I contributed a documentary illustration to accompany Ryan O’Connell’s 26 Things You Should Know About Being A Gay Man Before You Decide To Be One, for the debut issue of Hello Mr. magazine. Over a conversation and a cup of coffee, we picked apart the nuances of his humorous article, dissected the true feelings and joked about shared experiences growing up on the internet.
“hello mr. is a magazine about men who date men. it’s the overdue response to the unending clichés that surround current gay lifestyle publications. rather than pushing agendas or perfecting appearances, it’s about relevant material for a misrepresented generation with an evolved range of interests. a chronicle of everyday life, and the narratives which define it.”
Two varieties of giveaway pencils, usually distributed at random so I never know if it’s self-promotion or not.
See you there!
I shot 10 rolls of film in 2012 and then waited all year to develop them. Here are 6 photos.
I passed out Missed Connections postcards on some afternoon trains around my Marcy Ave home stop, asking strangers to film me. I was met with mixed results but ended up giving away or selling all of the cards and “mailing kits” (three cards, 2 stamps, and a pencil) before heading home.
“Letters from our objects: Adam J. Kurtz
As you know, our 3rd issue PUNKS & Scholars publishes a mash-up of experimental writing as well as literary and curio objects. And since we’re duch DUM teases, we’ll give you a peek at a few of our Issue 3 objects right up until our blowout festival-sized February 9 release party at Echo Country Outpost.
We first met Adam at Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair last September. We had a major design crush on him from his cheeky, sentimental art objects on the Internet, and watched as he launched a mega successful Kickstarter campaign for 2013 planners. When Issue 3 was coming together, we knew we wanted him as a contributor. We’re absolutely in love with his matchbox sets, “Three strikes (you’re out),” made especially for our box.”
FIRST IN THE MORNING OR LAST AT NIGHT, DARK OR SWEET OR BOTH, RIGHT NOW & LATER & ALWAYS & CONSTANTLY
These “non-linear index card” themed pins are one of my favorite personal projects. They’re a bit time consuming to produce, but I still like to make little variants for birthdays or small gifts sometimes.
More than anything, this year has been about learning. I honestly feel that this personal growth has manifested itself in every part of me, visible to old friends in daily scenarios, or casual observers of my internet output over the last few years. I am proud and excited and not sure where I’m headed, but I know that I owe a lot to the people around me, both immediately, from a distance, or without their knowledge.
This list is not in order of importance: Alexander Barrett, Nicole Lavelle, Dustin Williams, Bubby Peck, Nathaniel Russell, Paul Octavious & Paul Windle, Chris Day, Matthew Stone, Na Kim, and Christopher Muccioli.
1. Alexander Barrett is a talented illustrator and copywriter, who was a member of the WK12 program when I applied. We first talked during an open skype chat before I applied, and he guided me through that process. That experience caused me to create a dumb zine called HOME-BREW, which I sent to him. It had a page that was a bit more honest than the others so I added a note to his copy. “Honestly, I liked it up until the sticky note, and then I loved it.” In 2012, Alex’s own personal brand of creative output has been consistent and constant, humorous, clever doodles and illustrations, and an ongoing personal challenge to focus on handwriting that has led him to his signature styles. His work ethic and humor are admirable, and the fact that he “was a copywriter” who doesn’t feel restricted by the general confines of what his title might be is a good lesson for people who get caught up in labels (me).
2. Nicole Lavelle has been making and doing her thing for some time, but I only first found her work at the end of last year. The first piece I ever saw was an “index card postcard.” It was just that, a postcard printed with a photo of an index card. Simple, genius, and perfect. Nicole has an impressive body of work. At face value, it’s mainly her dead-simple handwriting in a defined style for written phrases. Beyond that, it’s an extremely well-crafted emotional trigger that uses colloquialism and repetition to create an emotional response without forcing it. Nicole makes the kind of work that I can only wish I had come up with first, time and time again, and she does it for the right reasons.
