Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I, and Timor Tom, have been mentioned...

A blogger who seems to go by the pen name "richardthinks" and runs an unusual but intriguing blog over at LiveJournal titled Dystopian Pokeverse has written a pretty brilliant entry taking my drawing of Timor Tom and converting him into a monster for role playing games. You can read it right here.

I haven't played Dungeons & Dragons in many, many, many years but I remember a bit here and there and this piece was so cunningly done I simply had to mention it here. Even if you have never played an RPG, this is well worth a read. Thanks richardthinks!

My brand new web site Spudd64.com

After weeks and weeks and weeks of writing pages and pages of basic HTML code, I have completely redesigned my web site Spudd64.com, and for the first time ever, you can see just about every photograph I have ever taken or printed, every comic I have ever written and drawn, and every piece of art I have ever made including all of the Moby-Dick illustrations, alternates, and related art in one single, easy to navigate location. It took me quite some time to get totally comfortable with this idea since some of the art and photography dates back almost 15 years and is from a very different time in my life. Still, I’ve really started to see this all as a constant process of growth and exploration, so it all somehow seems to fit together. And even though some of the stuff on the site is a bit weird or a bit silly, I’m still quite proud of it.

So, visit the site here and check out all the past efforts. I’ll be posting some new images from my current projects (I’ve got 4 things going on right now and it will be exciting when I can unveil them) in May. The past projects are in their own separate galleries, arranged in a menu on the left, chronologically from the oldest at the bottom of the column to the newest at the top. Some of the galleries are quite small, with only 5 images, while others have 20, 40 or almost 100. The galleries are, from oldest to newest...

EVIDENCE: All that remains of my first creative efforts. For many years, I took and printed my own black and white photographs with a beat up tank of a camera, a Minolta XG-1 35mm SLR. In a fit of doubt and despair in the late 90s, I sold the camera and burned all the photos and negatives. These 5 remain because they were given to friends who were kind enough to let me re-scan them. These are little windows into my early life.

ARCHONS: My first attempt at illustrating the personal mythology that has been growing inside of me for years. Colored pencil drawings on Bristol board, mostly, heavily influenced by outsider art.

SPUDD 64 PART 1: For 4 years, I worked on making a comic of my own. A largely autobiographical story, but one where I was a sentient bean sprout in outer space. The issues that I wrote still make me cringe a bit, but I’m really proud of the drawings. Some day, I’m going to pick this up again and continue, but for now you can read the whole thing online.

PANEL COMIX: Every other comic I’ve ever made, most of them written by other people, and printed in various comic and zine anthologies over the years.

PLASTIC PICTURES: A two year love affair with a plastic Holga camera, just before they became so trendy it started to make me sick.

NIGHT LIGHTS: The Holga led to experimentation with a pinhole camera, built for me by my friend Fred Draper, in the body of an old snapshot camera. The focal length was way off, so every photograph was blurry as hell. But I grew to like that. These are blurred images from nighttime wanderings.

STRANGE SATELLITES: An offshoot of the Archons images, and a continued exploration of my personal mythology. Only this time, in outer space.

THE DRIFTING MEADOWS: Pinhole camera photographs from a swelteringly hot day at the Cox Arboretum in southwestern Ohio.

24 HOURS IN LAS VEGAS: More pinhole photographs from a very strange day in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2006. A 26 image narrative of sorts.

ROBOT MASTERS: The debut of the found paper and my first real experiments in mixing other media such as paint, ink, stickers and more into my images. Also, a partial homage to the Mega Man series of videogames, which I still love.

THE SOLAR BROTHERS: Casual drawings, done mostly to fill little art zines I would xerox, hand bind, and sell at shows. These guys still feel like good friends to me.

MOBY-DICK DRAWINGS: You already know what this is.

So check it out, and let me know what you think.

Upcoming appearances: Paging Columbus, May 5th from 6 to 8 pm

I have been invited by poet Hannah Stephenson to participate in the Paging Columbus: Arts and Cultural Blogging Panel at the Ohio State University Urban Arts Space on Thursday, May 5th. I’ll be joining Columbus, Ohio bloggers Bethia Wolf of Alt Eats Columbus, Jim Ellison the CMH Gourmand, Meghan Willis of TsuruBride, Aaron Driggers of TsuruRadio and Mellisa Starker of The Once Over Twice. We'll be talking about about process, inspiration, and social media and just about anything else that comes up.

Hannah will be leading the discussion, but it should be a pretty intriguing event. The event runs from 6 pm until around 8 pm and there should be some delightful snacks as well. The panel begins at around 7 but I will be giving a short presentation of some of my art ahead of time to give the early arrivers something to look at. Even though this is a panel, there will be plenty of discussion with audience members as well, so if you ever had a question you wanted to ask me in person, this would be a great time to do it. I truly hope to see some of you there.

My art, in Tennessee...

Or maybe I should write “My art, in Tennessee again” since the owner of this piece, the inestimable Mr. Daryl L.L. Houston, also has a massive tattoo of my illustration for page 131 on his back (which remains one of the greatest honors I have ever received as an artist).

Daryl has been a longtime supporter of this blog and my art, and he runs a fascinating blog of his own titled Infinite Zombies where he hosts and coordinates group reads and discussions of great literature. A while ago, Daryl picked up my alternate illustration for page 541, and here is a photo of that art hanging on the wall of his home, next to what Daryl calls his "messy desk," which is sadly not pictured. I always love seeing this kind of thing, and it does my heart great good to know that my art is being looked at daily by people who really like it.

If you own a piece of my art and have got it framed and hanging up on your wall, send me a photo. I’ll post it here on the blog and, most importantly, it will make me feel very happy.

