Thursday, February 04, 2016

Asemic Scrawl

A close up of a pencil poem

Hold your pencil higher up so it feels like you have less control over where it would go if you pushed down and away while letting go. Add branches to the lines you've made. Twist the pencil with each slight release. See how and where it goes. Repeat.

The Hidden History of Mail-Art

As an occasional mail artist and a full-time collector of books and ephemera I came across this battered old copy of a Ripley's Believe It Or Not paperback. In it's yellowed pages was this account of the popularity of the brand.

Here is what the man himself, Robert Ripley had to say in regards to the scads of post he received as ringmaster of the sensational and the bizarre.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


I've expanded the pages on this blog, adding some CV material under a couple of headings (Books, Art Shows), elaborating a bit on my work speaking on and teaching art as well as telling the reader a little about myself in a new Bio section.

I'm unsure how these pages will grow, if their headings will change, if I'll forget to update them, etc.
I'd like to add a 'press' page but maybe Google is good for that. I'd love to add a collaborations page, documenting the fun I've had working with other artists. We'll see.

As it stands I'm trying to consolidate basic information onto this blog until I get my act togetherish enough to go for a dot com. That may not be necessary depending on how frustrating or not I find working with blogger.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the additions.

The author as a young man poses with the inimitable Sorrell Booke
at a Montreal auto show circa 1983

Making Faces

I can scribble at a frenetic pace. I launch into asemics and soon enough see faces. That place between calligraphy and cartooning becomes evident.

There is a certain collection of gestures I trace when drawing with a pencil or a ball point. Those tools allow a certain grind not feasible with felt tip markers or brush. The line coils out tightly into vertical drops and spins back up, jags along the page, spirals out, repeats. It happens over and over again. The above drawing is more an illustration of me trying to break up the gestures into discrete parts, otherwise I get a long 'run-on sentence' wobbling all over the paper.

Profiles and three quarter views of faces emerge, ugly rockers peeping out behind hairy helmets. These faces come easy, a scribbly dowsing, some lines suggest that nose, others that squint. There is a direct lineage between these faces and what used to be the alien bean motif I was obsessing over years ago, a voluptuous mango replete with fleshy folds. These are the raw cousins of those beasts, the brutish toss offs vs the anal line work of clean hard psych.

These guys are immediate and brooding. They satisfy me and prod me towards pure cartooning. They become finished if I have the patience. They become people, at least the masks that people carry.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Spiel on art

All my life I have been making art, mostly drawing. Nowadays, pushing 50, I consider myself an artist, true, but not necessarily a drawer. My drawing skills are limited. I can't draw you or your house. I mean I could give it a fair shot, even surprise myself, but that's not what I want to do, even remotely.

As someone who makes comics I've met and befriended artists that can draw you, your house, you as a centaur, your house on telescoping robot legs spanning the whole of a major city, tropical jungle, whatever. From any angle to boot. My own dear brother John Mavreas can do these very things. I cannot. Sometimes I wish I could but then again I also wish I could design playgrounds, do backflips, think of something to make for dinner, drive a car.

These artists impress me. They want to draw like their heroes draw. They cite golden age, silver age, adventure, fantasy artists. They cite renowned draftsmen and obsessive pop culture visionaries. I will never be counted among them. I realize more and more that the art I love to make is all project oriented. Sometimes it'll be drawing cute critters for a colouring book project (see a couple posts below), sometimes, collaging abstract bits of paper using a copier or old fashioned glue and scissors (see immediate post below). I also have conflated my collecting with my artistic practise, honouring certain found scraps as I honour my own creations. This has confused things a bit since I also run a curiosity shop.

My heroes are unnamed. I love lots of disparate work, lots of thinkers, writers, artists, lots of plain everyday working folk who do other things, like design parks or make dinners. Sure I love Frazetta and Kirby but not enough to become them if I could. I also love Schwitters, Debuffet and Klee. Maybe I could be 10 percent of those guys.

My art consists of some drawing, some collage, some writing. I do all these things freehand and I also do all these things on the computer. All these things also fit neatly into the pages of smaller or larger books. So, yeah, I like making books. But I don't only make books. I also make paintings.

I also make installations but I'm certainly not versed in the history or theory of installation art. I've read some art history, mostly dada, surrealism, pop and comics. I studied literature but my lit theory is abysmal. I make concrete and visual poetry but talk about that as if I was a parking lot rocker with mostly yelps and awed grunts as tools of communication.

Almost, because I also lead collaborative creative workshops that touch on all of the above. I've also yelped and grunted to rock music for years with my pals in a shitty practise room.

I needed to write a bit this afternoon, so here it is.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A visually poetic month

Recently I've had the good fortune of having three visual poetry mentions in three different places on the internet.

