2010 January

January 2010

Re : The iPad

I suggest, once again, that we all reserve harsh criticisms, as well as unmitigated praise, for products that are not even out yet. While the iPad does not seem to be what we expected, we need to remember just that : it will perform outside of our expectations in ways that we cannot anticipate, just like much of technology and discovery does. The internet is becoming replete with Amazon-type review fury over things that do not technically exist yet. Be a little smarter by understanding all the things that you do not yet know.

That is all.


I feel like I’ve had a very off life with a few really incredible hours mixed in every so often. None of those hours came yesterday.

I spent most of yesterday watching the end of Farscape and toiling over many sheets of graph paper, attempting to plot out a skull box in actual size. It’s a lot more complicated than simply assembling a cube, but once all of the details were measured out, it was very easy to transfer the exact shape to Illustrator to export to a file suitable for laser cutting. Plotting out the general details on a wooden cube was also helpful, but I always feel a little headachey when I spend too much time gently nudging lines on the computer for hours, and I could not seem to remain awake.

Now, I’m in that slightly anxious phase between submitting the files to the cutter and when the initial prototype arrives two weeks later and I find that I’ve made some kind of horrible mutant mistake.

I should really draw something again, but with the influx of family, there’s little room left to do much of anything.

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.


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.


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.

What I learned from reading Hi Fructose : Do what you love until it hurts, and then do it some more. This is the only way to true happiness.

What I learned from reading Juxtapoz : Go to the right parties and wear ironic clothing.

I had a strange weekend.

See, when I was in high school, I didn’t party a lot. I’ve never liked alcohol, and I’ve never done any kind of drugs. The whole scene, where it existed between the mountains and groves of my hometown, was volatile, and just not my kind of fun. Instead, I spent the weekend nights drawing, painting, watching Space Ghost and X-Files and covertly groping my girlfriend on the couch until midnight or so. Given the choice between that, or losing track of my pants in a strange house in the woods, I chose the former.

My friend and I had planned on a dinner for a while over at where she’s staying, so I saved up an appetite. When I arrived, the whole scenario had transformed, and while a hunger headache was slowly starting to throb, I threw myself into whatever was going on.

We were an impromptu party of six or seven people, most of them being around the age of 19 (or, as I immediately felt, about ten years younger than me). Now, when you live in the sticks, there’s a very real stereotype about the aging old creepo guy who spends too much time chilling with drunk high school students. You can kinda pick them out from a mile away, and there are plenty of them. Much to my surprise, and despite many years of being actively antisocial, I kinda fit right into the whole set. I don’t know if I’m comfortable with this fact, or what it says about the demographic that I feel comfortable in, but I had a good night, and that’s what matters. I think.

After two hours of Pictionary, at which my friend and I soundly kicked the asses of our opponents due to some unspoken psychic bond that comes with knowing each other for 20 years, accompanied by the ability to describe esoteric principles with a few lines. There was a third hour of Pictionary that came in after we did a beer run and my lovely friend was chatted up by the lonely liquor store guy, and then later eyed up and down the first of two kids that I ever had a physical altercation with.

(In high school English, Derek grabbed at my Jack Skellington watch and snapped off the head. As he was something of a bully who had tormented me for many of my quieter years, I snapped and grabbed his throat, throwing him up against the cabinets until the teacher convinced me to let go and stop choking him. Because I was a quiet, excellent student, there were no repercussions at all. We later shook hands in gym class on our own volition, having earned the tenuous respect of each other.)

We moved into the basement as the evening went on, and listened to Dethklok and Tom Waits until the batteries on my iPod faded out. A section of the floor may or may not have been spattered with blood, and the only illumination came from strings of tiny Christmas lights lining the ceiling. A rickety pool table held a game of pool, and then the parts of a ping pong table for beer pong, and then a game of Kings – which seems solely designed to make the mundane task of getting drunk slightly more interesting, but only ended up causing people to become contentious. There was a strange fascination with the fact that I don’t drink or smoke, and wasn’t a complete tool.

