right now!     ian g. cozzens updates, news, photos, and thoughts

drawing fonts / trading projects

February 18, 2013 at 8:46 pm

a person seated at a table trying to draw with a small dog on their lap

Oh, the assistance of a tiny dog… so crucial for drawing this typeface for Liz Novak’s jewelry line / personal-world-creating self-actualization project, With Care… !

Liz (“E. Elizabeth”) is a skilled pal who I don’t get to see often enough, maybe because we both work a ton? or maybe because I am mega distractable and don’t realize that actually months & months have gone by since I have seen some of my friends? Unclear. In any case, it’s unfortunate… and partly with the ulterior motive of ***hangouts*** I asked her for help with the bandana project that I began for the “Practical Tools For Shifting Reality” show at AS220. She had asked me for help with a letterform project at the end of last year (which I had actually forgotten about in the chaos of holiday-sale-december-time — yikes), so it was a great chance for a work/project trade!

Liz is a jewelry-maker, a proud New-Jersey-ite (and also a loyal adopted Providencian like myself), a seamstress at the local bad-ass-lady-run business I’m Your Present, and a SERIOUS flea-market-hunter and collector of visual & graphic ephemera (check the instagram!). She also makes costumes… knows a ton about fabric & sewing & clothing… & has helped me in the past in various self- and gender-actualization-through-clothing-modification projects!

hankies in progress spread out all over a couch, with a cat on the shelf above[photo by liz]

In the lead-up to the AS220 show, she advised me on some of the fabric stuff for the bandanas, did a bunch of ironing, figured out the use of the rolled hem foot on my sewing machine to sew the tight hems, did a bunch of the sewing, and taught me how to use the rolled hem foot so I could keep doing it on my own… Her help was super crucial to that hanky project actually happening. At the end of our second day of working together, Liz said something like “You know what I really like? Working hard.” I never really think about this, possibly I just take it for granted? But I’m on the same page. And indeed, working hard together was especially fun.

hemmed & folded hankies...[photo by liz]

It helped that the bandanas looked super awesome when we were done!

In return for helping with that project, she had asked me to help her with font & logo design for With Care… which I was super psyched to do, since I had just been in the very rewarding realm of drawing lots of fonts/letterforms for the show.

two words, "correia" and "fabrik", in 1920's letters

Liz had collected together a bunch of objects, decorative items, and (of course) historic letterforms, which I (of course) love looking at, and which gave me an idea of what kind of letters she was interested in for the logotype, and some graphic/visual context to work from…

the back cover of an old magazine titled "your health", with the titles of articles

two words, "charm" and "ferragamo", in old typefaces

So we sat around & talked about different kinds of letterforms (& various other important community news, what some might disparage as ‘gossip’, but is actually crucial) and I drew some letters! It’s a pure delight to take this set of letterform-drawing skills that I have & turn it towards creating a ‘brand’ identity for someone a) who is a friend, b) whose taste I really respect, c) who also respects my aesthetic judgment, and d) who has a very strong vision for what the aesthetic world of their creative project/business is. Wearing my ‘designer’ hat, it’s really nice to be able to perceive someone’s aesthetic and try to follow & amplify it! I hope I succeeded…

Getting ready for some kerning — the letters in “CARE” are awkwardly spaced here, and I wanted to even out the curve to make it more symmetrical:

a drawing of letters with overlapping curving guidelines

The drawing scenario, with bright light (clip lamp) at Liz’s kitchen table, showing bristol board (original drawing), tracing paper (kerned letters), and small black jewelry box which this rectangle is designed to eventually go on:

different tracings of letters "with care" arranged on a table

Final drawing, with gemstone — somehow I have never drawn a gemstone before?

a person's hands holding a tracing of a gemstone onto a drawing of letters
[photo by liz]

Next steps for this guy are a little bit of cutting & pasting, to make it fit the differently-proportioned rectangles that Liz needs (Etsy-store header banner, two different jewelry boxes, postcard), rubylith cut-out (to get clean-but-slightly-wobbly lines without using a computer), scan rubylith & clean up on the computer. At some point I might draw some different versions of it at different weights or with a three-dimensional shadow on it… infinite possibilities… !


postscript: Clearly, the “animal in proximity to project” scenario is not unfamiliar to me:

a person seated at a table trying to draw with a small dog on their lap [Martin, at Liz’s house]

a person trying to work at a computer with a cat sitting between them and the computer [Buio, at my house]

I draw jasper johns paintings in the brown paper sketchbook

December 31, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Emmy Bright makes beautiful sketchbooks; I have one of them, and it’s basically my new favorite thing. I got some soft white & gray colored pencils, plus regular pencil, plus a 3B (that’s 3 degrees of soft, folks!) pencil; it was a funny scene of me sticking various pencils in & out of various pockets / my mouth, and also trying to find a place in the Phila. Art Museum to surreptitiously sharpen them all with a little knife which is DEFINITELY not allowed in there.

