Thursday, August 6, 2009

MOBY-DICK, Page 001

My friend Tobin Becker recently reminded me of my undying love for Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick, or The Whale.

Because I honestly consider Moby-Dick to be the greatest novel ever written, I am now going to create one illustration for every single one of the 552 pages in the Signet Classic paperback edition. I'l try to do one a day, but we'll see.

Here is the first illustration, from page one, entitled Call me Ishmael.

8.5 inches by 11 inches
colored pencil and ink on found paper
August 5, 2009


  1. Thought I'd come allll the way back to the first one. I am going to try and view a page (from your blog) a day.. :) Gives me something to do. And I am very much inspired by it.

  2. Hello Trev, and welcome. I think that's actually a pretty fascinating approach to the blog and I truly hope you enjoy your journey through these illustrations. Don't hesitate to let me know what you think, whether it is critique or praise. Both mean a great deal to me.

  3. I just worked my way here for the same reason as Trev! I just read about your blog on Brain Pickings. What a fantastic idea - I can't wait to explore the blog more.

  4. Hello Samantha, and many thanks for not only stopping by but also for starting from the beginning. Looking back, I am still very proud of what I did here, and I do hope you have an intriguing experience as you work your way through.

  5. Matt-

    Selected your book for our collection at the Juneau Public Library and am so excitedly holding it in my hands now, much larger scale than i expected, great color! and am spreading the word of the white whale to friends, amazing feat.

  6. Jonas, the distance that this book has traveled continues to amaze and delight me. Juneau, Alaska! That is just really cool! And being a public librarian myself, I am honored you've chosen to include it in your collection. Many thanks for the kind words.

  7. Matt, I too am tracing back to the starting point of your amazing journey from Brain Pickings because I've noted you're painting over old tube radios schematics in several of your initial drawings. I'm a radio buff and wanted to ask if there's a reason. If not, pretending there is would make fun all the same. Thank you.


  8. Hello Andrea, and thank you for visiting the blog. There were some very specific reasons for me using the old radio and television repair diagrams, but I am not sure what you will think. Prior to the "Moby-Dick" illustrations, my drawings had become extremely detailed and very laborious to create. I felt I was becoming far too reliant on rulers, circle templates, and lots and lots of detail to create art. The process of drawing was becoming obsessive and no longer fun. I eventually realized that what might be a solution was to begin drawing and painting over pages from old books and diagrams because the presence of visual information on those pages would in some ways interfere with, and clutter up, my own obsessive control over my marks. In a very real sense, by drawing over these diagrams, I would have to cede some control of the art to sources outside my control.

    As for why I used so many electrical diagrams, they simply fascinated me. They are extremely beautiful in their own way, and I am drawn to the visual representation of information. In addition, in this extremely digital age, it is comforting and refreshing to just stare at these symbols of an older time.

    I hope that all makes some sense, but please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any additional questions.

  9. It not only does make sense, it's beautiful too. Art superimposed over an other form of art, one deconstructing the other so to speak. Thank you.

  10. Thank you Andrea, I've never had to write it out quite that succinctly so I am both pleased it made sense and that you enjoyed. To this day, I still feel very very drawn to these diagrams. Fortunately I have a very large stack of them remaining.


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