Back in the 80’s “screenshots” had to be done manually. As in you had to literally take a picture of the tv screen with the image you wanted to capture, with a camera. With actual film. And then have that film developed at the One Hour Photo store. I know this because I spent a horrifying amount of time doing it. Pictures of my personal “rock gods” in magazines were not enough, oh no, there were specific images I just needed to have, to own, to be able to look at whenever the hell I wanted not just when MTV let me. And with that I began recording videos off the aforementioned MTV, on our suitcase sized VHS player, and embarking on regular photo sessions with my favorite videos. Of course I did this when no one was home as there was no way I could really explain why I was doing it. How could I possibly tell Mom I liked Simon LeBon’s mouth in the “Hungry Like the Wolf” video so much that I really needed a picture of it. No, best to keep it to myself and document my video stills in secret.
One day as I was thumbing through my “Hungry Like the Wolf” photos, the bulb of inspiration lit up and I thought “wouldn’t it be cool to make something with these ?”.
And so out came the glue, acrylic paints, and markers, and born into the world was the “fine” work you see above. I know what you’re thinking, you can literally hear Simon singing “do-do-do-do, do-do-do, do do do, do do do do doooo” just by looking at it. Note how powerfully the 80’s style arrows accentuate the scene.
The photo manipulation soon morphed into doing actual drawings of my beloved idols. These drawings were also a secret. Upon completion, I showed them to no one. They were private. Just between me and the subject/victim as in “This is how much I love you Genesis era Phil Collins, with your long hair and beard, enough to painstakingly render your visage in my secret sketchbook, and accentuate your rakish charm”.
“Thanks for capturing my true essence Luv”
Soon after I took things up a notch and drew Sting in multi-colored crayon…I’m uncertain what motivated this medium choice.
If you visit the Deviant Art website, the insanely vast, and endless home for both inspired and WTF artwork, you will be face to face with literally thousands of portraits, and pieces of Fan Art, featuring every celebrity you could possibly imagine. The Beatles. Hendrix. Jennifer Aniston. Harry Styles. President Lincoln. Stephen Hawking. It’s endless. Well, at some point, someone launched an Instagram account where they reposted very particular examples of those drawings, that uh, didn’t turn out quite right. You know, like a portrait of John Lennon where one of his eyes is looking right, the other looking left.
The point of the feed was, of course, to laugh at these “failed” attempts, to mock the “ineptitude” of their execution, how far off the mark they were. And I used to look and laugh too…but oddly I also found them to be incredibly moving. The overwhelming expression of love I thought I could see in every pair of crossed eyes, off kilter mouth, or Picasso-esque facial feature would occasionally bring me to tears. I understood it, yep. Adoring someone so much that you hunkered down, concentrated, spent hours, days, maybe even weeks, expressing your Big Love on paper or canvas, with true heart on the sleeve earnestness, and soundtracking the whole project with your subject matter’s music playing in the background for added authenticity. Obviously in order to draw Phil Collins, the divine strains of “Misunderstanding” needed to be wafting through the room for it to turn out “right”.
If you google “bad fan art”, you can bear witness to some truly mind-blowing portraiture. It’s okay to laugh, but take a step back, look within your soul, and try to remember that some of these things were created with genuine, reverential, uncontrollable love…yes, sigh, I am clearly speaking from tragic personal experience as evidenced above…but even as a spectator, I can tell you, I felt more emotion looking at “cross-eyed John Lennon” than I ever did looking at Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”.
And hey, Simon, Phil, and Sting, I know I strayed from you as the years went by but I hope you can see that I really did love you once. Thanks for being my Mona Lisa’s.