Once two beer bottles were hurled at the cinderblock walls, I went home. Not after helping to pick up the finer bits of green glass so that no one would injure themselves. Because I can’t help myself.


I’m having a hard time picking bits of motivation out of the quiet flood around me. This would be okay if I felt like it was okay to do nothing, but me and being idle are two things which will never be comfortable with one another. Things I want to do :

- Coptopus Issue #2
- A Tarot deck
- A full run of Devilboxes
- Plot out some of the lamp / box designs I’ve been playing with
- A Batman-related painting for a friend
- A new toy for my little solo show at the Library
- ConceptArt.org’s Daily Sketch Group
- eBay’s ACEO Group weekly challenge
- Some more sketches of library patrons

These things will happen. I was hit by this massive, overwhelming sledgehammer of fatigue today at work and had a very hard time staying conscious. It was like last year’s mono was fast upon me, but I think that it might have to do with the fact that I ate a large sandwich before this event. Can digestion really bring on such an overwhelming feeling of fatigue and dizziness? This is something to research.

Perhaps I’m being mentally held up by a set of potential plans for Thursday that I’ve been trying to hash out since this weekend. I’m not getting much help, and I’m always very hesitant to start up a new project if it has the potential to get interrupted. I’m not good at waiting for people to come through.

For now, I sleep. Tomorrow, I can focus.

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.


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.


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 :


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

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.



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 :

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.


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.


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.

January 1st : I was invited to participate in an official, honest-to-god, George Lucas approved Star Wars trading card art project. My art will appear in random packs of Star Wars Galaxy V trading card packs. Details to follow, but this is the biggest gig I’ve ever scored, in terms of exposure.

January 2nd : Spent the day in the city with a lovely lady. Sushi, toy shopping, dessert.

I don’t recall the name of the place where we had dessert. I was still full from gorging on sushi, so I just ordered a ‘peach nectar’, which was pretty much one of those tiny bottles of thick, dark-colored liquid that you wouldn’t touch at a dollar store, but in a fancy glass with a lot of ice. It was delicious, anyhow. Behind us, a 20-something actor was doing his best exuberant Woody Allen impression at his laptop, ordering hot cocoas for everyone at his table, and at some point, running off and flailing as if infuriated. After this happened two or three times, we were clearly suspicious.

At first, I presumed that he was just a hipster jerkoff, because we WERE in SoHo, after all. You can’t walk two feet without tripping on one. His affectations became so pronounced that we began to assume that he had some severe form of Aspergers. We theorized that he was out with his drama club and couldn’t get out of character. We thought that maybe this was some kind of hidden camera show. We didn’t know what to think after a while. It was fascinating and surreal to watch this absurdist performance.

On the way out, I nudged a waitress and asked what the story was, if only to find out if I’d have to watch for my face on MTV’s Boiling Points in the nest few months. The Woody Allen-ite was actually a player in a guided tour of NYC, and he was playing the role of a NYU student at a hip dessert bar. He’d interact with the tour groups, talk about the area in weird and hilarious detail, and guide the group to their next destination before stumbling off in freakout mode. It was amazing.

This whole experience was a few moments after a tall, skinny white guy was hoisted by his lapels and thrown out of some weird-looking establishment near Houston by a tough looking black guy, yelling ‘I don’t care what you do! Go die in the street!’, missing me by about a foot.

I napped on the Hudson Line, and every random song that came over my headphones felt perfect, all day, even if I’d never heard it before.

January 3rd has a lot to live up to.

I’m passing up plans to chill at ‘art parties’ in Brooklyn tonight so that I can enjoy a calm night at home with Beatles Rock Band and my niece. I’d rather not celebrate the passage of time. I hope that 2010 brings about all of the changes I desperately need. It’s a nice even number. It provides a superficial place to grab onto and leverage psychologically, even if the laws of nature have no respect for our little numbering systems or our geographical landmarks. Last week, half of the town was blanketed by a few inches of snow, and as I drove to work only seven minutes away, the ground was clear.

Let’s reassess 2009. It started out pretty awesome. I was earning twice as much as I ever had, employed at a few different websites and being paid handsomely for my writing. I was making strides at paying back my student loans.

