Latest

Han Shot First: the Official Report.

HSF-Slideshow

When I was growing up, my dad and I used to go to movies together all the time. One night he asked if I wanted to go see something called “Star Wars”. Neither of us knew anything about it, but we decided to give it a shot anyway. The next day at school, kids were absolutely losing their shit over the movie. There just weren’t any other topics.

Not long afterwards, I read an interview with George Lucas in Starlog magazine. All I remember from it now is that Lucas intended to make three trilogies, and only R2D2 and C3P0 would appear in all nine movies.

So in effect, it was their story.

Many (and I mean, many) years and thousands of miles later, I decided on a whim to do a pair of paintings featuring the two droids, just to have a couple of large-format showpieces on hand. I didn’t know at the time that we were on the verge of a brand new installment in the Star Wars franchise; I just wanted to paint some robots. Once that started, I realized I wanted to paint stormtroopers. And landspeeders. And starfighters.

And villains.

It all grew pretty organically from there, till I had the makings of a new brand show on my hands. And that show happened the night of Thursday, December 17th, at EXP Restaurant.

(EXP, for the record, is one of my favourite venues. Excellent lighting (plus the option of having a slideshow), a crowd that really gets my art, great food… you get the idea.)

The day of the 17th, it seemed like everything was taking much longer than it should have – packing up to go to EXP, hanging the paintings, processing the files for the slide show, getting home and back to shower and change. Nothing went wrong per se; time just wasn’t on my side. Of course it was raining, so there were transit delays. By the time things really kicked off, I was a bundle of nerves. But that’s usually the case. And once I’m at the venue for the night and the paintings are up, the pressure generally eases off – particularly once there’s a drink in my hand.

So.

I got back to EXP around 6:00PM. People were already waiting patiently, despite my tardiness.

Looking back on it now, the rest of the night feels like a movie montage or highlight reel. People just kept showing up, and for the first few hours it was tricky to actually have a lengthy conversation with anybody. Staying focused in these situations is a challenge; there’s just so much to take in. I’m sure there must be someone I didn’t get to talk to at all – and if that’s the case, you have my heartfelt apologies.

(Once again I never thought to take photos of the festivities. So what you’re seeing in the slideshow at the top of the page is more a means of summing up the process of putting the show together.)

I got to meet a bunch of new people, which for me is the best part of putting on an art show. I’m a social creature by nature, and new friendships mean a lot.

Less than a week later, I finally saw The Force Awakens, which brought it all home for me. The first thing I realized was that every theory I’d read or formulated prior to seeing the movie was bullshit. And I’ve never had another movie push so many of my buttons so well. On the way home I wanted to walk up to random people on the street and scream “Star Wars!!” It’s a true love letter to the original trilogy (and to the collective childhoods of the original viewers).

Which, of course, was my intent with Han Shot First. I can’t begin to explain how much those movies shaped my consciousness, so it was nice to work some of that out artistically.

Now it’s a brand new year, and I’m planning to see The Force Awakens again soon. You should, too.
*********************
And without further ado, I’d like to thank some people:

My dad, Frank Ricketts, who started the ball rolling way back when.

Brian Vidovic, for providing the venue and generally being a prince among men. And the staff at EXP for their heroic efforts (especially with regards to the Commander Shepherd’s Pie).

Annie Friesen, the Queen of Buttons.

Charlie Ritchie, who provided some much-needed and unintentional inspiration.

Holly Morrison, for her continued support of my art career.

Opus Art Supplies, Michael’s, and DeSerres.

Meghan Kilner, Edi Mange, Lori Kittelberg, Barbara Sweeney, Alec Von, Michelle Bischoff, Chris (whose last name I never got. I hope your friend liked the painting), Kyle Reid, Marga Lopez, Shamil Meghji, and Dawn Danger.

Rachael Taylor, for representing the Empire.

Jay Holtslander, who came to the show twice in the same evening.

Cailan Fox, who has now attended four consecutive art shows – no small feat when you’re barely a year old. But then, he attended his first show while he was still in the womb, so he had a slight headstart.

Michael Fashionista and Dani Heavenor, who went the extra mile and came to the show in costume.

