Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Book Guild - Chapter 22

Welcome to the fourth edition of The Pulse -- The State of the Art -- a survey in words and pictures of the online artist community. Nearly 150 artists have answered a list of questions which make up The Pulse. Their responses will be presented as a series of online and print projects. Secret Sunday was the first project and the links to all the secrets can be found on the sidebar of my blog. The Book Guild is the second project and Chapter 22 starts right now!

All artists participating in The Pulse were asked to name their favorite art books. The Book Guild will present this list, along with links, book reviews, giveaways, and interviews with many of your favorite authors. And as members of The Guild, I am hoping YOU will participate by leaving comments related to the books in each post - for example thoughts, book reviews, personal experiences, or a link back to your own blog posts that include artwork based on a project in the listed book.



Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art

A big thank you to everybody who entered last week's giveaway for a copy of Good Mail Day by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler. This was a special giveaway for two reasons: I have two copies of the book to giveaway so there are two winners and Jennie has generously offered to send original mail art to each winner. So extra congratulations go out to Robyn from Art Propelled and Chris from Parabolic Muse! Please contact me with your addresses so your prizes can start their journey to you both.

Chapter 22: Danny Gregory

When asked about his favorite art books, Robert Stockton offered the following: "the series of three wonderful books by Danny Gregory: Everyday Matters, The Creative License, and An Illustrated Life: all three, simply amazing!"

Everyday Matters

The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly Are

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers

Danny shared the following thoughts about the making of his first book Everyday Matters:

"Everyday Matters" began as a simple grab bag of pages from my illustrated journals. I'm not sure if I was lazy or clueless but I couldn't come up with a rhyme or reason for how or why the pages were assembled. I just thought it would be cool to say, "Here are a bunch of pages that I wrote and drew over the years, — check em out." My editor frowned and said that wasn't really how books worked and that I needed to come up with a theme, a story, an arc, a reason for anyone to care and keep turning the pages.

After some head scratching, I decided that maybe the theme could just be "A New York diary" . Again my editor frowned. " Just 'New York'? What about it? What's unique about your perspective? ' My next idea: maybe it could have something to do with architecture (I had already drawn quite a lot of buildings) and she asked me from what perspective, what did I know about architecture, what was my POV on buildings and I said lamely, " I dunno, I just draw a lot of them."

Finally, one tense Thursday evening she said, "Look why do you draw? Why have you always drawn?" I snapped back that I hadn't always drawn, that I'd only started a few years before, in my mid thirties. I guess I'd never told her that. "Well, why did you start?" she asked.

I explained that the reason I'd started was private, not something I could share in a book, too personal, too private. She kept prodding me until I explained that my wife had been run over by a subway train and that in the months after I had begun to draw and to chronicle our lives and stuff I liked and places I went and thoughts I had and so on.

There was a longish silence.

In retrospect, I can see how much I've changed over the past decade, how much freer and more open I am with the facts of my life. But then, before I had published a word about my life, I was embarrassed, super-private, oblivious to how interested and sympathetic others might be about the changes in our lives that had occurred since Patti's paraplegia. The fact that I hadn't mentioned any of this to my editor up to that point is amazing to me now. As is her interest in my work, given that she knew none of the story or how it came about.

"That's your story," she said finally. "That's what your book is about, about how you started to draw and what happened to your family." I protested that I could never share that sort of stuff with strangers, that it would seem like I was exploiting our story to sell books. She explained that it would be a book that would touch a lot of people if I could write it and that she hoped I could. Otherwise there wasn't much to discuss.

I went home and talked about the meeting with my wife. She encouraged me to do what I felt was right, that it was my story as much as hers and that if it meant something to others that maybe we should share it. I didn't know it then but Patti was saying, "Be an artist."

I sat down and started to write. The story poured out of me, and I saw how it gave meaning to all of the journaling I'd done, that it made it all make sense, my creative rebirth, my need to document my life, my search for meaning, and the way it had brought me to this moment, to sitting down and writing this book.

At the core of my resistance was a conviction that I was not and could not be an artist. I could draw and even publish books, but I could not delve into myself and share it with the world. I had all the capabilities but I did not have that permission.

In the years since Everyday Matters appeared, I have heard from thousands of people and I came to realize that I was not the only one with this limitation. Making art, sharing it with one's friends and strangers is a transformative experience and I have worked ever since to encourage others to try it. I've written several other books exploring the ways people express their feelings and capture their lives in illustrated journaling and I hope to make more tin the future.

