Art


I’ve accepted the fact that a largescale Batman Art Trade will never work.

A few years back, I participated in a paperback book swap on the internet. Because I work in a library, I have countless titles available to me on any given day, and I saw an opportunity to do a fun project. At that time, I had designs on an apartment and a better job (none of which panned out), but I wanted art to celebrate said imaginary apartment. I wanted Batman art. So, I offered to send any titles that anyone wanted – all they had to do was send Batman art. It didn’t really matter if they couldn’t draw – it’s the original interpretation that was important. Any size, any shape, any anything.

I sent out 6 books, at a fair cost to myself. I received one Batman drawing in return, and everyone else fell silent.

A few months ago, I tried this again – this time with lots of toys from around my room which I didn’t see any use for anymore. There was some pretty good stuff in there, and it cost a bunch to send out heavy boxes of toy fun. I sent out at least 6 boxes.

I got 2 Batmen back.

This might seem like a 25% success rate, but that’s the equivalent of being able to leave the shoe store with just a heel after you’ve just laid down the cash for a new pair.

Now, I’m not great at keeping up with all of the things I’ve said I’d try to do. There are a handful of tattoos which have hit the back burner (Wazina, Shakti, April), some birthday paintings that are three or four years overdue (the selkie, the artichoke portrait, the black and white thing), and very likely a good number of things that I simply don’t remember – but I have never been paid (or traded) for something that I did not come through on quickly.

My downfall is the fact that I am horribly bitter and broken, but I still retain this weird belief in the goodness of human community and our ability to live up to our promises. Two cheating girlfriends later, I still keep on hoping that people will come through on what they are contracted to do. Especially when Batman is involved.

He would be disappointed in you people.

Perhaps there’s a better community that paperback readers and toy artists on Twitter to share Batman love with, and as soon as I find that level of honesty, I’ll be home.

I’m on page 4 of Coptopus, and things are going smoothly, creatively. The best part of page 3 (which is a splash page) is the fact that I can leave a big section of it undetailed, as I can slap the title over it later in Photoshop.

These are the things that concern you when you need to crank out 22+ pages – layouts, pencils, inks, lettering, scanning, prepping for the publisher. Economy of time is wonderful – but so is making an artful, complete page.

I’ve also been drawing live on webcam. I wish that I could present a closer, more detailed view, but I’m not exactly sure how Mark Crilley does it over on the YouTubes. I liked him better before he went all manga.

Someone asked me why I don’t just quit my job and crank out more pages, more paintings, more art. It’s something that I ask myself every day. It’s a catch-22 : I can’t do it because the market for ME doesn’t exist enough to support me, and the market doesn’t exist because I don’t have enough time to dedicate to it. I think that maybe, maybe after I pay off 2 of my 3 Trifeca Of Debts (student loans, car, credit card), there’s a window of opportunity there. That’s what selling everything on eBay is for, I suppose.

Anyone want a nearly complete run of Diamond’s 7″ scale Star Trek : TNG & DS9 figures? Oh, how I’d love to have an army of variant Picards running around my place – a Locutus in the kitchen, an ‘All Good Things’ on the TV, a ‘Dress Uniform’ in the bathroom… there are bigger dreams, though.

There will eventually be a place where I can go and exist uninterrupted, make my own mistakes, choose the people who I involve in my life.

For now, join The World of Coptopus on Facebook. Brian & I both update it regularly (so far), and I plan to run contests & community things through there also.

It’s been a very long time coming, but I’ve finally been able to start on Coptopus issue #2. I’m worse than Dale Keown, man.

The first issue was a little bit tedious. I approached my first real comic project as something very clinical, something that needed to be perfected. On an intellectual level, I can’t stand seeing a comic artist’s style change as a series progresses – but on a totally practical level, it’s inspiring. Seeing Sam Kieth evolve as he was doing The Maxx was one of the more powerful experiences of my formative period. This time, I’m keeping it really organic – just doing what comes naturally, and I’m enjoying it a lot more, and liking the results.

I’ve also read a lot of really really bad indie comics. I won’t name any, but the recent deliveries have been hideous, and it makes me sad that these people get creative work consistently while I’m kinda stuck spinning my wheels. I have no business sense whatsoever. Come and get me, guys.

