as a society, as a people, as a fecking species have so much potential, and we squander it by threatening someone with real-world violence because they tweaked your favorite weapon in a video game (I saw the quotes, I wish I had not), forget about bigger issues like racism or religious and political intolerance.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Professional Artist
Indeed. The thinking - or lack of - confounds me. It can get pretty disheartening!
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:iconlt-metamorphose-lt:
LT-metamorphose-LT Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Student Filmographer
I love this post. I think you really nailed a truth about the world here.

Like when I read few of the comments in the dA article feat you(congrats man!), I'm wondering ," Seriously, why is he even reading and commenting on this article?" I'm not against diversity of views and opinions but sometimes the things people post on Internet shows great disrespect towards others. I admit that I have post opposing views in forums and whatnot but when I do I try to make it civil and not downright sarcastic. 

Moving on to the world, well, I'm not sure what to say. There are always moments when I ponder about who I am and what significance I have to the world with depressing thoughts. I'm not trying to sound pretentious but I do hope my level of consciousness raises as time goes by through looking at personal and other people's experiences. 

Thanks again for this journal post.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Professional Artist
Thank you for this kind response! And I agree - I'm at a loss when people are just nasty for the sake of it. I hear your shouldn't feed the trolls, but I always want to know WHY they are trolls? Why they are being so nasty? It's hurtful! I never expect anybody to share my views, or like my work, but we SHOULD at least be civil to each other. We have to share this little world after all. :-)

Thank you again!
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