“Things are almost bad enough to have a party.”
~ Judd Nelson, The Billionaire Boys’ Club
I dunno about you, but I am having the strangest damn year. As you may know, I work as both an artist and a graphic designer, and having the two revenue streams is really helpful in these dark and troubled times.
This year, though, everything seems to be… off.
Art is selling much better than usual, and January is particular was much busier than in any previous year. Which is weird, but definitely good – because graphic design work has been non-existent (and that’s coming on the heels of a year as financially and emotionally ruinous as 2016).
My solution to such issues is probably obvious by now: when in doubt, throw an art sale. Then I can clear some much-needed space out, AND help pay the rent.
Speaking of which, I’ve been doing 2-day flash sales over the past week. Responses have been good, so I decided on Friday to cap it all off with a BIG sale. Have a look below at the latest offerings. There might just be something there you want, and of course there’s the added bonus of supporting local art (or if you’re not in Vancouver, think “independent art” instead).
And by all means, tell your friends. Spread the word. Help a brother out.
Also, I’ve finished a number of commissions lately, so if you’re thinking about having a custom piece of your own painted, now is exactly the right time.
Sale ends Sunday night, April 30th.
(Disclaimer: prices do not include shipping.)
And now Steve Dillon is gone, too. One of the finest comic artists of the past 30 years, a man whose skills may have seemed a bit low-key on the surface – particularly in the mid-90s when style was valued so much more than substance – till you noticed his real strengths, which were legion. Garth Ennis, the Irish writer who teamed up with him on Hellblazer and The Punisher, and created Preacher alongside him, talked about how he didn’t write thought balloons for his characters, because you could read their thoughts from the expressions Steve put their faces. That was a pretty fucking revolutionary idea 25 years ago. Steve and Garth weren’t by any means the only creative team to do such a thing, but they certainly led the way.
The Hellblazer run is often overlooked, but it was incredibly powerful. So violent, so dark, but with moments of such grace, light, and clarity that they would break your heart (disclaimer: my heart breaks pretty easily, so I might not be the most reliable arbiter of such matters. But still). Two issues in particular really touched me – the first was John Constantine’s 40th birthday party, a flawless piece of storytelling that captured everything there is to capture about a transcendent night of what Steinbeck would call “heroic” drinking, and a pivotal moment in a man’s troubled life (much as it pains me to admit it, I was in my 30s when that issue came out, and now I’m actually older than the man of the hour). The other was a spinoff one-shot called Heartland, which dealt in absolutely unflinching terms with infidelity, abuse, war, and nasty family politics, using Northern Ireland as its titular heart and soul.
What Steve and Garth did on Preacher built on that, at least partially because it was a purely creator-owned book, with very little editorial influence. What they created in the span of a few years remains to this day my alltime favourite comic series ever, although Hellblazer has some moments so powerful they’ll change your whole life.
Steve Dillon was a legend.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com
(Prices listed do not include shipping charges.)
So Bugs was another fun show – a bit more intimate than the last few shows, but we definitely had fun. Full report to come, but in the meantime, people have been asking which pieces are still available, so here they are.
Each piece is 8×10 inches, and $70 unframed. Price doesn’t include shipping charges. So if you’ve got your eye on one, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if there’s something you don’t see here, let me know anyway. I’m open to doing custom pieces for people if they’re so inclined.