Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 210

Title: ...a fourth keel, coming from the windward side, pulled round under the stern, and showed the five strangers rowing Ahab...

8 inches by 5 inches
ink on found paper
March 23, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 209

Title: The figure that now stood by its bows was tall and swart, with one white tooth evilly protruding from its steel-like lips. A rumpled Chinese jacket of black cotton funereally invested him, with wide black trowsers of the same dark stuff. But strangely crowning his ebonness was a glistening white plaited turban, the living hair braided and coiled round and round upon his head.

7.5 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint, charcoal, colored pencil, crayon and ink on found paper
March 22, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Something is wrong with blogger / No images

It looks like few to none of the art is appearing on my blog. I assure you, this is not a problem specific to this blog, it is something that is affecting every blog hosted by Blogger / Blogspot. Their message board indicates they are aware of the issue and are working hard to fix it so hopfully it will be dealt with soon. I could really use some guidance on the promo postcard thing in the post below this, so I do hope you will all check back and perhaps leave a comment there.

Fix this, Blogger!

Request for help making promo postcards

Weirdly enough, this month and next month I will be making some public appearances supporting this project. On April 19th I'll be at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn giving a brief talk with a slideshow as part of their Open City Dialogues series. Then on Saturday April 24th and and Sunday April 25th I'll have a table at S.P.A.C.E. in Columbus. Finally on May 13th I'll be giving a very brief presentation at Pecha Kucha Columbus.

For years, I was able to avoid having to actively promote my art since it was purely personal and private, but it seems as if the time has finally come and I can delay promoting it no longer. I've decided to print up some postcards with one of my illustrations on the front and some information about my web site and the project on the back to give out at some of these events. Good friend Tom Williams has already been kind enough to share a wealth of technical information on the best ways to create, format, and print promo postcards. Now I just need to decide on which image to use, and that's where I want your help.

I want the front of the card to have an image that is really striking yet still a good representation of the project as a whole. This is tough because I am using so many different media and found paper and even different styles. My main concern is that someone might pick up the postcard, really like the image on the front, visit the site and be disappointed when the rest of the art looks nothing like they expected.

So I've narrowed it down to 5 pieces that I think would look great in full color on the front of a full bleed postcard. Please take a quick look and, in the comments, vote for which one you think is most appropriate or, if you think another image not listed here is better, please let me know that. You can comment anonymously as well. Also, if you'd like one, send me an email with your mailing address and I'll send you one or two when they're done.


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MOBY-DICK, Page 208

Title: High aloft in the cross-trees was that mad Gay-Header, Tashtego. His body was reaching eagerly forward, his hand stretched out like a wand, and at brief sudden intervals he continued his cries.

7.5 inches by 10.5 inches
ink and marker on found paper
March 22, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 207

Title: Thus we were weaving and weaving away when I started at a sound so strange, long drawn, and musically wild and unearthly, that the ball of free will dropped from my hand, and I stood gazing up at the clouds...

8.5 inches by 11 inches
ink on found paper
March 21, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 206

Title: That protection could only consist in his own predominating brain and heart and hand...

6.75 inches by 8.5 inches
colored pencil and ink on found paper
March 20, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 205

Title: ...for few men's courage is proof against protracted meditation unrelieved by action...

7.5 inches by 10.5 inches
ink on found paper
March 20, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 204

Title: To accomplish his object Ahab must use tools...

7.5 inches by 10.5 inches
ink on found paper
March 20, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 203

Title: I am told, on good authority, that on the Barbary coast, a Commodore Davis of the British navy found the skeleton of a Sperm Whale.

10.5 inches by 8.5 inches
acrylic paint, charcoal, colored pencil, crayon and ink on found paper
March 19, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Questions People Ask Me

These have been building up for a little while now, so I’ve gone back and collected them all, rewritten the answers so they are more concise, and re-posted them below in chronological order from oldest to newest, with the number one most frequently asked question at the top. I’ll keep this format and re-post them all every time I get new questions.

First, the number one most frequently asked question is…


Is any of this art for sale?

It’s been amazing, and deeply humbling, how many times someone has asked me this question. I truly never ever expected that. The answer is complicated but I will try to make it brief and simple.

Right now, none of the Moby-Dick pieces are for sale. I want to keep the entire series of illustrations intact until I have completed all 552 because I would like to see them exhibited someplace, whether that be a small local gallery or a museum. If I sell even one individual piece, I can never make that happen.

Beyond that, I just really don’t know what I will do. I might sell them individually. I might try and sell the entire series as a single unit. I might see about setting up some kind of silent auction, online or in person, for all of the pieces sold individually. I might even keep them. I’ve become really fond of them. I really don't know right now, and I am not trying to be a diva at all.

