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.
Shrine Circus poster, 28×11
Mills Bros Circus 28×22
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?
Big Top album cover
Big Top album detail
Big Top reverse
So clowns. Elephants. Monkeys. Trapeze people. Not the Cirque de Soleil kind but the classic Ringling kind, and even better, the somewhat scary European kind. It’s fodder for the imagination.
Now that everyone is all shopped out but likely didn’t get what they really wanted, I relisted a few things and added a few other things to my Etsy store. I’m down to just three of the robot/heart screen prints, so it’s your last chance for those…
Go to the store here.
I recently discovered that Etsy has a “mini” version that can be posted on one’s own website. Like a webshop. So I relisted some stuff and moved a couple things around and made this page here:
Now you can get what you need without having to leave MrBiggs dot com! Just in time for the holidays. (I mean, it’s November 1. I’m sure I’ll hear the first Christmas song sometime this week…)
I’ve put the Boo! Vampire screenprint on my Etsy store for sale for a measly $25, with a complimentary mailing tube. Go get it!
This Saturday and Sunday is the Philadelphia Book Festival at the Main Library. I’ll apparently be an “event” at the festival itself on Saturday and I hope you can make it over to see whatever it is I’m doing. I’ll be on the “Target Children’s Stage” at 3:00pm.
Rumor has it that there will be a Q & A session. So come up with the question that you’ve always wanted to know the answer to. (My favorite color is “rainbow” so don’t ask that one.) And then I’ll be signing books. They’ve ordered lots and lots of early copies of the new Roscoe Riley books that will be in stores later this month, as well as all the other stuff.
In addition, sometime on Sunday, not sure when, I’ll be signing Shredderman books with Wendelin Van Draanen. This is our very first signing together and I’m pretty excited. We will be at the Children’s Book World booth, so check in there and find out what time it’s to take place. Then, if you happen to see me, let me know too.
This is all good news, yes. But the other shoe has to drop, right? Well yes indeed. At the same exact moment that I’ll be acting all famous and whatever on Saturday, the slightly more talented and much better looking Adam Rex will be doing the same in the Children’s Story Hour Room, also at 3pm. So you must decide between us, and we’re both taking names…
Here’s the link for the festival.
And the link for my little event on Saturday.
We’re praying for decent weather, so please come in any case.
The banners for the Philadelphia Book Festival are up around Center City Philadelphia. Designed by Kelly Beh, they use a part of the poster illustration and really stand out in today’s bright sunlight. These were taken on Market at 8th, Arch at 16th, and in front of the library. They are also on Broad at Spruce and Walnut at 19th.
The festival is May 17 & 18 so if you’re around, come by the library and say hi.
I finished this illustration last week for the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Book Festival coming up in May. It will be posted all over and they’re running ads in the papers and hanging banners on Market Street.
Look close and find all the various odd book-lovers. I’d love to have used actual literary characters but I probably could not have cleared copyrights, and it would have added weeks to the amount of time I’d need.
I’ve got details of the poster uploaded on Flickr as well.
Willie Nelson played The Fillmore in San Francisco for five shows last week and I was pleased to be asked to make one of the posters. I was asked to somehow include a guitar in the design, so I did that. The final was printed 4-color at 12×19 inches. If you happened to see the show, let us know how was it? I’ve never seen Willie Nelson play, but gee I’d like to.