Joining the Editorial Team

(Last Updated On: May 11, 2016)
 Ford Madox Brown - Mauvais Sujet (1863) - Tate Britain N03228

Ford Madox Brown – Mauvais Sujet (1863) – Tate Britain N03228

Ron, Editor-in-Chief and Administrator of Pigtails in Paint, has recently nominated me as an Editor of the site, which allows me to modify all contents (pages, posts, images, comments, authorship, categories and tags). This represents a great honour, and I also sense it as one of the strangest achievements in my life, since I am in fact almost completely ignorant in the subject of the girl in the visual arts. All too often he told me about a collection with works by an artist and I replied that I did not know the artist and never heard about the book. I guess that other qualities motivated his decision, maybe my scholarly habit of checking posts for references, misprints or missing categories; or my vigilance in the face of spam infection.

I discovered Pigtails in Paint by chance at the end of July 2014, while doing an image search on David Hamilton. After some exchanges of information, he suggested me to write a post, I did one about the famous photograph of a Vietnamese little girl burnt by napalm; here Ron edited it himself on the site, and took care of all the typographical work (italics, links, and the terrible Vietnamese diacritical marks). My next post was on the SF film Eva, and for the first time in my life I struggled with the WordPress dashboard post editor. I pasted a simple unformatted text from OpenOffice into the visual editor, added the pictures, and the preview was pretty miserable: paragraphs without line breaks on a red brick background. Ron told me then that he had to go into the text/html editor and remove all preformatted text tags. It took me several months, after setting up my own blog, to understand that mystery: the visual editor tries to be clever and acknowledges the fact that OpenOffice assimilates simple text with preformatted one. Since then I paste text only into the text/html editor. Afterwards I could edit correctly all my other posts and respect the blog’s conventions regarding style and layout, and this made Ron’s life easier.

As Editor, one of my tasks will be to take care of post categories and tags. I have started modifying in depth the present organization in order to make it more visible and practical. There are too many redundancies and overlaps, and not enough hierarchy, and most posts have too many categories and tags; in other words the system is not discriminating enough. I think that the main use of categories and tags is to allow readers to find quickly what they want, all of it, and (almost) nothing else. Concepts that can be hierarchized or linked to others will go into categories, isolated keywords will be tags.

I have no special philosophy with regard to content. I would encourage authors to explore new topics, as I did myself (dolls, poetry, child labour). I am personally interested in social criticism, and discussions on controversial topics are welcome; my advice in this respect is to raise interesting questions but not to provide definitive answers: expressing clear-cut opinions invites unending discussions with proponents of all other opinions. I don’t want to see Pigtails becoming a debating club with 90 comments for each post (as some blogs have become).

Sometimes I feel that Pigtails is dry and overly serious, so a topic to be promoted is humour. I don’t claim great skills in it, thus I call for volunteers. Some of you readers have posted nice jokes on other blogs, please join the team of authors! Sentimentality and nostalgia could also provide some moving posts. Dramatic stories, such as girls murdered during genocides, would also enliven the blog.

I can claim having made the only post with an image aligned “right” instead of “center”, so I am very flexible as regards style or the image to text ratio. Once the main editorial criticism of a post I had just finished was that after the first picture “there are no images for several paragraphs”. I don’t mind a long text with few pictures, as long as the text is interesting. And if an author just wants to show nice pictures, a short introduction is sufficient, there is no need to insert a long complicated text just to prove one’s intellectual worth (besides, as a native Belgian, my understanding of postmodern gobbledygook is quite limited).

I can only encourage our faithful readers to make all necessary efforts in order to climb the ladder of Pigtails in Paint hierarchy: reader, commenter, writer, editor, and maybe one day administrator. If you have good ideas for posts, you can contact Ron or myself (at the address shown here).

PS. Some people have complimented me on my avatar. A full-size version of the picture can be downloaded from Google photos. I found it in July 2014, I don’t remember where. I don’t know anything about the girl. [Update: a reader found it.]