I do have a number of older pieces of art, of which I am also tremendously fond and proud of, available at this link here. Each of the pieces has a price listed, so please take a look and email me if you are interested in any of them.


Now the rest of the questions...


06) Will this art be collected into a book when you’re done?

While I would love for that to happen, and would be thrilled beyond belief if it did, it is probably unlikely that there will ever be a book collecting these illustrations. There are several reasons and I’ll go through them. First, since I’m using found paper as the foundation for nearly all of these pieces, this found paper almost always has previously copyrighted material on it. In some cases, the paintings or images are old enough that they are in public domain. In other cases, the images or diagrams are obscure enough that there is very little risk of the original publisher even finding out about this project. However, in other cases, the text or the imagery is recent enough and well-known enough that there might be copyright issues. Honestly, I really did think about this when I started the project, and I came to the conclusion that I was sufficiently transforming the original pages enough so that there would be no copyright infringement. I’m comfortable with that, but finding a publisher that agrees and will risk funding a book might be a different story.

The second reason, and one which, to me, makes much more sense, is that a book could be staggeringly expensive. There will be 552 full color pieces of art when I’m done. That means that any book would have to be, at minimum, around 300 pages but more realistically around 550 pages. The production costs, even for a paperback, of 552 full color pages of art would make any book very expensive indeed and I’m not sure if any publisher is willing to risk that on an unknown artist like myself.

In spite of that, I am definitely very open to the possibility of a book and would love to make it happen. I’ll think more about how to pursue that when I get closer to completing the project. If anyone has any advice or guidance, I would be deeply appreciative if you would share it with me.


05) Why don’t you post more typical blog entries?

I think this question must be asking about why I don’t write more on this blog. Part of that answer is, as I wrote earlier, that I am by nature a rather private person. I think an awful lot of what is written online, in blogs and on Facebook pages and via Twitter and so on is incredibly self-centered and narcissistic. I have no desire to participate in this circus of digital narcissism and lay myself bare for the temporary enjoyment of web-surfers and cool-hunters that might follow some link, land here for a minute or two, wallow in some personal details of my life, and then disappear again searching for the next big meme. I want the focus of this blog to be the art itself, and so I refrain from writing anything that isn’t absolutely necessary or in service to the art. While I will occasionally post a bit about my working methods and processes, you will never find any other personal details here. Honestly, I’m really not sure that my life is that interesting anyway, and certainly not to total strangers.


04) Why Moby-Dick?

This is a difficult question to answer because the answer can easily go on and on. In short, it is my favorite book, I think it is one of the best books ever written in any language, and I think it carries within its pages nearly everything a reader needs to know about life, death, love, hate, God, the world, good, evil, morality, spirituality, sexuality, ethics, truth, falsehood and finding meaning. I’ve read it many times, and it is one of the only books that has continued to yield richer and richer treasures with each new reading. I hope that these illustrations, humble and rough as they are, contribute at least a bit of something to the greater body of research and discussion about this amazing novel.


03) Who are you?

That's a weird question. I’m really quite a private person, especially with the particulars of my life, but I will share a bit. I am going to be 41 years old this June, I am white, I live in central Ohio, I have lived in Ohio my entire life, and I wear glasses. I am not an artist, nor do I have any formal artistic training. For me, making images is something I have been deeply interested in for my entire life, but for various reasons I never pursued it educationally or professionally. I have experimented with making photographs (35mm SLR camera, pinhole, Holga, Polaroid and digital), drawings, collages, comics and comic books. All with mixed results. Sometimes I’ve really loved what I made; sometimes I’ve been a bit embarrassed. In the end, it’s all been part of the trip though. Let’s see, what else can I tell you? I’m pretty short at around 5’5” and I like to mow the lawn. A lot. I am deeply and passionately in love with my wife of 9 years and she is the smartest and most beautiful person I know. We don’t have any children, don’t want any, and have never regretted that decision. I guess that’s enough for now.


02) Where do you get all this found paper?

While I was in grad school, I worked in a used book store. Customers would bring in boxes of old books to sell to us, and we would evaluate them and resell most of them. Often, we ended up with lots of old books and maps and other paper ephemera that was just not going to sell due to condition, obscurity, or some other factor. Sometimes we priced these items at a dollar or even fifty cents and shelved them in our bargain section, but more often than not we simply discarded them. Dumpster time.

I began stockpiling anything that looked interesting. I was mainly interested in maps, diagrams, schematics, tables, science stuff and repair guides. I didn't know what I would do with it all, but I knew that some day I would use it. Now I am.

