artist

Presenting the Second Annual Rent-Party Art Sale Extravaganza

“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.)


We’re losing so many artists this year.

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.


Superchicks – Still Available.

Full report on the show still to come, but here’s what’s still up for grabs. First, the metalflake paintings:

And then the sketches (all 8×10 inches, $50 apiece):

If there’s something you’ve got your eye on, let me know ASAP (prices do not include shipping). And if you’re interested in commissioning something you don’t see here, also let me know.

Thank you and goodnight.


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.


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.


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?


Bugs Show – What’s Left.

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: howyadoin@gmail.com

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.

Cheers.

 


The Summer 2014 Studio Sale

If you’ve been following my art career, you know I’m a bit on the prolific side – I love to paint, and I have a lot to say. So it may not come as a total surprise that I’ve got a fair number of paintings on hand at the moment. I’d go so far as to call it a backlog, even.

And I work out of a small studio, so space is at a premium (can you see where this is going?).

I sat looking at all these pieces today, and decided I need to move some of them. Which is where you come in – I’m marking these down so I can free up some space, and you can score some art bargains.

Without further ado, then, here’s what’s for sale:

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

The fine print:

Prices are in effect till Friday, August 1, 2014. Prices do not include shipping.