12 x 12 at Bromfield Gallery

Bromfield Gallery in Boston, MA hosts its annual 12 x 12 small works exhibition this December, featuring New England artists with work 12 x 12 inches or smaller. This year, my 8 x 8 inch drawing on mylar joined in on the fun! The exhibition runs from December 4-22, 2013 with an opening reception on December 6 from 6-8:30pm.



Creative Collaboration: To Each Their Own

Summer 2013 brought me a new and exciting opportunity to bring audio and visual together as I was commissioned to design the album artwork for singer/songwriter Adam Buynicki.

Adam Buynicki  |  To Each Their Own   |  www.adambuynicki.com

Mixing/Mastering Engineer Chris Frasco of The Brooklyn Outboard, who helped bring this solo acoustic project to life, describes the album entitled To Each Their Own as "Adam Buynicki in his purest form." Frasco says, "These songs bear the soul of a man who has been through a lot in life. More importantly, it’s a masterwork by an artist who has spent the better part of his life crafting personal experiences into songs. Put simply: if this record doesn’t make you feel something, you’re a robot."

The challenge for me was to do this collection justice in visual form. Adam had already requested an aesthetic in line with my graphic, black and white ink drawings. This was a win-win for both of us-- the piece would fit seamlessly into my series and could act as a portfolio piece for me, and in return, the album artwork would travel with my personal collection to be exhibited publicly, gaining his work some exposure. However, the work needed to resonate with him personally as well and carry a connection to the music. 

I started with a quick brainstorming session, and very simply, compared some of Adam's personal symbols with my own visual vocabulary. His appreciation for the mountains and outdoors worked perfectly with my love of trail maps, and it was simple enough to veer from my typical use of birch trees to an olive tree, an icon of peace that is so strong for Adam that it's inked into his skin.  I became interested in how his symbols overlapped with my own: a molecular structure transforming into a rose window, constellations merging with brain synapses. To me, this embodies the idea of "To Each Their Own " in an inclusive way-- our own preferences and ideologies as individuals can be incredibly different, but contrast and collide in a way that is quite beautiful.

Next up- how does musical composition impact visual composition? I spent a lot of time listening to the demos, and tried not to get much feedback from Adam himself on this part. I needed my ears to do some work and create my own impression, which was that the songs carried a heartfelt wholeness yet an innate heaviness. The audio felt BIG, like one guy in a large room. I thought about gravity in composition, creating weight. Considering balance. Balance of emotional fortitude and delicacy, translating into weight of line and placement of form.  This drawing is one of very few I've ever worked with that puts the focal point in the visual center, which moves off-center on the folded CD cover. How could I move the viewer's eye while keeping a sense of space and openness? How could I translate the songs' ability to connect boldly with the listener and then trail off into fragile threads?

"Solo Acoustic"   |  11x17in  |  ink on mylar

The finished drawing is ink on 11x17 mylar, which I entitled Solo Acoustic.  I then tested my grapic-designer-chops to add the artwork to a finished CD design.

Solo Acoustic  is a celebration of space and intentional solitude, but not loneliness. It is meant to capture a quiet meandering contrasted with strong emotional tension that Adam expresses so beautifully in his collection of songs.  

To learn more about Adam and his work or inquire about limited edition prints of the album artwork, visit www.adambuynicki.com.  To Each Their Own is also available on iTunes.

Visiting Artist: Agawam High School

It was a strangely nostalgic trip to Agawam High School on the morning of February 5, as I drove from my parents house after staying in my old bedroom. They still live in town, so it saved me some extra morning driving and added to the odd feeling that I had traveled back in time.

I was asked to visit the art classes for the day by art teacher Dianna DeCaro, one of my old AHS classmates. I jumped at the opportunity, hoping to offer some guidance or inspiration to budding creative minds. I talked about my work, travels, illustration project, and job with the students, and also did my best to give some real-world advice about pursuing a career in the arts, including the following tips:

  • Be ready to work hard against the odds.
  • Understand your goals; understand your market.
  • Don't be afraid to THINK BIG.
  • Be humble. You won't always be a big fish in a little pond... but balance humility with a dose of confidence.
  • Get ready to be criticized. Keep in mind that criticism is about your WORK, and not about YOU.
  • Keep an open mind. You never know what may inspire you.
  • Start presenting yourself professionally now.

I also shared one of my favorite quotes by Ira Glass:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting our or you are still in this phase, you gotta know that it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you finish one piece. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just gotta fight your way through.  - Ira Glass

Read more, from the Agawam Advertiser: