Saving art from the trash

Sari’s company recently got bought out and absorbed by another company, and they basically shut everything down and let everyone go. They were an educational publisher, and instead of archiving, donating, or selling their office contents, they just threw them away. That meant their inventory, furniture, library, computers, office supplies, etc. were all going in the trash.

They let (ex-)employees salvage what they wanted, so we went over there in a rented truck one Saturday before everything was gone and took a couple of key items, like two flat files, a small bookcase, and a dictionary stand. The whole thing was so depressing — and infuriating: so much useful equipment being unceremoniously tossed.

But what really shook me was when I saw a huge pile of original artwork sitting in a dumpster. As an educational publisher specializing in language arts, the company had for years commissioned illustrations for their various textbooks. Back in the day, before everyone had computers, most artwork of this kind was sent in to the client, where it was photostatted for later placement. The theory was that the artists would get their originals back, though sometimes the company bought the work outright and retained the originals. Presumably, Sari’s company had bought the work or had never gotten around to returning it to the artists. In any case, sitting there in the dumpster were hundreds of paintings, drawings, pastels, and pen-and-ink illustrations. And some of these pieces are really gorgeous! As a sometimes commercial illustrator myself, I just couldn’t let all that hard work be destroyed.

So I salvaged the art and tossed it in with the stuff I was bringing home. I was determined to at least return what pieces I could. And now, with the aid of my assistants, I’ve been contacting the artists (when I can track down them down) and letting them know what I have. As long as they can arrange postage or FedEx transport, I’m happy to wrap the pieces up and return ’em. As I said, the vast majority of the pieces are quite old — from before the home computer era — so a good number of the artists have only vague recollections of the illos in question. Nonetheless, they’ve all been thrilled that I contacted them, and are all anxious to get their stuff back. Which is exactly how I would feel if I were in their place.

salvaged original art
just a small sample of the original illustrations I saved from the trash pile

Advertisements

“Infinite Canvas” Show at MoCCA

A couple of pieces of my original art are on display at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s current exhibit (through Jan. 24, 2008), “The Infinite Canvas: The Art of Web Comics.” My stuff is in a special section of the show dedicated to ACT-I-VATE. The show has already been covered by Wired.com and the blog of Budget Travel magazine. Exhibit hours are Friday through Monday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; tickets $5, kids 12 and under enter free. Moccany.org.

Infinite Canvas show @ MoCCA, Thurs., Sept. 13, 7 p.m.

If you’re not doing anything on Rosh Hashana, I’ll see you at…

Infinite Canvas: The Art of Webcomics
September 14, 2007 – January 14, 2008

Infinite Canvas: The Art of Webcomics brings comics from the web page to the MoCCA stage. The exhibit explores three aspects of online comics: the unique format and design of webcomics, their appeal to niche audiences, and the transitions between web and print comics.

Curator Jennifer Babcock, who also draws the syndicated webcomic C’est La Vie, explains that webcomics are free of the space constraints and editorial censorship to which printed comics are often subjected. Webcomics also provide an outlet for a greater diversity of creators and audiences, she says, resulting in numerous niche-specific features.

This exhibit incorporates original artwork, prints of finished art, and digital displays. It features a new installment of MoCCA’s New York Artist Showcase, focusing on original artwork from the NYC members of the webcomics collective ACT-I-VATE. Also featured in the exhibit will be the immensely popular Penny Arcade, PhD, Sluggy Freelance, User Friendly, Diesel Sweeties, Mom’s Cancer, Finder, Supernatural Law, Questionable Content, Something Positive, Scary Go Round, Achewood, Narbonic, Goats, Checkerboard Nightmare, and many others.

The opening reception will be held Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7pm. Admission to the reception is $10. The exhibit will be on display until January 14, 2008.

New Original Pages for Sale

I sold a couple of pages recently, which reminded me that I hadn’t updated my original art section in a while. So I just put up some new pages, specifically the four-pager, “Cat Treatment,” which I drew for Harvey Pekar for last year’s American Splendor: Our Movie Year (Ballantine Books).

“Comics As Art II”

Fresh from its success of last year, Bob Cronin’s “Comics As Art” is back for 2004. Hosted once again by the Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge, this is a rare opportunity to see a sampling of original comic art and ephemera from some of the medium’s most notable figures — and me! — much of it on loan from private collections and rarely seen in public. Some select pieces will be available for purchase. I’ll be showing an American Splendor process piece and a couple of other Harvey Pekar pieces, as well as small illustration pieces. Also featured in the show are my buddies Dean Haspiel, Nick Bertozzi and Jason Little. The show benefits the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art and is and co-spnsored by Lucky Bunny Visual Communications and the excellent comics speciality store, Million Year Picnic. Here are the details: Exhibition runs from February 24th – March 3rd; opening reception February 28th, from 2 – 5 pm. (Look for me there!) The Zeitgeist Gallery, 1353 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA. Gallery Hours: 1pm – 7pm, Tuesday – Sunday

Comic Release show continues triumphal tour

Since completing runs at the Regina Miller Gouger Gallery in Pittsburgh and the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center, it’s scheduled for stops at the University of North Texas, the University of Arizona Museum of Art, and Western Washington University. The show could also zip through Austin, Texas; Montreal, Canada; and Portland, Oregon before it’s all over. Maybe I’ll even get to see it some day! Anyway, the catalog , which arrived at my door recently, is a real work of beauty. Nearly 200 pages, it’s hardcover and gorgeously designed. It has reproductions of every piece in the show (including my collaboration with Nick Flynn, “Cartoon Physics Part I“) and essays by curator/show organizer Vicky A. Clark and critic/goddess Ana Merino, among others. You can see the cover and more details at Amazon. (See my note of February 1, 2003, for further details.)

Original Art for Sale

I sell my original art, both comics and commercial illustration work. I recently put together a little page detailing which pieces are available and how much I’m selling them for. Presently, I’m not selling pages from Keyhole, but I have tons of American Splendor pages for sale. Check out the list here.