3. Dustin Williams seems to just be “a really solid dude.” In ways similar to Nicole, he’s created emotional works that rely heavily on his consistent lettering style, a careful but casual aesthetic that he extends to all sorts of pieces, from a mock-newspaper complete with advertisements, to large-scale prints and collaborative projects. In some ways, he’s created his own world, and actually, it has a name: Sorry Sorry Town. He’s slowly developed a curated world that romanticises suburban cultural elements in a way that feels new but also familiar. His work is always priced closer to “material cost” than “actual worth,” but I guess the worth is subjective. His “low” pricing is as much a part of his work’s accessibility as his “familiar” themes are. If it’s not clear, I think Dustin’s work is worth far more than the purchase price. Go own some.
4. Bubby Peck is a nickname for my grandmother that only my siblings and I share for her. Bubby was always the loudest and brightest, constantly taking photos of everything and anything in sight. She was a constant documentarian, a constant beacon of joy for us as her grandchildren, and her constant small trinkets and surprises were always the best. We knew we had to open envelopes carefully, because there’d be confetti shapes and stickers falling out everywhere. I use past tense in writing this not because she’s gone, but because she will be. I use the word “constantly” several times because she’s always felt like a constant, and in that way I’ve taken her for granted. Her on and off medical issues have been finally diagnosed, and they’re terminal. She still has so much to offer, but she physically can’t be all the things she was, and that’s really what is killing her slowly. She will be gone sometime in 2013 and the idea of losing her is crushing in a way that other family deaths have never been. We’ve all known for months and had time to process, and yet three nights ago I cried so hard that I couldn’t move or speak, in a way that I have never cried ever before in my entire life, in a way that might someday define who I become. I know that I have taken on so much of her personality, leadership, appreciation for small things, and need to document. I know that even when her body can no longer support itself, she will never truly be gone.
5. Nathaniel Russell is someone whose work I saw a lot of on tumblr, without attribution. I tracked it down the varied pieces of his flyers project, and purchased a copy. He’s found ways to create work that stems from familiar themes, but is also all-encompassing, like small parts of his larger dream universe. The cosmos and hands doing things and clever phrasing and feel-good wishes communicated with words or not are all parts of his work and it is almost crushing in it’s consistency and reach. It’s hard for me to look at a person like this because I just think “holy shit this person knows exactly what he’s doing and how to do it.” And then I met him at a small show opening for his work at Ed. Varie, and he was the nicest, most approachable, welcoming person. I am so proud to have one of his prints on my wall, and it’s one of the first times I’ve instantly connected with a large-scale piece of art and known “I need to own this.”
6. Paul Octavious & Paul Windle don’t know each other, I don’t think. I group them together for the obvious reason, but also not. They’re both extremely talented friends-of-friends who started out as Graphic Designers but have found a calling and current success in other forms. Paul Windle’s illustration work is all over the fucking New York Times and he was named an ADC Young Gun this year. Paul Octavious is a well-regarded photographer type who shoots for tons of real serious clients all the time. He also might as well own instagram, and has done several “instagram takeovers” for various brands who seek to document and connect in that medium. Both Pauls are also just normal, real people, who don’t have to give up being nice or having a social life to be successful. They’re equally inspiring to me in the way that they have started out as graphic designers but wandered into new directions that still utilize their training and structure, but don’t feel limited by it.
7. Chris Day is a Baltimore-based artist, printmaker, and musician who lives a few blocks from where I did, who I am sure I share plenty of mutual friends with, who I have never met. His collage and photocopy-based work feels extremely “authentic,” which is tough because we live in a world that runs on computers but is also obsessed with things being both “perfect” and “real” at the same time. But where I often get lost in the balance of anti-whatever sensibilities and making work I can “sell” (either literally or in their messaging), he seems to navigate it all easily. Maybe he doesn’t even think about it. The work he has created for Baltimore musicians (his own projects included), performers, artists, events, and spaces is cohesive but varied, unifying but individual, and ultimately I feel like he has inadvertently created a visual language that holds together a good chunk of “Baltimore art” in a sort of changing local art landscape that I truthfully have no claim to or right to dissect.
