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Sitting on a table, adjacent to my drawing board, is a small tome of little consequence to the outside world. Thus far only a few copies exist. As I have written and posted about on One Drawing a Day over the past few years I have been documenting the daily grind of a flexographic pressman in the state of New Jersey. My father has repeated his routine day in and day out over my entire life and in no small way his life led to my own graphic art career. When I set the clock to wake before the birds so I could draw that fateful first morning I had only intended to spend a day or two with him, draw the man working, and move on. Part of a larger project, he was but one gear in the machine. Something, however, kept pulling me back, and for several years I popped in to witness his day long after I stopped working with him. Even when it was obvious that the reportage had grown bigger than its purpose I had no desire to cut the study short.
As pages accumulated—and labels were printed—a new direction presented itself for the drawings. A little over a year ago I decided to collect the reportage in a small hardcover book to present the body of work proper. With that small decision the keys to Pandora’s box were opened and each step I have taken in life was judged against the documentation of one of the most important staples of my life. As I continued to draw, I found new connections to every decision I have made, the decisions I continue to make and wondered what the fates have already written for me based on my lineage.
It was no small fortune that I decided to spend my day drawing someone I knew pretty well, expecting nothing more than some pages filled with pen and ink studies, and have it culminate in a twelve month long execution of a project I never saw coming, learning more about him and myself than I could ever have imagined. All because I started a journey on a project that I had no idea as to where I was headed.
Sitting beside me is 152 pages toiled over from front to back. Drawings, archives, pre-digital bw photography of a printing press, newly photographed artifacts from 15 years of stealing from work, labels from the past 50 years of printing history, and a dozen or so essays on what it all means. One more item to throw in the old messenger bag, I will lug this book around for all who wish to see, but most importantly I will flip through for inspiration for the next destination. Work begets work. As I look around the cares of the day have changed just a little bit, pulling what we should not look past into focus and giving new reason to wake up early and get that damn worm.
Click here for more from this series and illustrations on Industry and Labor.
A few spreads from the newly arrived edition.
Inspecting the details for the job at hand.
An early drawing in the series, one that hung on the wall for some time begging for a story of its own.
The art for my first printed illustration done over two decades ago, done on a 13-inch Aqua Flex, assisted by yours truly, printed by another guy named Dominick.