Since I began publishing e-books three months ago, I’ve discovered that the most annoying part of the process, hands down, is marketing and publicity. The most fun part? Easy: cover artwork. I love designing covers, and I love working with artists like Vince Larue and Goodloe Byron (who’s working on a cover for a new book I’m particularly excited about, which is coming out in August). For my latest book Chiaroscuro: Assorted Literary Essays I went digging into my own archives, and I thought I’d share with you what I found. You see, when I was a teenager I spent a whole lot of time doing pen and pencil sketches of my favorite rock stars.
I was always pretty good at drawing. My father is a graphic artist and cartoonist, though I never had his ability to draw figures in motion. I specialized in faces. I would sit around listening to my favorite music — I’m talking about the classic rock and emerging punk rock of the late 1970s and early 1980s — and drawing the people I was listening to. That’s David Gilmour of Pink Floyd above, and this is Richard Hell of Richard Hell and the Voidoids:
Here’s Bob Dylan, apparently in his “Street-Legal” period:
This is Dee Dee Ramone. I don’t know if I left his hair undrawn because I was lazy or because I thought it looked cool. Probably a combination of both:
I also didn’t finish Stevie Nicks’ hair. The nature of the unfinished sketch here indicates that it was probably dinner time.
Here’s Bob Marley. I always liked his hair:
Being color blind made working with colors hazardous, so I mostly stuck to pencil and pen, but occasionally used color pencils. I have no idea why I scrawled “a failure” on this quick sketch of Simon and Garfunkel in Central Park (a concert I had been to). I guess I was pretty self-critical at the time:
I didn’t usually have the patience for paint, but this portrait of Led Zeppelin was a high school project that got me a little bit of badly-needed attention from teachers and fellow students in 10th grade. Yeah, that’s me posing in front of my work. I was 15:
I always knew I had talent as an artist, and during this phase in high school I was much more involved with the art crowd than the literary crowd (too snooty). I also loved going to art museums — my favorites included Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy, Edouard Manet, Vincent Van Gogh (of course), Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Andy Warhol. But I never considered a career as an artist. Maybe this was because I was color blind, or because I could really never draw anything but faces. (If you look at Bob Dylan’s or Robert Plant’s hands above, you see that I couldn’t even draw hands.)
Anyway, the reason I was digging through my archives is that I picked a visual art metaphor — chiaroscuro — for the title of my new book of selected literary essays, and I decided to use one of my rock star sketches for the cover, here:
I cropped only a slice of the picture, obviously, but I’m curious if any of you can guess this singer/songwriter’s identity. He’s one of the all-time greats, and a rather literary rock star as well. I hope some of you will try to guess it, and I’ll post a scan of the full image in the comments later. Can you tell who it is?
UPDATE: See my comment below for the answer and a link to the full image …