This is a video me and some friends made last month for the show SICK during the National Queer Arts Festival in S.F. It examines the sick/disabled experience through a queer lens, but there's stuff in there for you straight folks as well. So it's: shit people say to sick and disabled queers, shit sick and disabled queers say to each other/themselves/other people, and repeat! (btw: this is by no means claiming to represent the experiences of all sick and disabled queers. only a few. otherwise it would have to be hours long. unfortunately. Right now it clocks at around 12 minutes. hope you enjoy!)
Are you a Tarot fan? Or like trading cards? Interested in
learning a little bit about magic? Looking for a deck that reflects
images of real bodies and multiple genders/identities? The Collective
Tarot is a project I've been a part of creating and publishing for the
past five years. After a successful Kickstarter campaign this summer we
were able to print for a third (and possibly final?) time. If you'd like to order a deck, you can do so here. It comes with 78 full-color cards and a 250 + page pocket-sized book with directions, definitions, and illustrations.
drew the Bones suit (the Earth element suit), the Code card (the
Emperor in traditional decks), wrote the definitions for my cards,
co-wrote the booklet with the help of the core collective of 5 and over
20 contributing artists/writers, and drew the handsome sleeve.
are pictures of the card/book set, photos from the Kickstarter video,
the printing of the cards, this summer's Tarot Tour 2012, and some CT-inspired tattoos. Enjoy!
(scroll down for the ad, it is the last one at the bottom.)
Okay, so I am feeling all disturbed
after reading (of all things) the 'Business' section of the
oregonian, particularly this article: Facebook turns first to W+K
For those of you who may not know, W+K
is the mini-moniker for the Portland hipster advertising agency leviathan Wieden + Kennedy; also known as Wieden and Kennedy,
Wieden/Kennedy, Wieden, WK, or in this case, the MAN.
Wieden + Kennedy has offices all over the world--Tokyo, London, Shanghai, New York, Delhi--but there are reasons why their central hive is an advertising stronghold located in Portland's Pearl
District; an area of town that has become one of the bourgiest
little neighborhoods (obnoxiously shortened in recent vernacular to
“the Pearl.”) of New Portlandia.
First off, WK started here. SEcondly, they have their pick of many bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young 'creatives' flocking to the city to exploit for talent for their evil master plan--ahem--I mean, to honor their fresh artistic outlook and style with cold hard cash. It is a badge of honor amongst certain tiers of artists here in Portland to be hired by Wieden Kennedy for their projects. It is one of the most competitively lucrative avenues professional artists can seek--anywhere. And finally, WK somehow manages to fly under the radar of most people I know, working behind the scenes for some of the creepiest corporations on earth.
Wieden+Kennedy are the media
representatives (aka advertising agents) to Starbucks, Coca-Cola,
Nike, Levi's, Old Spice, Miller High Life and other awesome companies.
In other words, they have loads of money to pile into the bank accounts of their loyal servants.
Wieden Kennedy, with its secretive culty elitism, trendy hipster
sensibilities, and bucketloads of cash, have all but cornered
the market on creative energy in this town.
sure I will get shit from folks I know, and there are people
out there who know way more about WK than I ever will. That's cool. But I am totally freaked out by their habit of buying off young artists, offering up super fancy upwardly-mobile financial packages/career plans at top dollar. The
price? Our souls.
And I'm not even talking about the souls of the
artists under their employ—I fear they may already be lost. I'm
talking about the rest of us. Which is where facebook comes in.
will sell you whatever they want, and they mostly do it in a way that
honors their target audience of intelligent, young hipsters that like funny shit. Remember
This ad still makes me smile, in spite of myself. Millions of people loved this ad so much that they willingly passed it around on facebook. From the website Ranker: "The Old Spice advertising department has not only successfully
reinvented their image for a younger generation, but left you with a
smile on your face after a TV spot. I mean who watches commercials for
fun? Well, now, WE do. Old Spice, we salute you..."
feeling a need to ask other artists--no, PLEAD with you: DON'T DO IT.
Please don't sell us out. Please recognize the responsibility you hold
in the United States corporate power machine. I know it's hard to make
any money, and I know it sucks to be underrecognized. You deserve to be
paid well for the magical work of your creations. I know it's easier to
latch yourself onto an outside entity that can be blamed for the damage ensuing
from the exploitation of your art. But I can see the damage, I can feel it, and I
don't like it. I'm an artist like you and I understand why you feel
you need to make these choices. But I don't respect you for them.
If they can remake a stodgy old man's scent into something many
manly youngsters will eat right up...I shudder to think what this
juggernaut of an advertising agency can do with Facebook. But if you're curious:
Wieden + Kennedy teamed up with Facebook a year ago and are just now announcing their partnership, having spent the last year in focus groups, meetings, think tanks (and, likely, liberally perusing our facebook accounts, 'likes', profile pictures, artwork, etc.), on this product--the first ever advertisement for facebook (by facebook):
Part of what terrifies me about this ad (and others like it) is that it was made for me. I know those forests. I know that waterfall! I know those solitary moments of tears, staring into the ambient light of a computer screen (though you don't see any actual screens in the movie because they knew that I wouldn't have liked that). I've just now watched the commercial and I feel chills. I feel moved. I feel manipulated. And I feel very afraid.
