FRAME LINES ‘Well I may not be you, and you not me’
Nelson Balaban | Anja Bjorli Dahle | Kareena Zerefos | Nikki Pinder | Cat MacInnes |Clara Mata | Gregory Myers | Hugo Tornelo | Jen Corace | The Ideas Festival |Rob Ryan | Ian Bowers | Nick Kind | Korshi Dosoo | Jennifer Washburn | Stacey Roy | Lisa Camillo | Sarah Fell | Thomas Engleby | Stu Hatton | Luke Maclean | Daniel Wilcox | Sergio Ortiz | Michael Lee Johnson | Jacqueline Cioffa | Alma Sinan | Sherry O’keefe | Laurie Churchill | Abby Levine | Hannah Tinti | 1
Frame Lines #7 Illustrators and the Imagination Note from the editors...
Sarah Nolan and Jeremy Thomas I’ve always admired illustrators. There is a special quality about a person who is able to translate a vision, a burst of thought into something tangible, something beautiful. A connection between their mind and hand, creating a superimposition of the imaginary onto the tactile, a breath of imagination into a swirl of life. The human imagination runs wild with scenes both sweet and unsavoury. Dreams of love, escape, laughter and shadow; angst and introspection, enlightenment and shame. There’s a duality present in the subconsious mind, a struggle in all of us at times, between what’s fact and fiction, dark and light or wrong and right. The hero or the thief. Illustrators can access this nether-realm to bring forth scenes of imaginary brilliance into the world of the conscious, the world of the senses. Sometimes disturbing, sometimes wonderful, always expressive, the artist’s mind is a treasure trove, a pandora’s box, a portal of creativity. Many artists featured on the following pages have always had a creative streak. All of them have persisted in their art form, and now many are living their dream – working as an illustrator. The artists featured have come from all over the world, diverse areas and diverse backgrounds. Likewise, their art and their areas of employment are similarly varied. We’ve attempted to gather a cross-section of illustration, but by no means is this the limit to what is possible. In the world of illustration, anything goes, and it is an area where artists are able to really show their flair and push the boundaries of creativity. Through our interviews and bios found beyond, we have tried to give you a little insight into what drives these artists to create as they do. We explore their processes, their inspiration and how they trod, or indeed are still treading the path to success and fulfilment; and even a little insight of the industry out there that supports hopeful professionals. As usual, our poets and writers have been working hard, plumbing the depths of their imaginations for the descriptive pieces you’ll find throughout. We’ll also go inside the minds of artist Abby Levine and author Hannah Tinti, both from the United States, and profile the Ideas Festival, where innovation and invention are celebrated in all their forms. All in all, we have a bumper issue of imagination and expression, packaged with the style and enthusiasm you have come to expect from Frame Lines. We are immensely proud, as always, to showcase these talented individuals in this magazine, and we hope you enjoy the delights found on the pages beyond. 100% Pure Imagination: Straight from the artist’s mind. Jeremy Thomas and Sarah Nolan
* Contributors bios and links to web sites can be found at the Frame Lines web site - www.framelines.org The articles appearing within this publication represent the opinions and attitudes of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or editorial team. The reproduction of any editorial or images without prior permission is strictly prohibited. All Photography, music and all works appearing in this magazine are protected by ©copyright Reproduction without expressed permission from the artist is strictly prohibited. All images are copyright of the artist.
Contents FRAME LINES ‘Well I may not be you, and you not me’
Artists and Writers Nelson Balaban
Illustrator // Brazil
Anja Bjorli Dahle Illustrator // Norway Kareena Zerefos Nikki Pinder
Illustrator // Australia
Illustrator // England
Illustrator // Australia
Clara Mata Illustrator // Spain Gregory Myers Illustrator // Australia edition
Ned Evans | Nick Kind | Andrew Kidman | Yusuke Hanai | Richard Murphy | Jim Oatley | Lisa Bow | Ashliee MahRiee | Jess Sides| Jared Ward | Roy McConnell Tom | Petahegoose | Damien Luciano Venuto | Graham Nunn | Chris Pash| Joseph B. Cleary | Natasha Narayan | Jessica Paige
Imagination Imagination - the ability to spontaneously generate images within one’s own mind. Some say it helps to provide meaning to experience and understanding to knowledge; and can be the fundamental facility through which people make sense of the world. A tool for training the imagination is the listening to storytelling around us and in chosen words is the fundamental factor to ‘evoke our worlds with illustration and art, passion, music, photography, and the like’
Cover Clara Mata - Culture for fun
Hugo Tornelo Illustrator // Portugal Jen Corace Illustrator // USA Korshi Dosoo
Illustrator // Australia
Rob Ryan Prints’n’Cuts // England Ian Bowers Surf Artist // Australia Maher Diab Illustrator // Lebanon Jennifer Washburn // Writer Stacey Roy // Poet Lisa Camillo
Sarah Fell // Writer Thomas Engleby // Writer Stu Hatton // Poet Luke Maclean Daniel Wilcox
// Poet // Poet
Sarah Nolan - Director
Jeremy Thomas - Editor
Michael Lee Johnson // Poet
Lisa Bow - Senior Creative Contributor
Lorraine Berry - Hanna Tinti review
Nick Kind - What We See Laurie Churchill - Abby Levine Interview Renee Wiggan - Writer Simon Ofer Chen - Proof Reading
Sherry O’keefe // Writer Abby Levine // Artist Hana Tinti
Cat MacInnes Illustrator // Australia
Cat completed an Honours degree in Graphic Design at Swinburne University, and spent one semester studying Fine Art and Illustration at Hong-ik University in Seoul, South Korea. After working for the odd design studio she decided to establish her own illustration & design business. Her work has appeared in Illustration publications such as 3x3 Magazine, Luerzerâ€™s Archive: 200 Best Illustrators Worldwide and Typotastic.
RRR poster 5
CD artwork for the album Simple City by Bogenschutzer(Matt Archer)
Tell us Cat, were you simply born an illustrator, or was it something that you were interested in and developed with practice? Ever since I was little I've loved drawing, painting and making things. When I was 2, I stuck two B-shaped nail brushes together, handed them to Dad and said, “butterfly!”. In fact, I’m going through another butterfly phase now, 24 years later! Dad kept the butterfly and it’s nice to look back and see that I was always thinking visually and into creating things. At school, in geography class I would get really excited when we got to draw a map or illustrate some layers of rock sediment! And I was always much better at drawing pretty borders and headings than I was at learning about what was going on in the lessons. However, it wasn’t until much later that I realised that my real passion was illustration and that I may even be able to make a living out of it. This realisation happened during my 6 month stay in Seoul, South Korea. I studied Fine Art and Design at Hong-ik University where illustration was a big thing. I was so inspired by the culture, the people and the passion that everyone had for art. I now work for myself in a studio with other freelance designers and illustrators. I work for many clients including ACMI, Mattel, Mitre 10 and Oxford University Press. I enjoy the challenge of meeting the brief in a new and creative way and when I am not illustrating for clients I am illustrating for myself. This is something I find myself doing, whether I want to or not! It is something I need to do, and I always have. Oh, it sounds so corny, but it’s true!
Can you describe the processes you go through when working on an illustration from start to finish? With most jobs I receive an email or a call from a client who briefly describes the job and asks if I’m available. I will then send through a quote for approval. Once the quote is approved I begin work on the job. I usually do some research for reference material (unless supplied by the client), sketch some roughs and send them through to see if I’m on the right track! Then the illustration refined and sent via email or disk to the client. Which programs do you find most helpful when illustrating/ animating? I use Adobe Illustrator for my vector illustrations. And I use a wacom tablet rather than a mouse as it’s more comfortable and easy for me. It’s just like using a pen, but on the computer rather than paper! And for some of my hand painted work I use Adobe Photoshop to make touch-ups or to change a colour. I have never been very naturally good with technology but now I have to be. And now I even enjoy it! Working on the computer all day long requires me to understand many different processes and ways of thinking. I still have panics every now and then when my printer does something strange! But once I calm down, it’s easily fixed. From where do you find your inspiration; whose work do you admire within illustration and animation or from outside your own medium of work? Some of my favourites include: Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi, Graham Annable animations, Uncle Remus Golden Books, Richard Scarry, Roland Harvey and Jim Woodring.
I’m also inspired by artists and musicians, two artists in particular and for similar reasons. Since I was a little girl I have loved Frida Kahlo’s work. And John Lennon’s music. This is because their works are from the heart and they were both extremely brave and honest in the work they produced. This inspires me when it comes to creating personal illustrations or artwork for myself alone. Without wanting to sound too corny, I am inspired by colour combinations and patterns I see in nature. I’m inspired by ancient Japanese art, and occasionally I’m inspired by dreams I have! The subconscious is often very helpful. What is your favourite style of illustration? I love the sweet and humorous style of E. H. Shepard, Mark Ryden’s bold and surreal paintings, and clean 3D vector illustrations appeal to me too. I have many favourites! How do you keep your work fresh? Do you need to consciously adapt your style or does it progress naturally? I feel that I am always evolving, whether I want to or not! Sometimes I want to go back and recreate something I did 5 years ago and it doesn’t work. I am always learning something new with each job I do. And so I am constantly gaining more skills and learning new ways of doing things. This excites me and is one of the things I love most about my job. Is there any advice you can give about your experiences that would be interesting or helpful to others aspiring to succeed in this field? I am glad that I studied Graphic Design because I learnt so much about design principles and layout and how to work with clients and solve visual problems. I think that if illustration is what you want to do then it doesn’t 8 //www.framelines.org
matter how you get there or what paths you travel beforehand. Everything can be inspiring. My main bit of advice is not to listen to teachers if they tell you, “You won’t be able to find work”, It’s really tough out there” or “maybe think about dentistry instead”! The trick is to believe in yourself and to only take the advice which is helpful. I would also suggest to aspiring illustrators to enter work into competitions and submit work to illustration annuals. In 2007 I thought I might as well send in some work to European annual Luerzer’s Archive: 200 Best Illustrators Worldwide. To my delight my work was chosen and this has led to interest from other organisations, such as New York annual 3x3. It is certainly worth submitting work overseas as it can, of course, lead to much more exposure and more opportunities. If you could go on assignment to one show anywhere in the world you wanted; where and what would it be, and why? It might be the upcoming Pictoplasma show in France. I’m very interested in character design and all the different ways of creating them. Pictoplasma always does amazing things! Where would you like your work to lead you? Have you any aspirations or plans for the future? I do portraits of famous musicians and actors in my spare time. And my portrait of Björk has been selected to feature on the cover of the latest edition of New York annual 3 x 3: the Magazine of Contemporary Illustration. What I would love is for Björk to see it, and love it! I’d really like to do more of these portraits and for it to become a bigger part of my work.
Pollen night air aroused drawling with spring * pollen delivering words like raw silk through the secret caverns of my nose * in the middle of the street, also high on pollen, dead kids play lazy karate * halogen lamp oversees glossy â€˜for saleâ€™ sign, spraying its light, mistakenly conjuring tilts of red from garden roses * on a nature strip, legless ergonomic chair implies a silent office of Zen
Nelson Balaban Illustrator // Brazil
I am a young art director and designer born and raised in Southern Brazil. I work from the home studio for a big list of clients, including acclaimed brands and magazines, respected professionals of fashion and the biggest advertising agencies of the world. The good side of the story is that I still find time to produce personal experimental artwork and enjoy the smell of wet grass of shiny Curitiba. I began messing out with Photoshop and scanned drawings and sketches when I was 13, then I met 3D and typography at the age of 15. I first worked for a major client at the age of 17, that was the famous Brazilian band Cansei de Ser Sexy. I believe that I have always been appreciating beauty and developing my sense of aesthetics ever since my childhood, back when I used to answer “Drawer” to questions like “What are you going to do for a living, when you get grown up?”.
Jefferson Kulig “Tecnorganica” Untitled
Omegacode “Resistance” Ears On The Wind (Untitled Series)
Gypsies and Pixie Dust by Jacqueline Cioffa
I exist therefore I am, mistakes and imperfections one and all. I don’t want to be considered an artist. I want to be thought of as a student of art. I want to ingest the human condition, live and breathe it. I want to eradicate all traces of ego and relate. I want to roam the globe and hear the stories, while not missing out on the neighbourhood tales right next door. I am a travellers and connoisseur of fortune and mishap. I am a believer in fate and love and a hopeless romantic at heart. I have fallen in love many times over, sometimes while others hadn’t. I am a gypsy leaping joyously headfirst into the new and unknown, forever anxious for a fresh start. So much of our lives are spent in the world of what if, instead of the place that is right now. I am present, I am now and I am looking up towards the sky and watching as the pixie dust falls. For today I will repeat that statement over and over, every time my mind starts to wander to a different road. I am present, I am now and I am looking up to the sky. Watch for it, you might miss it if you’re not looking towards the heavens as the pixie dust falls. I miss my friend. She was 90 years young and taught me many life lessons. I started visiting her out of duty and obligation and continued out of delight. She once said to me, “I wish I had known you when I was younger, we would’ve been great friends.” And I replied, “You know me now.” I only realized the weight and validity of that statement by her passing and what it truly meant. To spend time with another being and listen to their choices, the many paths and winding roads. I love all kinds of travels: roads carved out by dirt and gravel, uphill wood and branch-covered trails, 6-lane freeways that go nowhere in particular, Route 66 and the generation beat and all that trip meant. I adore white finite sandy beaches with no end in sight, and enjoy the lazy comfort of a trip taken in an old woman’s living room filled with black and white pictures and endless stories of a life well-spent. There were many days when I didn’t want to get on the train and make the hour-long commute to her tiny modest east village apartment. She’d tell me the same story over and over. And I’d listen intently as if hearing it for the first time and nod my head, a smile on my face. I believed her when she spoke to me, for I could see the pixie dust and angels flying all around. I’d study her face, the lines sketched deeply over time, and listen to her travels and I’d love her all over again. I knew the journey downtown was worth it. And our voyages were forever melded and meshed and she was no longer a little old lady that was alone. She was a storyteller who was deeply loved, admired and respected; an old woman who had 90 years, but was forever young in my heart. When I would leave her apartment she would give me a hug and say, “Get home safe.” And I felt giddy and well-loved. I was a journeyman whose life had a purpose. She made me miss my mother who is still here, but far enough away. You don’t really have to go anywhere to be a traveller if you stay alert. Sometimes others make the journey for you. I remember curling up under a crocheted blanket with my mother on our cozy couch in wintertime. I was five and we would magically cover our heads and end up in Ireland. The land of County Cork and the Blarney stone and dumb Irish luck. The land where her father left the only home he knew at eight and crossed the seas towards a new beginning. He would live stoically and walk tall throughout life. He would make a family that would prosper and procreate and live on. His would be a life filled with honor and purpose and the quiet elegance of simplicity in a rural American town. It would be a small village, no place in particular, but his journey would be filled with substance galore. Stories have been the essence of my life. Since I was old enough to recall I’ve been asking my mom about her stories so I could get the tales right. I would travel back in time with her to her youth and the trip made sense. That’s how I’d grow into the gypsy with a love for words and new undiscovered lands in her heart.
