I shirk art commissions like Flint, Michigan shirks prosperity.
And I’ve been at it for a long, long while. Having creative capacity in the classroom designated me as “that kid who can draw,” and thereby involuntarily volunteered me for any and all group projects that required such talents. In middle school, my artistic notoriety led me to draw 20-some-odd Harley Davidsons and a giant rendition of China in red crayon. These kinds of projects were the bane of many pre-teen afternoon for me, so I hid my ability like a lame, reluctant superhero. I was Peter Parker after the bite and without radioactive strength.
I still recall one day in 9th grade, the hottest girl in all the school, Danielle, approached me and said, “Can you draw me Jim?”
I said, “Jim? Who’s Jim?” She had these grey-or-blue eyes with bright orange speckles in them. I don’t know if I was in a trance.
“Jim,” she moaned, all ditzy-like. “With the spacesuit and the raygun.”
Then it clicked. She meant Earthworm Jim, then-star of a pair of zany video games that earned Shiny Entertainment a few boatloads of money. So much money that they solicited ideas in game magazines, promising six figure salaries for anyone who could invent the next big wormy hit videogame.
I, of course, couldn’t draw such a character, because I was too busy drawing caricatures of my teachers at the time (Mr. Spencer in particular … and I’ll have to write about him on this blog rather soon). So I told her that Kyle Aldrich could probably do a better job of it than me, because he was such a fan of the games (and a much better artist, then and now).
So the commission went.
And since that time, I’ve drawn maybe four or five things on commission–and three of those were probably for my wife’s binder jacket. My ambitions clearly dwarf those of every famous german who ever lived (Einstein, Herbert Groenemeyer, etc.).
At any rate, this brings me to a couple of weeks ago. My union rep at work knows that I do some drawing, and asked me if I could draw some cute bugs for her to paint on her granddaughter’s bedroom wall. She thinks I look just like her pre-teen grandson, which is both eerie and a great foundation for getting along with her at work (I kid … I like her, she’s a nice woman, and inherently understands my views about the workplace–all rather fantastic things). I said, “Okay.”
So after sketching some things, I’ve been tweaking dozens of shapes in the Aviary application suite–a sort of online version of Adobe Photoshop / Illustrator that’s developing pretty nicely, and which I don’t hesitate to recommend. I used the “Raven” vector editor, for those few of the few who are techies and who care.
And in spite of my misgivings about drawing things for people, this is what I’ve come up with so far:
What I’m still pondering, though, is how my coworker is going to take these crude and careful illustrations from image-to-bedroom-wall. She’s thinking about using a projector, somehow, I’m thinking that I’m going to lay a graph-paper-style grid over the image in MS Paint so she can replicate the squares on a larger scale if she needs to.