There’s a lot of previous commissions I’ve been meaning to feature in this webpage, but for the sake of timing I want to bring to your attention the Streamathon 2020 event that is about to start tomorrow, November 21.
Streamathon 2020 is a fund-raising event organized by my good friends from Anomaly Archives –if you’ve never heard of them, they are a non-profit devoted to the preservation and dissemination of paranormal-related books and magazines; pretty much a Fortean fan’s dream come true. The event will gather a cool cadre of researchers and speakers (including yours truly) and they plan to stream completely free online presentations through their Youtube and Facebook channels. All they ask in return is that you consider to make a monthly or one-time donation so they can stay operational through these troubling times –imagine you were living back in the days of the Alexandria library: what would YOU have done to preserve their treasure trove of knowledge??
As for the image above, it was commissioned by my pal SMiles Lewis (founder, president and board member of Anomaly Archives) in order to generate all sorts of sweet swag and mythic merch that will surely will be used to thank generous donors. SMiles told me about the concept of the Streamathon and at first my mind inevitably went to concepts related to The Matrix and the movie The Lawnmower Man (decent flick, despite the dated FX). My friend liked the ideas, but he had in mind something more related to the archival and preservationist work they conduct at the AA. He sent me a rough sketch with a concept he had come up with, in which he envisioned book shelves and a file cabinet in the background, along with a gray alien making a ‘soosh’ gesture typical of a librarian; he also imagined a Bigfoot in the foreground, an MIB coming out of the cabinet drawer, and their Anomaly Archives logo positioned on top of the book shelves. Oh, and ALL of this would be placed above a flying saucer!
As it is often the case with a new project, at first my mind started firing up all sorts of crazy ideas. I’m a big fan of the ‘less is more’ mantra in Design theory (and not because I’m lazy) so at first I toyed with the idea of portraying the Anomaly Archives in a very whimsical (and terrifying!) sort of way…
But then I came back to SMiles’s sketch, and the more I pondered on it, the more I liked it, although I decided to play more with the concept –like, A WHOLE LOT MORE.
For starters, the idea of the MIB coming out of the file cabinet drawer didn’t feel right. If anything, an MIB would be stealing from the files, as they are famous for in UFOlogical lore. I chose to include in this gag a nice homage to the famous “I Want to Believe” poster featured in the X-Files TV series. After that I thought of putting a menacing Mothman looming above the MIB, looking kind of pissed, and as a fun spur of the moment I ended up including a Hopkinsville goblin sitting on top of the file cabinet, as a wink to my friends of Hellier. I am particularly proud of how good that little green guy turned out, particularly because it was so effortless to draw (fellow artists will surely understand).
Another thing I wanted to toy with was the concept of the ‘sooshing’ gray alien. I felt I needed to portray it as the stereotypical bossy librarian in order to make the gag interesting enough (the character in Monster University was of much help here).
And since I also needed to include a Bigfoot, I finally came up with the idea that, rather than making the alien ‘break the 4th wall’ and soosh the viewer, it would be funnier if it was chastising the Bigfoot for making too much noise inside the archives –hereby reinforcing the unspoken feud between UFOlogy and Cryptozoology.
Also, I prefer not to draw my Bigfoots too human-like. I always like to include very prominent high brows and a pointy skull–which many Cryptozoologists would acknowledge to be accurate features, BTW.
Having nailed down the ‘main characters’ I devoted myself with filling the book shelves with all sorts of weird and quirky little elements, which I won’t hereby divulge in order not to spoil the fun (let me know if you can spot them all in the comments).
Suffice it to say, this was an extremely FUN commission to complete!
To clarify: so far all (or almost all) the artistic/design commissions I have created as a free-lance artist have been incredibly fulfilling and rewarding, in no small part because the concepts I have asked to portray perfectly align with my tastes; but lately I have found myself concentrating in a sort of artistic renderings that take a lot of time and effort to complete, in order to achieve a certain ‘realistic’ style. And in the case of the Anomaly Archives commission, I could go back to make a good old-style ‘cartoon’ like the ones I used to do when I was a kid obsessed with Hanna Barbera and Calvin & Hobbes –as a homage to Bill Watterson BTW, not only did I choose to keep my lines and vary their thickness in order to make them more visually interesting, but I also experimented with a ‘grungier’ style in which I didn’t use any tools to improve the quality of the lines; which means I deliberately sought an ‘eschewed’ perspective and the sort of uncontrolled line art you used to get when you were just tracing on paper without the use of rulers.
In short, this felt like a well-deserved vacation from my usual obsession with perfectionism. And, from a philosophical POV, I feel this manages to better capture the idea of an archive of paranormal material, since the paranormal is –by definition– completely at odds with trying to perfectly capture its confounding quirkiness.
Hope you get to enjoy —and support- Streamathon 2020!