I made this quick 9-second long video for the Veeptopus book, which, if I didn't tell you yet, is available now on Amazon! I'm pretty happy with both the book and the commercial. Check the vid out below.
This book is the result of crazy stunt I did exactly four years ago today. My friend convinced me to participate in the From Dusk til Drawn fundraiser at the Museum for Contemporary Art at Santa Barbara. Basically, it involved drawing for 24 straight hours. At that point in my life – i.e. before children – sleep deprivation was a novelty. It sounded like fun. I was in.
I knew I needed a system. The last thing I wanted was to be struggling for ideas of something to draw at four in the morning. So after some debate, I decided to draw portraits of all 47 vice presidents of the United States. With octopuses on their heads. Still not really sure where the whole idea for octopuses came from.I learned that there was some alchemy that happened when octopus met VP: people liked it. That first gave me the idea to make this book.
It's been a long, winding journey to get the Veeptopus book out into the wide world. There are only a limited supply so act now.
Last time I wrote, I was seriously bummed out that your book had been shipped from the printers with the pages all out of order. After a lot of screaming and yelling, I got them to trash those books at the port and print them all anew.
Well, I'm pleased to announce that at long last, the books are finally ready to be shipped!
Hopefully, I'll be able to start selling these bad boys on Amazon by early July.
Or perhaps this shirt which features Trump and VP Mike Pence au naturale on a unicorn.
Or perhaps a nightmarish Faces of Trump shirt.
Model: Isabel Valotti
Photographer: Jaan Kristjan
So a couple weeks ago, I posted a link letting people download Trumptopus postcards for free for the Ides of Trump protest. It looks like about 200 people downloaded the file. I personally sent 20. All these Trumptopus cards will join what I hope is over a million cards to flood the White House. Will this do much to change Trump's ignorant and hateful policies? Probably not. But it will send a clear message that a whole lot of people are very displeased with him. And that will probably make him feel a sad.
Anyway, my cards were featured on Elizabeth Parker's blog about the event. That was nice.
This pen and ink picture isn't going to win me awards for subtlety but I'm pretty pleased with it. This was the first time I drew using black and white ink on brown paper. I dig the look. Watch for more.
On Monday, I got some welcomed pictures from my printers. Actual confirmation that the Veeptopus book is a real thing and not some fevered figment of my imagination. I am so excited to get my hands on this bad boy.
Get a load of that way cool inner cover.
The books will take about 6 weeks to arrive stateside. Stay tuned.
I don't know if you have been paying attention to the news (it's hard to stomach, I know) but there is a movement afoot to send a tsunami of postcards to Trump on March 15. That's right, the Ides of March. Why? Basically to get our voices heard. To tell Trump that we, who loathe his policies, actions and pretty much every single thing that comes out of the man's mouth, are not paid protesters.From the Ides of Trump website:
Each of us — every protester from every march, each Congress calling citizen, every boycotter, volunteer, donor, and petition signer — will write a single postcard and put them all in the mail on the same day, March 15th, 2017.
No alternative fact or Russian translation will explain away our record-breaking, officially-verifiable, warehouse-filling flood of fury. Hank Aaron currently holds the record for fan mail, having received 900,000 pieces in a year. We’re setting a new record: over a million pieces in a day.
So for the next two weeks, I'm going to let you, Veeptopus nation, download my Trumptopus image as postcards. Print it out on nice card stock. Comes four to a sheet. Write the address to the White House on it:
Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
And then write a brief message to him. Tell him to release his tax records, for instance. Tell him that Steve Bannon has no business being on the NSC. Tell him that no sane adult eats an expensive steak cooked well done with ketchup. (I mean, really.) Or make up your own comment. Write #idesoftrump on it. Or don't. It's fine.
BUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON'T SEND ANYTHING THAT COULD BE CONSTRUED AS A THREAT. BE CIVIL. BE (SOMEWHAT) ADULT. THIS IS ABOUT BEING HEARD NOT ABOUT VIOLENCE.