I’d travel the globe. I’d walk the Champs Elysee in Paris savoring a chocolate crepe. I’d smell the age of the earth rise up from her streets and admire the Seine by its yellow lights and the dark. I’d fall in love with Chagall and the Pompidou and grow to appreciate Brie and Sunday afternoons and La Tour Eiffel from the park. I’d scour flea markets in search of the perfect vintage leather coat. I’d fall out of love with a man and cry real tears and learn to hate the person lying next to me. I’d wish I was anywhere but Paris with this lover who had outstayed his welcome and squashed my zest for adventure with every beat of his soured heart. The days would become long and the streets would appear dirty and food would lose all flavor as I lost my appetite. Summer would feel like an old maid and I would silently pray for wintertime when he would pack his bags and leave me for good. A finality that would lead to a different kind of voyage, a much needed repose from an outdated life. Spring in Paris would magically reappear much like the Easter bunny and I’d fall head over heals in love with a different kind of man. He’d make music in the rain and Paris would come to life again. His would be a short visit, but long enough to renew my broken heart. The city would appear pretty again - she was soft like talc and every bridge oozed newfound sex appeal. Sometimes love appears for a mere millisecond, yet your journey is forever changed and your lives are intertwined. You remain not together, no. However bittersweet the visit, the gleam of admiration in his eye and his presence in your world is felt. His trip makes your trip valid and you feel the sparkles, accept the magic and gladly move on. Steadfastly, you recognize your good fortune. You tuck it away in your hope chest and you walk straight and tall. There are many beaches to visit, many stars to count, many fish and sea turtles to swim with. There are rickety old wooden bridges to be crossed and mountains to trek. There are fears to be faced head on. There are dreams to be realied, cards to be dealt and bags to be packed and unpacked. I’ve loved all sorts of travel. Trips to exotic lands in first class, the ripped leather seat of a beat-up bus on my way back home, a road traveled so frequently I know every sign, every rest stop along the way. I love the endless possibility of a new road, but as I grow older I learn that I am a deep lover of the familiar journey and all the comfort she holds. A look shared, a glimmer of hope, pixie dust and perpetual movement. I exist now. I am present doing nothing in particular. I am ok with that. I am full. I am a traveler, a student of art, and a lover of the human condition. I want to be pliable; I want to bend like the next road I find myself upon. I want to savor the journey; I need to remind myself to look up. Remember to keep looking up. It’s there, the pixie dust. I know it is; I’ve seen it. It’s the infinite possibility that a battered old duffle bag holds hanging in my closet whispering my name.
Anja Bjorli Dahle Illustrator // Norway
I am a Norwegian illustrator and artist who loves looking at the small things in life, next to big issues such as politics and society. I believe that it helps us get a better perspective at life, if we consider everything equal and important. A little bird taking a sand bath deserves the same attention as the US election. A little note that someone has lost on the street can give just as much meaning to you as todayâ€™s newspaper. This is what I want to express in my work.
â€œI have always been drawing, and there has never been any doubt what field I want to work in. It is just a part of me and who I am.â€?
Waitin on title
by Alma Sinan
She yearns to escape into dreams. For days, her sleep has been as thin as vellum. I feel the weariness in her limbs and the aching of her mind, confined by reality. Like all creatures stalked by wakefulness, she has lost sense of herself. She lowers the shades of her eyelids and watches – waiting, hoping… “Please,” she whispers, and I hear her. My pen pricks the parchment of her mind and she is anesthetised. Her imagination, thick and rainbow-skinned like oil, seeps onto the page. I smile and dip my pen into the glorious palette. Her agony rips through me and I cry out in surprise. My pen slashes upward, creating the lip of barrier. Possessed by her pain, I sketch in the details of her prison. A crumbling wall curls around her. Ginger lichen smears the stones and I cross hatch the obsidian flush of shadows. She awakens at the bottom of a dry, ancient well. I feel her terror. Quickly I relieve the darkness by drawing in a bright, crescent moon. The light spills in and illuminates her body. Her skin is stretched by pillows of fat. Through her, I feel how the excess flesh smothers her spirit. I peer into her face. Something resembling a scarlet mould invades her chin, nose and forehead. I try to look into her eyes but they are concealed behind a veil of greasy hair. “This is not you,” I whisper, but I know that she can’t hear me. This is who she thinks she is. This is what the waking world tells her she is. The walls rumble. She scrambles, looking for a place to hide. Dust showers her. Every stone in the wall of the well cracks open and the rocks peel back their lids. Eyes. Hundreds of them look down upon her. She crouches, trying to hide from their cruel gaze. Then, the pupil within each eye puckers, forming lips and tongues. The chamber starts to speak. Voices rise together and accuse her with the authority of a chorus. “You’re worthless, fat, stupid, disgusting!” The taunts tear holes in her flesh. Acid words seep in, corroding her body, her soul. “Silence them,” I plead. “Open your eyes and they’ll speak no more!” The muttering of demons continues. She whimpers and covers her ears. My heart weeps for her and every eye in the chamber weeps too. Tears splash down the walls, baptizing her. Her arms thrash as the water level rises rapidly. Salty tears lap at her wounds and she screams out in pain. “Be still and let me bathe your hurt,” I tell her. Her head tilts to the side, as if she’s heard me. Gradually, her panic subsides. The well fills with tears and the liquid lifts her off her feet. “See how light you are!” I murmur. A flame glimmers deep within her. I gently blow upon the embers of her spirit and the glow spreads within her body. Her soul, like a thousand candles, shines through her translucent skin, illuminating the murky water. The chamber floods and she floats closer and closer to the opening of the well. She treads water for a while and looks up at the sky. Slowly, she extends a graceful arm and grasps the crescent moon. It reels her out of the well and into an aubergine twilight, gleaming with polished stars. As she hangs from the moon, I notice how beautiful she has become. The well of tears has washed away the grime and fear of the waking world. Around her slender body, I shade in a frosted opal gown that shimmers with the colours of her imagination. Peacock wings unfurl out of the two strokes I draw between her shoulder blades.
“You can let go now and fly on your own,” I whisper. She shuts her eyes and sharply exhales. With the greatest faith, she releases her grip on the moon and floats in the amethyst twilight. She sways, unsure of herself at first, but soon discovers that the slightest movement engages her wings. She giggles, then, like a comet, shoots through the sky. I watch as she pirouettes, tickling the twilight with her wings. She skips along the edge of the horizon and the heavens echo with her laughter. She waltzes through the constellations that bejewel the sky, each star a mirror that reflects her true self. She pauses before one of them and peers into the crystalline surface. “Do you see how beautiful you are?” I ask, tracing her luminescent image into every facet of the star. She gazes at her reflection. “Who are you?” she asks. What a pity she can not recognize herself. “It is you, your soul.” “I see myself, but who are you?” I freeze. “Your voice is so familiar and I can see your shadow,” she says. “Won’t you show yourself to me?” Should I answer her? I put down my pen, wondering what to do. Her hands press against the surface of the star. “This is all just a dream. I can do anything,” she says. Palm to palm with her reflection, she smiles and steps forward. The images meld as she steps through the mirror. Sparks explode as she crosses through the quicksilver barrier. I wrap my cloak closer around me and pull the cowl across my face. She stands before me, an extraordinary being of light. “Is it you I have to thank for all this?” She asks. “I require no thanks,” I say quickly and a tremor shudders through me. It is rare that such confrontations occur. “Who are you?” “Morpheus, illustrator of dreams.” “You! It was you who created all these beautiful visions.” “The visions are yours -- your imagination the ink and sleep the canvas. My pen only fleshes out images that already exist within you...and you are exquisite. I merely held up the mirror to show you what was already there. Remember that when you return.” Tears glisten in her eyes. Slowly she approaches. Before I can retreat into darkness, she reaches out and grabs my hand. An icy current spirals through me. My mind reels. I step back, but her grip is firm. “Thank you for holding up the mirror.” She leans forward and kisses my hand. The ink of her imagination is wet upon my fingers and it smudges across her lips. I feel the softness of her mouth and the dampness of her tears. I tremble and shut my eyes. A mortal kissing an immortal’s stained hands – The light around her intensifies and her form quickly starts to fade. “No,” she cries out, as she’s pulled away from me and back into the waking world. Before the last light of her is gone, I grab my pen. Letters fall across the page in an inky filigree, forming one word: Remember.
Kareena Zerefos Illustrator // Australia
Holding hands 27
From beginning to end, what approach do you normally take with your work? I spend a lot of time thinking about ideas, sketching little thumbnails and collecting inspiration and reference material before I officially put pencil to paper. Once I’ve done all of this, I get all of my materials together and will start with a fine pencil drawing, then I work up layers of softer pencil, Biro, felt tip, ink and gouache, and sometimes add a little Letraset to finish. For commercial projects I often work on each layer of a drawing separately and take it into Photoshop to put it all together. I can work in some extra textures, add random elements and sometimes I’ll work in Illustrator to do a little extra colouring too. Kareena Zerefos
As an intro for the readers out there, tell us a little about yourself, and how you came to be known as an illustrator. Growing up on acreage in Dural, Sydney, I spent a lot of time climbing trees and over barbed wire fences, horse riding and playing with animals. I always loved drawing too, unicorns and fantasy lands mostly! After school, I went on to study design at the College of Fine Arts and worked as a graphic designer for a couple of years, moonlighting as an illustrator just for fun. Last year I was lucky enough to be able to drop the day job and put all of my time into illustration.
From where and who does your inspiration come from? I am inspired by many contemporary illustrators and artists such as Cecilia Carlstedt, Audrey Kawasaki, Eduardo Receife, Banksy, Kill Pixie, Carson Ellis, Anthony Lister… They all use different techniques and mediums to me – oil painting, collage, digital – but I find they have all had an influence on my work, and inspired me to start doing illustration/art. The most defining moment that inspired me to follow the path of illustration/ art was when I saw the figurative and portrait work of early 20th century Austrian artist Egon Schiele at the Leopold Museum in Vienna in 2006. I’m also inspired by classic stories and fairytales, like Bambi, Thumbelina and the BFG, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet films [particularly The City of Lost
Children]; my collection of old super-8 footage from my dad’s childhood, vintage postcards and photos, children’s books, my italian greyhound called Pelle and delicate fine bone china tea sets… the resident owl that lives in the mango tree behind my place. I’ve been quite inspired by steam punk aesthetics and dystopian fantasies, although this hasn’t started coming through in my work a whole lot let.
In hindsight, would you have done anything differently? In hindsight, the only thing I would have done differently would be to have had the confidence to start sooner.
How would you compare your work to that of your contemporaries?
Definitely! To be honest, most of time I find if it’s not working, I just leave it and work on something else for a while. If I’m on a deadline and I don’t have that kind of luxury, I’ll have a look at books and websites, which usually helps to get things started.
I enjoy working with other creative types the most - musicians, designers etc. Everyone has their own unique style and use different methods, so they’re hard to compare... a lot of the illustrators/artists that I have exhibited with have a stronger, bolder, more pop art aesthetic where mine is very delicate and subtle. It’s always an interesting contrast. How do you continue to push your work in a forward direction? Most of the time I feel that my work has a kind of natural progression, just because I find I might start feeling restless about doing the same thing all the time so I‘ll become interested in a new technique or material, or a different subject matter. I find that my commercial and commissioned work can push my style into different directions too. At the moment I’m working on some artwork for Bob Evans [aka Kevin Mitchell], which is a lot of fun and I recently finished a couple of pieces for Von Zipper. Last year I worked on a lot of great projects.
Do you ever have creative slumps? If so, how do you pull yourself out of them?
What do you do for fun when you’re not working? I play fetch with Pelle [my puppy], draw more, go to the beach, travel, see live bands, do some exercise, eat thai food, watch films, ride horses, drink a soy mocha with a friend, go to art shows… If you’d just won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy? I’d want to buy a nice terrace that I could live and work from, but I’m sure I’d need a few months to find the right place, so the first thing would be a new Mac Pro... my computer is on death row at the moment!
Shibui print 30 //www.framelines.org
Carnival horse Forty dreams
Hot air balloon 32 //www.framelines.org
Sebastien Girl with rat on head
Lion 34 //www.framelines.org
Blue birds Hello owl
Jeremyville bumblebee 36 //www.framelines.org
Bumble bee girl 37
Courageous Puppet by Luke Maclean
Courageous Puppet Dear John, tonight is New Year’s Eve and I find myself confined to the seclusion of a hospital bed and the staple furnishings which so often accommodate the dreadful experience of surgery, with the exception of the standard bedside flowers. Why no love you ask? Self inflicted pain. You see, I had to bite my lip to get myself in the situation I am in and it only seems fitting that I do the same now. Why decide to suck it up on a celebratory day such as this? Well, the answer to that question is a funny one. The act of deviance I embarked upon led to a long list of similar followers of individuality. “Followers of individuality”, sounds a bit odd doesn’t it? It seems the ripple effect of a generation keen on branding has left me amongst the herd of formers and conformers who are lucky to get on a waiting list. Why there is a shortage of competent laser dermatologists is beyond me. Nobody saw it coming. Have we ever seen a medical profession boom over the consequence of art? No, but it got me thinking and possibly conjuring up a few theories as to how I’ve come to find myself in this predicament. It isn’t easy to be yourself. In fact it may actually be the hardest thing to do in life. We don’t live in a society which fashions individuality. We put on a show because we can relate to the mediums which influence us as a whole. We communicate under the confinement of what is deemed as acceptable and expected. A stumbling stage fright of parodies and a pull-tab fateful embrace of masterful marionette moments A hunchback prances upon us A jailbird’s glow erupts… In some cases of our defiance of what may be considered the norm is in all actuality a subsequent marketed culture, derived from the same attitudes we originally hoped to avoid. The ongoing reliance on media influence and necessary illusions leave us with sub, pop, counter, and anti bullshit. Are there only two sides to the fence!? Happenstance scissors debate string orchestrating folly for calamity’s indifference and the plight of my posturing
A junkyard prowess in meadows… Follow these steps to a freedom of expression that will leave you feeling empty, soulless and yes, cliché. But don’t tell anyone about the short term satisfaction. Instead, replenish your false identity with the latest trend of omniscient fashion and we’ll call it addiction. Mediocrity tempts me her boxcar racing rats its wheels pushing pennies flat for a prairie boy’s pastime Her only escape, a duress of the heart An empty canvas beckoning one nourishing stroke… Tattoos which are plainly visible are very bold statements. They attract an audience and not only invite but encourage people to judge me. The passing preconceived notions have prepared me for the ensuing sympathetic stares reserved for the likes of lepers and burn victims, at least until these bandages come off. But what do I care what other people think? So much so that my body screams fuck the world, take notice and come to the quick conclusion that I don’t care what you think without ever really getting to know me. The reason the action is one which takes notice or regard is obvious. I am saying this is who I am, while the rest of you fart around pretending that you’ve got it all figured out at best. I revel in a robust form of self-expression only to find myself pigeonholed and victimised by a bird’s eye view. The ongoing process of life culminates a magnitude of wishes over the backdrop of logic and reason.
