Friday, June 27, 2014

Igneus Ursus

In 2003, when I started painting fulltime, I decided that it'd be fun if I designed a logo for myself, and while I was at it, I thought it'd be fun to incorporate some Latin in the graphic. Why Latin? Well, Latin is everywhere, which is amazing since it's basically considered a "dead language". Anything "official" has Latin in it. The dollar bill has E PLURIBUS UNUM "One from many", ANNUIT CŒPTIS "Fortune has favored our undertakings", and NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM "A new order of the ages". With credentials like that, I don't know why every logo doesn't have Latin in it. So when I was designing my logo, I started with a bear head on fire, and then I thought it'd be cool if I draped a banner with the words "Bear on Fire" in Latin around the flames. A crown of leaves (like a roman crown) would frame the elements together.
Unfortunately, I don't know anything about Latin. I'm really nothing more than a Latin wannabe.
And when I put "Fire Bear" in the English to Latin translator, I got "Igneus Gero". I looked up the words individually, and everywhere I looked "Igneus" translated to "Fiery" or "On Fire", and "Gero" translated to Bear. Back and forth, forwards and backwards, I tested Latin to English and English to Latin translators, and that's where Igneus Gero came from.
Fast forward eight years later,  technology has improved, I've sifted through 3 different social networking trends, and all was right in my world, except out of the blue, something happened to make mer realize that all this time I had it WRONG,. As it turns out, "Gero" did NOT mean Bear (noun), but rather it meant "to bear" (verb), or to carry.
How could this happen? I thought I was so thorough! But after thinking about it for a while, I thought to myself, 'Maybe it can still work… instead of "Bear on Fire", it meant "To Bear/Carry Fire". Sure the grammar's potentially wrong, but it's too late to change it, right?' I mean, shit! I named two different paintings under the premise that "Gero" meant "Bear". "Guitar Gero" (now titled "Guitar Hero - Fail"), and "Gero Hero" (now titled "Bat Bear") were named like this because I thought that Gero meant "bear"!
Well, after mulling it over for another two more years, I finally decided "NO, this isn't going to work". I went online, did some more research, and figured that what I was really trying to say was "Igneus Ursus". But to be honest, I'm still not sure if this is totally right. Ursus definitely seams to mean "bear" (noun) and Igneus definitely still means "fiery". And according to my personal Latin expert, Prof. Google Translate, Igneus Ursus translates to "The Fiery Bear". God I hope Google's right this time.
Anyways, if you are familiar with Latin, please don't hesitate to let me know if I'm right or wrong. I'd rather be wrong, correct it, and get it right, then just plain wrong.

Gratias Tibi

"Bolt" Common Artist Project + LAX/TXL

Acrylic on Wood Panel
16" x 16"

On May 17th, 2014, Los Angeles based gallery Thinkspace teamed up with Urban Nation in Berlin, Germany to present ‘LAX / TXL’. For this event, artists were asked to develop artwork on a 16" x 16" canvas. Since I've never shown in Germany (or at least I don't recall ever showing there), I decided to use this opportunity to showcase something a little more 'pop' art. 
For the past couple months, I'd be developing a t-shirt design for the Common Artist Project. The design I came up with was intentionally a little "Rock n Roll". Inspired by the artwork from David Bowie's "Aladdin Sane", I took my trademark bear head and scrawled a red zig-zag bolt across its face. However, instead simply recreating the Aladdin Sane artwork, I thought it'd be fun to try something a little more graphic. So rather than painting the bolt as though it were on the bears face, I illustrated it so the bolt extended beyond its face, like it were floating above it. When it comes to t-shirt designs, I believe it's the simplest designs that translate into the best designs. 
For LAX/TXL  all I did was recreated the design, However, I ended up flipping the face from right to left. When I create the CAP version of "Bolt", I wanted the bolt to blaze across the bears right eye. To make that work, I had to draw a right facing bear. Unbeknownst to the layman, most illustrators usually have a directional preference. For my LAX/TXL painting, I wanted to compose the bear so it was looking my dominant direction: left.