virtualDavis

\ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs\ Blogger, storyteller, flâneur. G.G. Davis, Jr's alter ego…
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Mike Lowery: Master Doodler and Illustrator

Mike Lowery, Illustrator and Doodler

Mike Lowery, doodling… and doodled! (Credit: argyleacademy.com)

Mike Lowery (argyleacademy.com) is a master doodler illustrator. I must learn to be careful about calling illustrations doodles and illustrators doodlers. I get it. They’re different. And many artists who illustrate or draw consider the terms doodling or doodler to be pejorative.

I don’t consider doodling or doodler to be pejorative. In fact, I consider doodler a complement of the highest order, for to doodle is to break free. To be playful. To be curious. To explore. To express. Not all illustrators and artists doodle. But those who do doodle inspire the blazes out of me!

Mike Lower, Doodler

I would like to propose – with apologies offered in advance – that Mike Lowery is an especially inspiring master doodler.

And it turns out I’m not the only one who associates Mike Lowery’s capricious illustrations with doodles. For example, Jenipher Lyn (blogger, doodler and all around creative whiz) captured him in this aptly title post, “Mummies, DRY Humor and silly doodles, oh my!” And The oxford American made the doodle connection in an interview a little over a year ago.

THE OA: Did you ever consciously decide to be a cartoonist? Or were you always doodling and drawing all your life, and then one day someone paid you for your art?
ML: I’ve always worked towards the goal of doing illustration or comics or fine art…anything art related for work. There wasn’t any question that I would shoot for anything else. (Oxford American)

And sometimes even Mike Lowery makes the doodle connection:

Who Really is Mike Lowery?

So you’ve humored me long enough, endured my “Mike Lowery is a master doodler!” schpiel and now you’d like the unbiased bottom line. Right. Better pass the baton…

Mike Lowery is an artist living in Atlanta, Georgia… Mike’s work has been seen on everything from greetings cards to children’s books to gallery walls all over the world, and he is a Professor of Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta. (Mike Lowery)

Mike Lowery is an artist, an illustrator, and a professor. But he’s also a doodler. Period. And a damned good doodler! I dare say, a guru.

Mike Lowery, Illustrator and Doodler

Mike Lowery, doodling (mikelowerystudio.tumblr.com)

It’s difficult to explain the near-cultlike following Lowery has achieved if you’ve never seen him perform — and I do mean perform. Even though he prefaces every presentation as being a simple matter of sharing some drawings from his diary, there is no question that the self-concious, deapan commentary he weaves through his slideshows constitute a high form of performance art. You’re never sure if Lowery’s actually that charming or completely aware of his own brilliance and putting on that aw-shucks demeanor entirely for his act — either way, it’s tough not to be taken in. Somewhere between the Still Life series, a collection of cartoons about an apple and a pear who are in a relationship, but live with a third-wheel banana, and the introspective robot who worries about whether his wife is right and they’re ready to have kids, a devotion to Lowery is born. (DCist)

Ah-ha, Mike Lowery is even a performer… See why I like this guy?

iPhone 5S: Doodling Skeuomorphism

Don’t fret, friends, this isn’t an iPhone 5S perks and burps post. We’ll leave those to the gadget gurus. I’m actually pretty content with my iPhone 4S, but my 2 year contract is up (Or nearly up? Better check that!) and there are a couple of intriguing new iPhone 5S gizmos to tempt:

  • iPhone 5S has a better camera (real value to me)
  • iPhone 5S has a fingerprint sensor (hmmm… dubious/potential value)

But the most exciting iPhone-y newness getting hashed and rehashed in the scuttlebutt-o-sphere isn’t the iPhone 5S at all. It’s iOS 7. And the prospect of both wrapped up tidily together? Hmmm…

This software looks nothing like the old iOS. It’s all white and clean, almost barren… Above all, it completely abandons Apple’s formerly favorite design principle, skeuomorphism, in which on-screen things depict real-world materials… iOS 7 is more efficient to navigate, because nothing on the screen is eye candy; everything is a button, so you spend less time hunting for things.

Furthermore… Siri… responds faster, has a more realistic voice and understands new kinds of commands (NYTimes.com

If only Siri could massage my shoulders. Of course my bride already resents Siri’s intrusions into our otherwise monogamous marriage, so massage could prove dangerous. I retract my wish and unrub the genie. Safe?

