Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kinda freaks me out...

I sent this email to my good friend and great paper sculptor, Leo Monahan. Here's what I sent to him:

I am sitting in a local library and found two wonderful posters for a client, BWI booksellers. The one poster is of a knight in shining armor with his jousting lance atop a armored steed all in aluminum foiled paper and set atop a black background. It must be yours. Then, as I crane my neck around the door I see another beautiful paper sculpture set atop a black background. Same client in a similar frame, but this one has a fiery yet very colorful dragon complete with mouth breathing flames and gorgeously set with with that splat technique of yours on the colored scales.  It all was so beautifully crafted and probably designed to be a companion piece. Was it?

( I had the good fortune to spend some time with Leo years ago when he had a design studio that, for a time, created ads for the NBC nightly news and the local affiliate, KNBC. The place was a buzz with activity all geared to meet one deadline after another. Messengers came in, messengers went out and it seemed Leo was always on the phone. I assume he made his "fortune" doing the ad designer thing, but I was amazed at how, amongst all that hustle and bustle, he was deftly cutting one ply Strath with an X-Acto knife and shaping the form to depict whatever it was in his mind. Amongst the phone calls and press checks and what not! "Leo, you ever cut yourself with that blade?", I asked. "Only occasionally," he replied.  I told him a story about how I had a habit of sliding pencils atop my ears for later use, but had to force myself not to do that anymore when I once, it only takes once, absentmindedly slide an XActo knife between my ear and scalp. It wasn't a nice feeling, but now I completely understood Cezanne's madness after that experience. Those were my airbrush/retouch days. )

I am amazed and a little freaked out as I say to myself, "Wow, that's a Leo Monahan!" And I know him. He is a dear and close friend and colleague. It must be nice to be nationwide with your work. To me, there is always something weird when you see something that is viewed in another context. Like, seeing your first, real up close and personal aircraft that you built from a kit or drew many times as a kid. There's a childlike exuberance that overcomes one no matter what the age. "Wow, that's the real thing, whoa!" Can I touch it? Can I get closer? Another example would be fans actually meeting a famous actor or sports hero, live and in the flesh.

Anyway, feeling vulnerable and disconnected from all I knew in my thirty years as a Los Angeleno, I took special pleasure in seeing the printed version of something created by an artist that I knew! A chill races up arm as I sat and stared at the poster. I think to myself, man, I will never get to that pinnacle of success. Thirty-five years in this business and nothing that will outlive me, I say, as I get up from the my seat, pull up my slacks and flush the toilet. "I can't even make it on the walls of a Louisiana library men's room!." C’est la vie!


  1. Isn't one of your works in the NO Saints museum?

  2. No! Dad just took the post card promo piece that I did years ago and they stuck in on a bulletin board. Can't say that establishes me as a great American illustrator, now can we?