The vast bulk of this last period has consisted of:
Piggy-backing my theory work on “Play” into the creation of the above and below Four Virtues, which took FOREVER to make; I clocked something like 63 hours on that one— The timelapse is like 21 minutes by itself! I will expound on this one further below.
Panicking about the validity of trying to piggyback my MFA theory work into my professional work, but what choice do I have?
Arranging all of my semester’s content into a book for pinup that matches my last pinup books, as a sort of ongoing bonus-content-type-thing.
Helping VCFA classmate Lex Poolos by repairing, refurbishing, and operating a Risograph printing press and collaborating with her to print her EOS work.
Panicking about Pecha Kucha and making an illustration/design/performative piece.
some other stuff I can’t even really remember, like building a small array of computers to display my animated work at pinup.
The Virtues is really what took about 80% of my time here, from concepting through completion. I did a lot of conceptual thinking on the 4 pieces, trying to incorporate my grids, play, and practical application from throughout the semester. Notes Below:
1 of 4: TEMPUS FUGIT
or “Time Flies.” Death as a bartender serving the sand of an hourglass. (Subtle Tarot reference here, with the Nine of Cups. I’m not a tarot type but thought it would be cool to sneak in.) Often found on analog clocks and watches up until the mid-20th century, “Tempus Fugit" reminds the reader to take advantage of the short time we have being alive, and sort of primes the story of the remaining virtues. Representing Autumn, a slow cooling, contemplative, cycle of life season.
2 of 4: FRUI VITA NOCERE NON
“Enjoy Life, But Harm None.” Just because we need to take advantage of every second, as our grim bartender reminds us, doesn’t mean we need to do so at other’s expense. Taking joy in simple things, like listening to music from a DJ with friends at a venue (Uh, Uh, like St. Vitus!) is a worthwhile expenditure of time. Representing Summer, full of life, joy, love and energy.
3 of 4: NOSCE TE IPSUM,
“Know Thyself.” A person helping lift someone struggling with how they present themself to the world. But while supposedly being magnanimous in helping another, the person they are helping up is actually themself and while doing so they’re taking a selfie— begging the question of why we choose to help people; for the sake of it or for the act to be known by others? Does that really matter, if someone is finding help? Has social media irrevocably warped not just how we show ourselves to the world, but how view ourselves? I don’t know how to answer any of these, but find the questions worth pondering.
The geometric pattern behind them is an Enneagram, a popular personality test on the internet, often passed around in social media circles.
Of the 4 windows, this one is representing Winter, cold, calculating thought, the season with everyone siloed in their own snug little worlds.
Originally for this commission, I was leaning far heavier into the whole “dystopian” side of the prompt, so each piece was a sort of critique on social media or some other trope of modern existence. But really I wanted an overall more uplifting tone given the venue, and so came down more on virtues than vices. This piece is the closest to the original theme throughout.
4 of 4: AMOR VINCIT OMNIA
“Love Conquers All.” A stereotypical warrior figure dropping his sword for the pursuit of stillness and beauty, of growing life instead of sowing pain.
One of the reasons i choose to depict mostly women or more gender neutral figures in work like this is to sort of balance the scales in my own way; we’ve had enough men in powerful positions posturing and posing and generally looking like dictators. However, I also think it’s important to assist in questioning the hyper-machismo of mainstreamed masculinity— that is to say, that beauty, elegance, softness, and care are just as much (or should be) a part of being a guy as anything else; in the same way that strength, power, and fortitude is as much a part of the feminine as anything else. .
Anything a woman chooses to do can be feminine simply because she chooses to do it, in the same way that wearing a flower crown can be masculine for the man who wears it— the difference here only being the words “feminine” and “masculine” and societies expectations wrapped around their respective definitions. We all have this built in to some amount, and it’s a healthy exercise to try to weed out any toxicity we inadvertently express, and maybe help blur those lines a bit. You know, if you value silly things like “equality.”
Or i dunno maybe someone in an intoxicated rage will look at it briefly it’ll stop a drunken bar fight at some point?
If you know @tylerthrasherart personally, after reading above now you know why I (again) used him as reference. Representing Spring, peace bringing growth, life, and vibrancy.
It’s amazing that when I have been playing, how much mental load-lifting ability is freed up to think about concept and form behind a piece.
A view of the venue, St. Vitus, where the above illustrations will serve as stained glass windows (Printed on transparent film and applied to the glass to either side of the pulpit/DJ booth.)
RisoGraph @ Flashflood Print Studios
I got a chance from May Yang of Flash Flood Print Studios (Whom I rebranded earlier this year) to pull from my printer’s experience to repair and help print on a risograph, a machine that sort of combines a cylinder letterpress, silkscreen and a copier into one.
Fraud, Pt. III
ROUGH ROUGH ROUGH (it will be nothing like the below.)
