My friend Jake and I were recently heading back to San Francisco from a party in Oakland. Jake was traveling with a bicycle and I wasn’t and we went back and forth for a long time trying to figure out how the 12-block trip to the train station was going to work. Was there a way to share the bike? Perhaps I could I sit on Jake’s shoulders, chicken-fighting-style, while he pedaled? We only had one helmet between us, “but don’t worry”, I said, “My thighs will be your helmet.” It made a lot of sense, but we were tired and couldn’t figure out how to make it work. We ended up walking the entire way.
In the days following, we couldn’t stop thinking about our failure. We knew there must be a way for two friends to safely share a bike. The following series of sketches explore solutions to this problem.
In the first set, Jake provides a classic template for riding on your friend’s shoulders. The top rider keeps the hands up as a sign of success.
You’ll notice that no one gets hurt in a crash because the top rider has a helmet and the bottom rider has thighs protecting their head.
In the next set of sketches, I expand on Jake’s template by adding some different styles of handgrips and footholds.
Where is the bike? There is no bike.
Next, my sister Anna trashes convention and provides a number of alternative ways to safely sit atop someone’s shoulders.
I doubt you'll need to pray. This is safe.
Finally, our friend Peter provides two vivid, real-life examples.
We’re so close to figuring this out! If anyone out there has other ideas, please send in your sketches. Who knows where this is going? We might set up a My Thighs Will Be Your Helmet shop on Etsy and sell t-shirts and handbags.
UPDATE: A few people have mentioned the phrase “my thighs will be your helmet” has sexual undertones. Seriously? I don’t know how I could be any more explicit that this is about friends sharing a bike in a safe manner. Get your mind out of the gutter.
This past January I participated in the annual Fun-A-Day art show. The event takes place in cities across the country and the only requirement is that participants create one art piece per day for the entire month of January. For my project, I created a daily animation based on the most notable thing that happened each day. At the end of the month I had thirty-one very short films that I stitched together into a silent movie that was shown on a loop at the Rock Paper Scissors Gallery in Oakland.
For the web version of the video, I asked my friend Carl W to help with a soundtrack. I was basically asking for Carl's interpretation of my interpretation of my month. It could have been a huge mess, but Carl came through with a big song that gives the animation some emotional depth. Slam dunk.
UPDATE: Here are some pictures from the show on February 4. (Photos courtesy of Nick L, the show's curator):
A friend, Cielo L, approached me recently and asked for help designing a phoenix logo for a website she's creating. I told her that most of my drawings look like low-budget children's cartoons, but I'd be happy to give it a shot. I started by making a few rough sketches, then I drew a few more, and then I got really into the concept of the phoenix, and ended up sketching phoenixes for days and days.
There are numerous versions of the phoenix myth throughout the world. The basic story involves a bird that catches fire, burns down into a pile of ash, and then is reborn as a new magical bird that lives for hundreds of years until it catches fire again and the cycle repeats. I was so busy drawing that I didn't have time to do any research on actual phoenixes. All of these sketches are based on my pre-existing knowledge.
Here are my thirty-three best drawings. Even if you're the kind of person who hates phoenixes, I'm sure you'll find at least one of these that you like.
UPDATE: So many phoenixes! I'm going to take all these drawings to Kinkos and make a zine called The Phoenix Tribune. It'll consist entirely of drawings, photos, essays, and poems about phoenixes. I'm going to leave stacks of it at coffee shops all over town. I'll keep you posted.
UPDATE 2: Cielo isn't sure if these are going to work for her site. (What?) Apparently there are other artists in the running and she's going for a very specific type of phoenix. (But I thought I drew all the types!) Either way, I'm glad I did this. By drawing forty-plus phoenixes in two weeks, I've grown far more comfortable with the concept of burning things down to nothing and starting over again.
Animated GIF, adapted from ink on paper, 250 x 250 pixels, 2010
I'm back in the GIF game!
Last week I spent a few moments every night making sketches of a Rottweiler photo that I saw in the New Yorker. On their own, each of the sketches were terrible, but I was able to salvage them as an animation.
If you stare at it long enough, it becomes three dimensional and you'll feel very relaxed. Try it. Your coworkers might be curious and ask why you haven't been talking all day. Don't worry. Let them look at it, too. You are feeling sleepy now. Don't fight it. There is nothing to worry about. You will do as I say.
If you aren't familiar with the exquisite corpse process, it involves dividing a piece of paper into four sections, making a drawing on one section, folding over the drawing to hide it, and then passing it to your partner with the very bottom of the initial drawing exposed.
While the process was haphazard, strange synchronicities occurred and both drawings ended up telling interesting stories. In the first drawing, a lizard contemplates how it evolved from ants. In the second drawing (which is best understood by starting at the bottom and reading up), a rodent embarks on a perilous journey through a snake's digestive system. Along the way, the rodent meets a human who shares a similar tale about being eaten by a city.
A month ago I drew the above goose engulfed in a school of fish. In the last few days, I returned to the drawing and expanded the concept to include a variety of other animals. It's a little ambiguous, but the fish aren't eating the animals like piranhas, but rather following them around in an amiable, symbiotic relationship.