The work of Dutch artist M.C. Escher was the only art I was allowed to really hang in my room as a teenager, and I would lie in bed at night and lose myself in his "Metamorphosis I" as it wrapped around my room like graphic molding. Next to my little desk hung a calendar with twelve of his most recognized prints, and on the wall, above my dresser, hung a glossy reprint of his "Drawing Hands" mounted on wood. This piece of Escher's work mesmerized me to no end, as two hands, which were the same, rose from a single sheet of paper in the paradoxical act of drawing one another into existence. It was a pencil drawing of a hand doing a pencil drawing of a hand doing a pencil drawing of a hand doing a pencil drawing. It blew my impressionable mind, and accompanied me to my dorm room in Syracuse, both apartments in LA, and to my place in NY after graduation, and friends who knew me throughout, began to associate the piece as my 'signature' art - to the point where the M.C. no longer stood for Maurits Cornelis, but for Mikel Cirkus.
Drawing hands is essentially where you start as an illustrator. In Art Studio Class 101, your first assignment may very well be to draw your own hand in some configuration, and to do so in every possible medium. It was like a prerequisite, as even the caveman made a hand print before he could draw the deer. As a righty, I only ever draw my own left hand, and ambidextrous I'm not, but I can think on my feet. Ripping the classified for the Creative Marketing position out of the newspaper, I got in my car and headed straight to the mall to look for anything that could be that perfect something to send in response to the ad. Standing at the entrance, the first place to catch my eye was Zany Brainy, a retailer that sold educational toys for, as they put it, "extraordinary kids." Still having no idea what I was looking for, I knew I would know it when I saw it. The entire process took less than twenty minutes, from entering the mall directionless, to leaving with exactly what I needed, which in turn was exactly what Firmenich needed - a hand. For less than twenty dollars, I picked up a true to size, artist's drawing mannequin of a right hand, complete with its own clean white box that had a window in it so you could see the hand inside - a sturdy model made of smooth wood, with fingers you could bend at all the anatomically correct joints so you could fold them to form a fist, but I only needed them to hold a scroll.
---- This story continues next week... and then again the week after that. ----
Stay tuned - because even if you know where it's going, you probably don't know how it got there.