I spent a good 10 years trying to go to grad school, and in March of 2018 I wholeheartedly gave up on that goal. I’d applied to gotten into dozens of programs during that time, but things just never lined up to allow me to go— usually because of money. So, I decided to take the toddler approach and say, shit, if the world doesn’t want me to be able to go to school to get my MFA so I can teach, I’ll just open my own school! WAH!
So when Jen Renko kicked down my door repeatedly over a two year period and slapped me in the face with a rolled up VCFA catalogue and acceptance letter and I finally said yes, I wasn’t really sure what to do with the process I had already began to open a teaching studio in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Called Studio Holmlia, it was and is designed to serve potential designers and illustrators in a space between the local community college and having to leave town for a big, expensive art school— a situation which drains Tulsa of its talent and its talent of money. Meant to be like a botega or atelier, students would have one-on-one instruction and mentor ship inside a working studio space, paired with a “master,” much like art was taught for 500 years before Duchamp. Sort of like piano lessons, but where the scales are played in the keys of C, M, Y, and K.
So I renovated this idea in the context of actually coming to grad school: I would use my time at VCFA to add academic rigor and validity to the program I wished to start. For once in my life, I wanted to focus on the same goal for more than 6 months— a luxury my life had heretofore not allowed me. I was dead set on making myself actually not jump off into some other exploration, I wanted to focus on this end task for the full two years. Natalia, in my first semester, threw many banana peels at me— writing? What? But fortunately my powers of rationalization are vast, and I was soon gliding again towards my goal on banana peel skis. Writing a book on design and theory done through storytelling and metaphor— essential characteristics of my way of working— would form the backbone of the cirriculum for my school.
So, I encountered my first sort of “zoom-in” on my idea. Big picture: Teaching Studio. Medium picture: Book, a basis of my teaching philosophy. By the end of that semester, I had zeroed in on just one chapter. Maybe, I thought, I’m not actually focusing in on smaller and smaller details, but just fighting a battle of diminishing returns?
And then, this semester, I zoomed in further: To a list of ideals, things which I had admonished students to do but had actually been fairly awful at replicating for myself. From that list, a glaring example of my own hypocrisy shone most brightly: the ability to play. Matthew had to shield his eyes while explaining how glaring my ability in this regard was. Like a neutron star gone supernova, my own discipline and will to apply everything to a practical outcome had a gravity so dense not even fun could escape.
(… unfinished, currently writing more and adding as I go.)
WRITING NOTES FOR MAKING FINAL PIECE & PECHA KUCHA
Asshole pt. 3: definitely decided to celebrate giving up on design by not only enrolling in an MFA program, but having the gall to desire opening a design teaching studio.
Double asshole: this design studio and my practice has become more about rendering images and illustration, whoops. What do i even do?
Came to VCFA to ask, what is this barrier between art and design? Is it real? Who believes it? Why? What’s is wrong with everyone? How does this fit into the history of things that matter?
Came to VCFA to start a design school, then
Came to VCFA and declared I was an asshole, which I no longer believe. I may in fact just be funny. A thought which by itself may make me an asshole. And not funny.
Grids or some crap. Started with a book, invented hells unknown, saw fit to give up and give in to play, make a list, and then practically apply it.
Am I a designer who can illustrate, or an illustrator who draws like a designer? Who Cares?
Should I make my own School? How bout a book for the school? How bout a chapter? How about one single idea, play? Talk about diminishing returns!
What did I do this semester? Fretting, mostly. Fretting and playing, I guess. Not really sure I got either of those right, either.
I did however come up with a few things that popped into place on a personal work note; I finally hit creativity puberty, which is to say I feel like my voice has been popping in my creative throat for a good decade or so, and now it has finally come in. The idea of taking a single iota of my overall goal of creating a teaching studio and expounding on it revealed itself to me.
The idea that I am a storyteller, but that I want to tell other peoples stories and not my own, much to the apparent chagrin of Natalia and now Matthew (its spreading like a disease) was also revealed to me and allowed me to produce a number of performative pieces consisting of an animated illustration that draws itself as I speak on from a piece of writing, all three parts being works of fiction voiced in the tone of an equally fictitious and self-deprecating parody of myself in front of a live audience.
Storytelling example: how little it takes to tell a story: 2 film images, jason and natalia and her reaction
I also learned that the fact that I prefer to write and create work about other people and not myself, avoiding describing the contours of my own life, is in fact my story and hints a lot about what my life has contained.
Play, why do people even
Things I realize i’m into:
Storytelling, mine or others’
The passage of time
Performance, as it relates to being alive vs. dead
Repetition & Cycles
Natural tendencies for structure to form from chaos
Generated a Bunch of pieces I’m not really sure what to do with; but one could argue I spent this semester filling up my buckets?