For me, art gives meaning to my life. Sharing it with others just makes it mean even more.

Thank you so much Danny for sharing your story here just as you have so honestly and authentically shared you life in your books and on your website.

You can visit Danny at his website and blog here.


Parabolic Muse said...


thank you, Seth!
And Thank YOU, Jennie!

I'm SO lucky and looking forward to reading this book. I love mail art.

And, Seth, you are the one who introduced me to Gregory, and for this and so many things, you are so awesome.


ArtPropelled said...

What a wonderful surprise to wake up to this Sunday morning! Thank you so much Seth and Jennie!!! I am delighted!

Danny Gregory's story is moving and inspiring. Thanks for sharing it.We all search for meaning in our lives and we, as artists, are so lucky to experience life in such a rich and wonderful way. The fact that it heals us is the cherry on the top.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Congratulations to Robyn and Chris. Lucky gals, both.

Danny Gregory was a new name to me, and I was fascinated by his story. At first I laughed as he tried to come up with a POV for his book and art, then I cried as I read the tragedy that brought his art into being.

As someone who "publishes" (my little rambling blog) every day, I have found that people come to see the art, but the most comments are left when I include my personal feelings in the post. What a precious gift Gregory provided with his open and honest discussion of his story.

And what a gift you have given me and all your readers to have discovered Gregory and his art today, the last Book Guild entry.

lynne h said...

lol, i would've loved 'everyday matters' if danny'd stuck with his original idea of 'just a bunch of pages'. it's one of my all time favs...

congratulations chris and robyn!

MrCachet said...

Well, I sorta knew that I wasn't going to be one of the lucky two to get the book and the mail art, but I got something that as important to me - a nice email from Jennie.

So - Congratulations to Robyn and Chris, and I hope they both get out of it what mail art has given to me for over fifty years. It's a nice, personal, meaningful way to CONNECT. which is what you've done all along, Seth. Now, once I've paid for Jennie's book, I'll move on to "Everyday Matters"...

Jill Z said...

Super congrats to lucky Robyn and Chris for being the winners of your wonderful giveaway!
And what a poignant story about Danny Gregory and how and why he started his artwork and journaling. Thanks too for the link to his site which I was able to look through. And now-I'll hold onto my special library card from The Book Guild but am very excited to begin your new StudioScapes postings!!

Robert said...

Danny Gregory! Wow! Some people are SO inspiring that you are just thankful that they were born! Thanks, Seth, for including these three books in The Book Guild. They are books I go back to again and again for inspiration (both artistic and otherwise!). Thanks, too, for including Danny's amazing comments about how "Everyday Matters" came to be written. I am so glad, in spite of how difficult it was personally, that he chose to share both his family's story and his wonderful artwork through this book. The healing power of each is considerable! "The Creative License," and "An Illustrated Life" are equally amazing, as well.

Thanks, also, for the creative treasures you have shared with us all during The Book Guild. Looking forward to Studioscapes!

Debbie Overton said...

Seth you could not have ended this edition of The Book Guild with anything better. I have all 3 books and they are the best!

You have done an amazing job of bringing your readers into the life of so many wonderful inspiring books, but none as inspiring as you my friend!

rivergardenstudio said...

I love the words "be an arist" and the title "Everyday Matters."
Great words to start my day with. thank you. roxanne

deb said...

something to ponder... sharing...people... thanks for the thought. Congratulations to the winners, and I look forward to the studio tours to come :)

Caterina Giglio said...

congratulations to Chris and Robyn!
and all I can say is I will go check out the link, thanks Seth

Leslie said...

Lucky Chris and Robyn! The book AND mail art from Jennie. What a nice giveaway Seth!

Thanks for this story about Danny Gregory. I have "The Illustrated Life", but didn't know the story of "Everyday Matters."

iHanna said...

Danny Gregory is such a heartfelt artist, his writing too. Thanks for sharing.

layers said...

As someone who loves books and will never get one of those electronic readers :-), I really like to read your Artist pulse posts on books.. thanks so much.

creativelenna said...

thank you for this, Seth. I have Danny Gregory's first book but I don't think I've ever read what danny wrote about it before. thank you! It held a lot of meaning for me.

Jo Reimer said...

If I were to be asked about my favorite art books Danny's would lead the pack. I've drawn a lot more since I first read Everyday Matters and I credit him with helping me to see that the everyday things that fill my life are what really do matter and are important to record as a record of my life.

Unknown said...

I treasure my book "An Illustrated Life" I'm hoping to grab the other 2 as well!