When you’re in a band, people often present you with pictures they have drawn of you. Quite a few examples double as school projects of some kind. Some have been drawn from album art, some from life, some from memory. And some from one knows not where. Like a lot of stuff in this life, some of them can be quite good, and some a bit “off,” some mildly disturbing. Some are so bizarre that you really can’t decide whether they’re good, or how “off” or disturbing they are. Maybe that makes them Real Art? Who knows?
In one way, common as it is, it’s a pretty weird thing to do. I’ve never done it myself. (That is to say, I’ve never handed Robyn Hitchcock a pen and ink commemorative portrait after a gig. In fact, I’ve never tried to draw Robyn Hitchcock. Which is all to the good, believe me.)
In another way, though, it’s kind of sweet. They’re showing that they appreciate what you do. I have a pretty extensive collection of these by now. They make me feel a little uncomfortable, but I also feel warmly towards them and the people who drew them. That is, they make me feel uncomfortably warm, which is nicer than it sounds.
Anyway, here’s a nice one (drawn from this promo photo)received via email by a Minneapolitan some time ago. Nice girl. Art student. Rocker.
In digging for these, I came across some others, so allow me to share some.
The western shirt with hearts is iconography indicating that this is meant to depict me, despite the uncharacteristically optimistic message:
This seems to have been a school art project. That T shirt is real, and I still have it. It reads: Je hais le monde entier.
Many of these are drawn from the Revenge Is Sweet album cover:
That weird orange sweater is a frequent element in this stuff. To wit, this is a mysterious box I discovered a few years back when I was digging around for something or other. I had no idea whence or from whom it came (and there was no indication) or of what it was or why I had it.
Here’s what I found inside:
I think the word for that is “diorama”? Anyway, it’s a pretty good depiction of what we looked like on stage in that era (ca. 1997) and many of the details (the Epiphone coronet, Jim’s yellowish drums with the logo, Joel’s stacked bass rig) are accurate. It could have been a school project (and if so should have gotten an A+, if the assignment was “create a diorama of a lower-mid-level punk rock band accurate as to stage plot and gear.”) Someone must have given it to me, but I have absolutely no recollection of it. When I posted these pictures on my blog back in 2009 when I found it (under the title “It’s a Little Toy Singer”) I figured I’d hear from the person who made it. I didn’t. Maybe now?
Many of these bits of art (as well as many tattoos) incorporate images from the the artwork of The Mr T Experience… and the Women Who Love Them created (as so much of our record artwork was) by the great Chris Appelgren at Lookout Records.
Here’s one drawn on the occasion of the band doing a show with Screeching Weasel and the Queers in New York, depicting each of our “mascots”:
Is it weird when your band’s unofficial but generally acknowledged iconographic “mascot” is the dark silhouette of a woman with a big red heart on her chest and a knife dripping blood? It can be.
That’s a painting handed to me at a show in Japan… probably the weirdest thing extant in the “genre.”
Here’s a visualization of the song “Big, Strange, Beautiful Hammer,” by Sophie:
And here’s a shirt quoting the song “My Stupid Life” which alludes to the Maurice Sendak story “Pierre”:
Here’s a rebus:
Here’s a knife:
And here’s a street sign:
This fan art (another school project) envisioned a thing that actually became real ten years later:
And I haven’t even gotten to all the literary stuff, the drawings of characters from my books, re-designed book covers, Tarot cards and the like. But that’s enough for now. Maybe we’ll do those another time.
I have nothing to add in closing except this, found on the internet: