Last night I started working on a new “Valentine’s Day” themed illustration while I watched a few episodes of “Shameless.” The illustration is inspired by a very crude doodle I drew on my dry erase board at the Spectrum office last February. The illustration was drawn in Manga Studio 5 and I’m planning on coloring the illustration using Manga Studio 5 as well. I’ve always colored everything in Adobe Photoshop but I want to explore the full range of Manga Studio’s tools and attempt to color the illustration with Manga Studio 5. Hopefully I will find some time over the weekend to finish it.
Way back in 2001, I painted 3 paintings of geishas that were inspired by Japanese woodblock prints from some old book I found at a thrift store. I had collected a bunch of Chinese restaurant placemats and Japanese newspapers and an assortment of decorative papers I purchased at an Asian Market. The decorative papers were decorated with geometric and floral patterns and woodblock style illustrations of dragons and roosters. I used all of my scavenged paper to create an abstract collage and then I crudely drew a geisha using a China Marker or a colored pencil. The paintings were really simple and crude and not very good. I lost interest in painting them very quickly. BUT people really really loved those terrible paintings and all 3 of them sold very quickly.
It was the first moment in my life as an artist where the artist and the businessman came into conflict. Do I keep painting more geisha paintings and potentially sale a bunch of paintings or do I walk away and explore ideas that are more creatively stimulating or fulfilling? The geisha paintings were extremely easy to paint and I could paint them very quickly and several people were showing interested in purchasing them and people were showing very little interest in purchasing anything else I was painting. But 3 paintings were enough to feed my own curiosity and I had zero desire to paint more of them. I abandoned a potentially profitable career being a white guy painting geishas. I chose the artist over the businessman and I have always chosen the artist over the businessman. I’m surprised how often people mention those 3 fucking paintings. I’ve been told numerous times that I should paint geishas again. 2 months ago Kelly Moody, the owner of the now defunct Firehouse Gallery, told me he regrets not buying one of those Geisha paintings when he had a chance. 13 years later and people still talk about those fucking paintings.
I painted those 3 paintings when I was a student. I made those paintings because I really loved Japanese and Chinese art. I was experimenting and exploring and stealing in order to find my own voice as an artist. I knew very quickly that painting geishas was not my bag. I didn’t care that people liked the paintings or wanted to buy the paintings because those paintings did not come from an honest place. I couldn’t articulate or understand why it felt wrong to paint them. It just felt wrong to paint them. Those paintings did not originate from the depths of my soul. I was a white guy appropriating Japanese art and culture and putting it through my own filter and trying to “own” something that wasn’t appropriate for me to own. It was ignorant of me to appropriate Japanese art and culture when I didn’t have a personal connection to that culture.
I’m not going to paint another geisha painting. I have zero desire to paint one and I don’t think it is appropriate for me to paint one.
So… I apologize to anyone who might have been offended by those paintings. And I apologize to anyone who wants me to paint more of them. And I apologize for ALL of the bad art I’ve made over the years. There is more bad than good. But art is meant to be a learning experience and I have learned some hard lessons.
Below is a photo of the third and final painting in the geisha series. This one was painted during the “Progression” art exhibition / performance art / artists residency / happening at the Lee Shiney Gallery in 2011. I couldn’t find any photographs of the other two but there are probably some old slides hiding somewhere. Remember slides?
After being possessed by a level 10 Influenza demon for over 3 weeks I’m finally feeling somewhat “normal” again and I’m ready to be a productive and useful human again. The worst part of being sick wasn’t the burning hot mucus pouring out of my face or the razor blade throat or the diarrhea canon or the lungs full of death or the endless coughing… The worst part of being sick was my inability to enter a creative state of mind. This nasty Influenza demon vampirized all of my creative energy and killed my will to create. I was a lifeless zombie.
But the demon is growing weaker and my desire to create art is quickly growing and I’m ready to paint and draw comics and design posters and be a fully functioning creative being again.
One of my many neglected art projects is the “Pizza Loves Taco” graphic novel.
I’m excited about “Pizza Loves Taco” because the universe I’m creating gives me the freedom to experiment and explore different illustration styles and coloring techniques. I want the book to feature the “printing errors” that were common in the comic books from my childhood. I think those imperfections add character to the pages and they give me a warm fuzzy feeling. I don’t want the printing “mistakes” to be a distraction from the art or story but I think those design elements will make the final product more fun and interesting. I also want to include illustrated advertisements for random products like ant farms, chewing gum, guns, magic tricks, action figures, Halloween masks and fake superhero comics that I will never draw. In other words, I want “Pizza Loves Taco” to look like it was printed in the 1980s. In many ways the book will be a product of the 1980s.
The image below is my first “printing error” experiment using the cover illustration I created for “Pizza Loves Taco” Volume 1. I clearly like to fuck things up.