Live drawing at OWN IT 2018

Occasionally I will be asked to do "live drawings" at events. Live drawings are not quite caricatures, not quite full-fleshed cartoons, and the person who asks you to do them usually never has any specific ideas for what they should be. It's like saying, "hey artist! Do your thing!"  Liberating, but can also be overwhelming if you don't plan it right. 

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of drawing at the 2018 OWN IT summit at Georgetown University, which featured a panoply of inspiring women speakers. Here are a few notes and examples of my takeaways: 

The right spiral bound notebook

Spiral bound notebooks are the easiest, since you don't have to worry about awkwardly keeping a book open when you draw. To the OWN IT summit I brought an 8x8 incher, which I think is the perfect size, save the fact that it didn't fit in my purse. 

 Sketches of  Symone Sanders . 

Sketches of Symone Sanders

Pens

MichelleBernardHair_Web_DanaJeriMaier.jpg

I've been weaning myself off Microns for the past few years and onto speedball nibs. When you are drawing at places other than a desk such tools are impractical, of course, so I like to use Tombows and the Kuretake No 8 brush pen. If you are drawing women, the brush pen also gives you nice lines for wavy hair.

 

Strategy

The hardest part of live drawing at big overwhelming events is figuring out what to focus on. I like to fill up a few pages with boxes like this:

Boxes_Web_DanaJeriMaier.jpg

I'm not necessarily going to create a whole comic in these panels, but it's good way to carve out a small spaces to narrow your options. Here is something I drew while tabling at the Short Run Seattle:

InMyLineOfSite_Web_DanaJeriMaier.jpg

When it comes to drawing and talks and conferences, sketches of people on a panel is not very interesting. 

 Hey look, it's some folks sitting in chairs.

Hey look, it's some folks sitting in chairs.

 Panel with  Amy Brittain ,  Tammy Cho  and Mattie Larson. 

Panel with Amy Brittain, Tammy Cho and Mattie Larson. 

Or maybe I should say I'm not the sort of artist who can make that interesting. I'm sure plenty of artists could. My own sweet spot is capturing the person and what they have to say, which allows me to give the face and hand-lettering equal weight: 

CleoWade_Web_DanaJeriMaier.jpg
AmyBritain_Web_DanaJeriMaier.jpg
 Didn't manage to get a quote here, but I still like how this came out. 

Didn't manage to get a quote here, but I still like how this came out. 

 Some vendors at the OWN IT Marketplace. 

Some vendors at the OWN IT Marketplace. 

Wheatpasting workshops for #uncensoredDC

CollageInProgess.jpg

I'm back in the wheatpasting workshop game this month in honor of the DC Public Library's Banned Book Week. The first one was yesterday, which resulted in this awesome wheatpasted collage you can see here. 

If you'd like to join me at the next workshops, spots are still available and tickets are free! Details below. 

UNCENSORED DC: DIY Wheatpasting with Artist Dana Jeri Maier

Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, 6:30 p.m.
Shaw (Watha T. Daniel) Library
1630 7th St. NW
Washington,  D.C.  20001
Reserve your spot here


Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, 6:30 p.m.
Petworth Library
4200 Kansas Ave. NW
Washington,  D.C.  20011
Reserve your spot here

FinishedCollage.jpg

 

 

Wheatpasting for Beginners

And how. 

The awesome folks at LemonBowl DC are kind enough to let me host a few wheatpasting workshops this year. If you ever wanted to learn the not-so-fine art of gluing oversized paper to walls, I am spilling all of my secrets on February 21 and March 8 for $25. 

The last one sold out, so get tickets while you can here! Official description: 

Learn the not-so-ancient art of gluing oversized photocopies to walls with artist and cartoonist Dana Jeri Maier. You will learn:

- How to go from an 8x10'' drawing to a large-scale, finished wheatpaste
- Where to buy materials for cheap
- Dana’s personal street art philosophy (yes, she does have one!) 

All students will receive a limited-edition booklet by Dana containing wheatpasting resources and tips. Glue, brushes, and drawing materials will also be provided for in-class demonstrations, along with wine and snacks to get the creative juices flowing.

Art for sale at the DC Design Week Pop-Up Shop

 Mouse in a Cup original drawing. 5x7,’’ matted at 8x10.’’ $45, signed.

Mouse in a Cup original drawing. 5x7,’’ matted at 8x10.’’ $45, signed.

I will have some prints and drawings for sale at the DC Design Week Pop-Up Shop, where I fully expect to spend any money I make buying stuff from the other illustrators and designers. Below is a quick preview of what I'll be selling. 