So when I started getting serious about art, I wanted to make art about America's proud and complex history. I wanted to explore parts of our national character that have been obscured either through neglect (like 19th-century vice presidents) or through a more conscious forgetting. Telling the truth is one of the most important responsibilities of an artist.
But since the election, that responsibility has been weighing on me. We have a president who, along with his mendacious minions, spouts utter lies every goddamned day. The political implications are, if you read history, terrifying. So I've been drawing work that clear and unsubtle.
Though I'm looking forward to a time when I can go back to draw pictures about William Taft and badgers, recent events make this series seem much more urgent. I'm going to be starting something else, something bigger in the near future.
Stay tuned. In the meantime, here's a picture of Steve Bannon in a bathrobe.
Yeah, OK. Tim Kaine isn't the vice president, at least in this universe. But imagine a saner world where Goodfellas wins the Best Picture Oscar over Dances with Wolves. A world where Kim Kardashian is not famous. A world where clownish demagogues don't get elected through a campaign built on racist rants and incoherent bullying. I like that universe.
If you read my recent posts, you know that I went on a weird Trump-drawing binge a couple weeks ago. In fact, I drew about 100 of them. I'm not sure if it was exactly healthy, but it was cathartic.
So for last Saturday's protests, I took nine of my favorite drawings and put them on a poster. It got a great response, so it's now available in my store.
And, mostly because I could, I also put a Faces of Trump coffee mug in the store too.
And finally, because he is now officially the vice president, sigh, here's my official Veeptopus portrait of Mike Pence. With an octopus in his head.
People deal with bad news in different ways. Some people use alcohol to numb the pain. Some wall themselves off from the outside world. And some stare into the abyss. I did all three in various forms over the past couple of months. The bad news, of course, is the election of Donald Trump - a man who seems an unholy mix of Bond villain, abusive stepdad, and enraged toddler.
Lately, I've been compulsively drawing portraits of the man. Like I'm up to somewhere around 100 or so pictures. It's a weird coping mechanicism, I suppose.
So I decided to make a poster out of it. I'll be carrying this at this Saturday's protests.
Confused? Scared? Not sure what to think?
Well, deal with these dark feelings but wearing something topical and fabulous. That's right, a T-shirt of Donald J. Trump and Mike Pence naked on a sad red, white and blue unicorn. The shirt comes in white and pink.
There you can order not only a beautifully-designed book featuring hand-drawn portraits of all 48 U.S. vice presidents with octopuses on their heads but also a way cool Veeptopus poster:
And a super cool Veeptopus T-shirt.
That's right! Only two more days for the Veeptopus book Kickstarter campaign. This will be, I will say with confidence, the finest vice president and octopus book you will ever own.
I drew a few pictures of Republican party nominee Donald J. Trump with tentacles last year and this. At the time, they seemed funny. Now after all the groping/sexual assault allegations being leveled against him. They seem much less funny and much more depressingly apt. I'm really looking forward to this election season drawing to a close.
Oh, and if you having seen my Kickstarter campaign, you really should.
But who I really want to talk about is Richard Mentor Johnson, America’s ninth vice president. Today is his 234th birthday. If you ever wanted to get a sense of just how weird the slavery debate was prior to the Civil War, look no further than Johnson.
While out on the frontier during the War of 1812, Johnson first made a name for himself by allegedly shooting Shawnee chief Tecumseh. At the time, Johnson was already a representative for the state of Kentucky to the House of Representatives. Being a bona-fide war hero, however, put him in the political limelight.
By all accounts, Johnson didn’t really care much for convention. He rarely combed his hair. He once described his upbringing as being “born in a cane brake and cradled in a sap trough.” English author Harriet Martineau, who sat opposite him in a White House function, described him thusly: “If he should become President, he will be as a strange-looking a potentate as ever ruled. His countenance is wild, though with much cleverness in it, his hair wanders all abroad, and he wears no cravat. But there is no telling how he might look if he dressed like other people.” The doorkeeper of the U.S. Senate was more blunt, calling him "the most vulgar man of all vulgar men.”