Whenever I find myself wanting to look more intensively at a specific thing, I know I need to draw it… buildings, people, anything. Often this is almost a moment of resentment, “Okay, I give in, this painting keeps pulling me back to look at it, I guess I will have to draw it.” You can glance over some art in the chaos of a gallery with people all around & be like “whoa that’s neat”, but when you draw it you get to really look at it & see how it’s put together.

My question here was, “What is Jasper Johns doing in these things besides using all these different tones/thicknesses of gray paint, cause he’s doing something compositionally, and he knows what he’s doing, he’s not just slopping paint around (though of course he’s also doing that).” …and of course the proportions & dimensions of all of them are really interesting, once you draw it & figure out what’s going on, as much as is possible standing up in an art museum trying to balance 5 pencils & an eraser…

At some point I’ll make a long how-to post about composition, the golden section, & proportional geometry stuff — but not today, I need to draw some more! and there are some things happening cause it’s new year’s. aahh! oh yeah, happy new year!

If you’re in or anywhere near Philadelphia (Providence counts!), please go see Dancing Around The Bride, the amazing show* where I saw & drew these paintings.

I would recommend it highly to anybody interested in graphic scores, dance, chance, chess, wordgames, playful nerds, gays, collage/combination/everyday objects in art, letterforms, painting, silkscreen, music, installation sound experiences, hissing whisper power voice, gray tones, friends/artists/lovers riffing off each other over the course of 50 years, etc. It’s free on the first Sunday of January (the 6th), and ends on January 21st! Go go go! Carpool! Super crucial & awesome.


Unrelatedly (well, maybe relatedly?) here’s some of what I’ve been working on recently which is stuff for my upcoming show in February… super excited about these little guys… okay back to drawing!


* My one issue with the show was that THEY SAID NOTHING about any of the artists being in actual romantic relationships with each other, in any of the printed literature or wall text! The curators were super into the fact that “ooooh, they were all so interconnected” but mention *nothing* about any of their sexualities even once (though they do talk about Duchamp’s wife a little bit). They write that Johns & Rauschenberg “met in 1954 and remained close until 1961” and mention that Cage “first met Cunningham in 1938 and later became his partner”, with no clarification of what kind of partner… but really? Does gay exist? Not according to these curators I guess… or only in code…

This is sad to me because I think about young queer people (including myself, hey!) looking for some model of gay existence that isn’t “the sad teen who is bullied and lonely”, and look! here are four extremely successful & lauded individuals who are all gay, and you’re making an art show that’s all about their relationships, and you maintain complete silence about their sexualities. Really?

“we don’t like to keep it simple”

December 12, 2012 at 11:53 am

we don't like to keep it simple

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working with Priscilla Carrion (a textile artist, and New Urban Arts alumni student & alumni mentor), assisting her in creating a four-layer screenprint that is for sale as a fundraiser for NUA. Our process has had a similar structure to the project I did with Noel back in the summer; and I think the results are equally if not more awesome…

looking at the different transparency layers

The print is called “We don’t like to keep it simple”, and the title as well as all the text that’s incorporated into the image are drawn from NUA students’ artist statements over the past years.

In this case we started out with relatively well-defined imagery (see drawing to the right in the photo above) that we wanted to replicate, and I worked with Priscilla through the steps of color separations, rubylith cutting & creating transparencies with ink on mylar, decision-making about ink mixing, and printing some epic rainbow rolls: (ANIGIF ANIGIF ANIGIF feat. Printeresting “dirty apron contest” prize apron!). The final print dimensions are a little over 12″x24″, it’s super complex & a beautiful mysterious landscape, if I can say that myself…

We made it as a fundraiser for the New Urban Arts studio, it’s a place that has changed my life, among many other people’s, and is super close to all of our hearts. You can ACQUIRE a copy of this print at the “Cardboard Pankakes” art/craft/studio sale at New Urban Arts, 705 Westminster St, Providence, this weekend, December 15th & 16th, from 11am-4pm… They are sliding scale $45-$150+; get a beautiful print & help an awesome organization sustain its continued future!

cardboard pancakes!
(Yolibel at last year’s Cardboard Pankakes, photo by Jesse Banks III)

There will also be lots of other local artists & craftspeople (including me) selling their own work at “Cardboard Panckakes”, it’s the best-feeling “commercial” space you will have ever been in, come by & check it out. Facebook event here!