Cristina Weir, who arrived directly from the seven-movie Star Wars marathon, and then went for pulled pork poutine with me afterwards.

Jack MacKinnon, Daniel Heim, and Steve Robinson, fellow veterans of many a battle.

Adam Carlson, Rachael’s mom, Andrew Wong, George Smeltzer, Donna & Dan Fox, Alan Chuck, Shona Massey, Laurie Casey, Salisha Miles, Chris, Jonathan Franco, and Mark Sweeney.

Jill Sinclair, Alison Tedford, and Todd Hancock for the free publicity.

My hat is off to every one of you.

The Summer 2015 Studio Sale

So it’s midsummer already. No idea where that year went; between work and shenanigans, I’ve been busy as hell, though.

I’m also, once again, up to my ass in paintings. My studio walls are covered, my couch is buried in them, every spare bit of space in my bedroom (which isn’t necessarily a lot) is crammed. This, obviously, will not do.

So hey. You wanna buy a painting at a bargain price and give me a little more space to paint more stuff?

Sure you do.

Here’s what’s up for grabs this year:

If you have your eye on a piece, drop me a line (howyadoin@gmail.com) and refer to the sale in the email title.

Fine print:

Prices are in effect till Friday, July 17, 2015. Prices do not include shipping.

New & Old Area Code Skulls.

604_Skull

A few years ago I designed a tattoo for myself – something to show how much my adopted home – Vancouver – meant to me. When I showed the design around, I immediately got requests to feature it on t-shirts. Since then I’ve developed more designs, primarily based on the East Coast (trivia note: I’ve also lived in all of the Atlantic Provinces).

Now I want to expand the options available, and so I’ve added shirts for Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta so far, with more to come.

You can find the shirts here, in my Redbubble store. And kids’ sizes are also available.

Joystick – the Official Recap.

A few words of introduction: I had my first show at EXP in August of 2013, and by every possible yardstick, Ka-Pow! was a smashing success – even leading to a series of top-secret commissions by a certain prominent visual effects company. Brian Vidovic is the driving force behind the restaurant, and he and I talked back then about a potential videogame-themed show. In my head I could already see Pac-Man and Space Invaders paintings.

At that point I figured the show would focus entirely on the oldschool games. But as time went by and I talked to more and more people about it, I decided not to limit myself to any particular era.

(Especially since I did a set of Final Fantasy paintings for EXP earlier in 2014, and got an idea there of just how much untapped potential there was.)

Some of my previous shows have required an enormous amount of work to pull together, but this time around the process was pretty painless – two meetings (and when I say “meetings” I mean getting together for drinks), a few emails, and the pieces just fell into place.

The only tough part after that was finishing the paintings in time for the show. Which is par for the course; the final Dinosaurs piece, for instance, was finished just 3 hours before I hung it.

But I digress.

Joystick (my eleventh show) happened on kind of a shitty late-November night, and a weeknight to boot, but the turnout was still great – as were sales, thankfully. And everyone who did show up was enthusiastic and supportive. Lots of seasonal illnesses going around, which of course knocked some potential attendees out of commission. Not Donna Jaggard Fox, though. She showed up despite being extremely pregnant, and even bought a painting. Because she’s a champ.

The rest of us had a hell of a time drinking many Jameson Dark & Stormies courtesy of the always-awesome Simone Kelly, the instigator behind several previous shows’ signature cocktails. All that ginger beer made me feel like I was drinking some sort of health beverage.

The night got a little blurry there for awhile, and oddly enough, nobody thought to take many photos. Myself included.

More like an oldschool, pre-social-media sort of party.

Eventually things wound down, as things must. We had a final shot of Irish whiskey for the road, and another art show was done. By that point the rain had stopped, so a few of us wandered back to the West End together.

The next few days were spent meeting with buyers and with friends who weren’t able to make the show (and when I say “meeting”… I think you know where I’m goin’ with this).

Now. How ’bout some photos?

And finally, the obligatory but heartfelt words of thanks:

To Brian Vidovic (the master of ceremonies), Simone Kelly (the ambassador), Annie Friesen (the maker of buttons), and Chantal Michaud (the namer of names).

