Censorship Ruins Everything

My freedom to express myself is precious. Today, I closed my Etsy shop and stayed off Twitter. I was a proud participant of the blackout to protest SOPA and PIPA. Other participants were Google, Reddit, Etsy, Pinterest, Imgur, WordPress, and Wikipedia. This is a big deal. The Internet is very important to my career. If these bills pass, I will no longer be able to show my work directly to my audience. If you’ve been following my blog for the past few years, you know I feel the Internet is the creative person’s best friend. Please take a moment to sign this petition. If you have a couple minutes, call your Senators. Our freedom of speech is at stake.

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Dribbble Dave

Artists today are some of the luckiest of all time. The internet has afforded artists the ability to speak directly to their audience, without the filter of an art dealer or gallery. Immediately after finishing a work I can post it online. The work will be seen by hundreds of people before it is even a day old. While there is nothing like looking at a painting in person, social networking allows artists to share exactly what they are creating while they are creating it.

I am a huge fan of what sites like Twitter, Facebook, Deviant Art, My Space, and Flickr have done for contemporary creatives. Recently, I was invited to join Dribbble. Dribbble is like Twitter, but for designers and illustrators. Updates are called “shots,” as they are small screen shots of your current work. There are a lot of basketball references (not all of which I understand). I was lucky enough to get “drafted” to Dribbble by the very visually talented David Everly.  To show Dave my gratitude, I painted the following abstract portrait of Dave’s current Twitter avatar.

Dribbble Dave. Watercolor and ink on paper. 6″ x 5″.

Unframed: $200.00

The Rest of the J’s

Every Facebook friend I have whose first name begins with the letter “J” is now drawn. There were quite a few.

The first image is friends Ji-Jon. The second image is Jos-Ju.

Click to enlarge images.

Facebook friends A, B, C, D, E-I, and Ja-Je.

Dee Dun

The D’s are done. Every “D” Facebook friend I have is drawn below.

I’ve decided not to Facebook comment on the drawings, not wishing to influence the reception of the works in any way. This has grown harder as I post more drawings. As these portraits are more about how people respond to them than how they look, with the E’s I will post a few memorable comments from my Facebook contacts.

I expected the responses of others to be interesting. An unexpected result of creating these works is my own emotional reaction. The majority of my Facebook friends are people I have not seen in years: old coworkers, elementary school classmates, friends of the family, ex lovers, distant relatives, high school acquaintances,  and SCAD alumni. There are many friends I’ve let drift away that maybe I should have held on to. Looking through the photographs of these people feels intimate. I know them better after drawing them. Tagging is the hardest part, as it is essentially sending the practical stranger an e-mail with my name on it.

A project that was initially an in depth look at privacy in the age of social networking has brought me to wonder about the nature of a Facebook relationship. As banal as an internet only friendship may be, it is all I have with a lot of people I know. These portaits have brought them closer to me, but has made me no closer to them.

Click to enlarge image.

Facebook friends A, B, and C.