The online world can be a public confessional. There is something exhilarating and cathartic about letting everybody know who you are without shame. The master of confessional artwork has got to be Robert Crumb. Crumb rocketed to fame with the 1960s underground comic movement. So, when he draws scenes from his own life, they tend to look like comic book stories: they’re graphic narratives that reveal the artist’s psyche and motivations. What makes his confessional work so striking is the uncompromising depiction of Crumb’s own fragile, conflicted human state. He is relentlessly honest and does not censor or edit his thoughts. While Crumb has drawn a lot of attention to his sexual aberrations and self-admitted misogyny, he also has an amazing ability to depict banal, ordinary life. I like those moments. That is what I want to show and I’m not entirely sure why.
In March 2008 I started a personal sketchbook. I had the idea of telling my life’s story through photo booth photos and uploading them to Facebook as my profile photo. The photo booth is a place where we take staged photos, and I like the conversations that happen before and during the moment of the flash. So I’d make a drawing based on a photo and draw speech bubbles to flush out the back story of the moment. The only problem is that the traditional photo booths that use film were quickly being replaced by horrible, lacklustre digital booths. What tragedy! I tried the digital booths a few times and just hated the look of the photos. I refused to use them as drawing reference. Then I couldn’t find any film photo booths at all and my idea died. My heart sank at this cold, digital photo booth revolution. So goes “progress”.
My personal sketchbook also depicts scenes from my childhood, as well as current moments that I’d like to remember. In 2011 I started filming my drawings from blank paper to finished product. I’d edit the footage, add a song to the soundtrack and speed up the movie to fit the length of the song.
Looking at what I’ve filled the pages of my sketchbook with so far, I definitely don’t have any controversial Crumb-esque drawings. Maybe I’m not digging deep enough. While my intent has always been to show ordinary life moments, I’d like to be more confessional in my work. I’ve never truly voiced myself through my work before. It’s time.
2 thoughts on “Confession through drawing”
Most artist put some of there self into each pice of their work. Intentionally or not. Digging deep and really taking the internal self censor off is very difficult to do. Crum is odd but did this very well. As artist we can keep pushing our own boundaries. Love your work Dan keep it up.
Thank you Bill! Great point. We’re all programmed to care what others think of us. It’s hard to shake, but necessary.