I apologize in advance for what is my mental circus but for me this experience I call art is often executed with frantic pace after endless consideration of paradoxical concepts.
But where did I come from and inevitably where am I going with this less than innovative talent, a vitriolic perspicacity, and an interest in expression?
The title “Artist” seemed to be thrown at me quite often so I identified with that.
What follows is a short semi autobiographical highlight of what happened as a result.
1978 City of Schertz logo design contest
It all started on cold Texas day when my logo design was selected as the winning entry and I was presented with a 25 dollar savings bond. The logo was used on all official city correspondence until 1988.
After this I focused on the graphic arts. It was a lot of drawing, writing, on my own creations and comic series. In High School I was a member of the art honor society. I was never really sure what that meant. To me I was just a guy who liked to draw.
Years later, it was the same logo that graced the letterhead of my court summons for the hearing concerning the disappearance of several park benches, corner mail boxes, and the high school principal’s prized Cadillac. Nothing was ever proved.
1982 I drew a pirate
Like I’ve stated before many people commented on my drawing ability so I drew the pirate and sent it in and for a nominal fee I was accepted into the highly prestigious Art Instruction Schools of Minneapolis Minnesota.
Actually I hunkered down and diligently worked on the program for at least two solid weeks before I got bored and uninspired with the whole thing.
But I did do enough to win this nifty certificate.
So officially I am a licensed artist.
1985 Snow Lizard Man
In 1985 it snowed. That may not seem impressive to most people but for those who live where I do, it is. Snow is a seldom occurrence and is cause for celebration when it does happen.
But instead of just a snowman I spent all day and all night creating the Snow Lizard Man.
It was sot of a Sleestak inspired form and luckly there was enough snow.
The coloring was applied using diluted watercolor and a spray bottle.
Snow doesn’t last long here so it was gone the next morning.
1986 The Tilt
Inspired by graphic magazines like Heavy Metal I plied my hand to writing the illustrated short story. Drawing comics was how I got into this.
My friends and I would collect comics then start tracing the forms to make our own superhero stories so we were making up our own adventures. Then finally I remember I couldn’t find the right pose I was looking for so I started to just draw free-handed.
1990 Livin’ in the van down by the river
Yes, it’s as exciting as it sounds. It was the twilight of the Reagan Era and the time of “Read My Lips…” and I had fully disengaged from society.
After a failed engagement I was without a home. I had a place with family but mostly just to take showers and wash clothes. There was this troupe of screen printers that I took refuge with designing t-shirts for things like family reunions and charity fun runs but anyone who has worked in that industry will tell you it’s more like functional poverty as well as the bonus of working next to hot drying ovens all day, during summer,…IN TEXAS.
But I did have permission to play in the screen printing shop after hours and weekends. It was a great time of getting high and coming up with the weird shit to put on something you wear.
This is were I actually learned about commercial art and trained to take drawing into reproduction. It taught me the professional aspect of how art can be put to commercial uses. And I did end up wearing most of my experiments as I referred to earlier there was not much money in t-shirts and ball caps for those who make them only for the one’s who SELL them.
Not many of those works exist to this day as time and excessive wearing has banished them to memory.
1995 Scrimshaw demonstration
So as this story goes that I was dating this girl that worked as an event coordinator at a local natural history museum. She talked me into helping out by doing some demonstration so I did some research on the scrimshaw technique.
Scrimshaw basically means to do nothing since sailors had a lot of down time so they developed this art form between whaling escapades. They would engrave pictures of ships and other things into the ivory whale teeth.
Since I could not afford whale teeth I discovered that oyster shells worked just as well.
I recently uncovered the originals from that demonstration here.
1996 Potters make about 30 cents an hour
When I was in middle school one of our art classes was about pottery and it struck with me. So I invested in a kiln and had a great location in the back of my grandparents place.
Unfortunately that little studio was wiped out by a flood along with a lot of my early work. The flood was also the cause for my policy of never living directly by water sources like rivers and creeks ever again.
A few of these works do survive in storage mostly to remind me of the techniques I used so later I can resurrect the studio.
1998 Becoming a webmaster
My bohemian days came to an end when I landed a contractor job as web site graphic support for morale services in the military. I had returned to college to learn more about computers.