Four of my sketch cards have been discovered.

Gamorrean Guard sold on eBay for $40.

Quarren is currently listed for $150 but not sold yet.

Darth Vader is listed at $10.50 and climbing.

The fourth, Boboicullar, was found by a collector on the Scoundrel Publishing boards.

44 more to go – very exciting. I anxiously await my case from Topps, if only to have a piece of something I was a part of – but there’s been no mail for three or four days here due to the weather.

[Addendum : a fifth card emerges! B'omarr Monk listed on eBay for a starting bid of $99, BIN for $200.]

[And a sixth! Myo is listed at $150.]

I was invited to disappear into the wilds of Vermont this weekend with a dear friend, because it is obvious that I am in need of disappearing lately. There is a restlessness that can only be cured by nothingness. I plan on bringing a book, paper, pencils, and an iPod full of inspiration. I think that this might be all I truly need in the universe.

Of course, this is weather permitting, and the quick and dirty storms that have been assaulting the northeast at unexpected times are scheduled to hit when we’re aiming to travel, so I hope for the best. If not, I will turn up the heat and hibernate with the same tools I planned to bring along with me anyhow, and probably watch lots of wonderful and awful movies. I never give enough time to the nothingness – it’s always this intrusive somethingness that pushes its way in, and I graciously make room in the bed for its cold feet and loud snore. But I love it anyhow.

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I need to paint more, but my mind is spinning in 3D lately and I can’t get it to calm itself into two dimensions again.

Have you ever been so in love with someone that you just wanted them to go far away?

I spent the better part of this afternoon unloading boxes from a moving truck – this gargantuan beast that I found in my parking spot when I arrived home today with a giant yellow spider emblazoned across the side, peeking in through the garage windows like some amazing B-movie every time I stepped outside. The garage is a precarious labyrinth of cardboard boxes that are buckling in every direction, and I anticipate the sound of a crash at any moment as things topple under the unrelenting, indifferent fist of physics. They’re not mine. I just hope that they don’t hit anything of mine on the way down. Two hours of carefully picking out footsteps across an icy walkway while carrying an excess of televisions and more clothing than I have owned in a lifetime, and I am exhausted.

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I’ve always wanted to have a piece in The Dirty Show. I’m not sure why, because it has so many pieces that I’d never be noticed, and I don’t think there’s any criteria to prevent the unskilled masses from slapping whatever boobs they felt like onto the gallery wall, and I’m generally disgusted by the whole gallery scene anyhow – but I started messing with ideas for the show today during lunch.

Two words : erotic marquetry. Laser-cut, stained in various shades, with particular areas of the anatomy painted in intense detail in acrylic to make it stand out from the basic shapes surrounding it. Going to experiment with the techniques before I get too into anything, but I like where the idea is going.

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I bought this. The combination of skull / translucence completely won me over. I’ve usually just seen this artist’s work as a cheap misappropriation of The Misfits’ logo (unless these are being produced by the original artist – I couldn’t discern, despite my best efforts), which itself was ‘borrowed’ from an old horror movie poster.

This, limited to 66 pieces, also comes with underpants and chocolate.

I’m emerging from an intensely busy couple of weeks, wrapping up the Star Wars cards and the piece for the UK show (which, incidentally, will also feature THE Nick Park and much of the Aardman Animation staff). While I often say that I’d like to drown in artwork forever, and need to do nothing else, it’s become apparent that I can’t do any one thing for too long or else I get uncomfortable and frustrated. Maybe that explains why I vacillate between swirling colored pencil characters to digitally created, precise diagrams of things, and to intricate drawings in pen and ink. Maybe it’s because of self-doubt and a fear that I’m waking too far down any one path, but I think that the need to shift at the completion of each project is a necessity to keep it fresh.

I haven’t painted a robot in many months, subsequently.

I’m not sure how to dream larger than Star Wars, but I’ve concluded that the real dream is to do enough of this professional stuff to eventually do whatever I want and get paid for it – as much as I love the motivation to impress a client, rather than just express myself.

In this vein, my second Devilbox prototypes arrived.