The opening party is this Sunday, but if you can’t make it or don’t live nearby everything is available in the shop, too. 

When
Sunday, October 23
Opening party at 2:00 PM

Where
Cherry Blossom Creative
 2128 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

 Ladies Drawing Night Print. 8x10’’ print.

Ladies Drawing Night Print. 8x10’’ print.

 Adams Morgan Bingo - Color Edition. 11x14’’ print. 

Adams Morgan Bingo - Color Edition. 11x14’’ print. 

Barry Gallery B+W Show

I'll have some drawings in a show at Marymount University featuring black-and-white work. I'll be displaying a bunch of pieces that were literally collecting dust on my wall for the last several months, so I'm happy to give them some breathing room. 

See this drawing IRL at the Barry Gallery! 

The show runs to October 14 and the opening party is this Friday, September 9th from 6-8 if anyone wants to swing by. 

Official show announcement: 

Please join us Friday, Sept. 9 at the opening reception for the exhibition “B+W,” featuring the work of Karen Coleman, Dana Jeri Maier, Matthew McLaughlin and Wayne Paige. The event will be held in the Barry Gallery of Marymount University’s Reinsch Library from 6-8 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public.
Curated by Judy Bass and Trudi Vandyck, the exhibit will be on display through October 14. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 
Barry Gallery Reinsch Library
2807 North Glebe Road Arlington, VA 22207
www.marymount.edu/barrygallery

Sketches from ContraryCon

On Friday I attended the ContraryCon at ISL. My goal was to take sketch notes, though most wound up being heavier on the sketch part. A few of my favorites below: 

  Crowd scene. I did many of these. 

Crowd scene. I did many of these. 

  Good advice from Matt Chase. 

Good advice from Matt Chase. 

  Yet another crowd scene. 

Yet another crowd scene. 

  Eileen Tjan of Other Studio. 

Eileen Tjan of Other Studio. 

  Completely out-of-context quote from the House Industries presentation, which was one of my favorites of the day. 

Completely out-of-context quote from the House Industries presentation, which was one of my favorites of the day. 

  Also from the House Industries slideshow. This was their book for Agent Provocateur. 

Also from the House Industries slideshow. This was their book for Agent Provocateur. 

  Victoria Taylor, of WeWork. 

Victoria Taylor, of WeWork. 

Hey look, another crowd scene! 

  Erica Lee Schlaikjer & faces that I turned into a word bubble, for some reason. 

Erica Lee Schlaikjer & faces that I turned into a word bubble, for some reason. 

  I thought this design talk from Nour Tabet made a lot of very good points. 

I thought this design talk from Nour Tabet made a lot of very good points. 

Belated Bentzen Ball Wrap Up

Earlier this month I had a gig as a featured artist for Moleskin at the BYT Bentzen Ball, a yearly comedy festival in DC. This involved being backstage drawing the comics, which was just as fun and terrifying as it sounds.

Below is a slideshow of some of my drawings from the event, plus a few of my favorite photos by Nicholas Karlin

 Pictured with my favorite sketch of Morgan Murphy. Photo by  Nicholas Karlin . 

Pictured with my favorite sketch of Morgan Murphy. Photo by Nicholas Karlin

 Me and Ben Kronberg, while social media-ing. 

Me and Ben Kronberg, while social media-ing. 

 Morgan Murphy, me and my sketch of Ben. 

Morgan Murphy, me and my sketch of Ben. 

 Taking a shot of Jamison with Stephanie Allynne and Bill Burr. 

Taking a shot of Jamison with Stephanie Allynne and Bill Burr. 

Thoughts from an SPX First Timer

SPX was over a whole week ago so this post isn't very timely, but I wanted to get some of these thoughts down before I forget, and they all go off into the void. And so: 

  • I’ve never sat behind a table before hawking my work for strangers, so I was unprepared at how overwhelming it was to exhibit. (To be fair, I know how overwhelming it is just to attend SPX, so in retrospect, I probably should’ve seen it coming.) It got much easier the second day, though, after the initial shock wore off. 
  • Regrets, I have a few. Mostly not introducing myself to more people, not having a sexier table display (though this post by Yellow Cardigan was an absolute godsend for us noobs), and not making little pins with little cats on them, which is basically a wasted opportunity at SPX.  
  • There are different philosophies on how much you should talk about your work to onlookers. I tried my best to read the individual person (did they want to chat? Would they rather browse in silence?) and generally erred on the side of keeping my mouth shut unless they asked questions, which was easier, and how I prefer to look at work.  
  • Yes, most of the money I made went right back into buying comics. This I do not regret. 
  • You learn a lot by silently sitting behind a table and watching people look at your work. What page they open to? Do they laugh? Do they open to more than one page? Did they ignore the book you thought they would pick up first? This is all valuable feedback. 
  • As Tom Spurgeon said of SPX: "I got a lot of stories from people all weekend but the general shape I heard about the most was an artist's astonishment at being told something they made was personally meaningful to this real-life human being standing in front of them. It doesn't get much better than that." Amen. 
 From my Museum Guide. Turns out I am not the only one who's heartbroken by old men in baseball caps. 