Gregory Myers Illustrator // Australia
Born in Sydney, Australia, Gregory Myers studied at the School of Art, Australian National University in the Graphic Investigation Workshop under Czech printmaker Petr Herel. After working as a designer and illustrator producing educational materials, Myers went to Japan on a Japanese government post-graduate research scholarship and studied under Akira Kurosaki in the Printmaking Department at Kyoto Seika University. Since then he has been working freelance as an illustrator, working mainly with scraperboard and pen & ink. He also uses Photoshop and Painter. His artwork has been published in the in-flight magazines of JAL, ANA & Cathay-Pacific; The Nikkei Weekly, The Mainichi Weekly newspaper, Kyoto Journal, Tokyo Journal, Japan International Journal, Soccer Digest, Slugger, Sports Yeah!, Bunshun Capitao, Whole Earth Review; to name but a few.... In 1988 he was a prize-winner in the 5th Noma Concours for Childrenâ€™s Picture Book Illustrations (UNESCO) and his work toured with The 3rd World-Picture-Book Illustrations Exhibition to Tokyo and Bratislava.
Firefly Banana boy (year of the monkey)
Sherry O’keefe Poet
A Bag of Made-Up Words In dem winterhausen where I snowshoed in retreat, I’m face-down on the plank floor, playing with words to suit the mood I’m in. Mellowdrama, Melancrapeola, Melantequilacholy. Where is the worm when I need to eat it? Silence drags across the room, settles on the rag rug in the entryway, waiting for footstep shadows to break the dumb sunlight crawling through the threshold of my bolted door. When the world looks at you, what does it see? “I don’t know,” my daughter once told her teacher. “I’m too small for anyone to see.” Invisible. Indeshitable, incapable, impossiloveable. Maybe he is travelling tough. Riding light, spurs digging, reining in at my front porch. Maybe he’ll storm the door with Eastwood words of firm resolution. But more likely if he comes, he’ll come carefully in barefeet, having raced from his sleepy affair, coaxing me with it-meant-nothing tidbits. Once, we watched a movie where love was revealed by never giving up. He could be waiting for me to let him in, waiting in the snow storm just like in that film. I reach for another made-up word, but they scatter like marbles across the slivered floor. I listen to them spin.
Hugo Tornelo Illustrator // Portugal
“I started drawing, and drawing, and drawing, drawing, and drawing, and drawing....then I discovered Photoshop, and Photoshopped...” “I am a 27 years old guy, living in Lisbon and just trying to do what i like, and illustration is a part of it.”
Lemur album Daily misconceptions album
Happenstance by Jacqueline Cioffa
I am lost in my own city. Most days I put on my iPod and jump into the train running around on this or that errand or job. I try to take the time to remember to actually look at the people on the train. To jot down a mental note of what’s going on around me. “Today I saw 5 blonde girls, pretty young tourists all looking at the subway map trying to decipher it, laughing out loud and I was suddenly envious.”
an Armani gown in Rome strutting down the Spanish steps, all the while secretly praying I don’t trip. There’s another one, a black and white image of me in a Moschino skirt and Dolce and Gabbana hooker heels on the streets of Milan. There are so many pictures, I’ve lost count. I have to laugh today, wondering, Who was that person? Could that really have been me? It must have been, because the images were frozen in time.
I wish I were laughing with my friends in a foreign city discovering the new and unknown. I remember that feeling well. There is something very decadent and liberating about being lost in a foreign land. If you can just stop and look at all the beauty in the strange place around you, it’s the best kind of lost to be. But, alas I’m not in a foreign land. I’m in freezing, slushy dirty New York riding the A train once again. I must have taken this trip more than 10,000 times. The monotony of the up and down, the same stops over and over again: 81st Street, the Museum of Natural History, where everyday I stop and think, God wouldn’t it be fun to go hang out in the Planetarium?; 59th Street and Columbus Circle, where I sometimes get out and go to Whole Foods for a salad, or better yet, Sheep’s Meadow and the park.
I’m sure of only one thing from those years. And they were many, more than I like to count. The camera and their photographers loved my face. I worked with the best of the best. Fabrizio Ferri and Gastel in Milan, Michel Comte in France. I was always photogenic and made a great picture. Europe always loved me and was very kind to my career, yet most of those years seem a blur. Contrary to the stereotype, there were no drugs clouding my perception. I was sober and hyperaware of my surroundings. Fancy five-star hotels, the St. Regis in Rome, the Principe di Savoia in Milan, the Hotel Meurice in Paris with the Tour Eiffel as my backdrop. There were Venetian gondola rides, glorious orange-blazed sunset-filled black-sanded beaches on some island or another.
Most days I ride downtown and then back up to 125th Street and home again. Thank God for the music blasting in my ears to kill the time. Right now Yusuf Islam and Joni Mitchell are helping to ease my boredom and bring some sunshine into these long winter months. Then I have a half-thought. Let me just lift my head and look up and look around me. I just might be missing out on someone or something new and different. Let’s see; there’s a pretty put-together black woman with a braided bun perched atop her head. She’s talking to an older gray haired man sitting across from me. I secretly wonder to myself, what is their connection? Are they co-workers, lovers, did they just meet on the train and strike up a conversation? In a city of 8 million-plus where most of us wander our days alone they intrigue me, because somehow, I’m stuck. I don’t know when exactly it happened or how. It just did. Limbo arrived like a bad habit revisiting an old friend. I do know it’s momentary and that this feeling will pass. I just need to ride it, kind of like the A-Train. Sooner or later the ride will smooth itself out. For right now, I’m a visitor in my own home, in my own city. For a gypsy who spent half her life living out of a bag (sometimes a chic Prada bag and other times a plain old duffle bag depending on cash flow), that is the worst kind of lost to be.
Alone. Most of the time, when the job was done I went back to my room and was alone. Very, very young and alone. I was too young to be alone, too young to live that kind of life. To actually take hold of it and appreciate all the privilege that came along with it. I couldn’t quite get a grasp on it. I was lost in a world where I existed on some fantastical superficial level; it just never could fulfill me. I never fit in the supermodel’s skin. My mom keeps my past in a trunk full of pictures in her house in a forgotten room. Sometimes when I feel nostalgic, I go home and open that chest. I hardly recognize that person anymore. She no longer resembles the woman I’ve become. I am lost today when I look in the mirror, because I’m still learning how to fit in my new and improved skin.
When I look at my face in the mirror today, I am lost in my own skin. I flip through old issues of Italian Vogue, French Elle or even Land’s End with pictures of me from my past with curiosity. I see the page, and shake my head half-heartedly, trying to convince myself that it is in fact me. There I am in full make-up wearing expensive Bulgari jewels and
Illustrator // USA
Could you sketch in your background for us, where you grew up and why you decided to become an illustrator? I grew up in the suburbs of southern New Jersey and I’ve always been the sort of person who is happier with a lot of alone time. I spent a good deal of my time growing up in my bedroom, drawing. My mom would enrol me in after school and summer art programs... so I have always had support insofar as that is concerned. In fact it was my mom who suggested that we look into art schools for college. My visual perspective has always had a narrative quality to it. I like telling stories even if it is only a single panel editorial illustration. I also like to work under tight deadlines... if I have too much time to work on a project I tend to change my ideas over and over again. Was there a person from your childhood who encouraged you to pursue your artistic talent? My mom was definitely my greatest cheerleader. Do you remember the very first piece of art that you worked up? The first paying job I worked on was a piece for Cricket Magazine in 1998. If you can, describe your journey on the road to success in your field. I graduated RISD in 96 with a BFA in illustration, but due to personal events I sort of dropped out for awhile. I didn't want to chain myself to the illustration career path right out of school, I wanted to travel, move around a bit and give myself some experiences. I turned 27 in Seattle, working retail, and I did a cover piece for The Portland Mercury: Portland, Oregon's city paper. It was then and there that I knew what I wanted to do, that I wasn't going to be able to do it in Seattle. I moved back to Providence, RI where life was more affordable and I had a community of people invested in similar interests. The cover job turned into a monthly job with the paper, that caught the eye of a Portland gallery which gave me shows and eventually represented me. The gallery work took off, far more than the illustration work and I think that it helped me to hone my style and my visual voice.
Maybe a year or two into this process I received a letter from Chronicle Books, offering me the illustration job for Little Pea. I had sent them postcards and mailings maybe two years before and was 'on file' with them. My patience had finally paid off and the ball really started to roll. Were there any particular obstacles that you needed to overcome? I think in the beginning of any career, learning patience can be pretty tricky. I started or concentrated on my career right before the internet became a popular place for illustration portfolios. It just didn't exist. I spent a lot of time sending out mailers and tear sheets, had little money to do so, and heard back from a very small percentage of what I sent out. During that time I learned a lot about patience and persistence. And so how long have you been working as an illustrator? I became serious about becoming an illustrator when I was 27. I had bits and pieces of work before that and did a lot of pro-bono pieces. But 27 was the turning point.... so I would say eight years and I have been full time (no day jobs) for the past four years. What was the best piece of advice you received since you've begun your career? The best piece of advice came from an RISD instructor of mine, Oren Sherman. He always said that if you end up with a fifty dollar job be sure to do a two hundred dollar job. Those weren’t his exact words - I am sure that my dollar amounts are off - but what he was essentially trying to say was that putting in the greatest effort on the smaller jobs get you the next, bigger job. What inspires you as you begin a new project? Projects and jobs are so different than what I do for gallery shows. I think of myself as being inspired when I do gallery work... because it's whatever I want to do. It's all me. With illustration projects or jobs it's different. It's a little more dry. That's not to say that it stays that way. It’s just that it starts out as someone else’s vision and as it comes together, it goes back and forth and I become more involved.
Corace tentacle 49
Oceans donâ€™t freeze 50 //www.framelines.org
Would you say that a mechanical or manual process (computers as opposed to pen and paper) has a more important role in your work? Why? I don't really rely on computers very often. Because I generally work in children's books all of the artwork gets sent to the publisher for scanning. I do touch ups from time to time for editorial work, but that doesn't happen that often. So I would say that the manual process is more important. What is your process when working with clients? Can you run us through a typical job? With books I have an agent that I work with; he will find manuscripts that may be appropriate for me to work on. I read the manuscript, make some notes, get in contact with the editor and hash out a schedule of when what is due: sketches, second sketches, finals. After the initial hashing things out I start working on the character design. After character design I work on thumbnails to get down the pacing of the book. From the thumbnails I work out the first round of sketches which get emailed into the publisher. The editor and designer make notes and send back a mechanical - the book laid out with text and sketches - and from that I try to finalise the sketches so that I can start working on the final art.
Once all art is approved and finished I will work on the endpaper and cover images. At the end of it all it gets packaged, mailed in and I wait for the color proofs to come back to me. If everything with the printer is okay then that is that... a book is born. Could you reach into the depths of your mind and tell us what your dream project might be? Right now my dream project, an idea that I have had on the back burner for a while, is to create a series of paper dolls. And finally, what projects or exhibitions are you working on at this very moment? I have a solo show at the end of February at Art Star in Philadelphia. I am currently working on wrapping up my sixth book, Mathilda the Orange Balloon which is being put out by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of Harper Collins.
Bernice O Ada F
Lady W Josephine M
Bear suit 54 //www.framelines.org
Maher Diab Illustrator // Lebanon
Born in 1980 in Lebanon, Maher graduated from the Lebanese University of Fine Arts with a certificate of excellence from the Minister of Culture. As an Art Director in Advertising, he was introduced to various visual approaches from photo montage and layout design to digital illustration. His professional career has only served to enhance his creative pursuits and help him create a perfect balance between visual fine art creativity and the fast-spreading era of digital art. Maher’s attention is focused on issues that create a difference.
Can you describe how your approach to art has evolved to the myriad of styles and colour we marvel at today? My art is a reflection of what lies beneath… a description of reality, illustrated in my own words, through the language of the ancients. From the early days of my childhood, I lived in a world of my own. The statement is not a cliché as much as it's about the most accurate description I can explain my views through. At points, I used to believe that I am not from this Earth and that I belong to the moon, swimming, like a mermaid, side by side with the Loch Ness monster. I was always under the impression that I was being followed by monsters. When I grew up and it was time for me to exit my childhood cocoon, I found myself metamorphosing, within another cocoon, into a butterfly, and that is when I entered the School of Fine Arts. It was probably then that I have felt, for the first time, that I am safe from this world's ogres. It was only then that I realized that the secret gate to the outside world exists, and it actually had a key: the key of Art. I'm interested to find out from where an artist such as yourself draws inspiration. As is the case with many artists, I was fascinated by the greats before me, and as I acquired a better understanding of the visual realm, my fascination developed into a mature appreciation of self-knowledge. I am a person who believes in constant development; I look at myself now and I see that there is a vast space for me to still develop and explore the several virgin paths within me. I’m inspired by anything, from a flying bird to a dead man, all the way to an abstract placement of objects that I glance at randomly while walking to my work place. Recently, I would say my muse has been music, but such an element can’t be decided. It’s as variable as a colour spectrum.
What’s with the evil children? Did you get bitten by one when you were young? In my view, the children are not evil. They are a personification of strength at a tender stage in life. I believe that life is only beautiful when you are strong, which is why I try to portray a bright touch of life even in the bleakest and darkest conditions, where my characters are young souls in appearance but have that magical power of overcoming it all. This magical power portrayal is what I wished I could acquire when I was but a child, facing the challenging situations. Tell us about how you approach the typical piece from idea to final product. What comes first, the image or the medium? Is the medium something that evolves as the idea does, or do you just say to yourself “It’s 6:15 on a Thursday evening and I feel like airbrushing something”? The feeling is just like any other; hunger or thirst, but the only difference in experiencing an artistic feeling is the rush that comes with it; When you're hungry, you eat.. When you're thirsty, you drink, but when you feel an artistic rush, you go above and beyond, trying to channel out this rush in ways that you can't predict. As you're going with your rush's flow, you see yourself expressing it as an artwork, attending a party, a real hug from your mother, enjoying a great fuck or watching a dramatic movie that moves you to tears. Eventually, something will come out. I don’t have a favourite medium to use. In university, I started off preferring oil painting, but as I was discovering the other forms of expression I moved to pastels and swayed over to acrylic and have been stuck there since; it is a medium that gives a powerful effect and is much faster to apply than oil-based painting. Usually, when I commence working on an artwork, I start with pencils. Later, when I have created a close image of my instantaneous inspiration, I scan it and this is when the real work starts: with the computer; it is much faster and allows me to see my creation without having to wait for the oil to dry or the acrylic to solidify. At the end I’m still on my way of discovering new ways to deliver my message, so I’m moving to Montréal in January 2009 to start a course in video art, I guess I’ll never stop!
