Friday, December 17, 2010

David Jablow

I saw the documentary on R Crumb. Were you inspired by the scene where he and his brother entered a drawing contest. Not so much from the contest. I’m a huge fan of his. A lot of people do draw that comparison with Crumb. It sort of makes me laugh when people say that. They act as if he has this stake on cross hatching. There are a lot of political cartoonist like Thomas Nash and George Cruikshank who were working in the early 1900s, whom Crumb was hugely influenced by. That’s usually how it works. One person is influenced by another. So you don’t identify with Crumb? No. I certainly do. I’m a huge fan of his. I will purchase anything he’s done after 1980. But you like to distinguish yourself from him? When you do cross hatching and black & white it’s really hard not to look like Crumb, especially with all of his subject manner. He's drawn everything. It’s hard not to mimic what he’s done. Yes, there’s a huge Crumb influence. But there are so many other people overlooked, I guess. There’s George Matt who’s another guy who’s a Philadelphia cartoonist, whom I’ve been hugely influenced by. It’s funny, Crumb would draw Big Foot Women. He had a comic strip devoted to Big Foot Women. I thought to myself, “There’s no way you could draw a strip of Big Feet Women.” But maybe we do something similar. Maybe we use the same pen. What's motivating you to focus on this exercise? It’s an excuse to render. I like to draw things and sometimes artists don’t have an image that’s begging to be made. They just want to make something and they’ll find anything to draw. There’s a fine line between creative and farfetched. A friend of mine gave me this doodle pad. It solved that problem of: What do you do? I was struggling with blank pages and white canvases forever. This was the solution. It’s not blank. It’s a launching off point with this woman. The parameters are clearly set. It limits me. I have to do something with her. She’s in this position and there’s only so much room on the page. The ones I wound up choosing dictated what’s plausible for the position the woman is in or how much space is around her. People would come up with ideas like: Have her jump off a diving board. People suggest stuff to you? Oh sure, all of the time. There are people that do their own versions. Do you see this as a collaboration? I didn’t plan it that way but a number of people have found these online and are taking the blank ones, putting them up on blogs and encouraging people to do their own. For example, there’s buzzfeed.com. Someone posted a blank one on there and a bunch of people did their own versions from that. There was a lot of publicity in Russia. I posted a few of them on doityourselfdoodler.com. It’s not something I planned. I’m perfectly happy if people want to do this. But I feel like mine are better. On the one hand it’s a drawing exercise. You just like the activity of drawing. Sure, I like drawing. Are you also trying to communicate something? You’re in a gallery. You took some steps to have an exhibition. Why make it available? Honestly, when I was starting I didn’t think it would end up in a gallery. I thought of it as something that would be collected in a book. That was the plan and still is and I’ve been talking to publishers about that. But then I started making these jpegs and sending them out to galleries. I thought, “Why not get them on walls so my friends can see them?” I started getting positive feedback. I’ve always seen myself as an illustrator or a comic/cartoonist type of guy but I’m perfectly happy with this gallery show. These definitely work well together, greater than the some of their parts so to speak. What do you hope to accomplish with this work? I don’t have a political message behind them. I just try to have fun with each one and not be repetitive. I'd sit down and ask, “What one could be interesting?” Basically, you make a drawing. What it comes down to is: You either have to draw something interesting or draw something in an interesting manner. That’s what I was trying to accomplish here--just come up with a cool scene with something that I would like to look at, or figure out a creative way to deal with a woman in this specific position. There’s only three quarters of space around her that’s blocked out. The only context that you can give to indicate what’s going on is the space immediately below her. It did set up a very specific set of problems that I would have to face 38 different times. I really had to go out on a limb in some cases, where I had to change the woman. I had to break her in half and make her two different women. I tried not to do that too much though. I felt it was cheating in a way. I really just wanted to have fun with it. I would post them on facebook and friends would enjoy them. Is it contributing something culturally? I don’t think so. If it is, great. If it were, what would it be contributing? It's escapism I guess. It’s art. It’s something people can enjoy. Some people attach different meaning. Some people say it’s very feminist. I don’t see that. If people want to take it that way, that’s fine. But I’m just doing 38 different interesting drawings--trying not to be repetitive, and not change the woman in any way. But she changes. That was the hardest thing, not to be repetitive. One was sort of like an old Victorian look, one's like a steam pump, one's more contemporary... Don’t change it but don’t repeat. That's paradoxical. It is. It’s funny. There were a number of rules I had to follow to keep the series going. It made it a lot easier to work with 38 blank sheets of paper. Giving yourself these parameters allows you to say, “Run in this direction.” I definitely hit creative blocks during the process. People ask me, “How long did it take for you to do these?” Most of the time was spent brain storming ideas. But once I had them it was only a matter of 48 hours and actually executing them. Sometimes I would spend a week or two questioning like, “Alright, she’s down on all fours. So she could be doing some kind of tracking but that doesn’t solve the problem of what to do with the bottom half of the page." Or sometimes I would come up with the top half for an idea and then have to sit and wait for another idea for the bottom half. I mean, I don't have a set approach. Each one I start fresh. I do it, set it aside, and move on to the next. Slowly but surely I got 38 of them done.

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