I started doing portraits of my favorite artists, musicians and comedians mostly, as a sort of “ticket to backstage”. The art always was good enough, or shall I say worthy enough, of roadies letting me get closer to the artists with my intention of hoping to get it autographed. They always did. (Almost always. Only one was ever “turned down”, but that’s another story.) The portraits are my interpretations of how each of the artists is reflected to me. In other words, the style that I do the illustration is in the medium that looks and feels how I feel about them. There were a few cases where time, or lack of it, had an influence on the execution, but generally, they’re all as unique to them as they are to me.
In the early days, pre-9/11, getting backstage was easy. I had it down to a system of sorts. The portraits got me into the dressing rooms of B.B. King, George Carlin and Willie Nelson to name a few. Post 9/11, security became a road block. Good as a portrait may have been, there were whole new levels of people dressed in all black with little ear pieces between the fans and the headliners. The game had certainly changed. Today, it’s nearly impossible it seems. But this time, ebay seems to be the culprit. Nobody will sign anything anymore for a ‘true fan’ because they think everybody just wants to flip it for money. As David Crosby told me, after signing his portrait, “If I see this on ebay, I’ll kill you.”