On Valentine’s day, I was in a cab in the middle of Manhattan, wrapped in a coat, a scarf and way too many bags, reporting from the annual Toy Fair with Brian. The phone rang (at this point, I think I was still with my ‘Birdhouse in Your Soul’ ringtone), and it was Amberly. She had just broken up with her boyfriend. A few weeks later, we met up in the city and she kissed me in the middle of Toys ‘R’ Us. We held hands and it was nice to see someone run up to you through the Grand Central crowds, excited for an embrace.


A little while after that, I stepped on this. My uncle had broken an old table and left it in the garage, with these screws sticking straight up out of a board on the ground, at the bottom of a ladder. I’ve chronicled the story elsewhere, but the highlight is definitely the fact that I sprayed blood into the shower with more force than I thought humanly possible. I went into shock from sudden blood loss, and about $700 and a few months of limping around later, my foot still hurts when it’s cold or wet out. The top of my foot, where the screw nearly exited, still sports a neat little bruise.

Then, it became clear that I had contracted mono. I started passing out at work, and having intensely tired, heavy headaches. Some people never know they have it. Others are hit by a viral freight train. I was in the latter category, so much of the year was filled with naps, leaving work early (or not going in at all), and feeling like a zombie. It is a feeling of inhuman-ness, and I was nagged by a terrible fear of going anywhere, because the overwhelming nausea and fatigue could hit at any time – like the middle of MoCCA, or a day in the city with my girlfriend. I was falling asleep everywhere, so a lot of life and living were sapped from me. I didn’t get a lot done. I was not the best person I could have been, and that upsets me.

I lost one exceptional writing job because the economy just didn’t support the website anymore, and a huge chunk of income vanished. Another job was unable to pay me, which was another few hundred dollars a month I no longer had.

My car, which I’d had on loan from the family since I’d learned to drive, finally gave up the ghost. The salted winter roads of upstate NY took their toll on the guts of the Camry and every brake line and fuel line decided to fall apart all at once due to terrible rusting – after our local mechanic took $500 to fix a problem that didn’t really exist in the first place. Somewhere in the universe, fate doesn’t realize how very little I earn.

For six months, in the middle of all of this, I had been apartment hunting in Philly with my girlfriend. We found a nice little house with off-street parking that would be all ours. We signed a lease, put down a deposit, and on a choir trip to Brazil, she cheated on me – two weeks before I was set to move in. I got my deposit back, but the only way that we’d not be legally destroyed was if we let her keep the place for herself. I still have boxes of kitchen supplies and housewares that were supposed to be in a nice little place at the edge of the ghetto in Philly. I bought kitchen knives that were in rainbow colors and had bees on them, because she wanted a colorful house, and she likes bees. A business contact sent me a dozen bottles of hot sauce because I mentioned in an article that I dreamed of lining them up along my windowsill in my house. There are a lot of broken dreams that I keep on stepping on.

Somehow, in the middle of all of this, I lost a friend whom I’d cherished for over a decade. She never told me why, and I’m not interested in the cloak and dagger drama that comes with trying to find out. I am an adherent to Occam’s Razor.

Nearly every art piece that I had sent out to shows came back destroyed by the galleries, the USPS, or a combination of both. The Spaceman toy, which I’d given my heart and soul to, was broken by the USPS on the way to Gruff House. I’ve yet to face the real damages and repair the survivors. It’s too disheartening to put so much into something to have an element that’s completely out of your control take it away from you – but that’s really the theme of this year, and my life.

2009 has been a year of false steps and false starts and severe disappointments.

I met some great people, and I reconnected with other great people. I have a second toy on the way. I’m purging years of depression that I buried in retail, and re-focusing on art. I already have plans to spend time with a few nice girls in 2010. I’ve been invited to participate in at least one art show.

In this new year, I will practice my archery more. I will learn to play at least two Ben Folds songs on the guitar. I will finish an epic project (as there are many to choose from), and two issues of Coptopus. I will find rewarding work. And if none of this happens, I will learn to be happy with myself anyhow.