First off Nico Vassilakis invited me to participate in Singular Vispo :: First Encounters.
The challenge was to select one piece of instrumental visual poetry that got my personal ball rolling. Here is my effort:

Secondly, Amanda Earl asked me to participate in Brick Books celebration of Canadian concrete and visual poetry. I chose one piece from a series entitled New Value Black to showcase.

Thirdly Ian Whistle kindly featured the entire series mentioned above on his blog h&


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Colour Me All Of Us ! My new colouring book

I recently completed a colouring book. It's 20 pages long with an introductory poem about how fun and easy it is to colour things. Now I'm well aware of the craze but must say that this is not an adult colouring book. I mean adults can colour it of course but I made it with the thought of entertaining kids. Sure, there are odd jokes in it that maybe only big people would notice but it's meant for kids. the lines are thick and chunky an the drawings are mostly of bunny creatures being the silly cartoon characters that they are.

I drew the whole thing on photoshop, using a large brush or eraser and switching back and forth between black and white, zooming in to clean up lines, changing brush size to taper lines. The process is a little like whittling. I'd draw a thick black line and then use an equally thick white line to carve the first line down a bit making it wonky and uneven. It's a fun process, easy to do, with minor head aches.

After each drawing was done I'd plunk in my little name logo I designed for the project and then print out the page, I brought a stack of paper to the copy shop and had the whole thing printed on smooth white cardstock and then had it spiral bound, the intro page printed in hot pink. A first edition of 200.

I've been selling these things for 20 bucks, offering a decent set of 12 markers as part of the package.

The whole thing has been pleasant, well received by my friends and family and has provided for me a necessary respite away from the pressure I have recently given myself to produce my next graphic novel, which is so far nowhere to be seen. Getting back to simple and fun cartooning has been a breath of fresh air. sometimes i get so serious minded about my art practise that nothing gets done.

This got done. If you want one message and paypal me at yesmonastiraki @ and ask for shipping details. Thanks.

Maybe my favourite one. I like to think of this one as vintage European kids art.

Ice Cream Angel Tramp

Modern Puzzle face finger pointing that-a-way
Bold and brash critter hollering !!!!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015


In university in the late eighties / early nineties I majored in Eng. Lit. I wrote poems using words and they were like rock lyrics for fictional glam bands all about the street and nonsense like that. I also made poems like the one above. Here I used a rubber stamp spelling FIRST CLASS MAIL to create the fragments, edging the stamp just so. Very satisfying. 

Monday, July 06, 2015

And i'm backish ...

As any casual visitor to this blog could figure out in a couple of seconds, I haven't been around for a while. I aim to return with more regularity, which shouldn't be hard, except it probably will be.

As one could see from my list of occasional and defunct blogs on the right, I have been busy spreading myself incredibly thin in various ways all around the internet.
I have not bothered to include another that many blogs that were/are one-offs, jokes, conceptual things, collaborations, etc.
I may get around to blogging about those projects here, though.

This is my aim, to consolidate all personal artish type web blogs right here. Not only that, but I also aim to comment on what I post, and not simply put up un-aided images or stark text solo.
Will I let my tumblrs and other blogs dwindle and die ? Maybe. Who cares.

Now, the most regularly updated blog I run (co-run, actually) is my shop, Monastiraki's blog.
The shop also has a tumblr (occasional), an instagram (fun!) and all that facebook nonsense, of course.

The above image, chosen because it's kinda fresh, is a photo of some asemic scraps I wrote recently and tore up. I have hundreds of such things. I very much enjoy the practice of gestural handwriting-like drawing.

Ok. Let's see where this goes. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

My Graphic Score for Suoni Per Il Popolo

Lisa Gamble invited me to have a my graphic score interpreted by some amazing local musicians for the Suoni per il Popolo festivals opening party, SoundTracks.
My piece, all twelve minutes of it, was played by Alex St.Onge, Rebecca Foon, Gambletron, gmackrr and a young man named Gabriel.
It was a lovely evening !

suoni per il popolo

Friday, July 10, 2009

Over On Another Blog ....

I have been concentrating my web efforts on maintaining my Monastiraki blogspot.

The shop forces me to update regularly so if you find this place and my drawing blog waaaay too slow in terms of updates, please strut on over to where the air is clean with activity.

Monday, January 19, 2009

'Nuff Said


This little red book, a business manual dating from 1920, has been a source of constant delight for me.
It would have us believe that ALL the titans of industry used psychic powers as just one tool in their toolkit to success.
And I've wasted precious time trying to speak to dust mites and trees.

Some of the ALL CAPS page headers include :