To Cristina Weir (who brought her parents to the show), Aida King, Kyle Reid, Meghan Kilner, Ian MacKinnon, Chris Schneider, Melissa Jones, Donna Fox (who inspired two of the paintings), Alison Tedford, Chris Magar, and Shamil Meghji, all of whom ponied up their hard-earned cash for the fruits of my labours.

To Stephanie Hogan, Scott Graham, Stu Hunter, Brenta Vatne, Jeff Hornby, George Smeltzer, Lee Harris, Jay Holtslander, Ned Tobin, Nick Salmon, Dan Fox, and Chris, who also braved the aforementioned shitty weather to show their support.

And as always, to Jaime Purgavie.

Biker Shirts

Well, hey. I guess this is the first big art news of the new year. As you may have noticed, I released a motorcycle calendar in the fall. And it seemed like a natural outgrowth of that to put out a line of bike shirts, too. Here’s a preview of the nine different designs:

Bikes

 

As usual, you can find ’em here, in my Redbubble store.

The Second Annual Boxing Week Sale.

If you know me, you know I’m a pretty big fan of tradition. Last year, as a way to clear out old stock and to say thanks for supporting my art career, I decided to have a Boxing Week sale.

There are paintings from Hot Pink, Ka-Pow!, Bugs, The Koi Show, Cocktails, Dark Valentine, plus a couple random pieces that weren’t featured in any specific exhibition.

Here’s what available. As you can see, pricing is not what you’d call consistent. Instead it’s based on a complex algorithm that takes into consideration the age of a piece, the size, the process, and whether or not I still want it in my life.

These prices are in effect from Friday, December 26th to Thursday, January 1st. After that, the paintings revert to their usual pricing. Also, prices do not include any shipping costs.

Happy Holidays.

Bret Taylor
Vancouver, BC
December 2014

Joystick – What’s Still Available.

So the Joystick show was a blast. This isn’t the full-on, official report on the show; that’ll come later. But for now there are a few pieces left, and it occurred to me that with Christmas looming on the horizon, maybe some of you have a gamer on your shopping list.

Maybe that gamer is even you.

Anyway, here are the goods, complete with sizes and prices. If you see anything you’re interested in, drop me a line at howyadoin@gmail.com

(Prices listed do not include shipping charges.)

Lightcycles: 8x8 inches for $100, or 6x6 inches for $65.

Lightcycles: 8×8 inches for $100. 6×6 inches: SOLD.

Mario Bros. Icons - 8x8 inches, $100

Mario Bros. Icons – 8×8 inches, $100

Mario: 8x8 inches, $100 Luigi: 6x6 inches, $65 Yoshi: 6x6 inches, $65 Mushroom: 3x4 inches, $40

Mario: 8×8 inches, $100
Luigi: 6×6 inches, $65
Yoshi: 6×6 inches, $65
Mushroom: 3×4 inches, SOLD

Controller: 8x8 inches, $100 Tempest: 6x6 inches, $65 Pac-Man: 3x4 inches, $40 Zelda: 3x4 inches, $40

Controller: 8×8 inches, $100
Tempest: 6×6 inches, $65
Pac-Man: SOLD.
Zelda: SOLD.

Gears of War Sonic Mortal Kombat All 6x6 inches, $65 each.

Gears of War: SOLD
Sonic: 6×6 inches, $65.
Mortal Kombat: SOLD.

Motorcycles and Bold Statements.

Okay, I’m gonna make a bold statement here. I like drawing motorcycles more than I like drawing women, cars, or guitars.

There, I said it.

I can’t even put my finger on the reason why; I just know it’s really fucking fun. Partly because motorcycles are just inherently badass, but there’s something else there, too. I’ve always liked perspective drawing, so that’s part of it. And figuring out how the parts work, doing the research… that’s pretty huge, too.

I decided back in January that this year’s calendar theme would be motorcycles, and I’ve spent almost the entire year doing research about cafe racers, trackers, scramblers, bobbers, choppers, street fighters…

Once it came time to start the actual work, I learned about sidecars, perimeter brakes, superchargers, even bikes I’d never heard of before. Crockers, for instance.

