2013 Eustace Tilley Contest Entries

absinthe drinker

future dandy

art brut

folk art eustace

Because I have a lot of regrets about how I drew these pieces, I was tempted not to post them. But my wife and I discussed it and we think it’s maybe not a bad idea to sometimes talk about work you’re not that proud of as well as the work you sometimes think came out sort of okay. For one thing, knowing you’ve missed the mark means you know how to tell good stuff from bad stuff, which is not always easy but is nonetheless ultra-important. For another, the reason why you keep and share the bad stuff is that it’s maybe not always totally bad in every way. Like, I think the one that’s a parody of Picasso’s Absinthe Drinker of 1901 is a little overworked and the anatomy’s a bit screwy, but I also think I did something new and different (for me) with the textures and the colors, so I keep looking at it to see what I can learn from it for drawings I might do later on. The same with the “Art Brut” drawing, the one that’s a weak parody of Dubuffet. I definitely should have thought harder about the whole idea and the composition, but still, I drew it using a sgrafitto technique and I want to do that some more. I mean, it was just a lot of fun to place a black layer over a scribbled color layer and to then draw, if that’s the word, with a square-tipped eraser tool. Looking for and living with surprises is the point of that sort of activity. The goal the whole time, of course, being that you hope to develop a strong compositional sense along with a slightly crazy style of doing things, so that you end up more often than not with an image you don’t have a super-long list of self-criticisms about.

The middle drawing is the one I like best, but even so, it’s not the best work I could have done. The colors are not quite right, the blurriness I was going for is a little too blurry, and what’s with the guy having only one arm? I think I simply forgot to give him one. Seriously. Just plain old forgot.

By the way, I drew all of these things in the middle of a cold and rainy night at a big table in a kitchen far away from my real kitchen. I was in a hurry and not paying that much attention, which is never the right state of mind for working on illustrations. So that’s a kind of lesson too, I guess. Slow down, focus, and be in the moment with the work. Which is all probably a huge cliché, but some clichés are true. Or, well, I suppose all clichés are true and that’s the problem with them, they’re so true they don’t need to be said every five minutes. But perhaps that’s enough from the Inner Critic today.

P.S. The last one is from three years ago and is here now just because I like the lettering style and sometimes forget I used to do that sort of lettering style and so need to be reminded, now and then.

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