Facebook is not our friend. I don't propose an alternative, I don't know how to slow the impending avalanche of social networking 'progress', I don't know how to intervene in the ways that I see the values of the people around me changing along with speech patterns, communication habits, social concerns. And I don't have any clever retorts to the claim that Facebook saves lives and starts movements. I know that I have benefited off of facebook as a media outlet. I know that people are getting more and more terrible to each other. I know that advertising media is the soft arm of the law. With the inclusion of Wieden+Kennedy in the mix, that arm is going to get a lot stronger. Anticipate the flexing of a newly honed muscle. It will sound like this:
I miss Dylan bad. I've been missing him
a lot lately, as the Summer moves into Autumn and we get our last
hurrahs, last rays of sun, last tomatoes on the vine and I'm reminded
of this time last year: My friend Dylan Williams was dying, it will
be a year ago today since his passing. Part of me knew he was leaving
but I didn't want to believe. I was in Fancyland when Emily called to
tell me and I crouched down on the ground. While my conscious brain
grappled with the news, another part of me saw Dylan in the upper
left-hand corner of my vision, a place that was until that moment
filled with trees: Oak, Douglass Fir, California Bay, and now there
was also Dylan, being so sweet and reassuring. Expressing care and
concern for me. It felt ironic and surreal but loving, those quick
moments of his ethereal presence.
I returned to Portland the next day as
planned, after being in San Francisco for the zine fest—one of
Dylan's favorite shows. In the days that followed, I read many
testimonials and memoriams to Dylan on the internet through tears. So
many people touched and inspired by this special man. I had words
for my feelings, but for some reason I couldn't bring myself to post
anything in the cyber-world. Finally, I am feeling so compelled.
I met Dylan 4 years ago after returning
home from a 9-month stay in Vermont. Just as I've heard and read from
so many others this past year, Dylan was the first person active in
the comics sphere to invest in my work. To tell me that what I was
doing was valuable. He emailed me out of the blue to say that he had
heard word from Bak that he should check out my mini I Still Live,
and that after seeing it reviewed by Rob Clough on his High/Low blog,
he wanted to order one from me. I was pretty new to comics but I had
heard of Dylan from my CCS friend Brandon Elston. Brandon told me he
met Dylan back in the day and that he was one of the nicest, most
sincere and non-pretentious people he had met through comics and that
I should pay attention to Sparkplug. They were headquartered in
Portland, where I was from. He told me to read Christina and Charles
by Austin English and when I did, I knew he wasn't lying.
When I met Dylan in the coffeeshop to
pass off a bunch of minis for him to distro, we hit it off right
away. It takes a lot for a dude to impress me—I am usually more
taken by the ladies. But in spite of myself, I liked Dylan
immediately. The more I got to know him I realized we had much in
common. A love of comics, coming from punk, appreciating Glen Danzig,
etc. Also, we both suffered chronic health problems and struggled
with ableism in our communities. Right away we were swapping stories
of survival in the medical industrial complex. He told me of his
diagnosis, of the leukemia, and that he would probably die of it one
day. I heard this and then pushed it into the back recesses of my
brain. This was a friend I wanted around for a while.
Thanks to me and Dylan's collaboration
co-teaching the first year of the Independent Publishing Research
Center's comics certificate program, I realized that I could speak as
an authority on things. Dylan and I both grappled with this, the idea
of authority and the idea of teaching vs. facilitating, assuming
power roles when our first inclination was to buck the system and
fuck the man. When he suggested I read Paulo Freire's
Pedagogy of the Opressed so as to be on the same page as
co-facilitators, I knew everything was going to be fine. Awesome,
Dylan didn't like being seen as an authority, he was
such a hyper-vigilant attentive Virgo, and he wanted other people to
think for themselves as well. And I was scared as shit because I have
panic disorder and I'm sick all the time but man, I really wanted to
teach. And Dylan, he knows that sometimes he gets sick and has to stay
home. So we agree that each of us can be back-up for the other and bam.
You know, neither of us ever missed a class. Because of what Mia Mingus calls access intimacy.
I didn't know Dylan was dying the
Spring before this last when we both cried all day about Poly
Styrene, but I knew I loved him. We had just put out Gay Genius, an
endeavor that were it not for him, may not have seen the light of
publication. At the release party, Freddie projected an old X-Ray
Specs documentary on the wall. I hoped Dylan might show, but I knew
his IBS was so bad that he probably wouldn't. I could relate, having
struggled with it myself for most of my life. I knew Dylan had been
sick and dealing with the after effects of some invasive treatments.
I didn't realize the road he was traveling on.