As I write this I’m on the penultimate bike, a Kawasaki KZ900. Once that’s done, I have to do an Indian – most likely a board tracker.

And then the calendar will be ready for release, and all will be right in the world.

Wanna see some in-progress stuff? If you follow me on social media, you may have seen some of these already. Not all of them, though:

No Pressure, But…

I’m never one to sound like an alarmist if I can avoid it. I don’t share links to things-you-should-be-outraged-by articles. I’m not a conspiracy theorist with a tinfoil hat.

But all that being said, you’re running out of time, my friends.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to freak you out. But if you want to commission a painting in time for Christmas… well, you might want to talk to me very, very soon. The weather’s already starting to change, and the colder temperatures and higher humidity in the fall and winter mean longer drying times for paintings.

So if you’ve got an idea for a custom piece in mind, please drop me a line ASAP: howyadoin@gmail.com

And be sure to mention Christmas commissions in the subject header.

Now that the blatant commercial message is out of the way, here’s a little eye candy from last Christmas and other previous commissions:

State of the Art Address, August 2014

Hey. You remember me, right? I’m that guy – used to blog on a regular basis. But somewhere over the past couple years, as social media continually reinvented itself, I got out of the habit.

I didn’t really miss the outlet, because I started writing in a journal, but ultimately that’s a one-sided conversation. And there’s a lot going on in my life, so I figured I should talk more openly about it, and at length. Therapeutic AND educational. So consider this a sort of state-of-the-union address – except there is no union, just me. Solo.

Hence the title of this post.

If you’re following my art, you might have noticed a new direction in recent months – watercolour. Totally unplanned, but it’s been an interesting journey.

In particular I love the chaotic side of it. Embracing the random. Letting the paint flow where it wants to go, and then capitalizing on the patterns that emerge. Which, if you ask Albert Einstein, is the second rule of work: from discord, find harmony. Kind of makes me feel a certain nobility of purpose.

My thought is that I’d like to structure next year’s art schedule to alternate between metalflake exhibitions and watercolour ones. This’ll give me a nice degree of variety, and as I work on overlapping series, it’ll give me more time to put the metalflake shows together. I’m hoping to eliminate those mad pre-show thrashes where I’ve got paintings drying on top of the stove and the toaster oven, and propped against the baseboard heaters in the livingroom.

Tentative plan for 2015, then: a watercolour show in February, most likely based on tropical birds. In April, the Skulls N’ Roses metalflake show I’ve been talking about, to coincide with the annual Tattoo and Culture show. Another watercolour jam in the summer, and then to close out the year, an as-yet-undetermined metalflake exhibition.

Potentially, something in the pin-up vein, but using 70s glam rock iconography. Platform boots, big sunglasses, hot pants, and so on.

As for this year… I’ve already reported on the Koi Show, which was colossal. I haven’t really discussed the Han-and-Leia paintings I did for Industrial Light & Magic yet, but I swear I’ll get to it. There’ve been a lot of commissions, mainly, but not limited to, superheroes. At the moment I’m also working on several tattoo designs, a Rush-themed goalie mask, and of course I just put the Bugs show to bed (haven’t done a write-up on that one yet; it’s still too fresh for me to have any real perspective on it). And there are currently 8 metalflake commissions in the final stages of completion.

It’s been an interesting year, though. Those close to me know my life’s been pretty turbulent this decade, so in 2014 I’ve been making a conscious effort to destress and unclutter. All this time spent drawing and painting has been enormously helpful in that regard, giving me time for some much-needed introspection and reflection.

One other tangible benefit to all of this: my linework is cleaner than ever, and my hands are the steadiest they’ve ever been. They used to shake so much that I blogged about it. Not any more.

Oh, a few more things:

1. The final show of the year will be about videogames.
2. All year I’ve been doing the research for my next calendar, so I’ll soon start designing and sketching the motorcycles. The premise is that all the bikes in the calendar came from the same fictitious custom shop.
3. I’ve added a bunch of new merch to my RedBubble store: pillows, tote bags, and duvet covers.
4. There are still a few Bugs pieces left, too. You can see them here.

So that’s me. What’s happening with you?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,708 other followers