From my Museum Guide. Turns out I am not the only one who's heartbroken by old men in baseball caps. 

Exhibition at Wild Hand Workspace this June

This June I will be exhibiting at Wild Hand Workspace, a gallery/workshop in the Monroe Street Market in Brookland just bursting with charm. I'll be displaying original work, comics, and some print goodies for sale. 

Wild Hand Workspace - Dana Jeri Maier


Wild Hand Workspace presents a solo show by Dana Jeri Maier.

Hours 
6-9PM on Thursday, June 18th
11AM - 2PM on Saturday June 20th, Sunday, June 21st & Saturday June 27th

Opening reception

6-9PM on Thursday, June 18th

Place
Wild Hand Studio 8 
Monroe Street Market
716 Monroe St NE 20017

Debuting at the Small Press Expo

Well, hot damn, I am going to be exhibiting at the 2015 Small Press Expo and I couldn't be more thrilled. Hooray! This means I am a legitimate cartoonist, right? 

In case you want to see some drawings in progress, I am still hard at work on The Illustrated Guide to the $14 Cocktail which will be a collection of philosophical musings on why we pay too much money for booze, plus a bunch of goofy drawings my friends and I come up with at bars: 

  Still working out the kinks. 

Still working out the kinks. 

  Cocktail math sketch.

Cocktail math sketch.

I will also be exhibiting a new collection of comics in The Unsuccessful Artist's Handbook, Volume 2, and a semi-updated version of The Bachelor Cat with a few new Bachelor Cats I've had the pleasure to meet. A few more new comics below. It will be a wonderfully busy couple of months:
 

  You might need to live in DC to appreciate this one.

You might need to live in DC to appreciate this one.

  (a)rtists (l)ove (c)reative (p)unctuation, you know.  

(a)rtists (l)ove (c)reative (p)unctuation, you know.  

  Apologies to actual German speakers.

Apologies to actual German speakers.

October update

I am almost disproportionately pleased to announce that I have updated the Drawings, Studio and Projects pages on my website, with (mostly) brand-new work and built using the uber-sexy Foundation framework. Incidentally, I am still looking for tech nerds to talk about Foundation-related matters with, so if anyone is reading this and would like to compare notes, please feel free to drop me a line. Announcement number two is a bit on the late side, but I have some drawings on display at the Fridge with Crowns, a chess-themed show currated by Zoma Wallace and hosted by Words, Beats Life. The line-up of artists is superb and it's up through October 27, so please check it out if you find yourself in Eastern Market anytime soon.

(e)merge and the Debut of The Handbook

The Unsuccessful Artist's Handbook - Cover

I am pleased to announce that The Unsuccessful Artist's Handbook—y'know, the thing I've been talking about creating for well over a year now—is finally printed and for sale. It costs $7, which I would like to point out, is less than most cocktails in any major metropolitan city, and contains various drawing and writing I've done last year or so, along with a bunch of art from my last exhibition. (No advice how to be an artist, unsuccessful or otherwise.) You can buy a copy on my Big Cartel site here, or at the (e)merge art fair.

The Unsuccessful Artist's Handbook

Speaking of (e)merge: I will be showing with the Flashpoint Gallery in room 213, where I will transforming the bathroom into a small exhibition space, and displaying a bunch of original art that is in the Handbook. And just wait until you see what plans I have in store for the mirror over the sink.

Artist talk Q&A with essayist Tim Kreider

Last Wednesday I had an artist talk with essayist/cartoonist/person-in-the-world-expert Tim Kreider (who also very kindly helped me draw coasters to raise money for Cultural DC). The following is our email correspondence pre-interview, to give you a gist of some of what was said. TK: I once had a woman get mad at me for calling her a cartoonist when she considered herself a fine artist. You’ve been called an illustrator, which I know you feel is simply inaccurate. Your work seems to occupy an indefinite ground somewhere between cartoon, illustration, and fine art. What do you call yourself? Or do you find the whole business of categories tiresome and irrelevant?

Coaster Drawings by Dana and TimGuess which coasters are mine and which are Tim's.