IMG_1180

The wooden guy in the center has been slightly restructured to accommodate a few glue points which I imagine could give out over time, making the structure more solid in general. The ‘+’ eye is just one option of a few that I had cut, but I liked it in this instance. The two removable panels were also slightly resized so that they more loosely fit into their cradles. I’m still proud of conquering the ‘square peg / round hole’ dilemma to establish articulation of the head.

As the acrylic sheets were also 6.0mm thick, I decided to test cut a version in black plastic, but I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I’ve assembled it with Krazy Glue, and learned that I’m not great at working carefully with Krazy Glue. It’s pretty much all over the lower body (as well as a good deal of my skin), but by the time I got to the head, I remembered some of my old model kit techniques and dotted a tiny bit on the inside of the adjoining sides and allowed it to flow into the joints and melt them together. I still think that it needs a bit of spicing up with a bit of a gold spray, perhaps.

I also roughed up my old Spacemen that the USPS destroyed and made them less breakable, and put them up for sale. Now, I’ve decided to take a few days to clean up the unholy mess that my room became while I cast aside all earthly, human concerns.

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Speaking of earthly concerns, I’ve been forced to think a lot about the whole idea of ‘love’ lately. I’m in that weird place between one really bad relationship and the next horrific downward spiral of lust that’s flickering on the horizon, and I’m seeing weird love simulacrums flutter all around me and crash into each other, and while I’ve always known what I want, it’s common knowledge that I tend to attract ‘the crazies’. I’ve painted an effigy of an ex-girlfriend or two in preparation for an imaginary art show I plan on calling ‘Crazy Bitches I Stuck It In : You’re Next’, along this theme.

I want someone who will live in the insular, warm, weird world of The Magnetic Fields’ ‘Distant Plastic Trees’ with me.

My last girlfriend romanticized her role in my life to the point where it could never be organically romantic. She wanted to be, and I’m paraphrasing here, ‘the person who is described as the love of your life when they write your biography’. She wrote a song about a painting I did, and I found it atop a stack of 5-chord songs that she’d written about other boys she’d undoubtedly said the same things to.

I find the ability to be obviously passionate or excited about something, anything, very attractive, and it’s a quality that many people lack.

“Why do we keep shrieking when we mean soft things? We should be whispering all the time.”

Simplicity. It’s all about simplicity. That rare type of beauty which is not destructive. And hoping that I have not let some mysterious ‘love of my life’ walk on by. I’ve had dreams about girls who I have never met – casual encounters with these strange fabrications of unconscious perfection, and I awake lonelier than I ever thought possible, and completely certain that this exact person is out there, somewhere, and has dreamed of me also, and that I will never, ever find them.

I don’t think that there’s a single phase in my life that can’t appropriately be described by a Tom Waits album. A few weeks ago, I was all ‘Orphans : Bawlers’. Lately, the clean sounds of ‘The Heart of Saturday Night’ slide around me like the most comfortable thing in the world.

It’s not easy to do something important every day, and it’s more than a little exhausting. The last week or so was spent completing 56 Star Wars sketch cards in an extremely limited amount of time, and almost all of them came out well. While I feel like I could have done the Ugnaught or the Ishi Tib a little more stylishly, I’m fairly pleased, overall – and I’m hoping that the appeal of these as they are discovered is enormous. Here are a few favorites :

5-HermiOdle13-emperor11-quarren32-gran

After this was done, I put the finishing touches on my Droplet, which I will mail to the UK tomorrow.

droplet
When I was done with that, I threw together two entries to the New Yorker’s Eustace Tilly 2010 contest. I kinda dig the fact that these two entries are so drastically different. While the contest website indicated that pieces would be accepted through the 18th, the submission process seemed to close at the stroke of midnight between the 17th an 18th, leaving the second piece in question. While I sent a ‘please help me’ e-mail to the website, I’m not sure if this submission will be accepted – which is really disappointing.

eustace

EusteamWEB

I anxiously await the arrival of some prototypes from Ponoko in both MDF and black acrylic, and in the meantime, I’m working out the engineering details of some lamps I’d love to make out of laser-cut acrylic. As all of the materials from Ponoko are flat sheets, it’s always a challenge to balance a structure that can only be made of 90 degree angles with some form of visual grace – not unlike LEGO, I suppose. Long curving legs on things that branch out from a well-disguised cubic form seem to be what I’m working on now. Joints are impractical unless you incorporate your own dowels or hinges, though not impossible – I did create a 360 degree joint from a carefully-measured cut circle and a square peg. Each tiny mechanism that I can work out feels like a whole new set of creative doorways opening up.

