My gosh has it been since May that I last posted? Well shoot.
In all honesty it’s been a pretty slow summer, workwise. I completed the third Everything Goes picture book back in the Spring, the final two Everything Goes board books in July, a couple of other outstanding book projects that I’ve had hanging around (which I’ll post about later), and some non-book illustration work got done also in July. I have a huge series that the great Jon Scieszka is writing that I’ll be spending the next couple of years illustrating, but Jon isn’t done writing the first one yet so until then it’s kind of sllooowwww.
Nevertheless, the fun never stops. I was in Adamstown, PA two days ago at Renninger’s Flea Market. I love flea markets because I love to have strange and useless things, discarded by others, sitting around my home and studio. Mostly records, maps, little figurines, toys… This trip I went looking for ideas and inspiration. Somewhat related to the information in that first paragraph, I’ve been creatively a little slow this last several months, and I’m looking for things to get me excited about making images again. Everything Goes really took a lot out of me this last four years, and other than the Scieszka project, I really don’t know what I want to do next. I have a few picture book manuscripts that I’ve got at various levels of readiness, a list of “good ideas,” some thoughts on designing puzzles and toys but no idea what to do with them, and nothing that has my gears turning. I recently procured that gigantic Taschen book about Magic with posters and photos of magicians, and a little while ago I also got the smaller but similar Taschen Circus book as well. Both of these subjects are fascinating to me, and both of them are chock full of interesting things one can pursue as a person who makes images. Whether it be through screen-printing, collage-making, or my more standard ink-drawing, there’s stuff there.
So it kind of fell into place on Sunday when at one of the first booths i stopped at at Renninger’s, I found this terrific Columbia record set of 78s called, simply, “Circus.” It’s performed by the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey band, and it’s nearly new condition even though it’s likely fifty years old. I am one of the few people I know who has a turntable and one of the fewer whose turntable plays 78s, so the asking price of $5 was a no-brainer. The cover art alone was worth that.
The next thing that caught my attention was a poster at another booth for a Shrine Circus that was apparently held from April 6 to April 11. I don’t know what year, but it wasn’t recently. I skipped this at first, thinking I didn’t want to go crazy with circus stuff. But not five minutes later I saw yet another circus poster that was as good as the first one. For the same reason, I passed on this one too, but once I found the second Circus music album soon after this, I knew I’d be back for the posters.
The second album is a more mundane 33 1/3 LP, but once again the cover art is what forced me to grab and go. I love this crazy clown. I don’t know who is Merle Evans, and the Everest label seems to be somewhat lost to obscurity. But like the Columbia collection, it’s in perfect condition, and did I say how much I like that clown?