illustration by Susan May for The Ballpointer
PICK PIECES The Ballpointer staff choose the artwork and let the artist explain it in their own words ・ Vol 7 No 2 posted March 13, 2020
Lennie Mace・Tokyo, Japan
Minnie Mace (Year of The Mouse, new year card series) ・ November 2019 ・ ballpoint pen on paper ・ 18 x 19cm (7.5 x 8'')
''I settled on the design with a quick concept sketch earlier in the year but then had to put the drawing on the back burner for a few months. When I finally did get back to it I was able to complete it with relative ease, a few hours a day over a few days. These days other obligations and 55 year-old eyes limit my drawing time, no more drawing-all-night-til-sunrise-til-it's-done! The drawing was cropped for the card from my full drawing but I'm good with proportion and able to draw with the overall cropping in mind.
Everybody seems to think the cheese must've been the hardest part to draw but that's not the case at all. The cheese was easy, drawn in one sitting and fun for me. The mouse trap, too. The part that intimidated me the most was successfully combining her exposed knees through strands of shredded stockings. Not that it was difficult but, having already completed most everything else, passed the point of no return when ballpointing gets for-real & mistakes are not an option, it was tricky maneuvering.
That particular detail, by the way, reveals two points of visual storytelling which turn out to be lost to most viewers: that Minnie had a bit of a struggle getting that cheese from the trap, and she may not actually be a mouse but someone in a mouse costume''・
''Yeah I went and did it, something I've always made a point to avoid: referencing pop culture within my artwork. It's not a 'commandment' etched in stone but... just hate providing free publicity for corporations who have plenty of money to throw around for the service. Hate to admit it, I did Disney.
Truth be told, I've done Disney before but that was during my drawing-per-day 365DAZE project (1998) following a trip to Disney World in Florida. My drawing for that day ended up being a certain Disney character which I drew directly onto my jeans and later cut, framed & exhibited as Lennie Mouse. This time I opted for Mickey's better half. it's no secret I prefer drawing the fairer sex anyway, even if only as a mouse. I gave a minutes thought to depicting a computer 'mouse' but that's too easy, too predictable. Turns out it seems some people consider doing Disney just as predictable, LOL!'' text continues below ...
Minnie Mace is the artist's tenth design toward completion of what will be a first set of cards representing the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. Order, see more & contact: www.lenniemace.com ・ Artwork © Lennie Mace
RECAP originally posted in installments throughout 2015
Andy Warhol @ Christie's online auction series, 2015
Missing the Ball Point
Dimes-to-donuts there's a ballpoint pen within reach of you right now. Reliable friends, always there when you need them; on standby to scratch a Hitler mustache onto The President or blacken the teeth of the covergirl dujour. Your grade-school composition books were probably filled with more stream-of-conscious creative filler than actual studies. But this proletarian tool is no longer just for signing checks, writing postcards or doodling sweet nothings.
The origins of ballpoint artwork echo the humble origins of art itself. Caveman roots; the universal, instinctive urge to create. For some, an irresistible force; to express oneself, to leave one's mark, to teach, using whatever tools are available. All that's necessary is the will to do so, pressed by a bit of creative curiosity, aided by ingenuity. ''Let's see what happens when I do this.'' Galleries, museums and art critics enter the equation much later.
There you sit, a dozen-thousand years later, surfing through the daily barrage of viral news. A headline grabs you: Starving Artist Illustrates The Bible on his Bedroom Wall Using Ballpoint Pens. Well, ''starving artist '' doesn't mean much anymore; with the amount of aspiring artists art schools churn out every year its a miracle anyone goes onto a career. ''Illustrating the Bible ''? Hasn't that already been accomplished in any number of formats any number of times in any number of languages ? ''On his bedroom wall ''? Children cover walls with masterpieces daily, to their parent's dismay, worldwide. And ''using ballpoint pen''? Now there's a story, right ? Well…
News outlets worldwide still report about artwork created using ballpoint pens as if, in the half-century since its invention, the pens have never been given any artistic consideration. Prior to the advent of the internet and social media, their ignorance could be forgiven. Nowadays ballpointers are everywhere, in every corner of the world, and the so-called ballpoint Wow Factor in and of itself carries less weight. The internet and social media are these days awash with ballpoint art blogs of every stripe, although with varying content. Ballpoint art classes may already be part of a curriculum somewhere. But the birth of the internet didn't mark the beginnings of ballpoint innovation; if anything, it merely serves as proof of how commonplace it has become, or how it has been all along ・・・