Honestly, the real inspiration for this post is the totally un-tech-geeky iPhone 5S doodle above. Genius! And learning about skeuomorphism is the icing on the cake. Perhaps you need a little help with skeuomorphism? I did. Try this super helpful skeuomorphism sketchnote by Eva-Lotta Lamm.

Skeuomorphism Sketchnote by Eva-Lotta Lamm

Skeuomorphism Sketchnote (Credit: Eva-Lotta Lamm, Core77)

Drunk Doodles

Drunk doodles and doodled drinks... An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails, by Orr Shtuhl

Drunk doodles and doodled drinks… An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails

What do you get when you cross top drawer doodles with top shelf booze?

Drunk?

Happy?

Drunk doodles?

Yes. Yes. And yes. Here’s how…

Order a copy of An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails – by Orr Shtuhl (@orrshtuhl) and with habit forming illustrations by Elizabeth Graeber (@elizabeth_draws) – and then get a sneak peak with this fun video trailer.

Fun, right? Here’s what the punditry is offering after probing the illustrated booze cruise.

Cartoonish penguins and other wildlife are shown imbibing in “An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails,” a whimsical little book that offers recipes for 50 cocktails. It also includes lore,the author’s personal stories, advice about equipment and abundant references to historic figures like William Howard Taft, George Washington, the bartenders Jerry Thomas and Fernand Petiot, Rudolph Valentino, James Pimm, Giovanni Bellini and Ernest Hemingway… (NYTimes.com)

Orr Shtuhl and Elizabeth Graeber self-published their first run of An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails and sold the recipe collection via Etsy, but the book caught the eye of Gotham Books and a new edition, packed with stories and illustrations we haven’t seen before… (Village Voice)Orr Shtuhl and Elizabeth Graeber’s An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails is a bar gem. Penguins and historical figures make repeat appearances in this recipe book and stories of alcoholic drinks. You’ll accumulate fun facts, like the origination of the phrase “the real McCoy,” and delicious recipes for traditional cocktails. Shtuhl’s lighthearted tone and Graeber’s drawings give the book a childlike quality not often found in books about drinking. (Serious Eats)

I am an immediate fan of any book that can simultaneously make me laugh and make me thirsty. Illustrated with pictures of seals sunning themselves with mint juleps in hand (in flipper?) and cats making snide remarks about your state of tipsiness, this book is bound to travel from my home bar to my coffee table and back again many times over… I give this book a big ol’ thumbs up. (The Kitchn)

And earlier this month Design Sponge included the Illustrated Guide to Cocktails in their post, “Summer Cocktails + Bar Essentials Poster Freebie: What We’re Loving This Week” with an author interview.

Hey, Orr Shtuhl, what’s your favorite…

Sight? The skyline.

Sound? A pencil on paper. Or, Belle & Sebastian.

Smell? Coffee! Straight out of the grinder.

Taste? I know this is about cocktails, but coffee again.

Feeling? Waking up rested, then doing a bunch of stuff.

What is your favorite summer cocktail? Negroni! It’s light, refreshing, and just bitter enough to be grown up. The recipe’s easy to riff on (equal parts gin/vermouth/Campari). Swap gin for whiskey, and it’s a Boulevardier. Swap for champagne and it’s a Negroni Sbagliato. I love it so much we gave it 6 pages in the book — a real centerfold treatment.

And, hey, Elizabeth Graeber, what’s your favorite…

Sight? Colors and patterns.

Sound? Flipping threw a book or sketchbook.

Smell? Fresh rosemary. Or any herbs.

Taste? Olives.

Feeling? A sunny crisp day.

What is your favorite summer cocktail? A mint julep. (Design Sponge)

I’ve ordered a copy to tune up my mixology and doodle-ology. But until it arrives I’ll start experimenting with my own drunk doodles!

Summer Squash and Doodles

Summer squash blossom doodle, 2012

Summer squash blossom doodle, 2012

Rain stopped. Drought started. Sun soaked scorcher after scorcher. A heavenly week! Playing on Lake Champlain at last. And bracing for the return of rain tomorrow…

And so it goes.

Garden’s in a funny state. Corn, waist high, is already tasseled and covered in silky corn. Pigmies? Most plants stunted, endeavoring to recover from a month and a half of rain. Zucchini squash are still a week or so pre-blossom. Totally unusual for mid-July!

