What Took You So Long


October 18, 2013

Imagine you’re back in ancient Greece for a moment. You’re standing in the downtown marketplace. It’s a brisk, cool day, and the market is bustling to the brim with activity. People are exchanging money and conversations; anything you’re looking for can be found here.

Those days, marble sculptures were kind of a big deal. You weren’t anybody unless you owned a really fancy carved statue of one god or another. And they weren’t cheap. People would spend their lives carving these things. They took a vast amount of time and skill.

So you’re in the market for a beautiful, ornate marble statue, one that you can put up in your courtyard back home to impress everyone that enters your house. You’ve saved up for a while for this, so it has to be perfect. Not too big, but not too small. Something classy and obviously expensive.

Then you spot it.

It’s a 7 foot tall sculpture of Zeus looking like a boss. The perfect marble polish shimmers in the light as it catches your eye. There’s something about the face that makes him seem almost lifelike. He grasps in his right arm a lightning bolt, ready to smash some poor mortal below him.

This is the one for you.

The artist is a newcomer to the high end sculpture market, but he’s been really blowing up lately. His work looks perfect, each inch meticulously cut and polished. Every feature painstakingly crafted.

It costs more than you expected, but hell, this is something special. It’s one of a kind.

You buy it and take it home.

It fits perfectly in that courtyard spot. Just like you imagined it would. Guests are impressed at this exquisite work of art just like you imagined they would be.

Then the weather starts to get warmer.

Spring is making its graceful exit and summer is arriving.

That’s the first time there’s an issue with the statue.

At first, it’s not “wrong,” but it’s just “not right.” That glossy, polished shine starts to dull. You try to buff it yourself, but that only makes it worse.

Then the eyes change. How can marble change? It’s creepy, but those fierce eyes that seemed so lifelike soon lose that spark they once had. Now, instead of intently looking at some smite-bait, his eyes wander a bit and settle into a distant melancholy look. He seems sad.

A small crack appears on the statue’s left side. It grows half an inch every day.

Then the nose falls off.

Now it’s obvious that what you thought was a perfect piece of art made of a solid piece of marble was not what it seemed. The transformation happened right before your eyes.

Here’s what happened:

Making marble statues is really hard. It takes a lifetime of work and craftsmanship to make something worth paying for or putting up for display. Since the arrival of masterpiece sculptures like the David and the Venus de Milo, more and more people wanted in on the marble sculpting game. They wanted to become great artists like the superstars they admired.

So a whole bunch of these guys cropped up. There was a huge influx in the sculpture market, each one more ornate and beautiful than the next. Only problem was most of these artists weren’t that great. Or at least they hadn’t put in the decades it took to become great. Marble is an unforgiving medium to work with. One mistake, one crack in the wrong spot, and you’re back to square one. It could take 6 months to a year to make a single 6 foot sculpture. Who wants to get to the end of all that only to find out they screwed up?

So some of the less talented and less scrupulous artists would “fix” these problems instead of starting over. The solution was wax. They would pour melted wax into accidental cracks. They would use the wax to fake detail they couldn’t get with the marble. They’d even plug holes or fake the look of a finished polish with the wax.

And from a distance you could hardly tell a difference.

But there was a problem. When the weather warmed up, those sculptures started to melt. Their flaws would become exposed. Every mistake and misplaced stroke would be visible for everyone to see. Often, this was long after the sculpture was sold, so the artist could go on selling his flawed work under the guise of craftsmanship.

When you’re selling a sculpture, you’re selling skill and time.

This became such a problem that soon the real artists had to label their works with a tag to prove the authenticity of the craftsmanship they were selling.

The label would say, “Sin Cera.”

“Without Wax”

No wax. No flaws. Nothing to hide.

True craftsmanship.

This is where we get our word “sincere” from.

Sincere: genuine or real, not false, fake, or pretended

So what took us so long?

Sincerity.

We want to be sincere in our craftsmanship. And there are no shortcuts for that. It takes time, experience and a lot of failure to build skill. It means that you have to make a lot of flawed works, throw them away, and start all over again.

That’s what we’ve been doing all this time, making little films with lots of little flaws. Each time we learned from those flaws. So that when the time came (and we knew it would come), we could step into the feature film with as much preparation and skill as possible.

This doesn’t mean we’re perfect. Not by a long shot. But we know where our flaws are. We know where to push and grow. We are constantly working to improve upon them. We believe now we are at the place where we’re ready to take on a bigger sculpture. We think we are ready to make something really great.

It’ll take a lifetime, but perhaps someday there is a masterpiece out there for us.

However, in the meantime, we’ll toil away at our craft, taking the time to do it right, and being sure to leave the wax out of it.