In terms of art supplies, I use whatever I want. Especially whatever I can scavenge or buy for cheap, like acrylic / craft paints, ballpoint pens, collaged stuff from magazines, crayons, ink, magic markers, nail polish, spray-paint, stickers, watercolors and whatever looks interesting. I don't use any digital effects on the art at all other than to scan the images and occasionally correct slight color or contrast imbalances so the digital image more closely resembles the actual art.

Some people have offered to send me some found paper. While I deeply appreciate the kindness, I have far more than I could ever use so it’s really not a very good idea for me to take on any more.


01) Did you get this idea from the artist Zak Smith?

Zak Smith is an incredible artist who created one illustration for every page of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. You can see them all online here, and there is a beautiful book collecting them all that you can order here. I don’t know Zak and I have never met him but I have seen his art and, while I don’t know whether or not he was the first artist to ever attempt something like this, he was the first whose work I encountered. I first saw his Gravity’s Rainbow project a few year’s ago so while it was not the direct inspiration for my own series of Moby-Dick pieces, it was definitely the genesis of the idea. In late summer of 2009, I was feeling very restless and unhappy and I wanted some kind of creative project to focus my energy on. Since I’m not a professional artist and don’t earn any kind of substantial income from art, it had to be just the right project. Something that would reward me personally yet keep me tightly focused and disciplined. A good friend of mine, Tobin Becker, casually mentioned in an email that he remembered me going on endlessly about Moby-Dick in college and that remark sparked my memories of Zak Smith’s series and this project was born.

MOBY-DICK, Page 202

Title: ...upon being attacked he will frequently open his mouth, and retain it in that dread expansion for several consecutive minutes.

7 inches by 4.25 inches
ink on found paper
March 18, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 201

Title: An uncommon large whale, the body of which was larger than the ship itself, lay almost at the surface of the water, but was not perceived by any one on board till the moment when the ship, which was in full sail, was almost upon him...

7.5 inches by 10.5 inches
colored pencil and ink on found paper
March 16, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 200

Title: I tell you, the Sperm Whale will stand no nonsense.

7.5 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint, colored pencil and ink on found paper
March 15, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 199

Title: The Sperm Whale is in some cases sufficiently powerful, knowing, and judiciously malicious, as with direct aforethought to stave in, utterly destroy, and sink a large ship; and what is more, the Sperm Whale has done it.

7.75 inches by 9.5 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
March 14, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 198

Title: Do you suppose that that poor fellow there, who this moment perhaps caught by the whale-line off the coast of New Guinea, is being carried down to the bottom of the sea by the sounding leviathan—do you suppose that that poor fellow's name will appear in the newspaper obituary you will read to-morrow at your breakfast?

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
ink on found paper
March 14, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 197

Title: Was it not so, O Don Miguel! thou Chilian whale, marked like an old tortoise with mystic hieroglyphics upon the back!

10.75 inches by 13.75 inches
ink and marker on found paper
March 13, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 196

Title: First: I have personally known three instances where a whale, after receiving a harpoon, has effected a complete escape; and, after an interval (in one instance of three years), has been again struck by the same hand, and slain; when the two irons, both marked by the same private cypher, have been taken from the body.

11 inches by 7.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
March 11, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 195

Title: Therefore, the tormented spirit that glared out of bodily eyes, when what seemed Ahab rushed from his room, was for the time but a vacated thing, a formless somnambulistic being, a ray of living light, to be sure, but without an object to color, and therefore a blankness in itself.

7.5 inches by 10.75 inches
crayon and ink on found paper
March 10, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 194

Title: ...a chasm seemed opening in him, from which forked flames and lightnings shot up, and accursed fiends beckoned him to leap down among them...

8 inches by 10.75 inches
ink and marker on found paper
March 9, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 192

Title: Besides, when making a passage from one feeding-ground to another, the Sperm Whales, guided by some infallible instinct—say, rather, secret intelligence from the Deity—mostly swim in veins, as they are called; continuing their way along a given ocean-line with such undeviating exactitude, that no ship ever sailed her course, by any chart, with one tithe of such marvellous precision.

7.5 inches by 11 inches
ink and marker on found paper
March 7, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 191

Title: ...Ahab was threading a maze of currents and eddies, with a view to the more certain accomplishment of that monomaniac thought of his soul.

11 inches by 8.25 inches
ink and marker on found paper
March 7, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 190

Title: While thus employed, the heavy pewter lamp suspended in chains over his head, continually rocked with the motion of the ship, and for ever threw shifting gleams and shadows of lines upon his wrinkled brow...

6.75 inches by 11.25 inches
ink and marker on found paper
March 6, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 188

Title: ...a colorless, all-color of atheism from which we shrink?

