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Alphabet Adventures

Drawing everyday keeps me from dying inside. But after a few months, it becomes routine, and boredom sets it. I needed something to strive for, to keep things fresh, to keep my mind stimulated.

One day, at a really disappointing Post-Production convention, I was too bored to take notes, and I came up with these little drawings, shaped like letters, and I thought, “This might be something.”

So I drew an entire alphabet a to z, and then another, and another. I made a rule for myself early on: just because it’s an “S” don’t draw a Seal, or a Snake, or a Sarsaparilla Root. If last time I drew a snake, because it’s sort of shaped like an “S”, then this time I would draw two squirrels in the shape of the negative space around the “S”. Drawing “the same thing” over an over, I was exploring infinite variations of a finite series of 26 forms. There was a lot I liked about this process:

  • I like a routine, but I also like spontaneity: If I draw pictures in the same shape over and over, every time I come back to “S” I want to try to do it a little differently.
  • I love problems. I often compare the creative process with solving a puzzle. I’m presented with a familiar problem every day, but with the challenge to do it differently every time. After the first 5 alphabets, I tried flipping the positive and negative space. After 10 alphabets, I’m not seeing positive and negative in the shapes anymore, I’m using the lines of the letters divide up the space and define the image.
  • I always have a starting point for a drawing. “Writers’ block” or fear of that blank page, isn’t so much of a problem for me any more. I always have a goal to accomplish. This has gotten even easier when I started doing themes. If it’s shaped like an “R” and it has to be a fish, a lot of decisions have been solved for me already.

I started scanning my sketchbook pages and reworking them in Photoshop. I started selling prints of Alphabets, then selling prints of kids’ names spelled out in the letters. Then instead of random subjects for each letter I started doing series, an alphabet of birds, of fish, of dragons. Then I did a series of scenes from outer space, and I thought: I should write a book about this.

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