Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas in Minneapolis

I did this drawing almost thirty years ago. My dad started me out in the Christmas card business when I was twelve. I sold them door to door around the neighborhood, using the money to buy ski equipment. By the time I drew this one I was selling in department stores and card shops around the cities. My parents tell me they prefer this style to the stuff I do now. It's hard to believe the same person drew them. Does anyone recognize the house in the picture? It's famous.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Department Store Christmas

I spent my early childhood in suburban Chicago, which meant every Christmas we made a trip downtown on the train to see the decorated windows at Marshall Fields, visit the toy department and Santa, and stand in line to eat lunch in the Walnut Room beside the enormous Christmas tree. That's what I'm remembering when I hear Christmas music today and what I was picturing when I painted this Christmas card for Graphique de France several years ago.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I must have drawn hundreds of Santas in my life. Fat, thin, jolly, grouchy, sly, businesslike, none particularly saintly. It's hard to associate him with the modern day celibate, scolding priests. Let's face it, the Santa we know was invented jointly by Coca Cola, Macy's, Norman Rockwell and television writers. Nothing I can draw can undermine that. My favorite anecdote from my book is about Shirley Temple, age 7, losing her belief in Santa when he asked her for her autograph.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gift Season

Note to self: do not suddenly remember to buy gifts on the 24th this year. This is one of the images I did for Barneys a few years ago. Fun to imagine a businessman with butterfly wings.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Art

The holiday music began on Minnesota Public Radio the day after Thanksgiving. I like it. It seems early, but there's snow on the ground already. I notice the Hanukkah songs and the Christmas carols sound interchangeable, but then both events took place just a few miles apart.

I remember when I was a kid, I was allowed to bring out one Christmas record each day. It usually began with Perry Como. My kids have no idea who that was. When I was in the Christmas card business I'd be starting the art for the following year right about now; the music helped the inspiration. I did this drawing for the Wall Street Journal several years ago.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Still Life With Businessman

There is something wonderfully straightforward about still life. It asks the viewer to make sense of the adjacence of unrelated things. Because they are arranged like a place setting are they to eat? Should the head of a businessman be eaten with a salad fork or a garden trowel? What does Emily Post say? I used the same kind of principle to arrange the entries in A Book of Ages (Harmony,2008/Three Rivers Press,2010), without comment, without footnotes, hoping the reader would see the ironies that emerged. I may have been too subtle about it. (The book remains the perfect gift item for your hard-to-amuse brother-in-law and every bookish person on your list.)