Summer play time with family has been a long anticipated treat, and ongoing preparations for another semi-solo storytelling show (Doodler’s Guide to Essex, NY) is in the final pages of prep. Much news, but it can wait. For now I’ll squash summer-so-far into a couple of timely publishing and doodling reads:

Fascinating! All hats off to friend and Depot Theatre board colleague, Kim Reilly, for putting me onto this doodle news story. If you’re too sun-logy to read the full article, here are the gems.

What do you get when you ask 56 Nobel Laureate scientists to cartoon their greatest discoveries?

Photographer Volker Steger fearlessly tackled the challenge during an annual meeting with Nobel Laureates in the Bavarian town of Lindau. And what resulted was gritty, unpolished and playful — a far cry from the research itself.

When the scientists entered the room, they were greeted with a blank sheet of paper and a pile of crayons, and without warning, asked to illustrate their discoveries. “The resulting pictures show surprised people, who haven’t had time, really, to polish their pictures or burnish their reputations,” Hunt writes. “No aides or colleagues were on hand to help, no slides, no Powerpoint: these people had been ambushed!”

“Perhaps the public would prefer to invest them with a gravitas, a dignity befitting to their status, but in truth, most of these people had fun finding things out, and if this shows, it’s perhaps a good thing,” Hunt said. “It ought to help demystify the austere aura of scientists as priests of an arcane, impenetrable religion.” (PBS NewsHour)

The emphasis is mine. The reason should be obvious. And if not, I hope to see you at the Depot Theatre in Westport, NY on July 23 for further explanation.

My mind is obsesses with the storytelling potential for doodles. Especially quick, un-precious doodles. Doodling is discovery. And it just might be a fascinating way to crowdsource very abstract ideas in a universally accessible way. Or so I’m beginning to believe. Doodle experiment v1.0 is less than a week away. Then hoping to refine and retest in August and September/October at different venues. Drop me a line to share doodle advice, resources or secret sauce.

Borderer’s Flaneur

Borderer's "Flaneur"

Borderer’s “Flaneur”

Fit for some Friday flânerie? I’ve come across the perfect weekly wrap-up to entice fellow flâneurs (and flâneuses) to abandon toil early for a plunge into the pleasure palace waiting beyond the office doors.

If you’re deadline-married and unable (or unwilling, alas) to veer from your tasks, so be it. But if you’re free to wonder and wander I’d like to introduce you to Borderer’s “Flaneur”, a retired broadcaster’s “shattered prose which goes under the generic description ‘poetry’“.

I encourage you to read the entire poem, but to tempt you away from your deadlines here are a few amuse gueules from Borderer’s “Flaneur”.

I am sitting in a bistro, my legs are crossed,
Watching the swing of passing skirts.

I am the one the teachers cursed, smiling,
“He just does not apply himself!”

[…]

I wrote a story of 16,600 words.
I wondered what had possessed me.

I prefer to scribble out poetry,
Finished in a single sitting.

I never learned to march in step;

[…]I have the time to contemplate these things,
As I stroll without a goal.

I will kiss you, whoever you are;
I inflict poetry only to seduce.

[…]
I am a stroller on the sidewalks;
I know everything is forgotten.

I know, in a world where everything ends,
I cannot waste my time, so

Take my hand along the boulevards;
Let us embrace in every doorway.

Are you seduced, fellow flaneurs? The workaday week will wait. This invitation will not… Enjoy!

Storytelling from Cave Fire to Kindle Fire

Storytelling from Cave Fire to Kindle Fire

Storytelling from Cave Fire to Kindle Fire (image by virtualDavis)

Isn’t digital storytelling just enhanced storytelling? It’s just the newest chapter in humanity’s quest to improve the way we tell stories. We instinctively yearn for better communication, for storytelling innovation. And yet digital books, audio books, multimedia books tend to meet resistance despite their obvious appeal.

New scares old. Old doesn’t quite understand new. Or doesn’t want to…

In “Is It A Book, Is It A Movie…No, It’s Movie-Book!” we get a glimpse at the book world’s awkward response to digitally enhanced storytelling.

Many eBook writers shy away from multimedia publishing, preferring instead to stay with straight text… An eBook that features multimedia is not an eBook, they say. It’s… an app… What IS an eBook with multimedia? Can we continue to call an eBook an eBook knowing that now it may feature multimedia? … What about audio books? … [Or] movie-books… (Technorati Entertainment)

Let’s call it digital storytelling. Or storytelling in the digital age. Maybe we should just call it storytelling, because — no matter how resistant the publishing industry and book critics and schools and libraries may be — the public is embracing (and will continue to embrace) storytelling in all of its innovative new forms.