After so many hours
Sleep walking Crying elma
Waaaaaa Grand bas
It’s funny, I can deal with all the children running around, but there’s something about the hair in the mouth that grosses me out. It’s kind of pop art gone wrong. How did you come up with this one? Honestly, this artwork was a result of a deal I have made with an online friend of mine where he proposed that I create a book that contains 365 forms of art done in 14 minutes (3+6+5), daily, till the end of the year. The “hair” artwork was done in less than 10 minutes, during which I felt a compulsory force pushing me to that artistic direction. Pop Art Gone Wrong might end up being a good title for this artwork. Tell the world a little about the various creative projects in which you have participated in the Middle East. I am very curious about modern Middle Eastern art and culture, especially in countries which are currently experiencing war, corruption, controversy and oppression. War, corruption and oppression are common occurrences the world over, but they vary in intensity. Lately, with the limitless age of Internet and world wide web, everyone is tangled with one another; so, whatever that is happening in Lebanon or Brazil will affect you directly and indirectly. Then comes the role of art, the ambassador of such destructive forces, only
to be further strengthened in position the more connected we become, hence becoming more justifiable than it was ever before. In a place like the Middle East, you’ll witness an intense art movement full of shapes and colours that will scream out loud for the rest of the world to hear. Where will people be able to see your work next? In March I’m preparing for a big mobile exhibition with many artists and film-makers, under the same topic “of the individualistic impact on the environment”. Further examples of Maher's work can be found online at http:// maherartwork.blogspot.com/
What is Race?
by Jennifer Washburn
Race is a ratty old army blanket they wrap around me at birth. In stenciled white letters, it says CAUCASIAN. They put it on me so they’ll know what I am. They put it on me so I’ll know I’m white. I know I am white because I have blond hair and blue eyes. But most of my friends are different from me, and from each other. We always try to shrug off the blankets. How can you double dutch if you are wearing the blanket that says CAUCASIAN? You can’t! Because it makes you clumsy and you won’t have rhythm and you can’t even turn because you are heavy handed and that throws the black girls off. Only they can jump. They try to teach me, but lose patience quickly. It looks fun though. We see what everyone is; we ask the required questions, like, “Where are you from?” and “What religion are you?” And then to no one in particular, we whine, “Now let us take these blankets off,” but we can’t. This is how the world is. I know I am white because my mother is white. Even though her hair is strange and they called her “liver lips” while growing up, she is white. She says it’s because she is half Spanish-- from Spain, you know. I repeat this to people for many years until one day a Puerto Rican woman puts me in my place: “We are all Spanish-- from Spain, you know,” she says. Some girls only say they are Jewish. I never understand this. I am other things before I am Catholic. I am Danish and Ukrainian and Spanish-fromSpain, you know. “But what else?” I ask. They don’t know. They are just Jewish. I know I am white because they tell me I am white. I hate this stupid blanket. It’s wool, and it’s so itchy. But it’s a war, you know. I think I am allergic to lanolin. Some people aren’t, but I am. I scratch a lot and some white boy calls me a nigger lover. What the hell is that supposed to mean? I go to a brand new middle school; children are admitted based on what color they are. We are ALL bused in. They want it to represent the population of my borough, my Queens. We are the pioneers. We are the children born in 1968, the Age of Aquarius. We are the children who are supposed to manifest what our parents worked for in the 60’s. (We’ve failed. I think we’ve failed.) The first year I hang out with a lot of black girls. There is a large, fat and dark girl called Precious White. We snicker at the irony of her name. The Spanish girls don’t reach out; they stay huddled together under their blanket that says “HISPANIC”. What did they know that I didn’t? I know I am white because that is what box we check on the application. The school is named for Louis Armstrong. I learn to play the trumpet, just like Louis. Except not like him exactly because he puffs out his cheeks and that is the wrong technique. We have to do it the way the teacher wants. My first kiss is from a boy name Jorge- (Hor-hey). He is half Puerto Rican and half Black. It was a sweet, tender, delicious honey kiss. He kissed me on Junction Boulevard, near the 7. His lips were full and soft and gentle and just-moist-enough. It was perfect. His hair is in a short afro. I want to touch it but I am shy. I want him to kiss me again, but he never does. I like him, but he lives in a bad neighbourhood. It is at puberty when we start to pull our blankets back on. I don’t know who starts it really. Is it the black girls or the white girls? I don’t know why, either. But it starts. I go with the white girls because we are on the swimming team and we grow close. And because I know I am white. Race is a ratty old army blanket that we begin to hide under. Only our heads peek out, so you can see that our eyes and hair match the stenciled white letters that tell you who I am.
I know I am white, and so does everyone else. Nobody notices that my blanket has some holes in it. There is a Jewish hole and a black hole. Possibly even a god-forbid-Polish hole. Too bad I told all those Pollock jokes in the late 70’s. Too bad nobody listened to my grandmother when she talked. The first boy to bring me to orgasm is Chinese. I’ll always appreciate him for that. His mother hates me because I am white. Well, that and because she catches us naked and in bed. He’s dead now. He got shot in a gang war in Chinatown. When I am in college I take the blanket off. I never answer the questions about what race I am, because I resent it. I don’t want to wear this stupid thing anymore. It suffocates me. I hate it. I am distant, I am alone because of it. I am mad because my cousin, who is even blonder and bluer than me gets minority scholarships because she carries a Spanish-from-Spain patch on her blanket, in the form of her last name. Her appellido is Yanez. It is my mother’s maiden name. I consider using this as my pen name. Should I? I’m a little browner than I thought. It turns out that my Spanish-from-Spain ancestors, were Spanish- from-Spain, except by way of Cuba. That would explain why I tan so well. I write this on my census survey in 2000. Paul laughs at me. I want them to know that I am not only Caucasian. I want them to tell the cable company that there are people here who speak Spanish and we would like some Univision. It didn’t work. I’m a little browner than I thought. Last year, for the first time, I saw a photo of my mother’s father, he who was Spanish-from-Spain-by-way-of-Cuba. Why did no one notice that he was clearly passing? And why did no one notice that my mother’s twin brother looks like a white black man? He noticed, and got a DNA test. It said that he is 41% African. I’m browner than I thought. I guess I’m like rice and beans. I can live with that.
Korshi Dosoo Illustrator // Australia
I become obsessed with things quite easily. Iâ€™m learning to embrace this in my art and trying to channel particular obsessions into works that express the cluster of interests and feelings they inspire in me, as well as probing into the larger social or environmental forces that created those obsessions. My work is strongly illustrative, since most of my artistic influences have been illustrators and one of my main interests is telling stories visually. I suffer from red-green colour blindness, so a lot of my work is monochrome or uses simple colours as a way of coping with my fairly unexciting disability.
The killer ape is dead 67
My mum likes to tell people that I was the only child she knew who could look at lambs playing in the field and think of lamb chops. When I announced age 21 that I was becoming a vegetarian she was fairly incredulous. Iâ€™ve always been fascinated by animals, and as a result fairly good at drawing them. On the internet Iâ€™ve discovered thousands of people who share my fascination of endless email forwards about tigers adopting piglets and You Tube videos of unlikely animals engaging in mortal combat. These drawings are my response to the strange symbiosis of cruelty and kindness, beauty and horror that exist in this thing we call nature. All of my animals are drawn life size, and I research those which are extinct as carefully as possible so that the anatomy (if not the colours) are reasonably accurate.
The closest living relative of the T-Rex is the chicken Yummy mummy
Hornets are orangy and taste like... Early bird catches the worm
Only the good die young Snuggleriffic
Baby goats are called kids
Daniel Wilcox Poet
Mean ‘Wile’ The HD TV vivid lies skulled face up in the dark hut in Darfur, the swaddled soil of a child and her jointed, bamboo-stick arms on the mud floor her bloated stomach a greedy balloon of
ex p a n d
toward the (mean ‘wile’) civilized world-The latter politicians plane over their lush land
escapes to their surfeited thoughts of juicy sirloin and a cocktail
of their problems galore. They fixate flustering, buffeted by the windstorm in their nostril; I-doctoring their digital Iris they sleuth for each speck, each jot and tittle… Titillation. They worry over the tempest in their shot glass; yet their future is the parched abyss, the hungering earth. 74 //www.framelines.org
Sergio Ortiz Poet
Talking to Ron Ron spent mornings trying out words, Texture missing in his personal life. Routines didn’t matter anymore. It was the touch that was important, Recognition of strings, fibre and A cup of coffee. Comrades didn’t understand. He was tired of their Let’s Sell an Image shit. His tissues needed embossing. He was stepping out of suffocating outlines, Wearing dashiki, braiding his hair again. He wanted holograms of Marilyn on his lips. You see, he was honest about his affection. But what did it get him, a political conscience, An eye to eye conversation with God? I said: Ron calm down, it’s just a phase. And if it isn’t, get a house on the beach, swim, Breathe in the salt, pick up this trash, Go back to school, become an embalmer. You’re not listening, he said, words enter and exit Surface I haven’t explored. And he showed me out the door
What We See with Nick Kind
Part 7: Street Illustration
Since the 1960’s when tagging started in New York, there has been public debate as to the merits of graffiti, mainly centering on the big question: Art or Vandalism? The word Graffiti is defined as unauthorised writing or drawing on a public surface, which places prehistoric cave paintings as an early act of graffiti. Ancient forms of public inscriptions can be found on the walls of Pompei, and in the catacombs of Rome, giving us insight into the culture of that time. Through the ages, this form of communication has been a valid form of expression and an important part of our cultural history. In contrast, graffiti is now more recognized as an expression of street culture and as an act of vandalism. Whether it be tagging, political slogans or more illustrative works, it is hard for society to decide the value of this as an art form when it can seem so destructive. While the skill, talent and imagination possessed by many graffiti artists cannot be denied, there is a constant struggle against councils and governments who are trying to ‘Ban the Can’ and keep the streets clean. But don’t forget about the support and appreciation of all the viewers. Melbourne is a city known for its street art, not only amongst the street art subculture, but by the general public. Guide books direct tourists to special graffiti hot spots, placing Melbourne on the map as one of the world’s capitals of street art. But we’re not here to discuss politics. For the next few pages let’s overlook the vandalism and the damage and concentrate on what’s left - raw talent. I decided to use the subject of this month’s magazine as a platform to show some of the great works around our city of Melbourne. This could be the last time you see some of them.
1. What we see... 77
2. What we see... 79
3. What we see... 81
4. What we see... 83
5. What we see...
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Impulse by Thomas Engleby
Marissa was at a nightclub in Darling Harbour. Impulse, the orange and black lettering above the door said. Fitting, definitely. Most of the people here came on one. The music was loud; you had to scream to hear the person next to you. The music was coming hard and fast, the electronic beat was chaotic, hypnotic. Marissa was in a frenzy, the hysterical movements of the head was like a black blur. The black spectre of womanhood raged. This is what you come here to do. To lose all inhibitions, if you had any to start with. The hysterical music, alcohol and amphetamines made it all possible. The dance floor was a mixture of short skirts, tank tops and tight jeans. Women’s liberation at its finest. Marissa started grinding up to a young man in a fashion that left little to the imagination. The environment ensured anonymity. His name was Nelson but she did not know that. She did not want to know his name, nor he hers. He motioned towards the bar. She followed. The room was completely dark with the exception of the streaking multicoloured beams of light. The lights flashed like ethereal beating hearts of pure electricity. Through the flashing lights, people from just about all walks of live could be seen, it was the melting pot that Liberalism had promised all those years ago. The archetypal gay and lesbians in riotous outfits of shiny latex and leather, the youths from the western suburbs with crew-cuts, sneakers and coarse language, the lonely over-thirties crowd, inspired by Carrie Bradshaw. And just about anyone else you were lucky enough to spot in the systemic chaos. The bar was dead in the centre of the establishment; VIP rooms flanked its left and right with velvet ropes on silver poles. The bar was a beacon of activity, people mulled around it like it was a scene of a violent crime. “What do you want?” Nelson screamed in her ear, in order to be heard. Cupping his left hand in a drinking fashion, like cavemen would have done. Marissa noticed that his hair glistened from the multicoloured lights coming from the various light machines on the high ceiling. The stillborn heart radiated off it. It was from copious amounts of hair product in his hair, which was moulded into a single spike similar to the original Punks of the seventies. Nelson reminded her of a pretty boy Sid Vicious. A nerd behind him had a shirt on that said, Do you Yahoo. “Vodka and cranberry,” Marissa screamed back. He ordered a whisky on the rocks. While she was looking away, he added a clear liquid to the vodka from a small vial. This guy, she noticed wore very tight pants. Marissa received her chalice and consumed the drink in one go. Nelson observed this and did the same; they then headed back to the dance floor. To Marissa, the lights were getting exceedingly bright. Marissa was conscious of fast losing the ability to string together syllables into words and words into sentences for communication. It was like being stuck in a bad episode of the twilight zone. She nevertheless continued dancing, which more resembled an uncoordinated flailing motion or a vain plea for assistance. She further started to reel inward as an uncouth drunkard. A one-sided smirk, or grimace, depending on the viewing angle, appeared on Nelson’s face. Black crowns began to appear in her vision. He led her into the unisex toilets. On the wall to wall mirror of the sleek toilets, he patted down his white dress shirt and studied his hair. Cigarette butts, used condoms and other trash defiled the shiny black tiling of the ground. She was pale, dazed and confused, he noticed. Marissa fumbled through her handbag with one hand searching for a cigarette and lighter and lit one of her menthol cigarettes with the white butt. Her plastic bic lighter caught the tobacco aflame. “Smoking is bad for your health,” said Nelson, “you realise that don’t you.” “That is…” Marissa attempted, “That is, yet to be proven.” “Sure, whatever.” She sat on the toilet seat inside the cubicle on the far left, and smoked. Head down, smoke drifting up in her eye, barely conscious. Her shoulders stuck out in a masculine fashion. The smell of sweet menthol scented smoke filled her nose. She passed out; lost consciousness, what Nelson had been waiting for, paring his fingernails. He looked in the mirror once more to see if his hair was as it should be. Nelson’s olive skin under his white shirt flushed with pleasure, glistening with sweat from the exertion of dancing. His cheeks were aflame. He stood over the nameless girl passed out in the white walls of the cubicle. She was Asian, pretty and thin. He locked himself in the cubicle with the unconscious girl. Despite being filled with people, nobody took notice. Nelson knew how his hips felt moving against hers, but he didn’t know her name. The red symbol on the other side of the door said occupied. A glint appeared in his eye which signified the confident feeling of dominance.
