Monday, January 12, 2009


Art hurts.

It used to when I was little...the struggle to understand a two dimensional world, to make my small hands do as they were told. But one has layers of innocence and a sense of wonder to buffer the pain of the new experience. This is how it should be to my mind, an unfolding of the senses a child does quiet naturally, only on a much higher, instinctual curve.

It most certainly hurt when I entered the comics field back in the mid eighties. I'd never done this before and I had only my overwhelming desire to make something as good as Bryan Talbot's "Luther Arkwright" or BWS's "the Beguiling"... the two major inspirations at the time. But like pure punk music, the Puma Blues" it failed, but failed splendidly. Seldom noticed in it's time save when the powers that be, you know, those guys, made an issue of it's presence. Rarely reviewed, it non the less had people behind it. I had people behind me. Friends, collaborators, interested parties that filled the vacuum of the project as an on going work. It made the effort to try to meet a personal benchmark a little easier.

Then something went subtly wrong. I suppose the demands of life, a newer, or better still a new car, a real house and studio....a stable existence gathered an unusual importance. Though somewhere inside a small voice cried out to be careful, the idea seemed OK. Another learning curve hit and I was off again in uncharted territory. I'd never had to curb my abilities before in service to other protocols and while at the time, it was at least interesting, and the money, oh, the money was very good, I freely admit to being uncomfortable indeed.

But, I had friends, colleagues, admirers, artistic and interesting folk to share the world with, so it seemed to be a trade off I could live with to a large degree.

But, you know, I'm not a pop star, I'm not in show biz, not really an idol of millions, and never wanted to be. For a while there all kinds of doors seemed to open for the asking......

What they don't tell you is that you pay not at the front desk, but when you try to check out.

That damn voice in my head. That kid trying to grasp the passing vision with a pencil and paper on a hot summer afternoon in his room, would have his say, if it killed him.

It nearly did.

So. Hear I am. free of restraint and obligation to satisfy the program. Back to a place where art hurts. Trying with everything I have to seize this dream and make it worth the effort.

No one calls anymore, no one writes, and there is no one encouraging and interested in the struggle to transcend myself. No one to discuss the bigger issues with. I shouldn't be surprised, as Independence and my own single minded drive to excel me is so personal a thing that few are willing these days to step that close to fire this hot. It's just me, not being a very good salesman, not liking the business of promoting myself. But it's not me want to promote, it's the's always just the work.

And then there is that old bugaboo, time.

I'm not getting physically any younger. My time here is limited. I see that now, and I have far to much work to do before the passing of my dream. It hurts. Like hell.

I have and will have constant pain from a back injury, I'm constantly on guard for heart disease and colon cancer, two genetic markers that are strong in me as my fathers son. I fight with subsistence living, worried about the mortgage and being able to supply myself with the necessary materials to continue.

And it gets fiercely lonely sometimes. Again, I shouldn't be surprised, my exit from the mainstream was not very graceful and grace under fire is to be desired.

Least you think this is just a litany of crows bitching in a dead tree, there are so many rewards.

I have a lovely home, and the finest companion a man could ever want. I have cloths to wear and food to eat and warmth when it's cold and cool when it's not.

But art hurts and I get lonely for those friends some days.

Digging deep into your soul to find the truth without the savage veneer of pop culture has never been something the masses have been overly interested in. Cool.

So, when I have enough to give you, enough worth giving by my standards and no one else's, I'll give them to you.......

The question then, is how badly will I fail.

Art hurts.



The Curious Umbrella said...

It does hurt. I'm 28 and people are still telling me to find a job to "fall back on" and to do my artwork "in your spare time". As if I had any. Who do you know that has spare time?

When it gets very bad, I think 'one day I'll be dead and none of this will have mattered.' Sometimes that makes it easier; to draw back and look at the long span of time, and how insignificant anything is. Or how equally significant.

I hope you keep making things. You were one of the first artists I felt true delight for, more than half my life ago now. I'm glad you exist, and I'm always here if you want a stranger to talk to.

Dragon said...

There are billions of people who would love the opportunity to walk away from success, who will never know what success is, who will never have that warm place to live, enough food, a wonderful companion. We’re all going to die too soon – be it heart disease, colon cancer, violence, starvation or neglect. Most won’t have accomplished what they feel life could have been for them, their talents, realized or not, will never be displayed or fulfilled.

That’s one of the problems of being an American. We don’t know what suffering is, because most of us have never seen the world’s real darkness. Horror here is driving an old car, wearing second hand clothes, being late with the rent or mortgage payment, not being able to go to McDonald’s the last week of the month.

You are an amazing artist, blessed with talent. Those billions of people would give anything to have your skills. If you refuse to work to formulas or join the regimented workforce, more power to you, but then don’t bitch about it – just keep working, doing your best at what you want to do, and be commercial enough to afford your materials. If that little bit of sacrifice hurts, tough shit. You need to do it to keep living the way you want.

As far as friends and acquaintances not calling or writing, when’s the last time you contacted them? You’ve got supporters everywhere if you were more approachable and responsive.

I’m sorry if I seem harsh, but your pain, although real to you, would seem minor to a lot of people and would seem like the selfish cry of a spoiled 57 year old brat. I used to learn from your posts, they were intelligent and informative. Now they’re just whines. You want some cheese with that?