Is Squidward Really a Bad Artist?

Squidward Tentacles:
The man, the myth, the meme. People have often had the impression, that the character Squidward from the show Spongebob Squarepants is arrogant ans unskilled, no matter what artistic endeavors he takes on. Whether that the be clarinet, dancing,
or painting and sculpture. He is famously unsuccessful in the show. And because of this, he is often shown as tired and cynical. A direct contrast to Spongebob,
who is often energetic and optimistic. This contrast is a big part of the show.
And of course, it had to be maintained. So Squidward would not be gaining
any hint of success anytime soon. But I want to analyze Squidward’s abilities as a traditional artist, anyway. As best as I can within cartoon logic. Which means, some of my tangents might get pretty far out there. And I’ll probably read into things a bit much for some people’s tastes. So just keep that in mind, before you watch the rest of this video. So, what makes a “good” artist? Well, that’s a tough question,
and certainly varies from person to person. But for the purposes of this video,
I want to mostly focus on technical skill. I’m going to be focusing on a few episodes,
mostly from earlier seasons, which showcase Squidward’s abilities in painting,
sculpture, and any other physical medium. Then maybe we can determine, if Squidward really is as bad of an artist, as the show seems to present. First, I want to start with the episode
“Artist Unknown”, from Season 2 episode 18. Which showcases a lot of Squidward’s
abilities – or rather, his lack thereof. …or does it? [Vsauce theme starts]
The episode, in summary, tries to present Spongebob as an amazing artist, and Squidward as a mediocre,
egotistical, and close-minded one. Now, I know this episode is mostly just
a story of a self-absorbed, cynical person, versus an optimistic, selfless person,
and is not meant to be taken literally. But what if we did? Now, throughout the episode, Spongebob pretty much has the powers of a god. He makes a prefect circle, by going through the process of constructing a human face backwards, he makes a mosaic from randomly ripped up pieces of paper, and he sculpts a human figure,
by tapping a pillar of marble, ONCE. All the while Squidward fails miserably at everything he does. From drawing a basic circle, to trying to make a single scratch in a pillar of marble. But is it fair to attribute this to a lack of skill, or more, because Spongebob’s supernatural artistic powers are intimidating and frustrating,
to the point he can’t perform normally? Between this, Squidward says that Spongebob needs to learn the Rules of Art™. Also, people have been harassing me with this image. This is slander, I do not sound like Squidward. 𝑰 𝒅𝒐 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒔𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒅 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝑺𝒒𝒖𝒊𝒅𝒘𝒂𝒓𝒅! But, he’s kind of right. I mean, I think what he means is fundamentals. Which are not really rules, but guidelines and skills, that people use to make art. Such as color theory, perspective,
form, anatomy, line, and so on. Clearly, Spongebob already knows these things and more. So, if this video was titled “Is Squidward a better artist than Spongebob?”, then the answer would be no. But compared to someone who isn’t a God, is he? Well, let’s continue. Eventually, Squidward degrades Spongebob out of jealousy, and Spongebob leaves, thinking he has failed his instructor. Later on, when an art collector visits Squidward’s class, he shows him this small sculpture. Which I mean, it’s interesting in a surreal way. If the scale was increased drastically, it would look like your average, contemporary sculpture, instead of something you’d find in a gift shop. And then, he shows him the famous “Bold and Brash”. Which demonstrates a solid attempt at abstraction,
and has a pleasing color scheme. What I find most amusing about this piece,
is that it’s become a bit of a meme on the internet. So much so, that several artists have tried replicating it on YouTube, with impressive results. What I find even more intriguing, was before this video, I didn’t really know what “brash” meant,
until I found the full definition. “Self-assertive in a rude, noisy, or overbearing way.” Does that sound like a familiar personality type? That opens up something strange. What would Squidward call what is clearly a stylized self-portrait of himself “Confident and Arrogant”? Is Squidward more self-aware than we realize? Does his narcissism also come with secret self-loathing? Or did the writers just need a word, that rhymed with trash. Probably the latter, but – eh…? The art collector famously rejects these pieces. More like b̗͔̂͠eͬ̓͒҉͙l̽ͦo͈͍͘n̹̘̳̜̊̔͐̒͆ͬ̌g̶̤̞̝̘̠͗ͅs̯̘̩͈̥̮͆̑̇ ̵̮̭͎̰̥͙̩͐i͋̌ͨ̿n͙̣͎̺͇̣̠̑ͧ̓͝ ̷͇͓̑̃ͫͪt̨̞̘̻̪̩̰̅͌ͫ̍ͥ̒̂h̘̙̹͚̝̖̻̄ͥ͑͗̆̚͝e̅̿̏̄̎͏͖̳̱̖͖̠ ͈̮̝̹̤̮̠̄͌t̡͉̜̬͇́ͭr̯̞̖̎̔a̢̩͕̭̦̞͎̩š̸͚̮̙̠̞h̻͙̬̩̓͑̿̂́!̼̠̗͔̤͂ͯ̈̒̑͒ And is attracted to Spongebob’s sculpture. So I guess he just has an affinity for Greek-looking statues. Meaning, he might have just not been interested in Squidward’s more abstract art. And wanted more classical sculpture,
although he is pretty rude about it. (Yes, I understand the irony of that statement on this channel.) The art collector then demands more of Spongebob’s art, after Sqiudward accidentally decapitates it. Which means he tries to get Spongebob back. But when Spongebob returns, instead of using his free, passionate style of work, Spongebob tries to follow what Squidward taught him. Remember in the beginning, when
Squidward made that crummy circle? Well, when he legitimately tries to get Spongebob to do the task, he makes a far better circle. Sure, it looks more like an oval, but that may be because of the angle of the chalkboard… interesting. Spongebob keeps mentioning this book,
which I assume is full of fundamentals. Although, it could be full of Squidward’s