Conveniently detached, the futility of existence became apparent. The buckle on his imitation brown leather belt unhinged, the zipper on his black jeans unzipped, they fell to his hairy, knobbly knees and covered his sheepskin boots. The expression on his face was stoic. In sobering daylight Nelson Gioulbaxiotis is a much harassed, much demeaned publishers’ assistant. He was limp. He rolled up his sleeves to his bony elbows to get a better grip. This revealed a praying hands tattoo with a Greek biblical transcription underneath. To thine own self be true. On his chest was a Jesuit fish. He was limp. It worried Nelson some. He beat the foreskin of his sexual organ frantically. Back and forward. Forth and back. Nelson chanted Eastern rites. He eyed the object of his desire. He was aroused, though the young man was limp, like a dead fish. This was because of all the ecstasy he had consumed that evening. Still he persevered. It was utterly useless; his penis lay in his hand deadlike. He eyed the girl again. He zipped up his black jeans, buckled his imitation leather belt. Sexual frustration, unfulfilled impulses. Emasculated, he cusped Marissa’s jaw in his hand. He admired the face; it was that of a porcelain doll. He wondered what she was thinking in her unconscious state. What dreams she was having, or has she receded into the blissfulness of oblivion. Nelson felt like Hermaphrodites; horribly androgynous. She was not what convention would call a classic beauty, but she was an attractive girl nonetheless. He let it fall. He ripped her grey cotton dress down the middle to cusp her breasts. The vandalized dress revealed a black brassiere with a tiny heart in the middle. He was still limp. They felt nice and wrong in his hands, a weird sensation. The criminality of his actions was enthralling. Her body was faintly perfumed, he could tell. He picked up her head again, which was resting upon her very own shoulder, exposing the muscles and veins in her neck. Holding it there, Nelson shifted his weight, allowing room for his right elbow and arm to extend back in the claustrophobic cubicle. With frustration and angst long repressed, he punched the face of the girl whose name he did not know with an unreserved closed fist. It landed squarely on Marissa Liu’s cheekbone. He thought he heard something crack, impossible to know with the incessant thumping of the music in the background. Tucking in his white shirt, he kissed the assaulted cheek lightly with his lips. The girl was still passed out. Maybe I gave her a little too much. Agnus dei. Nelson kissed her once more, on the pinkly glossed lips. Her dry lips briefly remained stuck to his dry lips; pressure quickly removed the conjoined lips. Nelson unlocked the door of the cubicle, the symbol turned green and said vacant. Nelson made his re-entry to the dance floor. Marissa remained unadulterated until six am the following morning, when the thickset Maori bouncers forcibly removed any patrons who had the indecency to remain. Some time during the night, Marissa fell off the toilet seat and was curled up in the corner of the cubicle, head resting against the wooden white wall of the enclosure. When she awoke, her money, mobile phone and jewellery was gone. The kindly thieves in the night left her identification and phone SIM card at least. Nevertheless, hobbling out of the nightclub, designer heels in hand Marissa felt, and looked like fucking shit, fingering her purple swollen cheek. Thomas Engleby. Sydney, July 2008
Clara Mata Illustrator // Spain
Your emotions in the first place Heart
Could you begin by sharing with your audience how you became a collagist?
good or bad. In fact, I’ve made many bad collages with really gorgeous images, and also very good ones with garbage.
I’ve been stealing, cutting and pasting images in my notebooks my whole life, but it’s been two years ago that I chose collage as my language. Just when I was supposed to become a product/industrial designer, I saw accidentally two pieces of one of the best collage-artist nowadays, Sean Mackaoui, [hung] on a friend’s wall. For the first time I was facing exactly the kind of images I always wanted to see. That’s how it all started. A few months later, I bought my first professional scissors, and started to get in contact with magazines where my work could fit.
Old textbooks and novels are a recurring theme in your work. What is significance to you for say, having a novel open to a specific page? Are you using the actual pages of the novel in your artwork, or just photocopying the image of one and pasting it in?
You’ve collected material from all over the world here - Switzerland, UK, USA, France, to name a few. Are you inclined to just take your big scissors and try to chop up everything in sight? Sure! Why not? I consider every image I see as a possible victim; but I can’t get anything in sight; my scissors are not that big. In fact, they are really small. Speaking of which, tell us about where (and how) you keep all your little titbits you plan to use sometime in the future. I collect lots of magazines, but I keep the best pictures (or the more interesting by any reason) in a flat cardboard box, all mixed up. Once I tried to classify this stuff with a rational criteria: people, things, animals, landscapes, etcetera…but It didn’t work; I couldn’t find anything, so I went back to my anarchic system. How do you approach a certain piece? Do you have a certain idea in your head of what you want to achieve, or do you just rummage through your collections and see what fits? Hmmm... both. When I receive a text to illustrate, I always part from an idea of what I want, but in the process I try to play or to experiment as much as possible, just in case I’m accidentally inspired by some other unexpected idea. That’s the best part of all the process; it always include some surprise. My collages are never what they were supposed to be when I started them.
Guess what? I never noticed that, but yes, that’s right, the book is one of my most used elements, always as a shape, more than by its content. I mean that my work as illustrator is to translate words and ideas to images; I prefer not to complete the information I want to give by adding text or any writing. If I did so, wouldn’t I be going backwards? Why books? I don’t know; maybe because I live surrounded by my grandfather’s library, and that’s what I’ve been looking at my whole life. An open book is a good shape; it’s clean, harmonic, very attractive, despite of what’s inside… As one of the world’s cultural hotspots, Madrid has a lot to offer the world, not just for its great nightlife, but also has a burgeoning subculture and artist scene. Tell the rest of us what the Madrid art community represents to you. I think Madrid has grown up; it’s not anymore the “teenage” city it used to be, you know, just for fun. Nowadays there’s something really exciting and fresh going on here, mostly coming from disciplines peripheral to art, like industrial design, architecture, advertising, illustration… In regards to the artist scene, galleries, museums and so, I’m afraid I cannot be very helpful; the last exhibitions I visited made me feel as if I was in a funeral: everybody walking in line, dressed in black, serious faces… But lately, here in Madrid, there’ve been many cultural initiatives to take art out of these ‘coffins’, and bring it to the streets, which hopefully will re-connect it to the people. I wish...
Aside from an intuitive sense of composition, you have a great sense of humour. Is your drive to create art partly fuelled by everyday images around you and the absurd combinations in which they can be placed? Maybe. However my combinations are usually intentional. I always try to combine ideas that fit conceptually, get the proper images, put them together, and try to get the visual fitting. With my work I try to find new relations between images that already exist. It’s kind of a game. Besides, collage allows me to work very fast; to get immediately an answer to what I try to say. However, I’m an illustrator, more than an “artist” (as it is traditionally understood). I find it much more challenging to illustrate someone else’s thoughts than mines. And also much more funny. Which sources do you find yourself looking to over and over again? Do you have any favourites, or is it all just stuff you’ve come across randomly?
I kkeep any kind of stuff, but I have my favourites, of course. Old National Geographics or París Match, Reader’s Digest, and so. But I don’t like to work just with old images; I like to mix them with actual images, in order to get a piece not linked to a specific moment or time. You know, collage is very often related to vintage, and vintage is itself something beautiful and irresistible, but the beauty of the images is not what makes the piece
Rent a car
How to drive a bike
Absin the esquire
Sherry O’keefe Poet
An Evening Walk on Rex’s Farm My son has his Sunday socks on. What this means we don’t ask, but we wait while he finds a pair of Mondays in the back seat of our truck. He’ll be the first the lambs run to when we reach the flock. We know this about him even though he doesn’t. My daughter says she hopes it doesn’t rain because she’s trying to have a cute day. Our puppies pounce at her flip flops, her rolled-up jeans and those soft pink toes with green nail polish. She has no idea her sky is blue slate, wiped clean every time she laughs. It won’t matter that the field is one large land mine of manure and mud. She’s got a chocolate in her pocket, extra shoes in the truck bed, blankets for the dogs. A coffee can of skipper rocks. Just in case there’s water. I’m trying to decide how I feel about something I can’t quite remember at the time, but we need to get started soon or it’ll be dark before we return. My sister is casual, wears a headlamp around her hat. Reminds us there is no rush. Once it gets dark, it doesn’t get any darker. The sheep will wait for us.
Stacey Roy Poet
Before the Beginning Red backpack hunches, a clot miscarried on the floor of our rented room. thick straps anchor me to the round world, pressing into my imaginings of unknown places. empty mouth ready to be fed, the bag crumples its waterproof fabric and insinuates, itâ€™s time to go. thereâ€™s no home here.
Illustrator // England
Ever since I could first pick up a pencil I’ve always loved to draw and create. When I was a child I used to invent new worlds inside my head so I could pretend I was in a jungle one minute, and a desert the next. I can remember once collecting the plants from around our old three story Victorian house (there were millions) and putting them all into one room so it looked like a dense forest. I’m not sure how pleased my mum was when she saw what I’d done though. I’ve always drawn, every day as it makes feel really happy. I even used to get me detentions at high school for drawing in Maths and History lessons, but I just saw it as practice. I’ve also always loved making things and inventing something new out of objects I’ve found. Also, I’ve always been completely fascinated by antiques, curiosities, old books, ephemera, and anything which tells a story or has an interesting history. So ever since I can remember I’ve loved dirty old wunderkammer shops and bookstores. When I think back to what I used to make and enjoy as a child, it was forming the building blocks for what I’m creating today, so I began in my current field by becoming fascinated by the world around me, and by inventing my own. I studied art, design and illustration at college and University to learn as much as possible and open up my eyes to what creative opportunities are available. Whilst studying I would work on self-initiated projects to experiment with working with people and testing peoples responses to my work and ideas. I also did work experience placements whilst at University. Then immediately after graduating I set up my own business and began to work freelance.
I am a creative and curious thinker who loves to draw, paint, invent, learn, write, explore, and receive challenges. I also love helping other people and a lot of what I do I hope will always inspire others to challenge themselves too, or experiment with a new venture in their lives. I’m in love with the countryside and nature, so whenever I can, I go for jogs down the river or walks in the forest taking lots of photographs along the way and collecting interesting objects I find. I love working with people and hearing what inspires them, and how their experiences have affected their lives. I want to keep learning, growing, evolving my ideas and skills, and travel the world with a sketchbook and camera so I can capture everything I see. I do what I do because it feels so natural to me, and it’s as if I have to create and express how I feel otherwise I might explode as I have so many ideas and thoughts inside my mind. The main reason why I create though is because it is what I love to do, and I couldn’t ever imagine doing anything else. I always have a sketchbook, camera, pencil and pen in my bag and that’s all I need to be happy.
Dissolved girl 103
The bird man Rogue taxidermy
The hand that feeds Carry your heart
The Ideas Festival The Ideas Festival is a six-day festival of ideas, innovation and invention, and is Queenslandâ€™s leading open public ideas event. The 2009 event, presented by the Queensland Government, will be held at Brisbaneâ€™s South Bank from March 24-29. The festival was established in 2001 to present ideas, promote public debate, and to foster and celebrate innovation.
animals, food, and symbols of some of the major movements in our history. Sue has created a vibrant and unique identity for our festival that illustrates our festival perfectly – it’s a place to discuss anything and everything and we encourage combining established ideas to form new and exciting concepts. She’s also demonstrated one of the major aims of the festival by bringing these ideas to life.” While creating the sculpture, Sue said she kept the need for a strong logo in mind which would appear on all of the Festival’s promotional materials and carry through to future festivals. Her work formed the basis of the complete branding and image for the festival, created with Brisbane design company design front.
Excess of Evil
Ideas into Action: The inspiration behind the Ideas Festival When Brisbane graphic design studio Design front were given the task of creating a new brand identity for the fourth Ideas Festival they commissioned artist Sue Loveday to bring their concepts to life. The result was a fun fusion of found objects that represented the five themes of the festival. Sue said her brief was to create inspirational imagery “that reflected the Festival’s philosophy of creativity, optimism and connections, and presented the festival as an open, welcoming and experiential event.” “Our aim was to make the sculptures from objects found in everyday life. The use of familiar, everyday materials helped with identifying a festival that was inclusive and accessible. I find it hard to throw things away and I love old things so I have quite a collection of all kinds of found and second hand objects collected over the years. Friends also helped out with some hard to find items.” An interesting collection of oddments made its way into the design, each relating to the themes of the Festival. Festival Director Michael Peterson said each of the items helped complete a picture about the Festival:
To help document the creative process, photographer Gary Mitchell installed a digital camera onto the ceiling of Sue’s studio. A series of 300 photographs were developed into a stop motion animation of the creation. “With the camera set up overhead I randomly laid out all of the objects onto a white base. As I moved the objects, I would take a photo. My shot list would include 300 photos so I needed to be aware of the progress of each of the letters coming to life. My intention was for the word ‘ideas’ to slowly reveal itself and not entirely form until the final shots.” Sue and three helpers took three days to complete the photos, which were then animated by design front and set to a piece of quirky original music by Brett Harris. The finished product can be seen on the festival web site. The objects on each letter of the sculpture relate to the five program themes: I – Innovation and Invention D – Development and Design E – Ecology and Ethics A – Action and Advocacy S – Self and Society
Find out more on the Ideas Festival website: http://www.ideasfestival.com.au/
“Looking closely at the sculptures you’ll see things like test tubes, buildings,
Rob Ryan Prints‘n’Cuts // England
Rob Ryan is a London-based artist who creates papercuts, screen prints and porcelain with wild abandon. He will often weave a sumptious poem into the mix for good measure and have us all in a whirlwind of romance and fantasy.
“All of my ideas for pictures come from sketchbooks that I work on at any given time but mainly in bed before I fall asleep. I jot down thoughts and stuff and as such the drawings and words sort of end up getting entwined.” Rob Ryan is a London-based artist who creates papercuts, screen prints and porcelain with wild abandon. He will often weave a sumptuous poem into the mix for good measure and have us all in a whirlwind of romance and fantasy. “I don’t want to think about things too much, I don’t want to change them or rub them out. I want to kind of have the idea and let’s do it! And I mean paper – cutting paper – is the ultimate extension of that really, because you can plan the picture to a certain extent. And I don’t plan them totally. I kind of have an idea of how it’s going to work and I draw and cut it as I go along. It has to interconnect to hold together because they’re always one sheet of paper. It’s quite important that it’s from one sheet – there’s nothing added to it. It’s one simple thing. A beginning and an end. It’s quite a nice thing to do, you know, it’s sort of satisfying.”
Rob has previously designed book covers and decorated departments stores. Vogue even received their very own dress out of paper, and in his own words, “Everybody I worked with [at Vogue] was really lovely and very professional. Its funny, like most jobs you don’t get to meet to people in person, you just speak through e-mails and on the phone.” He estimates that his papercuts can take anywhere between 1 and 200 hours to produce. They are amazing pieces of art and we think they are worth the effort!! “I must admit I am a bit of a mess and a fan of everything in the world of illustration, I love English illustration: the Erics – Fraser, Ravilious and Gill; Edwards-Bawden and Ardizzone, but I revere Titian and Raphael.” Look for Rob Ryan’s exhibition in 2009 in New York with Earnest Sewn. Want to know more about this unique artist? Visit www.rob-ryan.blogspot. com
Other planets red 111
Kissing gate yellow red Boat people
Big book print yellow
Sick my brain is a huge aching globe spitting off hot metal. I don’t need water anymore. it’s unnecessary. water makes me retch retch retch. i’ve been taken back to my real parts. my voice is gone. i’m a wise mute with a puffed face. my body a hot crucible leaving little. i think i’ll float. i imagine you as heavy stone, a warm weight holding down my shining toes. my stomach cramps in its pure religious emptiness.
