Escher Hands

ll_escherhandsA number of years ago I worked at a commercial photography studio as a photographer. We were all supposed to come up with a ‘creative’ image to inspire our ‘friends’ at our sister agency in order to get new clients. Towards this end, they wanted us to come up with sample images that would ‘engage’ the creatives at agencies and get them to hire us to help them shoot their next ad campaign. After pitching dozens of ideas and getting shot down on each one, I finally just went to my studio space and made the above image. Those are my hands and it is a reference to the famous M. C. Escher drawing of ‘hands’ (reproduced below) that has graced the dorm room walls and T shirts of American college students since dorm rooms and T shirts were invented. Everything else I had proposed had been considered, ‘too weird.’ I showed the above work to my studio manager and he said, “I don’t get it.”

“It’s based on that M.C. Escher drawing,” I said. “It’s supposed to be about the creative process.” I showed him the original drawing. I didn’t think M.C. Escher was unknown or obscure and I thought the idea of hands drawing themselves, at an ad agency, wouldn’t be ‘too far out there.’ Since an ad agency came up with Starkist’s “Charley Tuna” (a fish who wants to be eaten), hands that draw themselves and then pop out of the paper and become real seems pretty positive to me.

The studio manager looked puzzled. “Who?” I showed him the drawings of Escher online and told him Escher was very well known and popular. I thought most of the people at the agency would know who M.C. Escher was and I was baffled that he didn’t know who Escher was.

He looked at the drawings without interest and said, “That is weird. I still don’t get it,” and walked away. We continued to photograph cans of beans, rolls of paper towels and packs of tube socks until the studio went out of business a few years later. It’s not as if I didn’t try.

handsThe original by Escher


2 Comments on “Escher Hands”

  1. ClawCarver says:

    It’s like, “Be creative!” and then, “Wait, this is too weird. Can you be creative but, you know, not too creative. Don’t be giving us anything that doesn’t fit our preconceived notions of what creative means.” *sigh*


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