So, I’ve been sketching out lamps that are inspired by this table :

drippingtable
The idea of a structure that is entirely supported by something that provides an entirely different mental cue is fascinating to me – and if that structure can incorporate light somehow, even better. After discovering that there are sockets that actually turn light sockets into electrical outlets, the potential for hanging lamps also became a reality. Ideally, I’d like to explore the potential for lamps that are both wired, use CFLs, or contain battery powered LEDs and can be cordless, and I’m experimenting with how hot these little 40-watt bulbs can get, and what glues will join acrylic sheets, and what shapes I can accomplish. It’s like solving a hundred little puzzles that all fit into one larger puzzle, and it’s very exciting for me.

I’m trying to do something important every day. Or at least something that can potentially build towards the life that I really want – contacting publications, applying for better jobs, finishing projects. Anything that I can call a landmark, in any small way. I’m keeping a record of these things in Google’s calendar function.

Today, shots from the studio-ette, which may or may not be mine for much longer.

star_wars_galaxy_5_sketch

These are the Star Wars Galaxy Series 5 trading cards that I’m being asked to destroy with my art-things. I’ve been doing sketches of the sketches I want to do, and I think that I’ll go with my first inclination – nothing too cute, but definitely something kinda geometric, and a shot of color, and a series of intricate lines… you’ll see. They’ll all see. This whole thing is surreal to me. Star Wars. Me. Official merchandise.

The other thing I’m working on is a piece for the Droplet Series 2 release show in Bristol, in the UK – another show that I was invited to participate in, rather than had to beg to be in.

droplet_series_two_WIP

I’ve got the blank Droplets, and I’ve got the sculpted face. I tore the hands off of a bunch of old wrestling figures that my estranged father sent me a few years back – his own weird way of saying ‘hello’, I guess. We didn’t maintain contact, once again, and I never thought I’d have any use for a mess of weird, dirty old wrestling toys, but my tendency to hang onto everything and extract every possible use from it has paid off. These are far sturdier than any hands that I could sculpt, which is an absolute necessity after having so many toys break in the mail this past year.

I wanted to include some tendrils and stuff, but again, I’ve had to adjust my style to suit traveling across an ocean. I plan on assembling it all (perhaps with a bunch of arrowheads sticking out of it also), painting it up all coppery and verdigris, and accentuating the human (and inhuman) details with fleshtones. I guess I have a recurring theme of sticking old man faces onto things when I send them off to toy shows. This one is markedly more cartoonish.

I’m kinda happy with what I’m seeing in my mind with all of this.

I’ve sent out 20 postcards and two or three e-mails to publications who might want to hire an artist. There’s an exciting Threadless contest for $10,000 this month, as well as a New Yorker Contest to interpret Eustace Tilley, and yet another ‘self portrait’ contest that entitles with winner to 6 months of free rent in an amazing building in Williamsburgh – which is exactly what I need to get my art on for serious.

It’s 2AM, and my hands just get tired and shaky when it gets this late, so no more art for me, but the ideas are coming together, and it’s going to be an incredibly busy month for art. Wish me luck.

In May, I did some records for APW‘s ‘Arts On Record 2′ show.

I finished four in time for the show. They hung them, destroyed the backs of them with glue, and mailed them back with another piece which they also damaged. This in itself was a feat, as I contacted them three or four times over the course of 8 months and they never responded to my inquiries until I threatened them with legal action. In retaliation, they busted my art. Many people have had similar experience to my own.

Anyhow, the four that I did are right here. I went with a weird ‘supervillain and funky font’ theme.

The fifth was never completed.

eggsPerhaps for the best.

Yes, the weird grammar is intentional.

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