3 thoughts on “Joining the Editorial Team

  1. That is a fine introduction, Christian. Thank you.

    I wanted to supplement some of what Christian said and the comments of other readers.

    I must admit that our work on this site is a “strange” achievement and when I began, I didn’t really understand what it meant. I now realize that Pigtails fills the gaps of a distorted culture. We must try to cover what the mainstream media avoid. If being a reader or writer on this site seems strange, I can assure you that it is only a reflection of our society.

    Although I have an artistic temperament, I too have to admit at not being an expert of the arts (except perhaps music). This has certain disadvantages and I really appreciated Pip’s filling in the gaps in my education. But I should also mention that an entrenched art establishment badly needs outsiders right now to challenge conventional assumptions and to open up new fields of exploration.

    Yes, I particularly respect Christian, not for his expertise, but for his rigor and respect for academic integrity. I am certainly open to different forms of expression on this site, but the one thing that must be upheld by all contributors is good documentation.

    I really do appreciate humor, both light and dark, and low-brow art forms. These things just tend not to fit my character and so you see very little of that from me. I would hate for my style to dictate the tone of this site and I have early on thought of Pigtails as a chorus and ideally should reflect a wide range of forms in the arts and the media.

    I would like to add that the “hierarchy” of Pigtails does not only cover the editorial aspects of the site: readers, contributors, writers, etc., but technical and interpersonal as well. Things like translators, liaisons to other sites, bloggers and art institutions, image cleanup, site troubleshooting, legal expertise and a myriad more are needed. As the site grows and gains credibility, it is hard to know what skills are needed next. We have been fortunate in the past to have people come forward at just the right time as things are needed and I hope this will continue as staff members move on to other projects.

    This information is covered elsewhere, but I would like to address any questions about becoming a writer. When people contact me privately, I often invite them to write if they are so inclined. For those who are not fluent in English, I offer my editing services. We usually start with a test post–as we have just seen with Dimitri– and then, if successful, they can have direct access to the site. I give frank and constructive feedback that will not only enhance the site, but help you develop as a writer. But posts do not need to be long, just enough commentary is needed to validate the use of the image(s). Regarding copyright, this site operates under a clause of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1980. This “Fair Use Clause” is a concession to freedom of expression and educational needs. Pigtails in Paint engages in both and so permission from copyright holders is not required. Only a small sample of work from a particular artist is shared and the images are not posted in sufficient quality to be used in illegal reproduction.

    Anyone wanting follow-up information about helping to run this site should contact me privately at

  2. Congratulations!! I discovered this blog recently, and I think it is great. I notice that you said that readers of the blog can advance to writers. I saw in the introduction to the October 27 “Keys to the City” post that the blog accepts ideas and research from fans, but I was not aware that fans could also submit posts.

    If I were to submit a post for you to review and edit, do you have any advice about how to submit the illustrations. If an artist posts examples of his work free on or a similar site, does that mean they can be reposted here without infringing on a copyright? I read in another post by Ron that he is careful (actually, he wrote “paranoid”) about receiving images in email. If I scan an image from a book, would you prefer that it be posted to postimg? Then instead of sending an image, I could send a link.

    Do you have any suggestions or advice for potential writers?

    • Thanks for your willingness to contribute. If you have an idea about a post, you can write to one editor. Either he will just ask you some information in order to write the post himself (acknowledging your help), or he will suggest you to write a draft of the post.
      Concerning images, there are two possible legal problems: first copyright, the law can vary in various countries, but generally speaking it applies to works produced less than 70 or 100 years before the publication, works older than 100 years are in the public domain; second, contents, in particular legal definitions of “child pornography”, again the interpretation varies according to countries, Pigtails abides with US law. The Editor-in-chief Ron is knowledgeable with respect to legal issues, and any problem you have with images to be included in a post should be discussed by email with him.

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