Ihsan Abou Said
Download Free Print: Pete Seeger’s Banjo
Pete Seeger will always remain one of my personal heroes. It’s not his political activism that necessarily draws me to him, but rather how much he valued the things in life that really matter; how he truly believed you can change the world by getting people to sing together. I admire his commitment to working people and human rights, but it is his 70-year marriage that places him above others who I respect, into a special group of those I aspire to be.
Every time I hear him speak he manages to say something so wise it moves me instantly and stays with me permanently.
I once heard him say the happiest people he’s met are those who are hurting in some way.
At the time I was hurting pretty bad, and it was incredibly moving to hear someone else who understood how on earth I could be so completely happy.
With new albums in 2013 from favorites Arcade Fire, Neko Case, Avett Brothers, Vampire Weekend, and (after a 17-year wait) Mazzy Star, my list is relatively predictable, but hopefully there are at least a couple surprises in there too.
I’d imagined a new Churchill album on the list this year, but sadly it seems to have landed in musical purgatory after the band disintegrated last summer…
What was your favorite album this year?
Wanted to take a minute to say thank you to Go Media. These great folks have shown me a ton of love over the past year!
New illustration for an article on what level we can or should forgive artists known to have taken advantage of young girls.
I have been totally excited at the prospective release of J.D. Salinger’s unpublished works, but then I learned of his relationship with 14-year-old Jean Miller.
What should our position as fellow artists be toward those among us who are guilty of violent, exploitative, oppressive behavior toward teens? Should we boycott Roman Polanski? What if all the accusations against Woody Allen are true?
Or must we find a way to separate the man from the art? To appreciate and enjoy a film without regard to the character of its creator?
Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 2013
I hoped to write some sort of concise and provocative thoughts on this year’s WMC Fest, but honestly I’m still a little giddy from the weekend and what little focus I can muster this week is invested in my day job.
So instead I’m just going to puke up a bunch of totally random thoughts.
Round 3 of Old & New Project came to a close today. It’s been another fantastic set of contributions from artists all over the globe.
Like any good parent, I don’t like to choose favorites among my offspring, but there were a handful in this round (all contributed by female artists by the way) that impacted me for one reason or another.
1. Gideon Meets the Lord by Ciara Panacchia (above)
This piece, though simple, has tons of emotion wrapped up in it without feeling melodramatic. That’s an extremely difficult thing to pull off for an illustrator, so the way Ciara does it here is truly impressive.
Another reason this image resonates so strongly with me personally is because I have a boy named Gideon in my family, and he—like his namesake—is up against all odds, yet consistently inspiring each of us with his capacity to do great things.
Sales from Ciara’s piece go to charity.
2. Jonah Thrown Overboard by Melanie Matthews
One of my early reservations about the Turning Points theme was that we’d be including more popular Bible stories than past rounds. Both Jim and I have always been drawn to and enjoy sharing more obscure passages with many who may have never realized they were contained in the Bible. So when it came to perhaps the most illustrated passage ever from the Old Testament, I couldn’t help but be a little nervous we’d be publishing more of the same old thing.
While writing the familiar story of Jonah, I tried to focus on what may have been his greatest Turning Point (he had several), and it seemed to me the moment he confesses his flight and volunteers to be thrown overboard is pretty critical to the whole tale.
When Melanie Matthews delivered this piece (all the way from Australia, no less), my fears were relieved. She somehow managed to demonstrate one of the most visually exploited stories in all history in a fresh, new and fabulous way. The look of relief on Jonah’s face as he watches the sun break through the clouds and the storm subside, totally unaware of the gaping jaws below is totally priceless, and should go down as one of the great “Jonah and the Big Fish” illustrations ever.
Sales from Melanie’s piece go to charity.
3. A Man of Unclean Lips by Sophia Foster-Dimino
Every once in a while, I’m so excited about one of our contributing artist’s agreeing to be part of the project, they can’t possibly live up to my expectations. After discovering Sophia this past year when her Bram Stoker “doodle” was featured on Google’s home page, I secretly thought there was no way she was going to create something as awesome as I hoped she would… but she did.
I honestly had to stop to catch my breath after seeing this for the first time, but what makes it even more fabulous is Sophia’s thoughts on her design process—which demonstrates so beautifully exactly why including athiests among all the other variety of faith backgrounds contributing art to Old & New Project has been so important to Jim and I since the beginning.
Sales from Sophia’s piece go to charity.
4. Samson by Alexandra Beguez
I have to admit, I faced a bit of a dilemma when Alexandra delivered this piece. The story I’d written on Samson was specifically about his spirit breaking in prison and reaching out to God in his first moment of real weakness. There was no mention of the lion carcass or honeycomb at all.
But this design was so awesome!
It was so good, in fact, I edited my story a bit to include a few phrases hinting at this lion-and-honey episode. I can’t say exactly what it is about Alexandra’s piece that moves me, but I love Samson as a “regular guy,” as opposed to the stereotypical Schwarzenegger-type, and her use of high-contrast reversed color is totally unique and surprising.
Sales from Alexandra’s piece go to charity.
4. Saved by a Harlot by Julie Frey
Rahab’s is one of my favorite stories in the whole Bible. Not only does it beg the provocative question, “what exactly were those spies doing in her house?” but I feel prostitutes are easily the most misunderstood and misrepresented biblical characters (particularly in the western church).
I was really excited to see how Julie handled Rahab’s story. She focused on the woman’s redemption in the scarlet cord, but made sure to include the more scandalous but important facts surrounding the story (however appropriately left in the shadows).
Sales from Julie’s piece go to charity.
Continuing what is apparently a tradition now… Here are some more fun superhero valentine cards for you to download.
A few editorial illustrations I’ve done recently, including an illustration on making connections at the holiday office party; the recent “Right to Work” vote that passed in Michigan; and one humorous illustration for Thanksgiving & pumpkin pie.
Check out my Illustration Portfolio
Here are a few of my favorite albums from the past year. Listen for yourself in my “2012 Favorite Albums” playlist on Spotify.
2012 Albums I Anticipated
- Andrew Bird – Break it Yourself / Hands of Glory
- Animal Collective – Centipede Hz
- The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
- Beach House – Bloom
- Feist – Metals
- Grizzly Bear – Shields
- Japandroids – Celebration Rock
- Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur
- Mumford & Sons – Babel
- Passion Pit – Gossamer
- Regina Spektor – What we Saw from the Cheap Seats
- Sigur Ros – Valtari
- Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror
2012 Albums that Surprised Me
- Alex Winston – King Con
- Diiv – Oshin
- Fang Island – Major
- First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
- Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
- Lightships – Electric Cables
- The Menzingers – On the Impossible Past
- Miike Snow – Happy to You
- Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts
- Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal
- Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
- Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light
- Twin Shadow – Confess
Strong Odors on Spotify
Strong Odors: Music-inspired Art
- Inspired by Music - limited edition giclee
- Entertain Us – original painting
- Subterranean Homesick Blues – giclee
- Just Like Heaven – original painting
- Bon Iver - giclee or iPhone case
- The Beatles
- Forever Young - original painting on barn wood
- Yellow – original painting on barn wood
- Dylan’s Song for Woody - giclee