DM: I do find the business of categories tiresome up to a point, but I understand the impulse to label things—it’s good to know where the art fits in the ecosystem. And I find it very interesting how often I’m pegged as an illustrator, even though I’m always the first to point out that I’m not actually illustrating anything. So it could very well be that everyone else sees a style of drawing and thinks, “illustration” whereas I see illustration as more of art with a very specific purpose. I will say that the worst art I’ve done in my life, the stuff that still makes me wince when I look at it, has been actual paid illustration work—that is, someone told me what kind of drawing they wanted, and what subject matter, and written me a check for my trouble. But I’ve done some “assignments” I’m very proud of for people who gave me one or two loose parameters and said, okay, go nuts.

If I were to be thorough, I’d describe myself as a fine artist with a background in illustration and who occasionally makes a comic or two, if the mood strikes.

TK: Do you feel like being an in-betweenish kind of artist makes career more difficult, because people like to be able to pigeonhole?

DM: Well, being an artist is hard no matter what. There is always a reason to feel aggrieved and like no one is paying attention to you or taking you seriously. I guess the taxonomy would probably be a lot easier if I was a cartoonist or illustrator, but I’m stuck drawing the way I do, so there you go.

TK: There’s an aspect of your work that looks appealingly made-up-as-you-went-along, almost like automatic drawings. Not to say that they’re sloppy or unstructured, but in a way they’re like very ambitious doodles, done without the interference of some teacher telling you to stop that right now and pay attention. What is the balance between spontaneity and planning in your work? Do you have an overall composition or design in mind when you begin? Or are you actually making it up as you go along?

DM: They are mostly made up as I go along. Composition-wise I’ve found it useful to make sure I know where the drawing ends on the paper or wall, maybe start with a loose sketch of where I want certain shapes to go, but then just plunge in and try not to overthink it. For my smaller pieces I will sometimes start with a few ink blobs, or some sort of doodle, and see what happens. I do the best work if I have an engaging audiobook to listen to and can put myself on autopilot. (All of the work in my show has an audiobook I associate with it, except for one piece in particular that I drew while binge-watching House of Cards.)

Apparently there is a psychological term called, “The Centipede’s Dilemma” which is what happens when thinking too hard about what you are doing will cause you to mess it up. [The Wikipedia definition: “when a normally automatic or unconscious activity is disrupted by consciousness of it or reflection on it.”] My drawings are the result of having a bad case of that.

TK: So talking about it is probably a bad idea.

DM: It’s more that I can’t talk about it very easily. I don’t like the word “stream of consciousness” for my process, since it sounds a bit wishy-washy, but I can’t think of a better word...eh, maybe I should just own it already. But it’s a bit terrifying—if it all comes from your subconscious, a place you don’t really understand and can’t control, it’s easy to imagine that the spigot can get turned off at any moment.

TK: There are these little recurring figures and images in your work—bathtubs, chessmen, stairs and balustrades, fish with scarves. I have similar little figments that infest my own drawing, too, mostly much dumber and more embarrassing than yours—Dracula, the starship Enterprise, etc. Where does that stuff come from? Do you think it’s like dream imagery, symbols for something you’re preoccupied or obsessed with, or is it just the clutter and junk left lying around in your head?

Tim Kreider and Dana Jeri MaierFinally getting to the bottom of what's up with all the fish wearing scarves.

DM: I wouldn’t call it clutter, exactly, just the images that I can always fall back on because I never get tired of drawing them. I’m not sure where the chess pieces come from, but I love how each one has a distinctive personality, and sometimes have loaded symbolism that I can trot out if needed. Like, you see a chess piece or a chess game, and it’s an automatic story. Even if the pieces are just sitting there and no one’s around, there’s a narrative injected into the image somehow.

The bathtubs I began drawing when I saw an illustration of one in a newspaper (a review of some old-timey children’s book), with the little fish-like character in it. It had some funny nonsense name, like the Sploo. The image stuck in my mind and I began drawing it incessantly. What’s great about drawing claw-footed bathtubs is that they are always imperfect--one side is wonky, or the feet aren’t curved quite right, or whatever. I don’t think I’ve ever done a bathtub I’ve completely nailed. Which means I feel as though I need to draw bathtub after bathtub after bathtub to get to the perfect one.

If I were to play dimestore psychologist I could translate my little, “when in doubt, draw a fish wearing a scarf” manifesto to a shorthand for, ‘when it doubt, do something you’re reasonably good at, is kind of silly, and that you can do over and over again without getting bored.’

TK: Maybe this is a good prescription for life in general.

DM: I can think of worse ones.