Ian Bowers Surf Artist // Australia
So Ian , could you tell us about your background, where are you from? I am originally from Rugby, Warwickshire in England - the birthplace of the game Rugby. My mum and dad moved me and my older brother to Braunston, Northamptonshire in 1971. I was one year old. These places are right in the middle of England, I skated before I surfed. Skating was an awesome scene in England during the eighties and nineties. I remember my best friend’s Dad going to work in America and bringing home this blue piece of plastic on wheels. We spent the whole of summer riding it, trying to negotiate the corner at the bottom of the driveway. Before long we started to ‘bomb’ the biggest hills we could find! Hitting speed wobble, keeping control, catching the buzz. School I found hard. I could not find my place academically. There were positive results in sport and art, but the more ‘formal’ subjects I found difficult. It was also around this time that my imagination was fired by the images of surf photographer Leroy Grannis. A photo of Eddie Aikau and Billy Hamilton dropping into a huge wave at Waimea Bay publicised in ‘The Sunday Times’ started a lifelong passion for the sea and the surf. The closest I got to white water at this time was in my kayak as I travelled around the country tackling the rapids with the local kayak club. During school I basically put most effort into art and sport. This culminated into scraping through an erratic school experience, leaving with just enough qualifications for further education. I continued to skate; I went to college and met various people that would impact on my life positively people of the same age but years ahead with their interests and tastes in contemporary culture. As my wife often jokes to me, I was just a country boy. I really got into the whole skate culture, it became a major part of my life along with music, film and art. It was a very happening, happy, all-consuming experience. Afterwards I went to the University of Wales to continue my art education and undertake a Fine Art degree. The area’s coastline drew me in and I started to get into surfing. It was a hit-and-miss affair. The surf was sporadic and totally fickle to say the least, and to negotiate a consistent approach of improvement seemed impossible due to travel time and the nature of the ocean in the area. During this time my mum and dad were involved in a car accident which resulted in my dad having a stroke. This devastated me and I made some bad choices in my attempt to remove the impact from me personally. 116 //www.framelines.org
So when did you first find an appreciation for art? I remember the very first time I was conscious of my work going on a wall for people to make a judgement or comment upon. It was in Grade 3. My teacher had stuck my drawing (of a motor bike!) onto a piece of black sugar paper creating a frame, and in my opinion making it all the more special. Not only did this motivate me to create more work worthy of display, but it made me realise that paintings, drawings etc. did not only appear in books but were hung on walls in houses or galleries and were really precious and unique items. Art became the single most important subject at school and one of the major interests outside of school. We visited galleries on school excursions and also during family holidays and weekends in London. I looked forward to these visits and loved really getting close to the work and looking at the textures, the colours, the brushstrokes. I liked how artists had been creating images for centuries, I also enjoyed the way it had evolved and been through various transitions and genres. During my degree course in Wales I became more and more aware of the diversity of how artists make and create art pieces. It was great to be creative everyday and be encouraged to broaden your perspective of what art is. My appreciation grew and I was consumed by the way an artist could often be the most powerful social commentator, they could illustrate a political issue without having to physically vocalise a point of view. Ultimately an artist can simply make the viewer exasperated, create enjoyment or admiration through what they produce, I loved that. They can also receive negative comments, the viewer can say “I don’t like that, that sucks, its crap, a child could do that!” Whatever, it is a powerful and exhilarating, creative experience and egos can be seriously dented! In your art, what is it about surfing and/or surf culture that inspires you so? In England my perspective of this culture was fairly narrow to say the least. I was aware of its rebellious and subversive edge. I liked the idea that it could consume someone’s life to the point that it was all they wanted to do. There were names I was aware of during the eighties in England, most notably the guys in the Leroy Grannis images such as Eddie Aikau or Gerry Lopez. I also remember seeing the obituary for the Hawaiian surfer Mark Foo in the Times newspaper, I tore it out and still have it to this day. The story although immensely sad provoked ideas of heroism
juxtaposed against the ocean environment. On the whole I think surfing is just such a joyous experience, it is such fun, yet it has immense complexities running through its core, and it still frustrates me beyond belief. Your art takes a wonderfully refreshing, minimal and contemporary approach to the surf landscape and surfers, what made you approach the subject in the way you have? My friend Grant Forbes who owns Tigerfish Gallery in Torquay said about my work, “sometimes it takes an outsider to bring a different perspective.” I really agree with that statement. I was so enthusiastic to see the culture that exists here that I immersed myself in it very quickly. When I meet people involved in the scene I listen to them and mentally record their stories and opinions and I believe that those things impact on my work. I am very lucky to have been able to have the time I have with a variety of shapers, and even shape with them. When I have painted the shapers it made sense when I was working out the composition to have it very symmetrical and balanced as they apply the same approach to creating a surfboard. It seemed logical to have strong shapes and sharp lines and show the character of their studios. I also use very strong contrasts of light and dark which illuminate the shaper and surrounding objects from left and right of the canvas. This is in keeping with the way they have the light in the studio, the florescent lights placed either side of the board so they can see the board taking shape.
and for me it just seemed the most pure and ultimate of pursuits. I also came across the name Wayne Lynch, I loved that idea of a pioneer who travelled up and down the coast and sometimes across the planet to find waves, someone who studied and respected their environment and built the craft that they could use to enjoy the ocean environment further. It was not until my first visit to Australia in ‘89 that I realised how much surfing was a cultural movement here. After that visit I promised myself that I would live in Australia one day. I have lived here now for almost five years, and since being here my appreciation has broadened and become more respectful and knowledgeable. In England I was inspired by surfing from the images in books and magazines. At that time if I exhibited my paintings my subject would be rock stars and the music scene as it is so accessible in England. When I arrived in Australia it was instantaneous, I knew I would paint the surf and the culture surrounding it. From my first visit to Gunnamatta it was a sealed deal. I started to photograph the local scene, anything related to surfing - the cars, the boards, the contests, anything. I became an addictive buyer of surf magazines. I think the most important and defining moment that really started it all was a visit to Mick Pearce’s (local Peninsula surfing hero and shaper) shaping bay. Mick afforded me over 2 hours of his time as he shaped a retro twin fish from templates he had created over twenty years ago. This opened a whole new world to me and allowed me to bring so much more interest into my work. The portrait of Mick was eventually donated to Clean Ocean and auctioned off for $1700. From there, I had so much respect for what these shapers do; they are artists themselves and often the unsung heroes of this pastime/sport. I am so inspired by what they do - I love the environments they work in,
Two artist that have really inspired me are Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. Both of these artists involved themselves with the screen print medium; I often paint following the basic sequence that is used in screen printing and often limit my palette of colours. For instance, I will often start off with the silhouette of a person or object as a flat colour, and then using a contrasting colour, paint in all of the detail. So I build up layers as you would when you screen print. My work is starting to be produced using more complex processes and I would like to move away from some of the realism. I think it is essential that my work evolves in this way to keep it fresh. I stopped being so particular about the work being planned to the last detail and now I think it is [now] a much more organic process. Your art has a very interesting multi-media/collage feel to it, what materials do you use? I have mentioned Warhol and Rauschenberg but I am also inspired by the materials and processes that various artists have used. One such technique is called ‘Declomonania’ which was created by the surrealist Max Ernst. It is a process where a material or other surface is pressed on to the face of the painting while it is wet, and then taken off. This can create some great textures and I like the way you can never be sure of what will happen. I also have used very traditional wallpaper patterns and created stencils of these and incorporated them into the canvasses. This was originally inspired by the flowers you see in a lot of Hawaiian prints; now I am choosing more of a diverse range of patterns and repeat prints and incorporate them into the work. Whilst I paint predominantly in acrylic I also like to mix it up with spray paints. I particularly like using the spray to resist areas that are wet. I have also found that I can spray onto wet varnish and water and shift the film of spray around and create a variety of textures. When I paint, I have a range of different shaped and sized brushes readily available, and these are what I mainly use. However, I also use bits of plastic, wood, cardboard, foam, and sponge - anything to apply the paint. I also move the canvas around to different locations, turn it on its side upside down and flat on the floor. This helps me control really wet paint as I let it run and dry. I often mask off large areas and use lots of masking tape and this creates more of that collage feel. When you see the paintings for real I like the idea that the process is visible, that this has taken time, it all adds to the story of the work. I also often photocopy my
photos and play around with the exposure mode, this can give an image an entirely different feel and I like to use some of those changes in my work. I think digital photography has allowed me to explore the content of my images further. I also am influenced by the adverts for surfing and skating that I see in the magazines. Some of them are very cool, incorporating a variety of imagery. I am really drawn to them and I think subconsciously they influence what happens in my work.
The figures are a very important element. They are required to ground the work as they often look photographic compared to the rest of the painting. They are often the very last thing that I paint and the attention to detail is very precise and time consuming. It is great when people look at the work and say “that’s Dave Rastovich isn’t it?” To be able to create that person to be recognisable is a real buzz. I do have my own photos of various people in and around the area I live, it’s all surf related and I eventually want to be at the point where I use all of my own images start to finish and I believe I am almost there.
The human form seems an important element in your art. Could you describe these surfers, are they people you know?
You have recently created a series of beautiful and unique pieces of art for an exhibition down at Torquay at the Tigerfish Gallery, could you talk about that?
I have met and know all of the shapers who I have painted. The images come from photographs that I have taken and the quirkiness of the painting is dictated by their individual characters, the stories they have to tell, and the feel and organisation of their shaping bay.
When I originally contacted Grant Forbes at Tigerfish I sent him through a load of images from a previous exhibition that I had at Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula. They were of both shapers and surfers. I wanted to do some of the major figures from the industry over in Torquay and also some images that I had planned to do for a long time from the Grannis book that I had recently got.
For example, I painted a guy called Steve Friedman who has become a great friend of mine. Steve was born in California and learnt to shape there but really refined his technique in Hawaii. He knows some pretty impressive names such as Jeff Ho (Steve knows a lot of the Zephyr crew still now and is in regular contact with Skipper) and Gerry Lopez. He tells the best stories. When I spent the day with him for the portrait he did not shut up, [telling] story after story. He is a very entertaining guy. When I created the painting I focused on him marking out the board with his templates but I had three of him surrounding the board doing this. That is what it was like - this whirlwind personality, like three guys talking to you at the same time. I painted Neil Oke (Chok) of Oke surfboards. Neil is a lovely bloke, really genuine and warm. He was very bemused by my request to paint him but went along with it anyway. I really loved the Oke factory and wanted that image to have a ‘factory’ feel about it, and to also capture Chok’s amusement at being photographed for the painting. So the painting is split into essentially three images - what’s known as a Triptych. The first part has one of those hideous male air-host dummies you sometimes see outside travel agents. The guys in the workshop had actually stolen this from a travel agent and I think it had received all kinds of abuse over the years as it was knackered. In the centre and the main part is Chok in the shaping bay, he is going for it with the plane, it’s a great image! Then In the last part I painted Chok again, overalls off and cracking up. He seriously found it all so funny, he later bought the painting. I have been fortunate enough to meet and paint Wayne Lynch. That was really awesome. I tried to keep that one really mysterious. Although many people know the name, I liked the fact that Wayne had shunned the spotlight and focused on what he really wanted to do. The painting looks kind of spooky and Wayne is completely absorbed in examining the board that he is shaping. The paintings of people surfing are mainly from the images in magazines, so no, I don’t know them. I don’t just choose any image; it has to translate into a painting. There are things in photos that you can accept like the positions of legs and arms. There are some pretty strange poses caught by the camera in surfing. If I was to paint those I think people would say, “He’s caught the expression well, but what’s going on with the arms?” I cannot cope with the idea of that and neither can my wife, and believe me, she will be the first one to spot it. There are two female surfers whom I have painted, Erica Hosseini and Kassia Meador. They have both contacted me via email and love the work. I am actually sending Kassia her portrait in the next few weeks. She is sending me some photos of her surfing in return which I am so stoked about.
I ended up creating the Wayne Lynch piece and one of Russell Graham glassing a board. Alongside those were three really nice size paintings (about 80cm x 80cm). They followed that collage vibe again with these great stencil prints incorporated into the paintings. The colour combinations were my tried and tested combo’s. The images were of Joel Tudor in classic laid back nose ride stance, Tom Curren busting a turn over the lip and some guy from a Grannis photo ducking underneath the lip and getting a cold shower. I was so pleased with all three of these images and how I approached them; I actually laid out each of the images by spray painting free hand onto the canvas before going in with the acrylic. I also actually spent an entire day of daylight trying to get Tom Curren’s face right; when you consider it is an area approx 2cm by 2cm that’s just stupid! I also used some of my photos and developed a technique to transfer them onto paper. These were used to create some black and white collage prints of the shapers in action, they are really nice and I am going to use this technique in the future as a way of developing an image before I start painting, almost like creating a sketchbook. I also created some lino prints which were displayed on stretched canvas, these were just black and white. They looked really classic, very retro. How do you feel about your work and surf art in general? Overall I like the majority of the stuff that I have done so far. I think it is natural to look back on work from a few years previous and be slightly confused as to what it was you were trying to achieve. In particular there have been some colour combinations that should simply have never been thought of, let alone committed to canvas. On the whole I like what I do but it is always progressing as I learn more about how I paint. I think the nicest thing is that I am at the point where I have stopped trying to paint like someone else. I am always seeing stuff that I think to myself, ‘I wish I had thought of that’, or ‘why can’t I do it like that?’. But that’s ridiculous, I paint how I paint and I think I will always be trying to figure out different ways to do it, but those should now be generated from my own ability and my own experiences, not someone else’s. The art of surf culture has so many varied forms. When I think about surf culture imagery I almost always think of Rick Griffin, I think still of Surfer magazine. Griffins stuff is just so good, I love it. I have also been inspired by the old rock posters from San Francisco during the 1960’s and 70’s; Rick Griffin was a major force during that era. The works of Wolfgang Bloch, they are such beautiful seascapes. Andrew Kidman has certainly cemented his place in surf culture. His new book Ether is fabulous, really nicely put together. The kind of diverse depth of imagery he presents in his photos and words is how I would ultimately like the body of work I
create through my art to be perceived. The first time I saw the book was at Wayne Lynch’s place, he was raving about it and that to me was a definite seal of approval. So many boards are now manufactured by a machine. It would be terrible to think that the art of hand-shaping a board could eventually disappear. The board shaper is part of the culture which needs to be preserved and passed on. That process of talking to a shaper about what it is you want to achieve when you are in the water is an essential component [of the culture]. Buying off the rack just isn’t the same and none of the people that I personally know do that. The film Blue Horizon gave a great insight into surf culture, I wish I could have seen it when I was sixteen. As a whole, it’s the kind of thing that I think people should see as it showed its two very diverse sides. Personalities such as Dave Rastovich are the kind of people that can change and take surf culture into the future along with companies such as Patagonia. I like the way Dave Rastovich has started to create his own vibe with his spirituality, art, music and films and drawn people into that. As a culture that era of selfishly following your desire to catch the next wave at all costs has gone. If we are to perpetuate what we love doing we need to change the way we manufacture what we ride and change to a large extent how we interact with our environment. Surfers and surfing as a pastime have the perfect platform to be vocal and proactive about that change. How has your art evolved over the years? I have always painted, but a lot of my previous work was for big corporations. One of my favourite jobs as a professional artist was during the 90’s working for Warner Brothers in Germany. This work was both two- and three-dimensional. After that I worked for Sir Frank Lowe at his mansion in Chelsea. Sir Frank is an advertising genius, he had such vision. I worked for him at his mansion painting murals and pictures on his walls and ceilings. I painted to deadline everyday for two and a half years. This enabled me to improve my techniques and skills very quickly, I also learnt how to create various paint effects such as wood graining, bronzing and ageing and worked for a number of years as a scenic artist on sets. A lot of those techniques now appear in my work. I mentioned earlier that I painted rock stars in England. At that time my paintings were very precise and very clean. The background would be flat colour with the face or figure of the artist I was painting placed on top. There were never more than two colours used in these paintings and this is where the inspiration for a lot of my colours I use now comes from. Now my backgrounds are taking on a far more dramatic feel. They are somewhat like the works of Joseph Turner; this certainly has not been a deliberate move but just something that has occurred over time. I was always a big fan of Turner’s seascapes and I am certainly not making my paintings comparable to his. Out of all your artwork’s to date, do you have a favourite? It is hard to pick! There was a very early painting which was derived from all of my own photographs called Bi Focal. It showed a guy checking out the surf from his old Holden Ute with a pair of binoculars. He was painted up close, down the bottom of the canvas. Above him is his car with this monster single fin longboard shoved in the back, this image is repeated three times. Then above that are three power poles. The idea was to show this guys journey to that point where he is checking the surf. It was a very ambitious piece of work and a style that I would like to repeat again at some point. It sold for $2300 which is another reason to like it.