Here’s a sequence of images from our print-making process — click on any of them to see the whole lineup as one large image.

print process sequence part 1
print process sequence part 2
print process sequence part 3

WOWZA!

“master printer” / collaboration

July 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I spent the past week or so working with Noel Puello (friend, artist, fashion designer, New Urban Arts alum, and future student at MassArt!) on making a super-epic, four-layer, 12-color collaborative screenprint.

We made this print to fundraise for Noel’s college expenses: zig has a gap of about $8000 to cover for their first year of art school at MassArt. Read more, see more pictures, buy a print ($30-$100+ sliding scale), or donate just a couple of bucks, right here: http://noelpuello.net !!!

This was a whirlwind project:

  • about two weeks ago, we decided together on a size for the poster, based on paper I had around the studio
  • I gave Noel some wet media mylar (transparent plastic that’s been treated to allow it to accept ink & markers) and we talked about different layers & uses of color, looking at examples around the house
  • Noel went to the store & got some black paint markers (the easiest way to create solid black on plastic)
  • Noel flew to DC for a six-day national youth student leader conference and got about four hours of sleep every night and thought about the poster
  • Noel came back to Providence and made most of the transparencies for the print in one day (!)
  • we met up that evening & talked about rubylith and what text should go on the poster, organized the transparencies, talked about colors and added a rubylith “background” layer

  • by the next day, Noel had decided on the text, we finished the first layer transparency, shot the first screen, & mixed ink colors
  • two days later, Noel mixed the colors for the first & second layers, & we printed those layers on about 75 prints, with the help of CJ Jimenez…

  • the next day Noel mixed all the rest of the colors, and we printed the last two layers, including a final layer with glitter, with the help of Anne Reinhardt who also made us all an amazing dinner that we ate after midnight…

  • that was a very late night, but then we were done! BAM!

It was super interesting to work with a less-experienced screenprinter to help them realize their vision, as opposed to creating or setting out my own vision — I was definitely in the realm of “master printer assisting an artist” as opposed to “artist-printmaker” on this one. I also wasn’t in the realm of “teacher”, because I wasn’t “teaching” Noel a process that zig could then reproduce on zig’s own — rather, we had a joint goal: to create something excellent together.

In experiences that I’ve categorized as “teaching”, I’ve often stepped back and stopped myself from imposing my aesthetic opinion on the scenario, to let the learner follow a course I might not agree with. In this case, I was happy to have the occasional possibility to step in and offer a thought or opinion that I might shy away from talking about with someone who didn’t feel like as much of a creative peer as Noel does.

I was so psyched to work with a friend who was excited about learning and open to my ideas, but confident in the validity of their own vision & aesthetic sense as well. Noel & I were working together to do what was needed to make a beautiful and meaningful object. It’s been really fascinating to make something that looks nothing like anything I would have come up with out of my own imagination — but to still be extremely proud of what we made, and to feel a strong sense of my own artistic identity with it……

You think you’re a grownup & have felt or thought all there is to think & feel, but then there are these new complexities of feeling & understanding that come up, all the time, and demand to be paid attention to & not get generalized into prior experiences. !!!!


Buio stole my leopard-print bandana that I made (by ripping up a pair of pants I found in the trash) for the Feral Summer queer dance party last Friday!

but you just can’t be mad at a person-face cat.

ephemera / evidence

June 20, 2012 at 6:30 am

I think Alison took these pictures…

This was us interpolating ourselves into the Pride parade here this past Saturday. I drew/painted and built two giant banners (and got them across town) in like 4 hours the afternoon before the parade? (That question mark signifies my disbelief that this actually happened.) There was awesome help from Christiane, Chris G, Olivia, Nathan, Alison, Katie, Rowan, & more. The other big banner said “Free CeCe“. I also drew & painted the ACT UP banner that you can see obscuredly in the background of both photos…

Featured in these photos are the awesome nitili, kidbijou, and patchthatsweater!

Also, Meg Powers & I made these stickers, with a bunch of slogan inspiration from other friends… Meg drew the drippy triangles & the grody tongue-&-fingers combo, I drew allll the letters! We passed them out during the parade, people really liked “Stonewall didn’t have sponsors” but were somehow not as into “Gay END Marriage!”