TK: I guess part of the reason your drawings feel cartoonish is that there’s a humor to them—those little characters with their big noses, the smug-looking cats. But there’s also a sadness to them that reminds me of cartoonists like Michael Leunig. All these morose-looking figures isolated from one another in their cramped bare apartments. It reminds me of the experience of living in New York City—these sprawling ramshackle tenement-like structures, cutaway views of these lonesome people all living on top of one another, separated only by thin walls. Are you conscious of this sadness in your work—is it something you’re deliberately trying to express? Or does it just come out that way? Or am I projecting it all? Is it me who’s sad?

DM: One of the themes in this show is how we are all pretending--to be more competent, less desperate, better people in general, as though we are all very certain of ourselves. On one hand it’s important that we all do this--the social order would probably all fall apart if we all got to act how we really felt at any given time, but it’s also exhausting. And yes, it’s only once we’re alone in our tiny cramped apartments that we do get to be honest with ourselves. And even the honesty can be a confusing mess.

I see them as sad in the same way that I see Edward Gorey drawings as creepy and disturbing—that is to say, I don’t, really. The characters might all look as though they’ve had better days, but I always thought the silliness and absurdity of the drawings prevents viewers from taking it too seriously. You can read an Edward Gorey book about children dying and you will chuckle with amusement, not say, “oh God, that’s terrible.” But that’s my own take on my work. I do realize with my stuff there’s no obvious punchline or gag the way there is with an artist like Gorey, so maybe the viewer is left with a sad feeling. One of the best parts about having all this work out there is that it’s completely out of my hands.

TK: You’re right, and I partially retract my previous question. People always used to call my own cartons dark, sick, cynical, bitter, and I could see what they meant but I also felt like they were missing out on the fact of the cartoons themselves, which were hilarious and fun, acts of joy. There’s a difference between how you perceive the world to be and the way you choose to react to it.

DM: That’s a very good point. It sounds counter-intuitive, but drawing horrible things can actually be a damn good time.

If We Could All Agree Not to Care, We Wouldn't Have to Do This: the Recap

My married friends may not agree, but I have always likened gallery shows to weddings: immense preparation is involved, you are nervous despite it being, technically, a joyful occasion, and at the actual party you wind up talking to roughly a bazillion people in short bursts. But it was a good opening, thank you. I saw friends I haven't seen in ages and afterwards hit the bars with some of my favorite people. A few photos below: Collin_Elizabeth_BackWall Collin, who I met in art school back in the day (in seersucker), and his lovely girlfriend Elizabeth.

Thane at Flashpoint DC Kitty! (Photo by Jenny McConnell Frederick, Director of Performing Arts at the Flashpoint, and mother of this adorable little guy.)

Drawings by Dana Jeri Maier Says my friend Anthony: "That is the most self-satisfied-looking cat ever." Well, yeah.

Everyone by Dana Jeri Maier Detail shot of Everyone, which sold to my friend Yeon-Woo. "When I saw it, I didn't want anyone else to have it," she said, which literally made me hug her.

Installation in progress

Here are a few work-in-progress shots of If We Could All Agree Not to Care, We Wouldn't Have to Do This, which opens on Friday at the Flashpoint Gallery:Front Wall - If We Could All Agree Not to Care, We Wouldn't Have to Do This If We Could All Agree Not to Care, We Wouldn't Have to Do This Overall, the installation has been incredibly pleasant. Applying huge swaths of black ink onto a white wall feels rich and satisfying. While I work I listen to the new Robert Galbraith J.K. Rowling crime novel, and The Love Affairs of Nathanial P., both of which are excellent. There is a Shake Shack down the street and art supply stores in easy biking distance. The hours fly by.

I've also printed promotional coasters for the show, which you may see in local bars: Promotional Coasters - If We Could All Agree Not to Care We Wouldn't Have to Do This

Anyhow, show details again below, and also on the event page. I will be downright thrilled if you can make it.

Dana Jeri Maier: If We Could All Agree Not to Care, We Wouldn’t Have to Do This Opening Reception: Friday, August 9, 6-8pm Exhibition Dates: August 9 – September 14, 2013 Flashpoint Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12-6pm or by appointment

If We Could All Agree Not to Care, We Wouldn't Have to Do This

Oh yes. Solo show is opening Friday, August 9th at the Flashpoint Gallery, and I will basically be using the space as a giant sketchbook, which I assure you, you do not want to miss. A few work-in-progress shots below. And you can read the full press release here.studio_june readenough

Dana Jeri Maier: If We Could All Agree Not to Care, We Wouldn't Have to Do This  Opening Reception: Friday, August 9, 6-8pm Exhibition Dates: August 9 – September 14, 2013 Flashpoint Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12-6pm or by appointment