inspire your work? There are so many things that inspire me; I should make sure that I have a camera with me more often. I should also learn to use my sketch/idea book better as I forget things fairly easily. I am really lazy with organisation and systems and stuff like that, [I’m] one of the world’s biggest procrastinators. Every time I am at the car park at the surf there will be something I see that could start me off on another painting idea, it could be a car, a board, a bloke, a girl, a tree, a plant, a sign - almost anything really. My main inspiration now comes from articles or books that I read. I have read a lot of stuff by the American skater Scott Bourne who now writes in France. I like what he has to say and the choices that he has made and I find that kind of thing inspirational. I am reading a book about Lance Armstrong at the moment, he is inspirational for the obvious reasons (his battle overcoming cancer) but I find his physicality and the way his brain works equally compelling. Films also often provide me with stimulus, I saw the film ‘Into the Wild,’ and would suggest to anyone who reads this that they see it if they haven’t already. Also the last two sections of “Riding Giants,’ are great, that’s that heroism stuff that I talked about earlier, right there in a movie. If inspiration is what drives you forward and makes you better, then my biggest inspirations would be my wife and children. It was my wife Abi who suggested that we move to Australia. She has inspired me so much over the years and has given me the drive to achieve the things I want to achieve. Having a family gives you the determination to challenge yourself, to become better and provide. I am not saying that I get it right every day - I don’t - but there have been times when we have been unstoppable; an unstoppable force in achieving our goals. That inspires me. So where do those who want to see your artwork or purchase originals or prints have to go? Tigerfish is my main viewing space at present. I love the way Grant works and I love the space; it’s also great to exhibit in Torquay. I am having an exhibition there on the 3rd of April to the 1st of May this year; there will be an opening, but for what date we are as yet not sure. I also intend to put a website together. In the mean time if people want to get in contact, I have my email address at firstname.lastname@example.org. What does the future hold for your art? I have in my mind that I will become more competent at this pastime that I love so much. I would love to get a waterproof housing for my camera and start taking some shots out in the water and put some really personal feelings of those moments into my paintings. It’s that different perspective you see when you are sitting out there on your board looking back at the beach; when you’re out there with everyone else waiting for the next set. To capture that anticipation, and the fun of it all. I also see it evolving further and maybe at some point a shift to oils. I think this question is really timely as I have just finished a massive art installation with Steve Friedman which involved putting imagery into fibreglass. That opened up a million more ideas for me and some of them I certainly intend to pursue. Along with that I want to continue my shaping journey, time is always against me. I feel perpetually busy, but Steve has given me the green light to have another go at a board in the near future. At the moment, as Grant advertised at the last exhibition, “It’s pure surf!”
My other favourite is the image of Alex Knost that I did last year. It was one of the first images that I used the spray paint in and I also extended the amount of colours that I used in this work which was a major step forward for me. There is a real nice fresh abstract quality to it. Are there any other artists, individuals or organisations that 121
Michael Lee Johnson
Harvest Time A MĂŠtis Indian lady, drunk, hands blanketed over as in prayer, over a large brown fruit basket naked of fruit, no vine, no vineyard MRWMHIÂ˘ETTVSEGLIWXLI)HQSRXSR Alberta adoption agency. There are only spirit gods inside her empty purse. Inside, an infant, refrained from life, with a fruity wine sap apple wedged like a teaspoon of autumn sun inside its mouth. A shallow pool of tears starts to mount in native blue eyes. Snuffling, the mother offers a slim smile, turns away. She slithers voyeuristically through near slum streets, and alleyways, looking for drinking buddies to share a hefty pint of applejack wine.
Jeremy Thomas Poet
Eye Imagine Eye Imagine. Everything I see superimposed on everything I be. Eye Imagine. Shapes within melt and morph on stage set morning at three. Black clouds Tuesday through Saturday, Meaning like they matter they Are projections, gas injections of dizzying brightness, Dark and alightness. Function without form, never tired never worn. An endless smear; Words slurred or tumbling tear. Spinning colours fantastically, Supposing drastically, this has to be Me? Neither over nor about but within. Without. Lost love leaps laughing from a ledge, Breaking twigs as she drops from the edge. All land in laps of loved and likewise, Left I to bring forth such tears to their eyes. Lies provoked, sustained and joked, Like ants all pour out of the holes that are poked. Desperate echos from distant chasms; Eye half-open twitches and spasms. Thoughts ingested, digested, re-invested, Itâ€™s suggested, inferred that I messed it, Up. Missed it. Misted up. Futility reigns. And reins. And rains. 130 //www.framelines.org
Michael Lee Johnson Poet
Rod Stroked Survival with a Deadly Hammer Rebecca fantasised that life was a lottery ticket or a pull of a lever, that one of the bunch in her pocket was a winner or the slots were a redeemer; but life itself was not real; that was strictly for the mentally insane at the Elgin Mental Institution. She gambled her savings away on a riverboat stuck in mud on a riverbank, the Grand Victoria, in Elgin, Illinois. Her bare feet were always propped up on wooden chair; a cigarette dropped from her lips like morning fog. She always dreamed of travelling, not nightmares. But she couldnâ€™t overcome, overcome, the terrorist ordeal of the German siege of Leningrad. She was a foreigner now; she was a foreigner for good. Her first husband died after spending a lifetime in prison with stinging nettles in his toes and feet; the second husband died of hunger when there were no more rats to feed on, after many fights in prison for the last remains. What does a poet know of suffering? Rebecca has rod stroked survival with a deadly mallet. She gambles nickels, dimes, quarters, tokens tossed away, living a penniless life for grandchildren who hardly know her name. Rebecca fantasised that life was a lottery ticket or the pull of a lever.
Against the Grain: Abby Levine’s Wood Sculptures by Laurie Churchill
Marathon, Texas is still pretty much the sleepy, one-street town I had first visited twenty years ago. The Gage Hotel (“historic” Western digs) is still the centerpiece; some B&Bs have sprung up since I visited last, a few more galleries and kitsch shops, an internet café (Mirabile Dictu), and a gym for Gage patrons across the railroad tracks. The Gage is simultaneously lovely and goofy. Hotel guests are asked to sign an agreement not to steal any of the artifacts from the rooms. The rustic ambience and air of pretentiousness seem out of sync with Marathon’s funkiness. I am here to interview Abby Levine. I have seen only a few of her pieces, whimsical wood cutouts of cowgirls. Levine and I have exchanged a few emails; other than that, I have no context for this interview, no idea of what to expect. I want to reacquaint myself with Marathon and so I explore side streets, chancing upon the Catholic Church. Two old Hispanic men are seated in the pews, praying; it is Holy Thursday. The crucifix is draped with a sheer purple cloth, a remnant of Lent. To the right of the altar are large pots filled with white lilies, and a bank of white candles glows. A windy night and the train rolls through periodically, the tracks running parallel to the main drag –the route to Alpine. Tourists also roll in and out of here – of a more upscale variety than I recall, likely from Dallas – decked out in their cowboy gear and driving slick cars; also high-end bikers, also likely from Dallas, wearing spiffy black leather chaps. I speak with one of them – yes, from Dallas – driving through on the annual Harley “guys only” Easter pilgrimage to Big Bend. He is having problems with bees making their way into his pants and stinging him. Lovejean’s is now Evans’ Gallery. Jean left for Austin and James has filled what was once a much more eclectic collection of art and craft with his photographs – wonderful work – but the space is gallery-ified, its spirit and vitality diminished; a few of Paul Wiggins’ concho and beaded belts hang on the wall. I overhear James say that the belts don’t sell very well. Outside, an elderly couple backs their pick-up up to the front door and begins washing the gallery windows. “Making some cash to cover expenses,” they explain to James, returning from El Paso where just they buried their son. Not all of Marathon’s rough edges have been rubbed smooth.
I enjoy the time in the town prior to meeting Levine, reconnecting with this place after a long hiatus, and musing about how an artist might be here. How does she sustain inspiration/stimulation? How did she choose Marathon? Or did Marathon choose her? What are her connections with Big Bend, the land, and surrounding areas? The next morning I am up at 5:00 AM and drink coffee in the lobby of the Gage before heading to the gym. I have the place to myself. Next, a glorious sunrise run, waning moon behind me, as I jog through the side streets and eventually find a dirt road that leads north, birds singing blessings in silk trees with their big pineapple blooms, absolutely magical. I am reminded of running in the villages in Spain, rolling out the door and into the magic. I pick up stones, pieces of metal and glass along the way. Back at the Gage I meet Levine for breakfast and an initial conversation, a warm up, before the “formal” interview. She is lovely, a sprite; a small Jewish woman, late forties I think, with big hair, bold glasses, wearing patterned pants and light gray leather elfin shoes. We are both wearing denim jackets with a twist: hers decorated with copper studs, mine with a motley collection of buttons. The jackets give us a palpable indication that we will hit it off – yes, the connection is immediate. Abby comments that she had feared I would be flamboyant and intimidate her. She had imagined I’d be wearing a big hat. I am pleasantly surprised by her as well. Over the course of the interview, I learn just how political and smart, perceptive and well-researched her art is, lots more going on here than cowgirl cutouts. Levine works in wood that she cuts, carves, layers and paints into complex 3-dimensional pieces. She primarily uses Japan color because it is lightfast and dries quickly. One of my favorites is La Frontera III in the shape of map of the US, bordered with a chain, pennies strewn within the borders, and the emblem of US Department of Immigration and Naturalization at the top, with a drug dog logo in its center, his long red tongue hanging out and overlapping the government seal. The Golem is another favorite; this one of George W. Bush in his military gear, standing on the flaming ruins of the World Trade Center and surrounded by cutout heads of Condi and Colin, Rummy and Cheney and the rest of the gang – like little putty witnesses to the apotheosis. Beneath Bush’s feet are images of the twelve hijackers. Levine explains that the golem is a figure from Jewish folktale, a kind of clay man who seems like a real person, but lacks
The Golem Excess of evil
The Golem La Frontera III
depth, intellect, and spirit, a kind of hollow man. In subsequent email Levine refers to Bush as the “Proxydent.” Her acerbic wit is unrelenting. Levine arrived in Marathon from Seattle in 1991. She was raised in New Jersey and attended Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. Her interest in cowgirl iconography inspired a search for the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, in the proximity of which she had envisioned opening a restaurant. The Cowgirl Hall of Fame (closed on Saturdays) at that time was located in the dusty little town Hereford, TX – and, after her visit there, Levine realized that it probably wasn’t the right location for a restaurant. She did, however, sell some of her cowgirl cutouts, presented to Hall of Fame inductees in 1993 or 1994. Brochures of other places in west Texas led Levine to consider Alpine and Ft. Davis, where she and Gary, her partner, initially landed. She wanted to live separate from mainstream culture, in a town without a Walmart. During that time she showed her art at Lovejean’s Gallery in Marathon where she eventually relocated. Her cowgirl cutouts were featured in a magazine and this connection, together with ads for her work, gave her a year’s worth of income. When I ask Levine what Marathon is about she tells me that it’s a place for those who want to be left alone and live under the radar – the population is about 800. Its heyday was in the 1940s, when minerals found in the area were mined for the war industry. Nowadays locals work for the Gage or in construction. There are eight or ten other artists living in Marathon. As we walk from the Gage to her house, she comments that she likes living here because she sees a lot that is not man-made and that it’s not an artists’ colony: “the people here are all different.” She shows me Marathon’s first house and schoolhouse. She mentions that she doesn’t drive. Levine’s homestead is wonderful place. The yard is filled desert plants and inside the walls are different shades of green with accents of yellow. In the kitchen the counters are covered with tiles in saturated yellow, orange, brown and green. There are wood floors throughout and the space is open and light, gallery-like, and yet homey, warm, and inviting. Off of the kitchen is her studio, filled with in-process and finished pieces, and illuminated by the intense West Texas light. When she moved to Marathon, Levine began to incorporate more political content into her art, shifting away from the cowgirl cutouts. She tells me that it is difficult to show her work in this area because of the social-political commentary. “It’s hard for me to do work that people want to see or hang on the walls of their homes.” For her, Marathon is a place to live and make art. She comments that she is much happier than she is successful and she is relieved that she doesn’t have to spend her life “marching around in black and attending every art opening.” Not far from here is the town of Marfa, which Levine regards as a place where the New York art scene has been reconstructed on the cheap. I tell her about having seen an article several years ago in Living magazine, all about BBQ and designer homes on the range, Martha does Marfa. We laugh. In college Levine studied with a graduate student who was writing her dissertation on Alexander Calder. One thing that impressed her was “the seamlessness of Calder’s art and life, the manner in which he satisfied his requirements by being self-sufficient…he solved his own problems by using his hands and the materials available to make what he needed, rather than thinking of artists as elite professionals who manufacture luxury objects to titillate a bored and attenuated upper class…” Calder made functional things, not products. Levine has always regarded Calder’s work as kindred with her own which she describes as having “occupied the same border territory as his, where art, craft, and toys elbow one another.”