8. Matthew Stone is an interesting character I don’t know too much about. He’s a multimedia artist and self-proclaimed shaman who creates work around that very idea. His work extends into various physical and non-physical manifestations, maybe most immediately in his photography-based sculptural objects and installations. His underlying, unavoidable, manifesto, his “Optimism As Cultural Rebellion” is at once satisfying and infuriating. I remember reading an old blog years ago written by a friend of his, and I would see his work through her lens, then. Since, and even during, that time, he has become a consistent and relentless force, experiencing positive reception to, and accolades for, his work. In my limited understanding, I know he is “a real artist,” because “his work is in real galleries.” I realized that the reason his work bothers me is because I’m still holding onto a tiny, outdated, extremely personal perspective, and not accepting him as the person and artist he actually is. I am not his close friend. I am not an old classmate. We have never met and I have never seen his work in person. I have no reason to cling to any negativity. It is the juvenile equivalent of hating a musician for “selling out” after a first record. It is the same as laughing at Justin Timberlake’s yearbook photos. Some people are meant to be successful and that is acheived through constant growth, production, communicated messages, and yes, self-promotion and hard work. There is no inherent shame in finding larger audiences for a message you believe in. I believe in Matthew Stone.
9. Na Kim is an accidental friend, someone who I first met by chance, and then casually researched. I looked through her work, I got to know her through run-ins at bars or parties. I purchased some of her objects. I admire her and her work for several core reasons that I connect with immediately. Her flawless handwriting feels at once restrained and premeditated, but also completely real. She evokes colloquial emotional reactions in simple illustrations and phrasing, in a way that is lighthearted, and easily a reflection on her nature as a person. Through a collaborative project called Young Alexander, she created tangible art objects with clear purposes, like plates and her simple and genius “puff puff pass” ashtray. She creates work that is somehow elegant but completely unassuming, inherently witty without any element of ego, and she makes it look easy.
10. Christopher Muccioli is a really talented person. He’s a designer, typographer, artist, maker, musician, and also person. His dedication, vision, and actual output is always top-notch. Every new project is an opportunity to grow. Things don’t just exist, they need to build on themselves, on existing iterations, and they need to do it well. He is creative in every sense. He focuses his attention in ways that I know I will never be capable of, and that’s okay for me, just as it’s a tremendous testament to his work ethic. Sometimes we half-ass things… Chris usually does not. I was pretty lost at the end of last year, and went to a psychologist to ask if I was depressed. At our second and final session, she told me that I wasn’t depressed, but bored. That same week, Chris called me out of the blue and said “hey do you want to move to New York with me.” I said yes and have been growing and learning since.
This is my fourth year of New Years cards, which is something I’ve come to love and look forward to. This year I put it back to bed (like 2010), reflecting in the glow of my computer screen. It comes with a suggestion to start your resolutions list (like 2011), a reminder that while 13 may be inherently unlucky, we really control our own futures anyway.
I’ve been sending cards out with store orders this month and will continue to through the end of January! If you sent me your address for a card before December 22nd, your card should be on it’s way!
Very proud to have contributed to the Hype Machine’s annual Zeitgeist.
Lower Dens are a Baltimore band that released their perfect Nootropics this year just as I was leaving the city for New York, so they mean a lot to me personally. My illustration is actually based on a failed installation attempt. I’m also pleased to be in the company of so many great visual artists including many personal friends, so go take a look at the rest!
THIS IS (MOSTLY) NOT A JOKE: I am looking for someone to assist with some menial, tedious bullshit. Friends have offered, but I’d never make a friend pack envelopes. People keep telling me to get an intern. Here goes nothing!
Tasks will include:
I am completely serious and do need help. I had a minor back surgery this week and am even less able to carry heavy shit than usual. This will be boring but it might be fun. You do not need to get me coffee, I will get YOU coffee! Please note that I live with 1 cat, she is nice but allergies are real.
SERIOUS APPLICANTS can apply via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I did an 8 hour shift at Orange You Glad’s Draw-A-Thon charity event, raising money for NYC Food Banks. We drew donors’ favorite foods in various styles, with different artists coming in through-out the day. The event raised nearly $6,000 when I finally left, but it was still going strong!