Found this old sketch in my notebook of a character I created called Blockhead O’Yeah, and he was a cubist piece of art who had come to life to inspire his fellow characters. This little nugget of wisdom must have been my subconscious giving me a pep talk!
Found some old sketches in my notebook for a series of large scale paintings I wanted to do called The Palate Series (or maybe The Pallet Series) which used sayings and phrases from different languages (English, French, German, Swedish) that played with the idea of language – often a linguistic turn of phrase or idea. Also, I was enamoured with the idea of these kinda pop art style paintings that used words as the central imagery, and how the words were literally exploding with colour at the heart of the canvas. I hope to return to these some day and paint them on large canvases.
One more from my sketchbooks at the turn of the millennium. This may have been an idea I was toying with as a fake ad campaign for our arty, satirical website artlick.com, or perhaps it was just a little gag for my own amusement. Either way, something about the simplicity and silliness of it still really appeals to me. In this day and age of craft beers, it almost feels like something that could happen.
Another one from my sketchbooks around the year 2001 or 2002. This one was drawn during a pretty politically charged and sensitive time in America, and I had just lived through the September 11th terrorist attacks, so was undoubtedly influenced by that. But at the same time it feels kind of jokey and irreverent, which also seems to fit. I remember having a notion of doing a series of these with different body parts and culminating in a full lifesize outline of a person.
Spotted this the other night as I was flicking through one of my dad’s final sketchbooks. To me this sketch is a haiku that folds a whole universe into it. This was the last time he drew me and it is a great snapshot of a fond moment. Drawn on a sweltering humid day in the apartment I was subletting in Brooklyn. The air conditioner was broken, so we cracked open some ice cold Red Stripe beers we picked up at the Jamaican corner store. He sketched with charcoals while I played Bob Dylan songs badly. His hand starting to tremor already, but his eye still keen, and the lines still quite certain. By the next summer when he came to visit me, he was unable to draw any more due to his illness and he filled his days going to the Met and the MoMA to marvel at the masters instead. Happy times.
I was sifting through an old series of sketchbooks I kept during my time living in New York and found some fun old doodles, ideas and unfinished concepts. This one, The Table of Ideas, was one that I’m no longer sure what I was trying to do with. I know that it was inspired by some very dense philosophical writings I had encountered in college by two gents who went by Horkheimer and Adorno. However none of the actual substance of the book formed part of this idea, but really just the colour scheme of the book it looks like. See for yourself (the actual book is a bot more orange looking).
Then the idea must have evolved somehow to become a working idea for artlick, a website I ran for fun with my good friends Dave and Jenn (more on that some other time). The idea clearly never left the sketchbook stage, possibly because I have no idea what the ultimate goal was – maybe a section of the site was going to be called this, and would be a place to spark conversations and ideas? You have to remember the internet back in 1999 / 2000 was a pretty clunky slow place, so we may have jettisoned this idea purely because messageboards and virtual guestbooks were the main way of interacting with a website, and that was well beyond our primitive web skills.
At some point the idea seems to have been conflated with other ones and reverted back to being The Dialectic of Enlightenment, but now by some new authors Bo Henstergaard and Ulf Hammarsten. I think this was some reference to a Swedish radio documentary I had heard about hemp farmers (strange I know!), and I loved the names of the people being interviewed, so I mucked around with their names to make them sound even more unusual, and then clearly made them the new authors of this seminal philosophical tome. That must have tickled me for some reason
At this point the idea had clearly spiralled in on itself and become some weird set of personal references and touchpoints, that mean almost nothing to me now several years later. Still though, I think the central concept of being able to visit a Table of Ideas, whatever that may be, is a nice one. Worth revisiting maybe.