8 inches by 9 inches
acrylic paint on found paper
March 5, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 187

Title: Not so the sailor, beholding the scenery of the Antarctic seas; where at times, by some infernal trick of legerdemain in the powers of frost and air, he, shivering and half shipwrecked, instead of rainbows speaking hope and solace to his misery, views what seems a boundless church-yard grinning upon him with its lean ice monuments and splintered crosses.

8.5 inches by 11 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
March 5, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 186

Title: Or why, irrespective of all latitudes and longitudes, does the name of the White Sea exert such a spectralness over the fancy...

11 inches by 15.5 inches
acrylic paint on found paper
March 5, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 185

Title: Therefore, in his other moods, symbolize whatever grand or gracious thing he will by whiteness, no man can deny that in its profoundest idealized significance it calls up a peculiar apparition to the soul.

8.25 inches by 11 inches
ink on found paper
March 5, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 184

Title: What is it that in the Albino man so peculiarly repels and often shocks the eye, as that sometimes he is loathed by his own kith and kin!

8 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
March 5, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What a day this was, again

I did want to make sure I took the time to thank Rose Elle of the web site Gilbert Musings: Culture of 5, a fascinating site focusing on musings about all sorts of art and culture and the places and ways in which they intersect. Rose was kind enough to do an artist's spotlight on this this project and on me and she wrote some really wrote some very nice things. You can check it out here.

Also today, oddly enough, Rex Parker, who maintains a blog where he posts the New York Times Crossword Puzzles as well as the answers used one of my illustrations and a link to this blog for the Wednesday March 3, 2010 puzzle. The clue for 19 Down was "Starbuck's quarry" which is a "whale." He illustrated that answer with my drawing for Page 109.

MOBY-DICK, Page 183

Title: I remember the first albatross I ever saw.

7.5 inches by 10.75 inches
ink on found paper
March 3, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 182

Title: ...yet for all these accumulated associations, with whatever is sweet, and honorable, and sublime, there yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue, which strikes more of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in blood.

7.25 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
March 2, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 181

Title: It was the whiteness of the whale that above all things appalled me.

7.5 inches by 10.75 inches
colored pencil on found paper
March 2, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 180

Title: For one, I gave myself up to the abandonment of the time and the place; but while yet all a-rush to encounter the whale, could see naught in that brute but the deadliest ill.

9.25 inches by 6 inches
acrylic paint, charcoal, colored pencil and ink on found paper
March 1, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 179

Title: Gnawed within and scorched without, with the infixed, unrelenting fangs of some incurable idea...

7.75 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint on found paper
March 1, 2010

Upcoming appearances

Here is where I will be...

APRIL 19, 2010 - Brooklyn, New York
On Monday, April 19, 2010 starting at 7:30 I will be giving a brief (30 to 40 minute) lecture with a bunch of slides as part of the Open City Dialogue series at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn, New York. The Open City Dialogue “lectures are woven together from the common thread of people’s obsessions.”

Here is the link for the Open City Dialogue series. I'm near the bottom, just scroll down to April 19.

APRIL 24 & 25, 2010 - Columbus, Ohio
Shortly thereafter, on Saturday and Sunday, April 24 and 25, 2010, I will have a table at S.P.A.C.E., the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, 4900 Sinclair Road, Columbus, Ohio. The show runs from 10am to 6pm on Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday. It’s a pretty heavily comic oriented show, and most of the exhibitors are from Ohio or neighboring states. I hope to have a small art book ready by the show, probably just a black & white xeroxed collection of drawings with a spray-painted color cover. I believe admission to the show is something like $5 per day, but you can find out more information here.

MAY 13, 2010 - Columbus, Ohio
Finally, on Thursday, May 13, 2010, I will be one of the presenters at the 13th Pecha Kucha Columbus event. No site or time yet, but I’ll post more information as it becomes known. My slide show will be, again, images from this project with a bit of talk about how I make an illustration.

Here is some borrowed information that explains it a little better.

What is Pecha Kucha?
Pecha-Kucha Night, devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture in Tokyo, was conceived in 2003 as a place for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. Pecha-Kucha (which is Japanese for the sound of conversation) has tapped into a demand for a forum in which creative work can be easily and informally shown, without having to rent a gallery or chat up a magazine editor. This is a demand that seems to be global - as Pecha-Kucha Night, without any pushing, has spread virally from Tokyo to over 160 cities world-wide.

Curious? See Pecha-Kucha.org for more info.

What is the format?
As a presenter, you are allowed to share 20 slides total, and you get 20 seconds during each slide to talk. Slides should be timed… 20 slides at 20 seconds each gives you a total of 6 minutes 40 seconds to speak.


That’s all for now. If anything else comes up, I’ll post something about it.