I’ve been working on these Words books [+] for awhile now. Each one is a collection of interviews with legendary artists. It started as one book but now it’s being compiled into volumes.
I spent many years discovering new music by actually digging through records, tapes and cds in stores, attics, basements and yardsales. I read my favorite artists’ point of view in print before twitter decimated a pretty robust culture of magazines. So this is a pretty special bit of work. Journalism in print! It’s high art, man.
This collaboration with Brian Kayser has segued into other book jacket design and illustration projects that I’m excited about. I’m working on a couple of children’s book ideas and currently designing a jacket for another different collection of interviews from an independent hiphop label out of London. I won’t say to much about those things yet but once they get printed, I’ll be posting details of them here.
My latest creative exercise is “portrait sprints.” A couple times a week, I’ll sit down with pen and paper and some image source (usually a photo from a google image search) and I’ll complete a portrait in less than an hour. Start to finish in one session. I really like this one. It’s of John Most, a Virginia poet, who has let me design book projects [+] for him in the past. Check out my instagram feed [+] to see other portrait sprints.
I did this illustration just to see if I could get the @HRdocumentary instagram [+] account to like it. They did and that made me pretty happy. My gift of regard was dispatched to the internet. My message landed and was received. That’s a simple joy.
I’m very much looking forward to seeing the new documentary [+] that tells the story of Bad Brain’s legendary front man, HR. I grew up loving the band, and specifically their human torch of a singer.
I believe that HR is the kind of spirit that originally inspired the notion and convincing belief in Shamanism. He’s gifted, powerful and mad. He is absolutely magical if that word can be defined in terms of energy and imagination. If this film is what I think it is – it will speak equally to his icon as a legendary talent and as a living example of the complexity of human mental health. It will be more of a story of survival and gratitude than a celebration.
The first time I ever heard his voice I was bewildered. I remember saying out loud, “What is this?!” Nothing has ever sounded like him.
I saw an image of the artwork from Kimio Eto’s “Koto Music” album and it really landed for me. Instant impact. I feel that art “on art’s terms” is largely overlooked due to the quiet value it offers amid competing bids for attention from an accelerating and unprecedented variety of commercial media. But sometimes a piece of art just connects and makes you stop and say “Oh.”
I saw this album and had to know what the music sounded like. I gave it a spin via YouTube [+] and began studying the cover with paper and ink.
My goal was not to copy the cover but see where I ended up by studying it’s character and line and energy. Receive it and express it and change it in the process.
I’m tempted to explain the associations that ran through my mind as I steered the image toward my own thoughts and interpretations but instead I’ll just leave it here.
Stillness will lead you to a new awareness. Though it never really happens. Even the roots of a tree are on the move, finding water and soil while being still. Sitting motionless is a nice aspiration, but don’t forget to breathe. Breathe totally but listen closely and invite silence to access stillness. Stillness exists only behind the things. It’s the space that is not subject to motion.
Last year I illustrated and designed a book cover for a collection of rap interviews called “Words” by Brian Kayser [+]. There are some proper photos of that in the design portfolio [+] of this site. Brian is working on a second volume now and in the meantime I’m illustrating artists for his other interviews to be published to a couple of rap news websites, hiphopgame.com and wegoinin.net
I spent many years working on art to support music projects. I contributed illustration and design to rap magazines in the days before twitter and soundcloud. I love being involved with these projects. It’s true to that era of media, creative culture and connecting to collaborate with people out of a mutual love of the art.
After 2 consecutive years of keeping and building on my new year’s resolutions, this year I hit some speed bumps.
Despite the wobbles of plateau’d training in 2016, I just registered for my third consecutive Richmond Half Marathon and in 2017 I’m going to complete a full marathon. That’s the one thing. I’ll keep practicing meditation. I’m going to unlock more of my creative intuition and bring it further into action in my life — through art, design, writing.
But the new “one big thing” is training for and completing a marathon in 2017, my 40th year. I’ve already proven most of the benchmarks and have already begun on the road to achievement as a practice and a way of life. Small goals make big goals happen.
So now, I’m simply stating the big goal intentionally to anyone that reads this.
High Resolution is over rated. A little bit of grain is warm. Something that looks good in analog and feels comfortable on the eyes. There’s something to be said for that.
In 2016 I’ve committed to doing at least one ink drawing every week. That’s an easy goal. A low resolution. Persistence and consistency matter more than ambition with these things.
2 years ago, 2014, my resolution was to work out once a week without fail. I did it all year. Easy. I didn’t even define “work out.” Just committed to an hour of effort a week. Last year I upped it to attempt 500 running miles with a minimum of 365. I almost hit 400 by years’ end. But if I had set out to do that in 2014 the thought of it might have worn me out.
These days, Ben Sayers is an emergency room doctor by profession. He made this great set of compositions with his turntables when he was in school circa 2001. Most of the narrative in the tracks revolved around science and chemistry but it segued to the mind, imagination and spirit — connecting an array of brilliant threads.
We were both big fans of Rob Swift and Prince Paul. You can hear that influence in most of the tracks. Humor woven into really imaginative soundscapes and rhythm.
I recently came across the Emily Dickinson poem “Hope.” It took me a minute to pinpoint how I knew the words. I remembered it from his project. So I asked him to let me upload the whole set to YouTube as a playlist.
“But he learned more from the river than Vasudeva could teach him. He learned from it continually. Above all, he learned from it how to listen with a still heart, with a waiting open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinions.”
– Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
This image is a composite made of 3 separate photos taken last Friday in the Northern Neck during the Blue Moon.