The discussion in Felix Sockwell's page about sources of inspiration made me go back and remember what exactly jumpstarted for me the way of working I have been doing for almost twenty years now. It is a good excuse to talk in general about inspirations too.
As a Junior year student at SVA in 1990, I haven't done almost any collage before. My main interest were Caricature and Illustration but due to my own frustration with my 'performance' in these fields, and my 'advanced' age (was already 27) I switched to major in Graphic Design. An independent Caricature class with Sam Viviano, a Mad Magazine illustrator and nowadays, the AD of Mad, was the only real illustration class I was taking that semester. (that was a suggestion of Richard Wilde the head of Graphic Design). Working with Sam one on one led to some deep introspection and to some experimenting which produced my first collage piece. I have a very vivid recollection of the sort of images I was looking at or admiring back then.
Andre François was a major favorite of mine at the time. I loved the dialogue between object and painted line in this image. The fact that there is only one 'object' makes us really understand its essence, its reason to be there, and thus the message is so clearly communicated.
I kept borrowing from the library a book of Tulio Pericoli and kept looking in it. Sam Viviano and I were examining this amazing Beckett caricature and it hit us that the coat seemed to be made on a different piece of paper and glued on top. That led Sam to introduce the term 'collage' to our talks for the first time..
I found this poster in the Picture Collection of the Mid Manhattan Library (shhhhh I stole it and still have it here with me, ok ok less dramatic than that, I did pay the fine) I was totally amazed by its minimalism. With so little, so much is said here. Once I saw it I said: I can get likenesses with little information too! I'm going to try that on Saddam Hussein.
During the late eighties the images of Sandy Skoglund were in every poster and postcard shop. I loved them and had postcards of them pinned to the wall.
As someone who had trouble controlling a complex palette, I was attracted to the limited yet exact use of color. These images also created an emotional story with quite a simple idea.
Also, looking at Skoglund's work, the whole idea of hierarchy of elements and colors became clearer to me. Guy Billout as my teacher had a lot to do with me understanding it. Guy is the Master of guiding your eye through a page exactly to where he wants it to go!
Also I got to see a couple of shows of Skoglund in Soho. I still love her work.
God knows how but with all those images in my head and with the strike of luck of a box of matches being there at the right time, (and remember this is the time RIGHT BEFORE the First Gulf War) within 2 weeks I think I came up with this first caricature collage.
Perhaps the biggest luck of all was also having the right teachers around at the time: Sam Viviano, Guy Billout, Carin Goldberg as a Graphic Design teacher, Jack Potter as an amazing Drawing teacher and Richard Wilde not only as teacher but also as an enthusiastic advocate of me developing myself as a caricaturist while majoring in Graphic Design.
Since Barry Blitt has been behaving so annoyingly, I decided it is time to share the curious unknown case of the kidnapping of the two short Jewish illustrators by a gang of....were they drag-queens?..or something..which took case in the mid 90's.
They just wouldn't have enough of us...it was hell.
(Look, Barry seems to be half smiling here..)
Im getting ready and excited about my USA trip. Preparing my talk for next Wednesday at The Society of Illustrators I came upon this portrait which together with Nancy Stahl's post reminded me of my days in NY in which I was quite addicted to watching the US Open and even got to go a couple of times to watch matches live, including one of the last Jimmy Connors years in the circuit. This is the late eighties. When Connors was keeping the fans up the whole night and Andre Agassi suddenly arrived out of nowhere with his denim shorts.
In 1988, my first year in school (SVA) I took the mythological caricature class of Sam Viviano and for one of the assignments I made this caricature of Jimbo, my hero at the time. These were my days of searching and I guess, of (unsuccesfully) copying other styles. This was probably one of my last pen and in caricatures. 18 years later for my book What Athletes are Made of, I got to make a portrait of Agassi circa 1988 as well. This time more in my regular method of work.. Here are both portraits.
Come on Wednesday at 6:30 to the Society of Illustrators and I'll tell'ya more. (and don't forget you have to come back Friday night for the Politics 08 Opening!)
This is one of the first collages I made. Suddenly I'm not sure whether it was done in 1990 or 1991. I was a student in SVA in NYC studying caricature first with Sam Viviano. Then the following semester I continued the series I started to develop with Sam in a course with Guy Billout.
I don't remember who of them was my teacher when I did that piece... I bought the fake cobweb in Gordon Novelty Store on Broadway, and smoke my first cigar (or at least the tip of it) . I have drawn many strong and powerful cigar smokers since then so I have become a small expert in smoking cigar tips.
When a monthly publication commissions a portrait it can take forever between the time you (me) finish the portrait and the time you (me) can show it in Drawger. So this is a Giuliani I did a while ago for the cover of the current January issue of The Progressive.
