Steve Wacksman
October 2009
"Fan" Is Short For "Fanatic"
This is yet another uncommissioned portrait of Australian rock'n'roll outfit "The Drones". I promise it'll be my last.

I saw them play for the third time recently and their stage precence, especially singer Gareth Lilliard, is the very distillation of everything that makes rock music important and interesting to me. Here danger, melancholy, outrage and humor are all wound tightly, set ablaze and relentlessly catapulted into the audience. It's an exhilarating and unpredictable experience. Lilliard's eyes flash and roll as he devours the mic. He's a serpentine and lanky string of knotted sinew who seems to know exactly where the edge is and charges toward it; without question one of the most exciting and genuine performers I've ever seen.

This chilling flush of transcendent beauty and grave danger is one that, as I've gotten older, is harder and harder to conjure. I recall a band from the nineties- nevermind who- printing on the back of their tour shirts the slogan "Keep Music Evil". I can relate to that; there has to be a bit of shadow and uncertainty to make a good rock band. The best bands, it's been said, are like gangs.

Here are some shots I cribbed offa the WWW for reference. Certain things appear to never change- bassist Fiona's penchant for long dresses and motorcycle boots, Lilliard's candy apple red Fender Jaguar.

A quick pencil sketch, cobbled together in Photoshop. I started this with no intention of finishing it.

Here's a look at the piece as it was taking shape. In looking over my current works I noticed an unusually heavy reliance on a greenish blue hue. In an effort to break free of any conventions, I've been resolutely trying to avoid it but find that sometimes it's rather insistent on making an appearance.

Ignoring the old adage "If you don't know what the knob does, don't turn it" I started fearlessly clicking buttons and sliding sliders and allowing Photoshop to reveal some color combinations my mind's eye could not. By clicking off the 'cyan' color channel, I came upon the acidic yellow color combination that I let guide my choices in the final piece.

i started visiting Ye Olde Photoshoppe around 2 years ago. Maybe less- up until then I was strictly a vector guy. Photoshop scared the bejesus outta me- I fretted about file sizes and resolution and all manner of possible disaster. No pixels for me, thanks!

But the love affair with the sweet, simple vector was not to last. In a well-publicised parting of the ways, I became disenchanted with the artwork I was producing and the technique that I was employing to produce it. I spent a week in at a retreat in the Bahamas (It was a Sandals) ruminating on my options (and drinking Slippery Nipples). Once I returned to my Brooklyn-based art hut I faced my demons with vigor anew. Gone were the days of inking with a weasel-hair brush and navigating outdated vector conversion software. I stepped across the threshhold of Ye Olde Photoshoppe and never looked back.

Here are some images I did while refining my Photoshop technique. One of my goals wasd to have my finished artwork maintain some of the energy of my pencil sketches. P'shop has made this possible. I've given up the brush and ink for more immediate tools -ballpoint pens, ink pens, oftentimes pencil.

These images are all unpublished- homeless sketches from scraps of paper laying around on my desk that I chose to finish on the rare occasions that time allowed. I know I've drawn that Boombox Bunny before, and astronauts are a common theme around these parts as well. The blue/red color scheme in the astronaut piece is one that I've seen used in Japanese pulp magazines from the 1960's. I was completely determined to use it to good effect at some point and managed to use it recently on a job I did for McDonald's restaurants.

Sexy Teenage Vampires Take America By Storm
I'm both amused and flummoxed by the wave of teen vampires in pop culture lately. One has to imagine that they've infiltrated tthe zeitgeist for a reason, although I'll be damned if I can figure it out. Hey, that's kind of punny, huh? Damned if I can...

I'm not all that taken with the notion of the vampire as a whole. The Dracula mythos as it relates to Vlad the Impaler is a touch spooky and Nosferatu is downright terrifying, but the rest of it generally leaves me cold ( is that another undead pun? Am I kidding?) The seductive vampire that Lugosi begat and is seeing a resurgence in books/films like Twilight and True Blood strike me as sort of comic and inauthentic.

One film I saw recently that dealt with vampirism intelligently was 'Let The Right One In'. While not overtly horrific, it manages to get under your skin with implied violence and a sense of claustrophobic sadness set against the backdrop of a suburban Swedish winter. Highly recommended but don't blame me if you don't like it. There will be no refunds.

The above are the stars of Twilight, a film I haven't seen and will in all likelihood will never ever see. They are Robert Patinson and Kristen Stewart.

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