Happy Birthday to the man who laughed in dark places.
I couldn't sleep. I kept thinking about the otherworldly, eerie, and macabre book, The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey. I wanted to bring it to life with photography and I spent nights losing sleep thinking about how I could do it. Then I realized the artists who could help.
Willard and I have known each other for many, many years. We were tweens when we took a private art class from the same teacher. On the rare occasions when we happened to be at the studio at the same time, we bickered so much our teacher had to keep us apart, just so we'd shut up. (I'm pretty sure I was envious of Willard's artistic talent, but shhhhh, he doesn't need to know that).
We both graduated high school, went our separate ways, and then reconnected online years later. The irony is our artistic drive landed us both in the photography world. I'm still envious of his amazing talent, but in a much different way ;)
Willard's style and composite techniques are incredible and absolutely perfect to pull off a project like this.
It's not everyday someone asks if you could help photograph kids acting as if they're about to die, so I crossed my fingers and sent him a message. He said, "Hell yeah!" Oh, ok then. Let's do this!
After meeting up and confirming that this was a pretty badass project, I went off scouting for wiling candidates, costumes, and props to match as closely to Gorey's artwork as much as possible. I wanted it to be almost exact. An honest tribute to his work.
The sessions were hilariously fun. Little kids dressing up and (with my awesome makeup skills) looking incredibly ill, bored, scared, and yes, even dead. We all had a blast and I feel very fortunate to have experienced it.
After Willard stitched together the images, the outcome was perfect. Everything was exactly as Gorey's drawing, all down to the tiniest details.
Today, I finished "N" with an encaustic overlay. The final touch makes the image appear as if you can reach through that window and pat that poor Neville right on the head.
Needless to say, this collaborative project exceeded my expectations.
And the irony? It's Edward Gorey's birthday! I hope this odd, reclusive man would have been honored by this tribute. He was a pretty cool dude.
To see more of Willard's fantastic, funny, and beautiful work, visit his website at twistedlabel.com.
To order The Gashlycrumb Tinies book, visit the Gorey Store at goreystore.com. Everyone should own at least one copy. It's a much more interesting way for children to learn the alphabet.
To learn more about this incredibly odd and mysterious artists who thought up all this weird, here's a short Wiki bio about Edward Gorey.