and i look in the mirror like i did something wrong (make collage not war)

Is the dignity of the thing in the effort behind it? This is certainly the message we tell ourselves, or at least the lesson we want our children to know. Because it’s a nice idea, an elevating ambition for what it means to be human. But I have my doubts.

I spend a lot of time making failures. They are everywhere, all around me, all the time (and this is only speaking to my personal art, or the art I make by hand, leaving aside entirely the issue of graphic design, which is a wholly different kind of poisonous cognitive dissonance). In my studio, I can step in any direction and pick up a failure and hold it in my hands. I can close my eyes and feel the failure in it, these tiny vibrations of best-before-ness, either idea or execution gone sour.

There is nothing ennobling about this feeling.

Art, like Nature, does not care about effort, about how hard you tried, about how much you believed. Whole artistic movements have been resigned to footnotes in the annals of po-faced, fart-sniffing fuckery (although, historically, this kind of purposeful rankness has always increased your chances of getting an arts grant). And when it comes down to individual works, there is no gold star for just using lots and lots of paint.

The only rational response to this is collage.

Collage lets you off the hook. It lets you have fun again. It is mad-scientist time. Collage is pure experimentation under (some) formal restrictions, like calling a meeting with a six year-old enforcing Robert’s Rules of Order. Every idea is entertained with the tacit understanding that it is probably shit. But the things that click will do so most obviously, in that quick way that makes you snort and smile.

Anyway: I’ve been doing a lot of collage lately. Here are three.


don’t neglect winter chills / mixed media on masonite / 9 x 12 inches


an escapist picture of the universe / mixed media on book board / 7 x 9.5 inches


speaking in poems / mixed media on book board / 7 x 9 inches


no one can stop me now (Tonk)

no one can stop me now (Tonk)

mixed media on masonite panel

(gel emulsion transfer, collage, pencil, crayon, acrylic, enamel, varnish)

5 x 7 inches

no one can stop me now. especially not you, Tonk. i’m the whirling dervish of many arms. i’m an acrobat of destruction. how you gonna win? of course it’s no game but then again it might as well be. the stakes are different but the stakes are the same. it’s a showdown. hell, i’m not worried at all. you can’t play scared. you can’t play afraid. we’ll go over the edge together, spinning and laughing, into the void, hand in hand, sure we’re both dropping but someone’s gonna let go first, believe me.

––    ––––––––––––    ––

I have this corpse in my mouth whose name is graphic design, and the trouble is I’ve had my fill, my guts are bursting with so much undigestible faux meat. If you have dreams of putting pictures in boxes so that other people can tell you to make those pictures bigger no smaller no use the original oh it’s fine anyway it’s the one I want then you should get yourself into a graphic design college immediately. It’s not hard – in fact they’re all over the place, just loads of public and private programs both, how could it be otherwise for a discipline which pisses with laughter at the very word?

Anyway, yeah a little tired. And definitely stoppable.

escape from a dreaming planet