Levine rarely makes art that is autobiographical, based on her own experiences or origins. And twice during our conversation, she says that she wonders if this is a deflection – a way of not dealing with her interior self, her “personal issues.” One of the pieces she shows me in her studio, however, refers to a childhood experience. “Hebrew School Blowback” is a replica of the collection cans that were used for donations to the United Jewish Appeal. The coin slot on top is in the shape of an uzi and the center of the cylinder is cut out and exposes an interior that houses the Hamas logo and a Palestinian woman suicide bomber. On the back of the can is the “Plant a Tree” logo from the Jewish National Fund. Levine explains that “the ostensible purpose of these collections was to ‘plant a tree in Israel.’ We were taught that Israel was a barren wasteland populated by do-nothing, lazy Arabs, and that it took the Jews to ‘make the desert bloom’…we gladly put our nickels in the cans…Now it has become common knowledge that the money collected aided in the establishment of settlements in the Occupied Territories, which in turn have led to the rise of violent resistance organizations such as Hamas. It is difficult to realize that one has been subjected to propaganda – and participated, even unknowingly, in ethnic cleansing.” Her time in Hebrew School “coincided with the Six Day War, which heralded not only the increased militarization and aggression of the Israeli government, but also the advent of what is known as the Holocaust Industry – that shameful use of past oppression to justify more death in the present. I feel that it is somehow necessary to disassociate myself from the actions on the Israeli government, and this piece is my attempt to acknowledge and atone for my complicity.” Indeed, Levine regards her art as a way of paying for her time on the planet. Her work is obsessive, detailed, and learned, clearly the expression of someone well-read, astute. She refers to an essay by Baudrillard on “The Spirit of Terrorism” (LeMonde, 2/11/02), an analysis of how hegemony invites terror. Levine loves the additive process and detail that draws the viewer into her work. She creates visual texts that must be “read” and in this sense her work is as textual as it is textural. She’s influenced by toys and board games; loves to miniaturize, making small versions of big things, and to incorporate things from the past. She often uses verbal rather than visual clues and loves doing commissions because she gets to understand things outside herself, beyond her own range of knowledge. Laurie Churchill is the Director of Assessment at New Mexico State University in the USA. The above essay can be found in the forthcoming publication West Texas Women Artists: From the Panhandle to Big Bend (Texas Tech Press) Further works and photographs of Abby Levine can be found at http:// www.abbyart.com/
Chicken Stew by Sarah Fell
She looked across at him through the serving-hatch and watched him page through the Daily News. She stood chopping peeled carrots, two at a time, into little orange medallions. Onions sizzled in a pan nearby. She glared at the face hidden behind the printed pages, thinking, “How nice for you to come home and put your feet up, read the paper, watch TV, while someone else cooks you dinner, bathes your children, and then lies waiting for you in bed.” As she chopped, the heavy blade knocked against wood: hollow, sharp, a high-pitched resonance that jarred in her mind. She tried to focus on the growing mound of orange, but was increasingly aware of the pile of dishes in the sink next to her. The night before last, he had offered to wash them after dinner. “Don’t worry Honey, I’ll do them for you. Tonight can be your night off.” The kids were at her sister’s. They had made love against the fridge, up on the stove, the plates cold against her bare skin, and then he had carried her upstairs to bed, leaving dishes and shoes and underwear for a time when things like that mattered. The next day, she had had a sick child to look after and a husband that had come home drunk and so the dirty dishes sat for another day. And she watched him as she began to peel potatoes and thought, perhaps she wouldn’t do them today, see if he’d notice. See if he’d even care. He probably wouldn’t notice if a plate went sailing past his head right now, straight out the window. That would save her some time. She smiled as she imagined herself picking one up, pausing as she thought, the potato peeler in her hand, poised in mid-air. In her mind, she picked up the plate, and drawing her hand back for some momentum, adjusted her aim to her husband’s balding head that was peering at her from above the newspaper. She imagined hurling the plate so that it smashed on his skull, pieces of white porcelain bouncing off the walls and scattering on the floor in all directions. He would look up in surprise, cry out, and his eyes would widen as she reached for another to fling at his cowering form. She looked down at the potato in her hand and continued peeling, but this time with a little more fervour as she envisioned his head, his anguished squeals as slices of pink fell from the peeler to the chopping board. Moving onto the chicken, the delight she felt as she ripped flesh from bone rose to her face that was beginning to look a little flushed as she continued to smile to herself. Her eyes sparkled when she added the meat to the pan, as the fat sizzled and spat; and while boiling potatoes hissed and sang she stood, hands flat on the counter, and she listened. After chopping and mashing and frying every little part of her husband that she could conceive of, she dished up a plate heaped with steaming chicken stew and took it to her husband with a knife and fork. She placed her hand on his shoulder and beamed down at him saying, “There you go, Honey.” And he, lowering his newspaper and looking up at her with adoring eyes said, “Thank you Darling, that looks delicious. And don’t you look lovely today.”
The Good Thief Interview by Lorraine Berry
I have the perfect book for both of those situations. Hannah Tinti’s The Good Thief is so good, it will make you forget time, the weather; it might even cause you to lose sleep as you read just “one more chapter” in an effort to find out what’s happening. Men often came for children. Sometimes it was for cheap labor, sometimes for a sense of doing good. The brothers of Saint Anthony’s would stand the orphans in a line, and the men would walk back and forth, inspecting. It was easy to tell what they were looking for by where their eyes went. Usually it was to boys almost fourteen, the taller ones, the loudest, the strongest. Then their eyes went down to the barely crawling, the stumbling two-year olds—still untainted and fresh. This left the in-betweens—those who had lost their baby fat and curls but were not yet old enough to be helpful. These children were usually ill-tempered, and had little offer but empty stomachs and a bad case of lice. Ren was one of them.” And thus we meet Ren. Ren should be among the older boys—the cheap labor that farmers come to the orphanage to find. But Ren’s left hand was severed in an event that happened before he was left—anonymously and in secret—at the orphanage. Somewhere between his entry into the world and his delivery through the door of Saint Anthony’s, Ren had lost it. He wondered where the hand was now. He closed his eyes and saw it clearly, palm open, the fingers slightly curled. He imagined it behind a dustbin, inside a wooden box, hidden in the grasses of a field. He did not consider size. He did not think that it would no longer fit him. Ren simply looked at his right hand and thought about its match waiting patiently somewhere in the world for him to retrieve it.
Sometimes, it can be odd to be writing content for a magazine that is in another hemisphere. Here, in the Finger Lakes of New York this January morning, it is -3F, with wind chills that are blowing up to -20F. It’s the kind of day that makes you want to do nothing but curl up with a mug of tea and a great book. Of course, summer often provokes the same feelings in me. The sun, the warmth, the beach, and lying on a blanket, sipping a cool drink and reading a great book—that all sounds fantastic. 138 //www.framelines.org
Ren knows that he will never be one of the chosen. Who would take on a crippled boy to help with heavy farm work, dangerous work in a mill or smithy? And then, that proverbial “one day” happens. A man shows up and when he sees Ren, he falls upon him, claiming that Ren is his long-lost younger brother for whom he has been searching for years. The stranger tells a fantastic tale (and as a reviewer, it’s a story much too good to spoil it for you) and before nightfall, Ren has left with his brother to begin his new life. In the Nineteenth Century, writers, most notably Charles Dickens, had their work serialized in weekly or monthly magazines, and people would wait anxiously for the next installment. (Not unlike the Harry Potter phenomenon of recent years.) One can easily imagine Hannah Tinti’s book in this tradition. Each chapter ending dares you to continue reading, if only to find out what happens next, and then, once you’ve done that, you continue because she’s introduced you to a new character or plunked you into a new situation, and you just have to know.
The Good Thief written by Hannah Tinti, 2008 139
Tinti is a clever writer and she creates whole-cloth, a world in which the living and the dead, the real and the make-believe, mix and mingle in such a way that her fictional world seems more believable than the one we find ourselves in now. The Good Thief is pure joy. So, grab a copy, fix yourself a drink, pull up a chair, and prepare to get lost. Hannah, those of us who live in the United States are familiar with Salem, Massachusetts for a number of reasons. Could you explain to our readers in Australia why growing up in a town like Salem could have had some influence on your writing? Salem, Massachusetts was established in 1626, but it is perhaps most famous for the witch trials that happened there in 1692, where hundreds of people were arrested for witchcraft, nineteen were hanged and one was crushed to death with stones. It is also the birthplace of the famous American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. There are some houses from this time period still standing, but most left in the historical parts of the city are from the 1700s and 1800s. I grew up on one of these streets, so there were constant reminders everyday of the people who had lived there before us—from the cobblestones to the back staircases and dumbwaiters and giant fireplaces. My novel, The Good Thief, is set in New England in the early 1800s, and so it was easy for me to imagine the setting, and what it might feel like to walk through the towns of North Umbrage and Granston. You have set The Good Thief back in the 19th century. That’s ancient history for Americans and Australians, but fairly recent for many other cultures. Why do you think that the 19th century holds such fascination for American writers? It was a period of great change for America. There were also parts of the country that were still wild and uncharted, and I think that is why writers are fascinated by that time. Immigrants would come to America for a fresh start, for an adventure—and that is what every author is looking for, when choosing a place to set their characters. In reading the The Good Thief, I was reminded of a writer like Charles Dickens, although I also felt the gothic horror that permeated the work of both Poe and Hawthorne. Were any of these writers an influence on your own work? I would say that all three were an influence. When I started working on the book, and realized that it was going to be a novel, I definitely looked to the structural form of Dickens’s work—his books were serialized in magazines and newspapers, so each chapter has its own narrative arc. It was the only way I could think of going about writing a novel—up until that point, I’d only written short stories. As for Hawthorne, I grew up in Salem, the same place where he was born, and so I’ve read his work since I was a little girl. His story “Young Goodman Brown” still haunts my dreams. And Poe has always been a favorite of mine—not only did he invent the classic detective story, he was also completely unafraid to go to the darkest places of his mind. For me as a reader, I found this book “unputdownable.” What was the writing process like for you when composing this book? Did it come out in a rush, or was it slow, steady work? It took me six years to write the book, from start to finish. Of course, I had to put it down a number of times during that period, and work on other things, but it took a long time. Parts of the novel came in a rush, like the first scene I wrote, where they resurrect Dolly, as well as the following chapter, where Ren and Dolly become friends. That section has barely changed, and now falls in the middle of the book. But the story has gone through many, many drafts, expanding and contracting like an accordion. I slaved over every paragraph, so the fact that it now reads so quickly makes me very happy. Writing is like pulling off a magic trick—it should look effortless.
Ren was one of the most sympathetic characters I have identified with in recent readings. How did you feel about him? And where did he come from? Ren first appeared when I was writing a sketch of a scene. It was a graveyard at night, and behind the cemetery gate two men were robbing graves. On the other side of the fence, I knew they would have a horse and carriage and lookout of some kind, probably a young boy. As I was describing the boy, and how frightened he was, I realized that he was missing his left hand. Once I discovered this, it opened him up as a character. I wanted to know everything about him—how he lost his hand, and how he ended up with this group of thieves. After writing a few chapters, I backtracked to explore his history, and before long I realized he was going to be the hero of my book. What I like about Ren is that he sees the good in the worst of people. He’s also not an ingénue. He steals things and commits crimes, but he has a strong sense of morality, even as he bends the rules. “North Umbrage” is a fantastic place name. Why did you choose it, and is the reader supposed to find symbolic meaning in its definition? I wanted the town to be dank and dreary. It carries a heavy history with it—all the men of North Umbrage were buried alive in a mine—so it made sense to use “North” (I come from the North shore of Boston, where everything is colder—the water, the air, the snow). “Umbrage” is most often used as a feeling of offense or suspicion, but it also means shade from the foliage of trees—and trees figure significantly, throughout the book. So although this is a frightening and unfriendly setting, it is where Ren at last finds a home. Good things, I think, are often hidden in dark places. It’s interesting that as the United States was eradicating entire cultures of Native Americans, they could still stand as the bogey man for children. Do you think there are modern day equivalents in our culture? I think that bogeymen will always exist, whenever people do not try and understand others’ history, and cultures are reduced to stereotypes. Right now, in America, you can see this with the depiction of Iraqis and the fear of the Middle East—in the last election, for example, now President Barack Obama had been called an Arab and a terrorist—a ploy by the right wing to frighten those in our country who do not understand the difference. Nearly all of the characters in The Good Thief are male. As a female writer, did you have any trouble assuming the voice of men? I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy, so it wasn’t a problem for me. That said, I feel most comfortable writing in third person, where there is a bit of distance between myself and the characters I’m writing about. That way I can observe them, and usually they show me what they want to do next. What advice would you give to a writer who is just beginning to explore his or her voice? Try everything. And then follow your instincts.
Lisa Camillo Poet
Why Ravens Are Black The raven goes, it never rests, Flies away when in danger, Smart, dark, steals to survive. The raven used to be content Wind beneath his white wings Flew high and free Loved life and everyone The world was a great, full place No danger in the horizon Pure soul, pure wind, free spirit The sky was blue, no clouds around Everything was provided to him The sky was limitless And he wanted to reach it. He flew above oceans, Rocky mountains, Green curvy valleys He wanted to take me with him On the top of his white silky feathers To share the joy A wonderful bright world. One day things changed forever A pretty little boy Threw a rock at his candid wing How could somebody do that? To a happy bird that was flying in the sky? Paranoid, he was scared of everybody Fire, dirt, rain and blood To turn his feathers black To hide himself from harm and pain To avoid turning into somebodyâ€™s gain He doesnâ€™t want to take me up there anymore But hide with me Into the darkness with his black shiny feathers
Artist Classifieds cont...
Frame Lines Submissions Edition #8 Contrasting Landscapes
Frame Lines takes you beyond the spaces in which you live and think. Join us in our trek across cultural and architectural landscapes, from wide-angle to closeup, from the big smoke to the great outdoors, from well-trodden paths into places not many dare venture. What’s your story? How does your home compare with those you’ve seen? Send us travel tales and poetry about places few and far between... Submissions Close - 15th March Distributed: May 2009 Booking Deadline: 15th March Deadline for advertising content: 1st April
Edition #9 Hit the Decks
In this edition, we step lively at street level, immersing ourselves in streetwise culture, deck design, vehicle art, urban sport and the musical arts of turntableism and hip hop. We meet with outreach groups and find out what life is like for the people that call the streets their home. We will discuss many of the problems facing life on the street, and speak to those that have used art to help them get their lives back on track. Que pasa por la calle? (What’s happening on the street?) Put your ear to the ground and you’re sure to find out. Submissions Close - 1st May Distributed: August 2009 Booking Deadline: 15th Juune Deadline for advertising content: 1st July
Edition #10 Under the Radar
We fly low to discover what lies on the cultural horizons. Futuristic fashion, funky tunes, and concepts to blow your mind. We’ll talk to the creative minds that are constantly pushing the envelopes of style, substance and stuff of dreams. We’ll shed light on hip trends from the past and present, ranging from the uber-cool to the frankly bizarre in this study of what it is to be subculture. Submissions Close - 1st August Distributed: November 2009 Booking Deadline: 15th September Deadline for advertising content: 1st October
Frame Lines is a non-profit organization and creative community dedicated to showcasing and supporting creative work from around the world, it is totally independent venture run with the creative dedication and passion of Sarah, Jeremy and Lisa, along with our crew and regular Frame Lines contributors! Our energy comes from our passion to nurture the development, production, and promotion of our contemporary artists and writers. Our task is to engage broadly and investigate profoundly what it is to be alive, to be human, to be and to be a citizen of the world. Our artists and writers allow us to channel this by letting their art shine the pages of Frame Lines. We are dedicated to enlivening the senses, stimulating the mind, and provoking discussion about diversity in the world in which we live ....
Published on Feb 28, 2009
Imagination - the ability to spontaneously generate images within one’s own mind. Some say it helps to provide meaning to experience and und...