(downloadable 400dpi print version)

“get em, print em on sticker paper, cut em up, destroy the souls of your fellow townspeople”

Here’s what my friend & colleague newspaper publisher Jacob P. Berendes has to say about witnessing your work become garbage, in this recent interview in the Providence Phoenix:

It’s stuff like seeing it as trash blowing down the street. It was raining one time and I saw somebody use it as a hat. Really it’s nice to see your project be just another thing in the world, you know?

[hey, to participate in this process, you can SUBSCRIBE to Mothers News, the monthly paper that Jacob creates!]


(downloadable 400dpi print version)

There’s something to be written about making things that are evidence of our existences in the world, that just go into the world & become part of it & our lives are built out of and around them. I’m pretty sure that’s the role my posters & prints have always played since I started making poster-type images maybe 17 years ago. (The image I am tracing this back to can be seen at the bottom of this post. 1995! Senior year of high school! Aaahhh!)

I don’t know what to say about it exactly. I LOVE making things that become objects in the world, it’s deeply important to me to see things I’ve made become integral to people’s understandings of themselves, it’s always a privilege and an honor. More recently, though, that feeling is surrounded & hemmed in by serious frustration about not being able to set time aside to make art that might not have a literal “meaning”, always feeling like my art has to have a meaning for other people. I am pretty sure that I’m discounting my own existence and *forcing* things into meaningfulness for others because of the satisfaction that comes when other people tell me that something I made means a lot to them.

And obviously, every object has a meaning whether the creator intends it to or not, so every artist must take on the responsibility of being a “meaning-maker” rather than just an “image-maker” (differentiation thanks to Chicava HoneyChild, in this good interview about race in performance!). Can I reconcile the pride I do truly have in making images & graphics that people identify with strongly, that create important evidence of my & my friends’ precarious reality in the world… with my own need to push myself to make art that is seriously personal, looking inward & helping me figure stuff out, rather than make art that looks outward and fills a need of my community?

… I know that the art I make that is personal will have meanings for other people too, and be useful to them… and that the outward-facing art I’ve made has also been deeply personally indicative & fruitful. There’s no escaping making meaning, there’s no escaping making something that reflects myself. I just have to not be scared to approach it, to not set it aside as impossible, to let myself work on it every day, to not hold myself to untouchable standards on it…


OKAY HERE YOU CAN LOOK AT A DRAWING I MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL
This was a pencil sketch that I made of me & all my friends (in some weird russian context), I photocopied it for them and they loved it. One of them colored it in. About a year ago it showed up on facebook……!

commemorate a riot with me

June 14, 2012 at 4:15 am

I wrote a bunch of stuff about why I have been organizing around queer issues & to build queer community here in Providence, but that writing got erased, which is okay, it was important but it wasn’t well-articulated enough yet!


(photo by the amazing Jori Ketten)

The brief version (in run-on sentences, sorry mom!) is that I am working hard with others to create/assemble/coalesce a queer community here, and to spread awareness of queer & trans existences and the languages & concepts that make space for those existences, so that trans & queer people in Providence don’t have to think: “all the trans people I’ve known have moved away” or “I am the only person I know using a pronoun that wasn’t assigned to me at birth” or “it’s going to be impossible to get people to understand me as male & to use the right language for me” … all of which were things I thought frequently three-and-a-half years ago. Not that it’s perfect here now… but we’ve made huge progress & have really built something real. There are still a bunch of things I worry & stress about around my existence as a queer trans guy… but those worries aren’t that I am alone in my queerness here — that has truly changed.

At this tumblr: queerlilrhody.tumblr.com and below, you can find the giant roster of events that a loose group of queers here (including me) has been working to put together for June of 2012! We’re commemorating the 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots not by saluting our corporate sponsors & buying a lot of lite beer, but with conversations, celebrating our creativity, working on oppression, dealing with difficult stuff, & figuring out the next steps forward. Oh, and abolishing prisons & ending the state institution of marriage altogether? Those are on the way. ;)

… and yes, this organizing work is also my “real work”.



Thursday June 14: 6pm, 186 Carpenter St.

“Liquid Sky” screening: queer/lesbian/trans sci-fi film set in 1980s New York City. A conversation about femme visibility will follow the film. Trigger warning: this film contains graphic depictions of sexual violence

Friday June 15: 4:30pm, Bank of America building, Kennedy Plaza.
Join Jobs With Justice & other local organizations to address Bank of America’s foreclosures in Providence. BoA is one of the sponsors of the “Pride” parade & festival — as queers, we’ll be there to denounce them for “supporting” “the LGBT community” when it’s fun & visible, but then with their other hand, undermining our lives and those of our neighbors in our communities.