Two days later I left for an artist
residency in Santa Fe at the Santa Fe Art Institute. This was the
first official residency I had won and Dylan had written one of my
letters of recommendation. He hand-printed it and scanned it in and
it is still one of my favorite documents. We talked a lot over the
phone while I was in residency, about Gay Genius, about comics,
community, interpersonal dynamics, and working as a sick artist. I
was the only non-able-bodied person at the residency and it was
really hitting me the way my limitations were amplified by the
expectations around me and by ableism. I told him: I don't know why
when I'm feeling good I work and work and work and wear myself down
and then I crash. Why should I work this way? Why do this to myself?
And he said, well, maybe when you are feeling well you are afraid
that it may be the last chance you get. And so you work and work. And
he reminded me that when I am feeling idle, in between projects, or
feeling sick, to let my body relax—that it was an important phase
of fulfillment, gestation and preparation. I learned a lot about
being a disabled artist from Dylan.
I didn't know how sick he was until I
came back to portland. I subbed for him at his IPRC class, then in
its second year, but I still didn't get it. Not until he was back in
the hospital and I had a chance to visit him there, did I see. But
still I did not know. I had to have hope until the very end, and for
that I am not ashamed.
I had offered to take Sparkplug down to
the bay in late August for the SF Zine Fest because I knew it was one
of Dylan's favorite shows. A week before I was to leave, I got a
call from Dylan: it was dusk and he was about to go in for an
operation. He'd been in the hospital for quite some time at this
point. He was scared because there was a 75% chance that this new
operation would not be successful, but it was either do this risky
operation, or drench his ailing body in anti-biotics, which he did
not want to do. He chose the operation, even though he might not wake
up. He was going under in five minutes. Stunned, I asked him what I
could do. He said “Pray for me.” I knew Dylan as someone who was
not religious per se, though I thought of him as deeply spiritual. He
knew I was too. “I will,” I said. I told him that no matter what
happened, he was gonna be okay and I told him I loved him. He told me
he loved me, and got off the phone. For the next two hours I prayed
for Dylan. I saw the threads and rays of light love energy from all
of those who were thinking about him and loving him at that moment
and his whole life winding their ways from all over the planet,
congealing in a pool over Providence hospital and Dylan's room as a
source that he would be able to tap into when he needed it. And in
two hours I got a call from Emily saying he had made it.
I visited him once more and he was
still up for business, to the very end. After the scare, he continued
to plot and plan and hatch his comics schemes. He insisted I still go
to SF and he had all the paperwork ready. I think this was one of his
gifts to me, telling me to go down there, getting to see all those
rad queer comcis nerds in one place, meeting so many of his dear
friends and accomplices. I am very grateful for all of those
meetings. I called and left a message for Dylan, telling him of the
people I met, the well-wishes they were sending home to him and how
successful the Sparkplug table had been.
[Dylan Williams and Rina Ayuyang at SFZF circa?]
Dylan was so important to me and he
still very much is. I miss him so much, all the time. Dylan was, and
still very much is important to comics. Dylan was an ally, a
survivor, a feminist man who wasn't afraid to show vulnerability, who
wasn't afraid to invest in people, or tell them just how special they
were. I know he was a feminist because of how many men cried openly
at his funeral. I can't remember who it was that said it, “Dylan
loved comics almost as much as he loved cats.” But in a way, that
short sentence summed up much
of why I loved him.
The last communication I had from Dylan
was a late-night email. At the time, I did not understand why he
needed to tell it to me. [from August 24th, 2011]:
realized yesterday how it was a lady named Sally Wolfer who got us
all to be artists at Berkeley High. She is so important to me and I
was just thinking about how she made it possible for all of us to
"have permission". She got me into being an comic artist
the way I wanted. She got Aaron/Jeff Ott into music. She got Jesse
from Op Ivy into making music. She encouraged us so much. I owe her
my whole artistic life and she may not even know this. D
And I wrote
Dylan, such people as your teacher Sally
Wolfer are so important for artists to have in their lives. She
sounds like an influence to many exciting things, a nurturer of
creative spirits. Hey, you know who that sounds like? You! You are
one of those people for so many, Dylan, myself included. I feel very
lucky to have you in my life. You create and facilitate the creation
of so much amazing shit, it's cool to hear some of the background.
Take care for now and I'll be seeing you soon. A
I have a feeling Dylan wanted me to tell as
many people as possible that this lady was an important person in his
artistic ancestry. And I want as many people to know that Dylan was
and still is a very important person in mine. Dylan was always so
good at giving credit where credit was due but doing it in a way that
allowed himself and other people to hold their heads up high and
share their gifts--rather than creating a hierarchy of knowledge. I still constantly want to show him things I'm working on and ask his opinions on things--Dylan was like a sacred, bottomless well of knowledge. I
long for his creative, collaborative spirit to continue to thrive
within my artistic communities. I hope to honor Dylan by pursuing
this collective endeavor.
Dylan, I love you. I am honored to know you. you are with me everyday.