Presidential Pathos

It's raining, it's pouring... Just finished this illustration for Cincinnati Magazine for an article by New York Times op-ed columnist Gail Collins about William Henry Harrison, the 9th President of the USA, who apparently hailed from Ohio.

As a President he was a pretty sorry specimen, his claims to fame all pretty much amounting to spectacular non-achievements. Firstly he gave the longest inaugural speech in history, which would be bad enough, but unfortunately March 4, 1841, was a cold and wet day and Our William chose to wear neither overcoat nor hat. This was allegedly to demonstrate his robustness, which had been called into question due his advancing years. As a consequence of this foolhardiness he developed both pneumonia and pleurisy shortly after. Despite the attentions of the top medics of the day and the liberal application of  opium, castor oil, and leeches he proceeded to drop dead exactly one month later. Which made his the Presidential term the shortest in history, coming in at 30 days, 12 hours, and 30 minutes. It also made him the only President never actually to move into the White House.

No wonder he looks so bloody miserable.

Hair

As a man with very little in the way of hair I am always swift to admire an abundance of it in others. Particularly when it is worn with a disregard for convention verging on wild abandon. Imagine my delight, then, when I was recently asked by The Imperial College, London to create a portrait of the above effusively haired author of an article in their alumni magazine, the imaginatively monikered 'Imperial'. I'm always a bit nervous about doing portraits, but when I received the photograph of my intended victim my heart leapt, since he had topped off a 'characterful' physiognomy with this truly remarkable coiffure. The subject of our hirsute hero's article was the effects of social media on the lives and study habits of contemporary students, and I attempted to incorporate this subject matter into the portrait but, if we're being honest, it's completely overshadowed by the author's magnificent mane.  Anyone interested in further reading can download their very own PDF of the magazine right here.

Illustration for the L.A. Times.

I was recently commissioned by the LA Times to create an illustration for a review of Henry Roth's posthumously published novel 'An American Type'. It was an interesting experience - got the brief late on a Wednesday night with nothing but a cut & paste synopsis of the book from Amazon, and had to send rough pencils by the end of Thursday! My original idea featured different text, based on the idea of author Henry Roth being an American type himself, (the novel is largely autobiographical), so I was a bit bummed to have to change it and obscure that idea somewhat - but I'm still pleased with the way the end result looks. All in all it ended up being a pretty enjoyable assignment, don't think the novel is going to the top my reading list though.

Apes, prints and tattoos.

Okay, so first up let me announce in a most self-promotional manner that I recently put a print of one of my pieces up for sale on Society 6. Never done it before, but it seemed pretty simple so I thought I'd give it a shot. I chose this attractive work featuring the twin joys of apes and gratuitous profanity   - how can you go wrong with two things everyone loves! Gorillas and obscenities  - who could ask for more.

It sounds pretty fancy - gallery quality Giclée print on natural white, matte, ultra smooth, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper using Epson K3 archival inks, custom trimmed with 2" border -  but I haven't actually seen a finished product, so if anyone out there actually gets one I'd love to hear what the quality is like. And, needless to say, if it's rubbish I'll deny all responsibility.

Enough with the hard sell, let's move on to more entertaining matters. Over the past few weeks I've  been contacted by a couple of people who have got themselves tattoos based on my work. I have to admit that this pretty much blows my mind, especially since one of them takes up virtually an entire limb. I have had one previous skin-based tribute, which by remarkable coincidence was an ape, tattooed on a bloke in Brazil. That particular tattoo can even be viewed during its painful creation on YouTube - you can almost smell the burning flesh. Anyhow, here they are in all their strange glory - together with the original work that inspired them. Ouch.

Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.

Houston, we have a problem. As threatened, the Sisyphus Office exhibit has moved to the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston where it will run until the end of September. The museum has tried to remain true to the original concept of having the work live in an office environment rather than just hung in a gallery, which explains why it's hidden away in various obscure locations (that's their story anyway).

There's a Sisyphus Office table that greets visitors when they come in. It provides visitors with a Sisyphus Office file, complete with an explanation of the whole idea and a map that guides them around the Museum to wherever the pieces have been integrated (often in places visitors normally never tread). Visitors then stamp their file in a beautiful bureaucratic way and head off in search of the works.

Sadly there is absolutely no mention of the whole thing on the CAMH website, so I only have the organizer's word and the above crappy photo to prove this isn't just a figment of my imagination. If anyone reading this does visit the show and manages to snap any pics, I'd love to have them.