One of the instructors who became a good friend later informed everyone that his company was hiring so I applied and was interviewed and hired based on some brochure layouts I had created in CorelDRAW.
After my first day the guy who hired me put in two weeks notice which left me alone to find out how to keep the websites up and running.
There wasn’t much instruction from the old webmaster so I has to learn about patching servers, virtual directories, and configuring access lists. working for the military morale office has been like living in cross between the movie “Office Space” and an episode of MASH.
Our offices have been moved frequently in the effort to constantly save money so it has felt very mobile. That story is not that funny but it is true…
2000 Surviving the apocalypse…apocalypses…apocalypi?
With the millennium came the realization that Armageddon was just going to be a big budget sci-fi adventure and not an everyday day thing.
The computer and the internet was growing up so I was spending more time keeping up with learning about software and I was working on the website thing more than art.
But it did lead me to take up painting as a response to all the electronic ability we have granted ourselves that could be taken away as easily as flipping a switch.
So I’ve continued painting over the years until it is what you see today. Check out my main gallery here at Fine Art America.
Lately , I just finished an exhibition in a local upscale market that was noticed by several anonymous as well as known individuals.
Everyone agreed the work was something you had to look at to see.
So here it is the next stage in the evolution by integrating into social media and online community.
I think I’ve found out enough to bring it all together so we’ll see what happens and what I do.
Each discipline I have learned such as writing, storytelling, illustration, design, production, marketing, communications, and user experience are all brought to bear in my attempts to use what ability I have for creative thought to make the world a better place for everyone.
So what this becomes is the interplay of each of these interests as my body of work as an “artist”.
I return to screen printing but this time I decided to start from the beginning. What that meant was relearning the skills and also developing some new ones.
Once before I had worked in the industry but this time I wanted to keep my creative freedom. Slowly I began assembling materials to teach myself my version of screen printing. I didn’t think I’d invent anything new but instead come to a deeper understanding of the technique.
I built my first screen press from a couple of speedball clamps and scraps I had around the studio until eventually I needed to actually buy a rotary press to actually print sellable product.
I knew about the online marketplace Etsy so after investing in the basics I signed up and started selling, or at least trying to…
2016 Water Is Life
Sunday morning I was reading the news feeds when that video appeared. It was from the Standing Rock reservation that was protesting the oil pipeline that was rerouted onto their land and threatened their drinking water.
What made me stop was the dogs. Contracted security agents in their khaki pants and polo shirts with caps and wraparound sunglasses emerged from land rovers and SUVs using dogs to attack the protesters trying to stop construction.
These native people’s sovereignty once again were under attack by wealthy industry that cared nothing for the land or the people. once again this powerful nation was beating up on the little guy and acting like they were the victims. The fact that this was a oil pipeline made it even worse for me as for decades now I spoken out against fossil fuels and the stupidity of their continued use.
They were crowdfunding the protest so I donated what I could but I was also inspired to create a t-shirt design that I could use to raise more.
It wasn’t much but when it was all over I was able to donate an additional $500 I didn’t have before. PrintShop420 was in business.
2017 Holiday Spirits
After that I had a few more designs that sold a little but I was more interested in perfecting my design techniques and becoming better skilled with the tools.
I’ve used lots of graphics programs over the years like CorelDraw and Fireworks but I needed to get better with Adobe Illustrator. Which lead me to the discovery of brushes I hadn’t used before.
Things began to click, I wanted to design a new holiday shirt, but to be different it had to be literally a NEW holiday. Thinking about how we seem to begin our celebrations of the holiday season with Halloween, I played around with the imagery and came up with Octurkmas.
But to communicate what it was about I had to tell a story and with that I began making up a tale about a holiday meeting between Jacko Lantern and Santa about how Christmas overshadowed the other holidays.
The writing began to include the War On Christmas that was being peddled by people on Fox News and it occurred that I could fight this war on a different front now. The one story began to shape itself into a larger concept of all the holidays and chances to illustrate all those facebook posts I had been bothering people with.
So, the cartoon strip “Holiday Spirits” was created as yet another facet of my body of work.
What will 2018 bring? We’ll see.