Friday June 15: 5:30pm, Kennedy Plaza side of Burnside Park downtown.
Queertical Mass – Circus on Wheels! Join us on a ride where we can celebrate the strength and power of riding together without the need to “dominate the roads.” An accessible, fun bike ride for everyone! CIRCUS theme!

Friday June 15: 7:30pm, Libertalia Automous Space, 280 Broadway.
“HOMOTOPIA” screening. “Love revolution, not state delusion! Race, gender, ability, & desire are reworked through an anti-colonial queer struggle creating a visual rhythm of melancholic utopianism”

Saturday June 16: 10pm-2am, AS220, 115 Empire St.
FUCHSIA IS NOW #7 presents SMEAR CHAMPAGNE: “a killer and amazing anti-corporate Stonewall commemoration party: voguing, fashion show, homemade BMI/ASCAP-free beats and so much birthday cake and yelling!” All ages / anti-corporate / anti-assimilation queer [dance] party, basement zone transported to downtown for one night. $1-5

Saturday June 16: 9pm-1am, Mathewson St Church, 134 Mathewson St. downtown.
Youth Pride Inc. Pride Night Dance Party! Free, open to ages 13-23, alcohol- & drug-free, food & refreshments provided.

every Sunday: 6-8 pm, Libertalia Autonomous Space.
Rhode Island Anti-Sexism League meeting

Sunday June 17: 7pm, AS220.
“Heart Breaks Open” screening. A feature film which recasts biblical narratives around HIV positivity, transmasculinity, drag and the sisters of perpetual indulgence. $1-5 donation

every Tuesday: 5pm-6pm: BroadMed Building, 557 Broad St, enter from the parking lot.
ACT UP RI – Open Meetings. AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power: fighting for healthcare, justice, and to end AIDS locally & worldwide.

Wednesday June 20: 6-8pm, Location TBA.
Queer prisoner letter writing! Meet and talk about the prison-industrial complex as related to queer lives & politics, connect with prisoners and write initial letters to them.

Thursday June 21: 8pm, Libertalia Autonomous Space.
Unite & Fight! a Forum on Queer Liberation & Feminism. Rhode Island Anti-Sexism League & allied organizers present a panel & discussion about historical and future shared struggles of queer people and women against sexism, heterosexism, transphobia and homophobia… and thinking about what a queer anti-sexist grassroots organizing community can do here & now. Join us!

(Queer Liberation and Class Struggle reading group, postponed to sometime later this month! Details TBA. email chrisgang@gmail.com for more info.)

Friday June 22: 7:30pm, Libertalia Autonomous Space.
“Madame Satã” screening: a film based on the life of infamous Brazilian drag performer & outlaw João Francisco dos Santos. Discussion will follow on homosexuality & masculinity in the Portuguese-speaking world.

Sunday June 24: 11am to 6pm,
Queer Farm Day at Scratch Farm in Cranston, with potluck lunch & gender-variant- & body-positive swimming at 1pm. Come for all or part of the day, help harvest & spend time in safer queer rural sanctuary space with queers & allies! email secretdoorprojects@gmail.com for more info & directions.

Thursday June 28:
43rd ANNIVERSARY OF THE STONEWALL RIOTS

Thursday June 28: 7pm, New Urban Arts, 705 Westminster St.
“Queerly Present” evidence of queer lives in Providence: readings, spoken word, performance, music, etc.

Friday June 29: 7:30 pm, Libertalia Autonomous Space.
“The Raspberry Reich” screening, a pornographic, violent & satirical Bruce LaBruce film that explores the ‘innate radical potential of homosexual expression’. Followed by discussion about queer resistance and violence.

Friday June 29: 8pm, 95 Empire Black Box, 95 Empire St.
“How To Be A Lesbian In 10 Days or Less” + “You Just Need A Little Lipstick”: ‘motivational speaker’ performance, and new work in progress, by Providence theater-maker Leigh Hendrix. $5

Saturday June 30: 2-4pm, Libertalia Autonomous Space.
AIDS and gentrification reading group. More details TBA.


YESSSSSSSSS see ya in the streets!


this work is copyright to jean cozzens | Secret Door Projects

Creative Commons License
most of it is also licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
for more licensing & copyright details, check out the credit page.