It’s just Pirates being Pirates… or is it?

“Are you as surprised as I am that I’m the only one here behaving myself?” ― Charles Van, Black Sails.


I’m a lover of the visual arts. Always have been since I first became aware of the visual and its impact on the imagination. The imagination is a great source of art, and art itself is in some ways just a fancy term for what the imagination does and creates when naturally inspired.

Which for me started early on as television was a regular baby-sitter, friend, muse and inspiration, and I often could be found sprawled in front of its flickering screen, fascinated by it, by what was on it and in it, but also immersed in what it inspired within me.


Black Sails | opening sequence


While I was sprawled in front of it, I often had a pencil in my hand and a drawing pad under the poised and ready to draw pencil. With these simple tools I could write or draw myself, or both, into a show. Imagine myself a part of something which was real but not real.

I’m not sure how exactly this has played out in my life as an adult, other than that I still love TV and film, and let the eye candy inspire me in my work and other areas. Even though sometimes this is frowned upon by intellectuals… well, such a thing as being intellectual naturally puts the frown lines to work, exercises those muscles, for better, for worse, for a purpose or not, or as a purpose in and of itself.

Who knows what it all means or doesn’t mean. Sometimes we just follow our bliss and ignore those who think our bliss is stupid. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.

I have to admit that over the years I’ve become rather jaded and prone to frowning, especially at the offerings of TV and film. I’m not as accepting or fascinated as I was when I was a child. Perhaps for the better or… who knows.

One of the shows which recently made my face erupt in everything but a frown (unless caught up in the story of it which demanded a pantomime frown) is Black Sails.


Black SailsBlack Sails titles artwork


Perhaps the joy this evokes is due to nostalgia.

My father was an artist. Thus he was self-employed and a rather demanding boss of himself. He rarely left his studio. He could work all hours and so he did. Except for those rare moments when he’d appear by my side for a moment of play and say to me – Let’s pretend we’re pirates!

Piracy is an intriguing concept, especially in the realm of the arts. All artists ‘steal’ from others, plunder treasures… to create others. It is actively encouraged, yet also frowned upon. It’s a paradox which enjoys being that way, and also frowns because of it.

What is original in a world inspired by itself?

The Black Sails titles features a magnificent computer-rendered artwork which is mesmerising and beautiful. Inspiring in and of itself. Forget the series (which is awesome) just look at the credits… but the credits are a bit reluctant to give credit to what inspired them. Or so the rumour goes as rumours go.

When I saw the title sequence of the show I was reminded of the stunningly intricate work of Kris Kuksi.


Capricorn RIsing - Kris Kuksi

Capricorn Rising by Kris Kuksi


The creators of the Black Sails titles give credit mainly elsewhere, to history, to the craftsmen of yore who carved intricate details into ancient buildings and such. They do briefly mention Kris Kuksi, but only in passing. Yet… the credits are exactly like his work.

For more on this –  How The Main Titles For Pirate Series “Black Sails” Became A Work Of Art By Christine Champagne

Is it piracy, just pirates being pirates, or is it just what happens amongst creatives, a sort of hundredth monkey effect with the monkeys perhaps aware yet… not as aware as the viewing monkeys are. Who knows. Does it matter when art is beign passed on from one eye to the other, inspiring and letting that inspiration flow from one to another?

My father might have a lot to say about this side of the issue of – let’s pretend we’re pirates. Where does pretending turn into being, doing, beyond just saying and playing? He both benefited from and suffered because of this side of art and inspiration. He had his ’emulators’,  a ‘school’ of style named after him, however many of those who passed through this ‘school’ and became renowned for their styles would later claim that they had been inspired by… not him.

I happened upon a copy of one of my father’s paintings recently. It was credited as being a copy of his work, a piece created by a student of art during a course at an art academy which encourages their students to copy the works of other artists as a part of the process of learning to be their own kind of artist.

Is it piracy or something else? Pirates just being pirates, not to loot but to share the treasures of appreciating inspiration and what it stirs within us and stirs within others, what it creates through us and passes on… passing it on like an heirloom from human to human, to keep our imagination imagining and creating art.

Let’s pretend we’re pirates… don’t forget to leave a map of your hidden treasure, with an X marking the spot.


“The world is so full of surprises. Let it surprise you.” ― Max, Black Sails.