weird art manifesto, for all we know. Whatever the case, he treats the book like law, and does not deviate from it. And look at this key choice of words. [Squidward] What about the head, and the erasing, and the…? [Spongebob] I don’t know Squidward, that stuff’s not in the book! Well, of course origami, mosaics and drawing a face backwards are not going bo be in a book about drawing fundamentals, if we assume that’s what it is. So his creativity is effectively sapped. Eventually, Squidwards accidentally
creates a prefect replica of the statue of David, in a fit of rage,
except for the seashell part. This means, that Squidward must have seen the statue somewhere before, and his subconscious mind created a replica. This is all part of one of the mini-messages in the episode, that passion, and not just strict adherence to rules, can create great art. Which means, that while Spongebob made this willingly, Squidward made this accidentally. Which means his technical abilities might be more godlike that Spongebob’s, at least subconsciously. It can also be seen if the first minute of season 1 episode 23, “Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost”, where Squidward proclaims, quote,
“I have conquered all artistic media!” And from the looks of it, indeed he has. From a custom neon sign, to pottery, to what looks like tile, and even a hedge sculpture. Do you know, how long it would take to master like seven different crafts like this? The impressiveness of the wax sculpture he makes
is also not something to understate either. It’s almost an exact replica, besides all the angles. It even fools Spongebob and Patrick.
Although I don’t know, how much that counts for, since Spongebob also fell for this,
and Patrick is, well… Patrick. Okay, here’s where things start to go off the rails. Spongebob and the rest of the Bikini Bottom appear to live in some kind of sub-space dimension,
that exists both in and out of reality. We can see, that the cartooney fish and environment are often contrasted with live-action footage or realistic stills. Meaning there’s two sides to this world: the one that is realistic, and the one that is cartooney. When Spongebob creates his artwork is “Artist Unknown”, he mostly does work based on realistic human figures: the face and the statue. That’s kind of odd, isn’t it? Wouldn’t he draw fish people, since that’s what he’s around most of the time? I think most people would agree, that it’s easier to draw Spongebob, than it ot to draw a full human figure. But what if to their world it’s the reverse? What if humans are easier to comprehend to the cartoony mind, much like the realistic mind can comprehend cartoons easier? This explains, why Spongebob can draw this with ease, but when he tries to draw himself, as shown in season 3 episode 4, it’s not nearly as accurate. And in the same episode, the origami and mosaic are close to the same quality. Patrick does an even worse job at drawing Squidward. That would make Squidward’s wax sculpture of himself even more impressive by this notion. Okay, back to the more grounded-ish argument. I know there’s a few more episodes after season three,
that showcase some more of Squidward’s abilities. But let’s face it: those SUUUUUUCK Okay, there is one episode I will highlight. Because it was one of the last episodes I saw,
before I lost interest in the show altogether. In season 7 episode 22, “The Masterpiece”, Squidward creates this haunting, rock sculpture of Mr. Krabs. One of the few pieces from Mr. Tentacles, which isn’t of himself. This contemporary sculpture is massive,
and showcases another case of abstraction. But instead of the smooth,
bulbous forms of “Bold and Brash”, we are treated to harsh angles and spikes,
with this gaping cavern in the stomach. This is probably a representation
of how Squidward views his boss. who, as we all know, treats his employees… questionably. This top-heavy, enormous thing shows
a considerable amount of technical skill, and is personally very intruguing to me. It seems, that Squidward’s only mistake
is that he keeps making self-portraits. Is it even fair to call that a mistake? Some of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous paintings are self-portraits. What about Frida Kahlo? Sure, it can be seen as narcissistic,
that most of his art is portraits of himself, but that doesn’t diminish the technical value. Yeah, he can be rude, and cynical, and egotistical, but hey, man. Good work is good work! I think one of the reasons we have this impression of Squidward, is that since his clarinet is just playing bad,
and his dancing is just… weird, we associate any of his other artistic endeavors
with that same standard of quality. The point is, Squidward has been chaeated.
He has been cheated by the Bikini Bottom and by us. Squidward’s work has been criminally
underrated and underappreciated. YOU belong in the trash, Mr. art collector! You have spat on one of the greatest artistic minds of the century. But perhaps, Squidward is unsuccessful
because of something else: his behavior. That does seem to be the point in some of these episodes, that his mean-spirited, egotistical nature
is the only thing in the way of his own success. When the show once stated
“No one wants to be a Squidward”, they’re not talking about his skills,
necessarily, but his attitude. The self-portraits aren’t just self-portraits – they are a representation of his narcissism. And while they’re far from technically poor, they are a turnoff to the people, because of what they represent. What Squidward is missing is humility,
which Spongebob has ample supply of. And if Squidward never makes such changes,
he’ll stay stuck in this fast-food purgatory. At the end of the day, the only thing in the way of Squidward’s success is himself. Anyway, my name is Solar Sands, and goodbye.


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