Let us imagine the first time a storyteller added innovative new technologies to their bag of tricks. Picture the proverbial caveman standing by the bonfire with his family, talking about the hunt from which he’s returned with a week’s food. In telling the story of creeping up on his prey, he describes his cautious steps, following the fierce Bigmacosaurus, slowly, quietly all afternoon. Until afternoon turned into evening. As daddy caveman describes the fall of night he slowly extinguishes the campfire leaving his wife and children sitting in the dark around the glowing embers. They pull closer together, absorbed in the story. Now dad begins to pace around them in the dark as he speaks, so that they are never quite sure where he is, and he begins to breath deeply, hoarsely, imitating the sounds of the Bigmacosaurus. And suddenly he leaps across the embers and pretends to drive his spear into the Bigmacosaurus, just barely illuminated as he writhes on the ground, bathed in the dull red glow of the embers.

The end.

“Time for bed, cave kiddies!” he bellows. But they don’t move. They cling to their mother, scared to death.

So dad adds kindling and blows on the embers, resuscitating the fire. Within a few minutes the interior of the cave is once again illuminated. The children are less afraid, but still too nervous for bed.

“But what if the other Bigmacosauri followed you home?”

“Yes, what if they come and get us tonight while we sleep?”

Dad takes a charred branch from the fire and proceeds to draw a picture on the cave wall. In the crude illustration a hunter with a spear crouches in tall grass beside a herd of Bigmacosauri. He explains to his children that he discovered the heard around mid-day, far away. He draws the sun directly overhead, and adds wavy water to portray the lake located half a day’s journey from the cave. Then he moves down the wall and draws himself in the mountains pursuing a single Bigmacosaurus, the sun much lower to the horizon now. He explains to his children that he successfully split the heard, forcing the biggest Bigmacosaurus to run toward the mountains which lay between their cave and the lake. He draws a herd of stampeding Bigmacosauri running off into the distance where the sun sets on the far side of the lake. His next drawing is of the the hunter right next to the Bigmacosaurus, spear high in the air about to plunge. A crescent moon is high overhead. He explains to his children that he wanted to drive the Bigmacosaurus as close as possible to home so that he could minimize the distance he would need to carry the meat. He explains how hard it was because wild Bigmacosauri are scared of cave men and don’t like to come near them. But daddy cave man succeeded, and now they have plenty of food. But the next time he wants to hunt a Bigmacosaurus, he will have to go all away around the lake to the far side where the sun sets. He draws one last picture, looking across the vast lake at tiny Bigmacosauri no larger than ants speckling the horizon beneath the setting sun.

The children have fallen asleep in their mother’s arms, so the parents carry them to their beds and tuck them in.

So far, nothing’s unusual about this, right? Just another evening at the cave.

But when the parents tuck themselves in, the cave man’s wife rolls over to her husband to whisper.

“I don’t know what you thought you were doing tonight, extinguishing the fire, making all those beastly noises, reenacting the hunt, drawing on the walls. Look how much you scared the children.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare them so much. I always tell them stories…”

“I know. Stories are good. But all that other stuff, it’s just, I don’t know. Not right. Can you just stick with storytelling? Just words?”

“Yes, dear.”

“Thank you. Good night.”

“Good night.”

But the next day the cave kiddies beg for a story. “Like last night, daddy. Not the boring old way.”

“Yes, like last night. Pleeease?”

Mother grimaces.

Father looks at mother and shrugs.

Fast forward. YouTube, Audible, Vook, iPad, Storify and SoundCloud blur past. From cave fire to Kindle Fire… Onward!

Fête du Flâneur


Fête du Flâneur, An Urban(e) Party via Great City

I’m feeling envious of Seattle-based flâneurs who’ll be able to attend the Fête du Flâneur — billed as “an urban(e) party” — on February 25th at Melrose Market. The highlight, it seems to me is this: “Following the early reception will be a celebration of enlightened, if fanciful, urban living featuring music, open bar, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, an address by Mayor Mike McGinn, crowning of the Great City-Cascade Land Conservancy Mustache Challenge champion, Flâneur-inspired art, dancing and DIY costumes.” It’s possible that the only thing cooler than a celebration of flânerie is a mustache contest. Since I’ve perfected the former, I’d better get to work on the latter! What sort of costume would you were to a flâneurs’ festival?

Feel Like Screaming?!?!

Feel Like Screaming

 Feel Like Screaming

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