A year ago, things were looking pretty good to me. I’d been on a decent freelance gig for the entire year, and after an extremely busy December, I was really looking forward to a couple weeks off before we plunged back into the work in mid-January. My Star Wars tribute show, Han Shot First, had been a big hit – which was nice after a couple shows that didn’t perform up to expectations, an aborted show with a whiskey manufacturer that, if you’ll pardon the pun, evaporated practically overnight, and a group show that turned out to be more of a scam than an actual show.
I was feeling quite content, which was unusual for me at that time of year (usually I’d be stressing over money, or the fact that I couldn’t spend Christmas with my family). There was a bit of extra cash in the bank, and I was pretty relaxed. I was thinking about improvements I could make in my life in 2016.
Then Lemmy died. Followed almost immediately by David Bowie.
For all intents and purposes, 2016 was a horrible, horrible year. The freelance gig went sour pretty quickly in January, although it still dragged out for a couple more months. The closing bookend to this was the death this week of one of my best friends, at far too young an age.
In between the entire year seemed like one giant clusterfuck: the deaths of more artists who meant the world to me, the aforementioned work situation, my 8-year-old iMac finally shuffling off this mortal coil in May, and of course the week in November when Trump got elected and Leonard Cohen passed away. Not a lot of relaxation there. Not a lot of improvements. I wouldn’t say it was as shitty as 2012-2014, but it still ranks as one of the worst years of my adult life.
So what was good, then? Friends and family. Art.
In the spring, motivated by the lack of work and a rapidly-dwindling bank account, I threw a highly-successful art sale. That cleared out a lot of the paintings that had been taking up valuable wall space, generated a bunch of new commissions, and – equally importantly – funded a couple months’ rent.
That led pretty directly into the Superchicks show in July – also a success. After that, on a whim, I started doing black & white, almost chiaroscuro ink illustrations (think Frank Miller’s Sin City work), mainly as a much-needed change of pace. I called this series Back in Black, and as it happens, it sold more than several of my past art shows – on an almost non-existent budget and without any sort of corresponding physical event.
Then a whole slew of commissions came in, primarily custom pieces people were buying them for friends.
Then came Science Fiction Double Feature.
And more commissions.
I’m pretty much lost at the moment, but at least my head’s above water.
Some people I really need to thank, then: Cristina Weir, who bought substantial amounts of art, all year. Shamil Meghji, who also really put his money where his mouth is. My parents, my siblings, Mordechai Luchins, John and Chrissy Watson, George Smeltzer and Lori Kittelberg, Joe Clark, Rachael Taylor, Jeremy Ball, Kramer Solinksky, Adé Win, Alec Von, Kimli Welsh, Jen Arbo, Melissa Sandoval, Terri Chalmers, Jessi Sensabaugh, Andrea Mason, Kate MacDonald, Alison Tedford, Tim Schneider, Apryl Trasy, Andrea Garside, Stacie Bee, Rayna Corner, Mike Seymour, Roxy Xrouz, Shannon Mackay, Meghan Kilner, Chris Dion, Stef Dorward, Rebecca Coleman, Kyle Reid, Brooke Hunter, Jaime Lee Purgavie, Mandy Fisher, Tess McCann, Gus Lindstrom, Chad Horwedel, Stephanie Coleridge, Matt Sadorf, Phil, Erin Kyle, Holly Morrison, Isabel da Costa, Jay Holtslander, Andrew Wong, Edi Mange, Michelle Bischof, Blair Pritchett, Scott Graham, Steve Kinsey, Alison Evans, Brian Vidovic, Stephanie Young, Jordana Manchester, Shayla Maddox, Dani Heavenor, Annie Friesen, Adam Carlson, Mikey Pielechaty, Shona Massey, Katherine Houston, Sherri Hodder, Brian Cronin, Maria Brophy, and Alyson Stanfield.
If I’ve neglected to mention your name, or worse, misspelled it, please let me know and I’ll rectify the situation immediately.
In memory of Steve Morrison, 1963-2016.