Friday, March 7, 2014

In, An Illustrated Life. Danny Gregory. 2008.

An Illustrated Life Drawing inspiration from the private sketchbooks of artists, illustrators and designers, by Danny Gregory. 2008.

Illustrated lives: an introduction, Mattias Adolfsson, Peter Arkle, Rick Beerhorst, Butch Belair, France Belleville, Bill Brown, Simonetta Capecchi, Robert Crumb, Peter Cusack, Penelope Dullaghan, Mark Fisher, Enrique Flores, Paola Gaviria, Barry Gott, Seamus Heffernan, Kurt Hollomon, Christine Castro Hughes, Rama Hughes, James Jean, Cathy Johnson, Noah Z. Jones, Tom Kane, Amanda Kavanagh, Don Kilpatrick, James Kochalka, Gay Kraeger, Jane Lafazio, Christina Lopp, Paul Madonna, Hal Mayforth, Adam Mccauley, Prashant Miranda, Christoph Mueller, Brody Neuenschwander, Christoph Neimann, Marilyn Patrizio, Everett Peck, Venantius J. Pinto, Edel Rodriguez, Trevor Romain, Stefan Sagmeister, Christian Slade, Elwood Smith, Paul Soupiset, Roz Stendahl, Chris Ware, Melanie Wilson, Cindy Woods, Bryce Wymer, Acknowledgments.

Venantius grew up in Bombay, India. He studied advertising, design and illustration at the Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art, then communication design and computer graphics at Pratt Institute in New York. He now works  a digital artist. His work can be seen at

The purpose is indeed to depict the metaphor that resides fleetingly in my mind’s eye. My books give clarity to the thoughts that come to me. I believe we do not come by our thoughts, they come to us. 

The books are documents of understanding and resolution, or MOUs (memoranda of understanding) with myself if you will. They are a budo, a way of life. “Illustrating Understanding,” or “Illustrating to Reveal” would be more my cup of thought. In a sense they are an art form unto themselves and are indeed stand alones. I am not averse to incorporating aspects into other works, thought that has not happened as yet. They are trenches of visual thinking where one works out process and emotions, and learns to overcome fear.

The nature of my drawing is not about documenting the day-to-day. It’s about helping me understand ideas that come to me, and drawing is a vehicle to help me register my absorption of those thoughts. I attempt to understand what it is that moved me. “We do not come by our thoughts, they come to us” is something I deeply believe in. This is very significant to the way we understand things. 

My first and only rule, or obsession, is rigor. So the work must have a place, a reason it was attempted and for which it will be finished—to contribute significantly to the discourse on analysis, form, color, technique and so on. That is all I care about. I am not interested in effects or fancy manipulation. Having said that, I must add that I am abundantly blessed and have refined my techniques.

A book functions as a repository of the mind, a compact, portable, narrative mural. One moves to the next page only after being satiated with the current one. One carries and adds to the understanding gained from page to page. The sharing commences from something being stirred, and then the feeling dissipates, at which point enough has been revealed. 

I am in the process of making a set of three large books, and I like the idea that a book can be closed after it has been shared. To me, drawing on loose sheets of paper does not have the togetherness of a book. I would prefer to keep even a loose set of drawings in a box. But scraps of paper have their own dynamic, particularly those that do not conform to logical shapes.

The consistent thread in my work has always been the pursuit of thought. Everything else shifts. There is a certain line quality that is consistent, but I must say that too is subservient to the idea at hand. Nothing subordinates the idea and the understanding of it. 

This is my second phase in my sketching, with a lull in between of almost fifteen years, during which I only did thumbnails. I began sketching when I was in the seventh grade but have nothing to show for it. My second phase began in 2001, and I have a ton of work since then. I am very happy with the way things turned out. The subjects that I work on are complex and have required me to impart a high degree of skill and technique to realize them. I will soon be working on long scrolls. There have been short periods when I stopped drawings in order to spend time thinking without paper and marking tools. 

I drew as a child, beginning around age three. My first drawing was on the threshold of our company apartment in Mumbai, India. My entire lived movement is based on line. I would be egotistical in saying that every move of mine is akin to drawing, Lines move me, and a hurried line kills me. 
I prefer accordion books. I also like books that are tightly bound and ring bound books from Maruzen. I buy the accordion books in Japan and at Kinokuniya on Forty-ninth Street and Soho Art Materials on Grand Street, New York (Kinokuniya is now at 1073 Ave. of the Americas; and Soho Art Materials moved to 7 Wooster Street). Other types of books I buy at Pearl Paint and at New York Central. I have bought books in Lahti (Finland), India, Berlin, Mexico, etI draw with ballpoint (biro), pen and ink, silverpoint, pencils, various inks (including walnut and sumi), var. watercolors (including Gansai), goldleaf, gouache, fingers, etc. 

I use cases to store the books. It’s a pretty impressive  experience when Customs in various countries have asked me to open my case(s). I had a Swiss border policeman ask for prices. I was traveling via train from Cremona (Italy) to Stockholm. In Stockholm, airport security asked me to open my case, and it was a sight to witness the awestruck smile of the agent, who I am sure, was of Sri Lankan origin. The others had stopped what they were doing to watch! I think they regarded this as something special—a cargo that had to be with me.  
When I look back through my books, frankly speaking, its hard to believe I did them. I keep certain books together, my script drawing books for instance. I also always have one book that is close to me, one that I may occasionally skim trough to take in the detail. It’s revealing how much I learn about possibilities, which in turn strengthen my resolve to keep moving towards more intriguing directions. I recently reviewed some of my books and could not understand the automatic-ism in the drawings. It’s almost as if despite all my thinking, something else has interjected itself, which made the work into a collaboration. Perhaps collaboration with the limbic region, that mysterious space to which some people attribute divine connotations. 

I have often suggested to people how a book may be approached: the nature of narrative structure. The significance of maintaining a meta-narrative through all the smaller narratives that make up our own narratology, an internal geography. How do we gain, aside from the nature of the gain, by seeing and observing the outside? Draw to understand yourself. —Venantius J Pinto 

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