Wednesday, September 17, 2008

750 words I wrote for Alice Oh

My work starts out as colored pencil drawings. I create these drawings without much forethought. The drawings are an instantaneous reaction to events and situations that I experience. The situations that I am reacting to are not included in my work, just the reaction. This creates an illusive and ambiguous quality to my work that gives it a broader appeal, giving my audience more opportunities to sympathize and/or empathize with my reactions.

My drawings themselves consist of self portraits with an included text element. Sometimes the text is present in the form of speech (generally using speech bubbles) or as an explanation to the reaction my character is having. Stylistically, my self-portraits are a combination of real life observation and Japanese animation. Over the years these portraits have developed into a simple character with expressive eyes, a small mouth and no nose. My character is under constant development, having been created when I was much younger. She has had to grow and age as I have, which puts her in a state of stylistic flux. The lack of a nose developed not only as a way to distance myself from the anime style I was referencing, but also because I just didn’t like the way my character looked with a nose. I’m not very good at drawing noses. Oh well.

Once my drawings have been created I adjust them for a slightly larger scale and then transfer them to a silkscreen using photo emulsion. The screen is then printed onto Japanese paper. This paper is pasted onto a woodblock to act as an exact reference on the matrix. The woodblock is then carved and printed in the reductive fashion; the number of layers depending on the amount of color in the piece. After all the color has been added, the original silkscreen is printed overtop of the woodblock print, adding a consistent graphic outline. This process is still under a certain amount of experimentation.

My influences come from cartoons and comics. As a child I could not have watched more cartoons. Luckily, I grew up in a household where my mother was a working animator, giving me a higher education in the world of animation and its theories. I was aware not only of the finished articles but also the process that went behind making them. Cartoons taught me that a story could be more than just an epic tale. Many cartoon series weren’t created around a recognizable story line, but around an ideal that one should be able to drop a well developed character into any situation and just let go. The character’s reaction to these events WAS the story. I saw cartoons as a vehicle for personal expression, no matter how outlandish or absurd.
My interests in cartoons quickly lead me to an interest in comic books. Again, thanks to my mother, I was raised on a healthy dose of underground alternative comics and graphic novels. My personal interest piqued in the world of autobiographical comics. I found these works to have the same philosophical sentiments I did. They too saw the humor, the glory, the tragedy and the horror in everyday life. In short, they saw life as art!

The content of my work is based upon my reactions to life. My drawings are a chronicle of my daily adventures and exchanges. My life is the greatest drama I’ve ever experienced and I am the main character. As the artist I am merely left to interpret this world though this character’s responses.

My work is me. Its everything that makes me who I am. My work is my knee jerk reactions, my thought out missives, the all consuming conundrums; all the vices and virtues that make up my personality. My color pallet revolves around the pallet of my personal wardrobe. Whether I choose to wear these colors because I feel like they exemplify aspects of my personality or because it makes my art bolder, I do not know. Maybe I just like bright colors.

Yet like all adventures, an addition of the grandiose by the story teller often happens. Yet because my reactions are so outlandish, they are more identifiable by the viewer as similar to their own. Wasn’t there some relatable, purely human experience demonstrated in every tall tale? Have not every generation found a hero that helped them express their Zeitgeist? I am telling the story of a hero on a journey. The hero just happens to be me.

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