I couldn't do it...

Some of you may remember how, a while back, shortly after completing the final illustration for this Moby-Dick project, I decided I was going to start a new blog for all of my other non-Moby-Dick related creative endeavors. In a bizarre fit of what I thought was some kind of professionalism, I decided to begin using my own name for the blog URL. That blog was located at matt-kish.blogspot.com and I had all these grandiose plans for re-launching my personal web site with the matching URL www.matt-kish.com instead of Spudd64.com, which is what it has been for over 6 years now.

The thing is, the Matt-Kish thing just didn’t feel right to me. It wasn’t a good fit. Just about every presence I have ever had on the internet, whether it was a personal web site or a blog or a comic or something else, has been connected to the name Spudd 64 in one way or another. That name might seem a bit silly, but it actually does have some real personal significance and I’m really attached to it. So after a month or two of going back and forth, I’ve got to just eat crow and own up to the fact that I was Spudd 64 online before, and I will always be Spudd 64 online. That old Matt-Kish blog? Done. Discontinued. Will no longer be updated. Delete your bookmark and update your RSS feeds. The new, and permanent, blog for all of my creative endeavors from here until the stars fall from the sky is www.spudd64.blogspot.com. I do hope you’ll join me and I apologize for the flakiness.

Oh, yeah. As you can probably guess, I’ll never have a web site with a URL that contains the words Matt or Kish. My web site has been at Spudd64.com since some time in 2005, and that’s where it will stay.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Something from the vault, and something new

Alright, strange stories here.

First, page 146 of Moby-Dick, which illustrates the line ...so, in his inclement, howling old age, Ahab's soul, shut up in the caved trunk of his body, there fed upon the sullen paws of its gloom!

I had created two separate illustrations on the same evening for this page and I liked one quite a bit better than the other. Bizarrely, I lost the second one (the one I liked the most) almost immediately so I was forced to scan and post the first one I had, which is what you see above. While rooting around in the studio looking for something for the upcoming book, I found the second illustration buried in a pile of found paper. I was overjoyed! Even better, Tin House said I could include the version I liked best in the book. So below is the new version, the one I like better, and the old one is now for sale in my Etsy shop.

(Same media, dimensions, and date as the first)

Second, the book is coming together quite well, but my illustration for page 186 just wasn’t working out all. The line this illustrates is Or why, irrespective of all latitudes and longitudes, does the name of the White Sea exert such a spectralness over the fancy...

In person, this is quite an eerie and beautiful piece with lots of translucent white brushstrokes and a fantastic texture. It didn’t scan well though...

And it is looking completely underwhelming in the book. Since I was able to finish the illustrations about 2 months early, we have some time to really make sure this book looks fantastic, so last Friday I created a completely new illustration for page 186, right here...

It's a bit more literal, perhaps, but I think it turned out better. And my skill with the brush is really improving. This one is 12 inches by 8.25 inches, ink and marker on watercolor paper. The previous version will be a gift to a friend who really liked it. All of these alternates will be preserved on my actual web site as well, in case you want to compare many years from now.

My art, in California...

This one is long overdue, but it’s because I lost a few emails and almost dropped the ball. Back in February, Austin B. in California bought one of my pen and ink whale studies from the Etsy shop and was kind enough to send along a photo of it hanging on the wall in his apartment. He was at first oddly apologetic about the art that it was hanging next to (a piece by an artist whose name I can’t recall but will be happy to link to if anyone knows) on account of the profanity, but in a lot of ways I can actually really understand where that artist is coming from. I feel the same way sometimes, and I think the pairing really works well.

UPDATE: The artist behind the fantastic "FUCK ART" piece is named Luis Vera, and he operates out of Pasadena, California. I wasn't able to find a site to link to, unfortunately, but his work does speak loudly. And in very very good ways.

The piece Austin bought is one of my favorites because it was the first time I really felt like I was able to do what I wanted to do with a brush and ink. I was a little sad to see it go, but it’s good to know it’s hanging where it will be viewed and appreciated and in good company. And as you all know, that means a lot to me...

"Venti" shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Award

Scottish poet JoAnne McKay, who was kind enough to include some of my Moby-Dick illustrations in her most recent and thoroughly amazing poetry collection Venti, emailed me to let me know that Venti has been shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award ward for poetry pamphlets! The poet whose work wins is awarded a rather nice sum of money and may also serve as the Michael Marks Poet in Residence for two weeks in July at Harvard University’s summer school in Greece. This is wonderful news!

While it was very sweet of JoAnne to tell me that my illustrations were a part of what makes Venti such a fantastic collection, the truth is that her words are what really matter here and if she wins this award it will be entirely due to her tremendous gifts as a poet. I will keep you posted as to how things go, so keep your fingers crossed for JoAnne and Venti, and if you are interested in learning more about Venti, which is a truly gorgeous handmade book, you can read about it on JoAnne's blog here and you can order a copy as well.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New postcards!

The fine folks at my publisher Tin House Books have put together these incredibly lovely packs of postcards containing art from this Moby-Dick project. I believe their primary purpose is use these to promote the upcoming book at big events like BookExpo America (BEA) this summer and stuff like that. However, they were kind enough to send me a few bundles and they really look remarkable. Here's a photo of them, and please excuse the messy, paint-splattered drawing table underneath...

I am going to keep a few packs for myself, and I am going to give a few to good friends and family members, but I'll only have a small number of postcards left over. Rather than just send them out randomly to anyone who asks, I am instead going to include a postcard or two as little gifts for anyone who buys art from my Etsy shop. I wish I had a thousand and I could give them all away, but this is a pretty good idea, I think.