Creative Archaeology 101

Frank finally had enough

I’ve been writing songs for as far back as I can remember. My earliest childhood memories include staying up late at night under the covers and singing tentative lyrics composed by the light of a D Cell flashlight.  The first song I remember creating is lost in time except for two lines, a bit of melody and the title, “Tear Drop City.” It was about a lawless town in the Old West:

“In Tear Drop City everything’s bleak and bleary; Women crying over men dying in Tear Drop City.”

Not Dylan. But not bad for a five or six year old, right?

I gave songwriting a rest until I was thirteen when I got my first guitar and started singing. Over the next decade or so I filled two handwritten notebooks with 126 songs. Going back through them now feels like an archaeological dig through my creative life and identity.

The themes of the first group of songs, written in Junior High, focus on dystopia and unrequited love. Then somewhere in early High School I started writing parody songs with titles like, “Straight in San Francisco”, “She’d Kill a Baby Harp Seal” and “Disco Jesus.”

As I moved into adulthood my songs shifted again to more serious and personal themes. I started playing live and recording under the fourworlds identity and eventually recorded a CD-length collection in 1995. I’ve collected some of my recordings here.

Then in late 2007 and early 2008, a convergence of three new influences pulled me from musical to visual arts. The first was comics. Buzz about the upcoming movie moved me to pick up a copy of  The Watchmen, the first graphic novel I’d ever read. I was in love with the format within a few chapters. Today, the comic medium is one of my primary creative vehicles.

The second influence was the emerging VizThink scene which encourages people of all disciplines to use visual arts to think well and communicate effectively. I attended their first national conference in 2008 and it had a profound effect on my creative life. I realized that even stick-figure level drawing has the potential to communicate in ways that transcended text. More profoundly, it taught me that drawing could be used not only to express my ideas to others, but to revolutionize my own thinking processes.

Finally, Botgirl Questi emerged as a creative force of nature and I’ve been trying to keep up ever since. Over the past four years the love affair with my Muse has inspired more than 2500 images and 150 videos.

Today, it feels like I’m going through a transitionary period. Although I know where I’m coming from, I’m not sure where I’m headed. May the Muse take me where she will!

A beautiful thought experiment.

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