Friday, June 5, 2009

Prosper the Turtle, Jumping from trains

In 1997 I had just finished art school and was moping around trying to figure out what to do with a suddenly ridiculous seeming degree in fine art. While I mulled it over and tried to think of profound things to make that might get me 'on the map' of the art world I'd been hearing about, I started drawing pictures of a turtle trying to get to his sister's birthday party. My little sister was turning five that year and I decided to occupy myself, in part, by making her a book. I worked on it bit by bit, and finished half of it in time for her birthday at the end of May. That summer I moved to San Francisco and continued mulling my career, my future, guerrilla installations in vacant lots, skateboarding, the intricate differences between pop punk and math rock...and continued with the story about the turtle, anticipating Ella's sixth birthday the next year. I was still making ever more halfhearted versions of the work I'd been doing in school, grand installations using nails and cut up magazines, I was applying for shows, and eventually grad school, but as I sat at my desk in between all this, drawing a turtle having adventures, I could hear a little voice in the back of my head saying " This is what I want to do. This is fun. This makes sense." It took me another year or two, for that voice to move fully into the light, but doing this one single picture book, for an audience of one, was the most important piece of the puzzle that lead me to where I am now: drawing pictures and telling stories for a living (more or less), and adamant that if the work's not fun, it's not worth doing.

Now it's twelve years later. In a few hours I am getting on a plane to go see my little sister graduate from high school...close her eyes, grit her teeth and jump off a train into a new life. If I can manage it I will try to post some collaborative comics she and I did together when she was very young, though I don't know if she'll let me. But whatever happens, this entry is to say Good Luck Ella, Congratulations, and thanks for coming along and giving me the idea.

(The work was all black and white, much later I played around with coloring it, but never finished. Click on the image to read it.)


Scott said...

This is a really inspiring post. Thanks for sharing.

I'm currently drawing a comic with a similar purpose. For a great kid, sorta just to do it. But instead of a turtle, think a headless Lebron James.

Anyway, I think your art's great. Makes it easy to keep doing this.

Translation Page said...

Thanks for doing what you do. I just found your stuff and constantly go back to it for encouragement.

Keep having fun.

Anonymous said...

Oh, there are the Big Questions cover birds on the the cut down tree there!

Nice story.