Yet this was the age of Andrew Jackson. Being rough around the edges was considered to be a political asset. Before he became Martin Van Buren’s running mate in 1836, he angled to become Jackson’s. In short, Johnson, for all his eccentricities, seemed to have a bright political future.
Except for one thing. He was in a common-in-law marriage with his mulatto slave Julie Chinn. Johnson had inherited Chinn from his father and soon fell in love with her. Chinn ran Johnson’s plantation as the lady of the house during Johnson’s long absences in Washington. He even had two (reportedly gorgeous) daughters with Chinn -- Imogene and Aledine. Johnson made sure that both of his children were properly educated and that they both ended up marrying white men.
But don’t mistake Johnson for being some forward-thinking love revolutionary. When Chinn died of cholera in 1833, Johnson took up with another slave, Chinn’s niece. The only problem was that she was already married to another slave and refused his affection. So he pulled ultimate asshole power play - he sold her off. Then he took up with her sister.
Johnson’s complicated personal life, not surprisingly, scandalized some in Washington. Amos Kendall, a close personal associate with Andrew Jackson, described Johnson’s companion as "a young Delilah of about the complexion of Shakespeare’s swarthy Othello." She was "said to be his third wife; his second, which he sold for her infidelity, having been the sister of the present lady."
Nonetheless, as a war hero and a Westerner, Johnson was considered to be a good counterbalance to Van Buren’s East coast fussiness. During the election of 1836, he campaigned with Van Buren to the jingle, “Rumpsey Dumpsey, Rumpsey Dumpsey, Colonel Johnson killed Tecumseh.” On election night, Van Buren got enough electoral votes to win. Johnson didn’t. Southern electors clearly didn’t approve of Johnson’s private life. So for the first time in US history, a vice president was appointed by the U.S. Senate.
Just imagine how American history would have been different if Van Buren died in office. The wild man from Kentucky might have be president and, for all intents and purposes, a black slave might have been first lady. Of course, that didn't happen and in 1840 both Van Buren and Johnson were voted out of office.
Years later, Johnson ended up the butt of a joke during the famous Lincoln-Douglas debate of 1858. “I will add to this that I have never seen to my knowledge a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men,” said Abraham Lincoln. “I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of so frequently as to be entirely satisfied of its correctness – and that is the case of Judge Douglas’ old friend Col. Richard M. Johnson.”
My $9,500 goal was the price for a quality hard cover book, but without a lot of frills. You know, those the cool little features that can turn a book into a work of art onto itself. Little touches that just make you want to show it to everyone.
For $12,500, I'll be able to make the book I really want to make. Instead of a standard smooth matte finish, the book cover can now have a cloth-like texture along with an Veep-related image embossed into the cover. Instead of the inner cover being a standard white, we can add a cool tentacle-themed pattern. It will be an amazing, elegant book.
Call it Veeptopus Deluxe.
If we unlock this $12,500 stretch goal, then EVERYONE getting the physical book will get this new fancy version.
But wait, there's more!
By popular demand, I'm adding a T-shirt! Get a load of this:
Please, help us unlock our $12,500 stretch goal!
Today is Henry A. Wallace's birthday. He was FDR's second vice president and, until the previous VP, John Nance Garner, a committed New Dealer. In perhaps his most famous speak, he stated that, “Men and women can never be really free until they have plenty to eat, and time and ability to read and think and talk things over.” It's hard to imagine a mainstream politician of any stripe saying something like that these days. Wallace proved to be too left-leaning for the more conservative members of his party. FDR dropped him from the ticket in the 1944 in favor of Harry S Truman, who became president only a couple months after getting sworn in.