Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why A FatMan?

    I get asked this question a lot, actually. I really can't explain easily how/why, other than it just felt right selecting him to be a representative of my art for me and kind of a Flagship in my artistic journey. The FatMan was the very beginning of doing what I currently do and how I currently do it.  So I decided the other day that I would devote a sketch-blog entry to the FatMan and where he came from.

Do you believe in divine inspiration? Thousands of years ago The Ancient Greeks believed in a group of goddesses that guided and endowed both men and women with inspiring thoughts and ideas to create.  I'm not sure I believe that anything semi-physical and conscience could be at the helm of such a complicated system. I find the idea as fantastic and wonderful as Santa Clause in charge of Christmas on a Global Level. So if there is not a God or Goddess behind it all, where DOES inspiration and thoughts come from... Do they float around us like microscopic orbitals? Do they fly into our ears when we are sleeping?  Are they woven by a carefully attentive, detail oriented supernatural deity? It's hard to say.  What is not difficult to understand is that the FatMan did not arrive through divine inspiration, dreams or a very nicely wrapped Christmas package.  He came to me in one of those snickers moments (Not going anywhere for a while... So entertain yourself.)

     To begin at the very beginning, I have to confess something VERY nerdy about myself. I'm kind of addicted to the X-Files Series and am currently re-watching EVERY episode in order from beginning to the end of every season. Thanks Netflix, this is really why I love you.  So years and years ago, one evening, I was, of course, watching the X-Files and in this episode there was this profile dolly-shot of Agent Mulder holding an umbrella walking through a cemetery. For what ever reason or fate, if you believe in divine inspiration, this "shot", this single image burned itself into my brain. To this day, I can see it clearly, if I think about it.  So it locked itself up in my mind waiting one day to resurface.

     I was at a flea market one Saturday afternoon in 2002 (yes, that long ago). I agreed to keep a close friend company while she promoted her clowning services at one of those lawn table booths, as a good friend should do.  I brought my sketchbook to keep myself occupied.  As some of you already know and the other of you definitely do not know, is that I studied traditional animation in college and as part of that study I learned the art of caricature. So I thought it would be fun to practice what I learned. I sold $1 dollar caricatures to anyone who passed and would actually agree to be my guinea pig.  It was very fun and entertaining. It passed the time well, plus you get to meet some really interesting "characters." Not to mention I got a free soda or two and some carni-food from selling the dollar sketches.  Soon the crowd ebbed and I was back to doodling. This is the when and where the FatMan came into existence.

     I randomly thought back about that side profile of David Duchovny as Agent Mulder in that cemetery.  I began to draw it.   No, I began to caricature it.  My lessons of the Planes of the Head began to drift though as my hand, my mind and my pencil twisted and warped each exaggeration out of proportion. You would never know that the origins of this strange and mysterious character began with Agent Moulder and the X-Files.

     Back at school circa 04/05,  I began to shape the FatMan into something else, something more than just a caricature... He began to become a Character in his own right, something new.  I decided to paint the Fatman in his cemetery and for a while I was pleased with that version of him.  Later that year, as I was finishing up my studies in Illustration, my professor suggested I re-do the FatMan for a promotional piece to send out to potential clients. I liked the idea and this is how The FatMan was reincarnated. I took his original form from paint and transformed him into a hybrid of both traditional and digital media.  The FatMan was soon to be reborn into what would become my signature illustration style.

    The FatMan then took on a different persona, he had ego, now. He had style, pun intended. He had ink. I inked the original sketch, tweaking it a bit here, adjusting it a bit there. Improving him... Yes, that FatMat had SO MANY new things going for him... except a background. He didn't have a background.  The cemetery idea was vetoed by not only my professor but the entire class. Which really did seem right, as the FatMan was no longer that first incarnation of himself.  I drew many different scenarios: the countryside, a farm,  a bakery, a candlestick shop...  Nothing seemed to fit.  He was this cute little butterfly and I needed to figure out where he was flying.

   THAT'S IT!  FLYING. That was the answer. The FatMan's feet where no longer on the ground, because he had his head was in the clouds.  This is something I personally can relate to at times, as I tend to loose myself inside my own mind.  I often joke that I don't live in a cave, I live as a hermit, in a tree-house in the tallest tree that sits in a small clearing in the thickest forest of all the forests of my mind.  I like that place a lot, I have a winged-back reading chair there and cool posters on the wall.  That is, of course another Blog for another day.  Back to the FatMan: I wanted to Illustrate what I thought the act of Imagining something would look like, since I spend most of my day imagining things that are not real and drawing them into the world of reality.  I wanted to capture the moment that it happens.  This really is the joy of being an Illustrator or any Artist, really.  Even as a responsible and sensible adult, there is still a part of you that never has to grow up.  You can be Peter Pan in your very own Neverland.  I admit, it's pretty fantastic.

    This is where the FatMan was really formed as the idea and icon he has become for me today.  I have become very close to this character.  Every time I look at him, I can imagine his adventures, his life. I ponder about what he is thinking about. What is making him smile. It's a mysterious smile like the Mona Lisa's, however, much less mischievous. I find myself becoming more connected to this image as I grow older.  The FatMan is not "home" to me but I get a feeling that people often get when they are at home. It's very comforting, very soothing, very Zen.  An epicenter for creative thinking that I like to visit. Maybe this is where my personal inspiration comes from, this space; this "home," if you will.

     So... Why a FatMan? I went on an artistic journey, when I transformed him, that lead me to my illustrative style I love to use.  I don't necessarily believe in divine inspiration, but for now, I can kind of believe that he is my own personal Muse. One of my very own, to lead me to new creatively rich horizons, hopefully. So, In a way, I kind of owe him one.  That's why a FatMan. :0)

In conclusion, folks, I promise that in my nerdy re-adventures into watching the X-Files, that when I find that episode again, I will take a snap-shot of the exact image I have seen for years previous and share that with you. :0) 

Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

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