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7 Lessons From The Gunfight At The O.K. Corral

October 21, 2014

As mentioned in a previous post, I have a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a network for business professionals. It’s a good way for a freelancer like myself to make connections and attract potential clients.

This year, LinkedIn gave members a new perk: they could write posts on the LI platform at no charge. A great way to demonstrate one’s knowledge and expertise.

Here’s my latest LI post. It has a humorous premise (we can learn something from a messy wild west shootout), but I think the lessons hold true. See if you agree.

You can also read the post on LinkedIn.

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cartoon showing Wyatt Earp at O.K. Corral texting message "Kicked Clantons' butt" while Ike Clanton is lying in pile of bodies and texting "We lost"

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The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The most famous shootout in the history of the Old West. It took place on October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. The Earps won, the Clantons lost. It teaches me, a freelance illustrator, 7 important lessons. The lessons are the same, no matter what product or service you might offer.

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1. Legend (and the movies) say the Earps were the good guys. It’s more muddled than that. Muddled enough that the Earps were tried (and acquitted) for murder after the shootout.

Lesson: Don’t be so quick to judge, to immediately categorize people (clients, customers) as good or bad. Use good sense, judge people by their actions over time. But keep an open mind, and give people a chance. You might just pick up a loyal friend and customer for life.

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2. The entire gunfight lasted about 30 seconds.

Lesson: Be prepared for a life- or career-defining moment. Be alert for a window of opportunity, and seize the moment. Such windows may be open for only a very short time.

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3. Wyatt Earp was the only “good guy” who wasn’t hit in the shootout. He outlived everyone else in the fight, and died at age 80 in 1929.

Lesson: Sometimes you get lucky. But it’s also true that you make your own luck. You
do it largely by being there, being in the arena. You work hard, put in the time, gain experience, sharpen your skills. If and when your big chance arrives, you’re ready– ready to “get lucky.”

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4. The gunfight did not actually take place at the O.K. Corral. It took place in a narrow lot next to Fly’s Photographic Studio, six doors west of the rear entrance to the corral.

Lesson: Never take “facts” for granted. That includes the specs for a design or any other job. The client may be mistaken, misinformed, using the wrong terms, and/or doing some wishful thinking. Be proactive: do the research, ask questions, fill in client knowledge gaps. In short, bring your expertise to bear. It’s part of the job, and crucial to successful results.

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5. Town Marshall Virgil Earp deputized Doc Holliday on the morning of the gunfight. It was Virgil, his brothers Morgan and Wyatt Earp, and Holliday who faced off against the Clantons.

Lesson: Know when to ask for help– and ask for it. You need to make connections, and stay in touch. You’re ready to help them, they’re ready to help you.

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6. Two members of the Clanton gang ran from the fight when the shooting started.

Lesson: Speaking somewhat facetiously: they recognized they were not a good match for the job, and turned it down. That’s excellent advice for an artist or anyone else: we all have our specialties. It’s a mistake to try to be all things to all people. Recognize when a job is a bad match for you, and politely decline. If you can, recommend a colleague who is a good match for the job. Perhaps said colleague will return the favor one day.

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7. The gunfight did not become famous until 1931, when author Stuart Lake published a largely fictitious biography of Wyatt Earp. Movies and television have since raised the gunfight to the level of myth.

Lesson: You never know when something’s going to go viral. You never know when you and your work might be discovered. Be ready. Practice, put in the time, stay optimistic, and always, always do the best work you possibly can.

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Note: Facts pertaining to The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral were taken from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunfight_at_the_O.K._Corral

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Mark Armstrong is the Chief Sketch Officer at Mark Armstrong Illustration. He’s a Photoshop expert, and has been in business for over 25 years. He believes there’s always a visual component to any communication problem. He uses illustration and humor to help solve those problems. You can view his profile in slideshow format.

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Were you familiar with The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral?

Can you think of other historical events where the “movie version” is a lot more glamorous than what actually happened?

Did the seven lessons ring true? Was there one in particular you especially liked?

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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If you enjoyed this post, please click the Like button below.

If you’d like to share this post with others, please click Tweet or Facebook or StumbleUpon or one of the other Share buttons.

I also invite you to get updates. Just click the Get Updates button in the sidebar below the Portfolio Thumbnails, or click + Follow in the blog menu bar.

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

How Honey Ryder And The Prisoner Wound Up In Wyatt Earp’s Mustache

Once Upon A Time At Westminster Cathedral

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Milkmaid Leaves House On Prairie, Scores Sunflower Wedding Cake

October 8, 2014

The Rumpus is an online magazine that publishes essays on eclectic subjects. They asked me to illustrate one called In My Clothes. In it, a woman looks back on her life, musing on what she was wearing at the time. You can read it here.

This is the third and final post on this assignment. The first referenced child movie star Shirley Temple, the second MTV video icon, Robert Palmer.

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Certain lines will often conjure up ideas for me. This early memory, for example:

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I touch my braids, wrapped around my head like a milkmaid. I feel silly.

And then there is my Little House on the Prairie dress. 

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All the references to clothes in the essay made think of paper dolls. I may have gotten a little carried away with the braids. The milk can and cat bracket the main elements, and give the illustration some extra appeal.

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Paper doll set, little girl with rosy cheeks and big milkmaid braids hairdo standing next to old milk can and Little House On Prairie dress with bonnet and tabs, and kitten licking puddle of milk

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Here’s a detail image:

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detail image of Paper doll set, little girl with rosy cheeks and big milkmaid braids hairdo standing next to old milk can and Little House On Prairie dress with bonnet and tabs, and kitten licking puddle of milk

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Towards the end of the essay, the author writes:

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I am forty-three, and I am getting married today… There is small cake from Wal-Mart with an orange sunflower on top… We eat bowls of fried rice in the living room and we say, I love you.

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I knew there was a wonderful illustration in there as soon as I read the lines. I substituted a takeout box for the bowls of rice, because, for me, Chinese food is very much identified with those boxes. And little packets of soy sauce.

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Wedding cake with orange sunflower frosting, waxy takeout box of fried rice from Chinese restaurant, packet of soy sauce, chopsticks as man woman paper dolls with tuxedo, top hat, wedding dress and veil

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This illustration is a good example of how one’s subconscious mind continues to tinker with an idea even after you think it’s “settled.”

I had envisioned a pair of ordinary chopsticks, but as I roughed out the line drawing, it occurred to me that I could do something a lot more creative, which would also allow me to extend the paper doll motif.

Here’s a detail image:

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detail of Wedding cake with orange sunflower frosting, waxy takeout box of fried rice from Chinese restaurant, packet of soy sauce, chopsticks as man woman paper dolls with tuxedo, top hat, wedding dress and veil

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We all have vivid memories of certain events. Do you have any where you can remember exactly what you were wearing?

Did anybody play with paper dolls when they were young? I remember seeing paper doll outfits in comic books. They’d be credited to the readers who sent them in. Were you one of those budding fashion designers?

Has anyone ever eaten sunflower cake? Do the little seeds get stuck in your teeth??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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If you enjoyed this post, please click the Like button below.

If you’d like to share this post with others, please click Tweet or Facebook or StumbleUpon or one of the other Share buttons.

I also invite you to get updates. Just click the Get Updates button in the sidebar below the Portfolio Thumbnails, or click + Follow in the blog menu bar.

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

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Forgotten Hero: A Tribute To Baseball’s Roger Maris

Draw A Rough Sketch First: It’s The Thinker Thing To Do!!

That Horse Coulda Been A Contender!

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