It is the second time I draw Giuliani. The previous time was almost 19 years ago in 1989 when I was a Freshman in The School of Visual Arts and Rudy was running (and losing) for Mayor against Dinkins and Koch. (the time of Eighties NYC, Donald Trump and homelessness). In what seems to be a previous lifetime I was at the time studying with Harvey Kurtzman and made this cartoon for the students newspaper of SVA.
Is this what is called sophomoric work or what?
I guess these were the 5 minutes when I wanted to do political cartoons.
Erich Von Daniken who wrote Chariots of The Gods made for Die Weltwoche
Never thought Ill post this one until today following Staake's and Edel's and Richard and..MArk and Adam...post (hey there's more than 4 there!) here's one of my childhood heroes, Erich Von Daniken who had me believe every word he wrote...and since then I was DONE with Science Fiction.
Almost ten (!!) years ago, Haa'retz newspaper in Israel in which I had a regular column, decided to use my work in their advertising campaign. The newspaper had recently started printing in color, and wanted to get rid an (unjustified) image of an old fashion B&W newspaper for old people.
So billboards were put up in town and TV ads were made. (by Shachar Segal, one of Israel's leading commercials directors)
oh and the idea was conceived by ad man 'Mr' Mordi Amar.
This specific one departed from my illustration of Arie Der'i. Der'i was the interior minister of Israel in the Netanyahu government.
A very skilled and powerful politician and the leader of Shas party, a religious sepharadic party which emerged in the nineties, Der'i was accused and convicted on several corruption case and served in prison for some years.
This ad ran while the trial was going on, has a sepharadic-tune prayer for forgiveness as soundtrack and you can see my face for a second there blowing the red paprika away from the tie.
An Ha'aretz poster near the Tel Aviv beach.
And this is my favourite poster location..Haffez Al'Assad and babe.
A blog provides an opportunity to be a bit self reflective so here we go... While I'm far from trying to do "my life in the slanted junkyard" as Randy Enos, I was looking at some past work and thinking of what I have enjoyed doing throughout my short-to-medium-length-size career. My special relationship with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz started with an on-going project which was a regular column I've had there during the years 1996-2001. These were the post Rabin years, the reigns of Netanyahu (fun times for caricature) and Barak. Every month I would choose the person of the month, clear it with the editor, make a portrait of him/her and add text. The text was worked in a similar way to the illustration. These were facts and quotes which I stumbled upon while doing the research (which I do anyway every time I draw somebody) and my 'job' consisted in arranging them in some way which made or didn't make sense. In a way the text was a 'readymade' as well. After 5 years in which I did a mix of international and local figures, I felt I was doing more and more cheesy Israeli TV personalities (cause the politicians weren't necessarily changing) I got tired of it and ended the column. Of course what was great for me there was the fact that I as the illustrator had control of the content, since I was writing the text as well. Taking responsibility for both means being much more involved in a project which inevitably leads to doing better work.
I do not know what that instrument is but once I saw it I knew Assad had one of these at home.
This is how the column looked in the regular Haaretz weekend supplement. This portrait of Sharon was made when he was a minister in the Netanyahu government.
It fitted 'that' image of Sharon as a man of war.
Rabbi Ovadia Yossef was and is the spiritual leader of the Shas political party, which mostly represents Israelies from Sepharadic origins.
So the word "content" was mentioned: APPENDIX: THE STRUGGLE FOR CONTENT CONTROL (Warning - what follows might be perceived as a typical illustrator whining)
I know that there have been more discussions about the 'fight for content' here in Drawger and in other places I'm sure. My two cents of psycho-bubble on that issue are that many illustrators grow complacent because somehow the (American) market spoils us early by ringing us to do jobs, which we at least in the beginning mostly like, they are not too hard, and pay us sort of decently, (it seems HUGE bucks when we are young and fresh out of school). It teaches us to be passive. For most illustrators 'being active' does not mean thinking about new ideas, but it only means 'promoting', sending postcards, buying a page in the web or in a book in which they show work which they didn't initiate. Many successful professionals accept that deal. And it makes a fine life for many, and although I don't mean to criticize whoever chooses to be that way, it is a collective attitude that in my opinion has influenced the way illustrators are seen. Only the minority are the ones who keep thinking of ideas and proposing them to whomever and try to shape their work week/month/year by themselves (for every Brodner, and every Staake, and every Zimm (just to name somebody - I know that many other people in Drawger can be added to that list) there are hundreds of passive lambs waiting for the phone to ring. I have been like that at times. So I guess this post is to tell myself and others to remember that point. It is a mantra I always tell my students and other illustrators: 'try and take charge of the content, don't just settle for interpreting the content of THE MAN'
Perhaps, a good show to have in Drawger is of illustrations the illustrator initiated. We can call it: 'I made that happen'