Matt Kish


About this Series of Drawings:

The Moby-Dick project: In August of 2009, I was really restless. I remembered seeing a book where the artist Zak Smith had made one illustration for every page of Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow. I was really blown away by how amazing his art was, and by the whole idea in general, so a while later I decided to try the same thing myself. Only instead of Gravity’s Rainbow I decided to work on my favorite novel, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.

Before this, most of the art I made had been excessively detailed, really overwrought, and incredibly time consuming to complete. I got really sick of working like that. I wanted something different, so I decided that for the Moby-Dick project I would do one piece a day, every day, until I was done. And I have a full time job too. And a wife. And a life. For me, that kind of pace was almost inconceivable. I decided to just do whatever I wanted with the art, even if it looked crude or raw. After all, I had no one to please or disappoint but myself.

Impulsively, I grabbed the first paperback edition of Moby-Dick I could find, which turned out to be the Signet Classic edition from 1992 with 552 pages. Looking back, maybe I should have thought things through a bit more since I’ve seen quite a few editions with around 400 pages, which would have saved me an awful lot of time. But that’s the way things turned out and that’s the edition I am sticking with even though it will take me at least a year and half of constant and daily work to complete. Probably more. I seem to be able to average about 20 to 25 pieces per month. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

I’ve avoided looking at other artist’s interpretations of Moby-Dick, and for the most part have avoided looking at any other art in general while I work on this. I want the art to come from me and not from what I’m looking at. Some of the art I’m making depends on the viewer having at least some general knowledge of Moby-Dick, and I think it would probably be really hard for someone who hasn’t read the book to get the whole story simply by looking at my art. When deciding what to illustrate from a particular page, I try to focus on what seem to be the most important elements from that part of the story. Still, these aren’t storyboards or comic book pages so I’m not trying to tell the full story of Moby-Dick in pictures.

I’m working my way through the whole book in order, beginning with page 1 and ending with page 552. I’m not working ahead or jumping around to the pages I might like the most. If all goes well, I should complete this some time in March 2011. We’ll see about that.

Artist Statement

I am not an artist. I have no formal artistic training or education. I taught myself everything through trial and error. I’ve never had a gallery show. I work very hard on each image and I do the best I can, but ultimately I do what I want to do with art, and that’s that.

I was born in 1969. I wear glasses because I am slightly nearsighted. I like oppressively hot weather.

I’ve been very happily married since 2001 to a really smart and super-hot college professor who has always supported every artistic endeavor I’ve attempted. She makes all of this possible and gives me a whole lot of freedom. Plus she knits me scarves and she’s a great cook. I’m really lucky.

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