Author: Joe Blend


I believe that less is more. It makes sense to me, on a fundamental level, like the passage of time conveyed by a setting sun. Its seemingly counter-intuitive nature shares a confident wink that tells me it knows something I’m not yet aware of. But I do know, I do understand…at least I thought I did. And therein lies the lesson, because no matter how much more I create with less, I will always be surprised. Endless discovery, boundless application, incalculable potential—for writing, for art, for life. an organic life pruned and sculpted with purpose focus…less is more — ASIDE: Over time, I’ve engaged subjects related to achieving more through less: Haiku, from my study of poetry; Shinrin-yoku, a happy-accident discovery that implored me to embrace the peace found within nature; a focus on details, learned from Anthony Bourdain’s travels to Japan, on his former show No Reservations; and, to some extent, The Minimalists, two men who dedicate their time to helping people live meaningful lives with less. What’s common throughout these subjects is the idea …


I want to be a clockmaker. But I want to envelop Father Time in a lullaby, thereby gifting minutes—or possibly hours—to people who dare to dream. Extra moments, for the mind to run free. It would be a magnificent clock indeed! Methinks five large hands, each one unique in design and whirling past Roman numerals—some missing, some cockeyed—with a tempest’s energy, in opposite directions. Fashioned like the grandfathers of yore, my clock would bewilder all eyes that looked upon it, propelling the expected into the realm of the unexpected, thus removing one’s mind from the linear passage of time and gently placing it into a nebulous and seemingly never-ending moment. Yes, I want to be a clockmaker. I want to give the gift of time, which is the creator of dreams. © 2018 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.


I believe in the art of writing and the practice of reading—online—despite the internet’s negative effects on both. Therefore, I present to you a brief espresso manifesto, my commitment to the art and quality of written communication on the internet, and why I think that matters. — My writing is not crafted for skimming eyes. That’s because it’s not assembled like a buffet. My sentences do not require a special dipping sauce to enhance their flavor as they pass through the gullet of someone’s mind. Readers are not encouraged to simply snatch what they think are useful bites and then mindlessly discard the rest like an empty bag of potato chips. If readers do not have the patience to consume all the words, then they respect none of the words. Those are fast-food readers. I do not write for them. I don’t care if some writers saturate their work with one- or two-sentence paragraphs, or slather branded keywords like cheap hot sauce, or replace real creativity with a cheap substitute…all to favor speed and statistics …


I love black and white. It’s such a powerful color palette, one that forces onlookers to move beyond the surface and explore the details contained within. Since my style of illustration is predominantly black and white—and trust me when I say that style comes with a whole set of unique challenges—I thought I’d share my process, from beginning to end, to highlight the rather detailed journey I undertake every time I craft a new piece. So, dear readers, shall we begin? / PEN TO PAPER / My process always begins with a concept. A foundation. An idea that inspires me and implores me to create. From that idea, I craft rough sketches in my sketchbook using nothing more than a standard no-frills black pen. These rough sketches help me put my ideas on paper and are typically messy. But once I have a firm grasp on the style, elements, and layout, I move on to formal sketches. This stage is more structured and involves a careful application of ink to paper in order to generate …


All creative work must begin somewhere. That “somewhere” is generally unkempt, to say the least. But stepping back a bit from the slovenly linework and disjointed ideas reveals a piece of art, a magical composition, always unintended but pleasantly surprising. For the sake of this thought train, my attention is focused on visual art and the “somewhere” native to that discipline: Sketch studies. Sketch studies are scary and wondrous places. They unshackle the mind and give license to move within and around ideas. Studies explore nuance and grand contrasts in equal measure. And above all else, they open the door to surprises—happy accidents—that can, in fact, reveal far greater ideas…notions that would never have seen daylight without this unbridled investigation. The excitement to explore new ideas can leave a creative with barely a single breath. But at the same time, the mind can struggle against the pen in an effort to achieve perfection. And it will cringe when an errant mark defiles what was once beautiful chaos. That’s a good phrase: beautiful chaos. I’m reminded …

The Mad Hatter | Joe Blend | Illustration


beneath the hat…truth rich minds…deep hearts…playful steps We’re all a little mAd! — The Mad Hatter, from the Tim Burton interpretation of Alice in Wonderland, was an odd bloke to say the least. Definitely odd…and bizarre, a bit disturbed, and certainly loony. But he was also a passionate artisan who had a kind heart and good soul. Mad is a word that has multiple definitions, but I think the best one of all is that which implies being carried away by enthusiasm. Which you could also read as a playful passion for life. So, in that sense, all of us—to some degree, in some way, at some point in time—are a little mad! Illustration and writing © 2018 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.


Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Ink SnackTM, a book of bite-size writing and nutritious thinking! My latest book project is a publication of original haiku and drawings—created by hand—in a handmade journal I purchased at a local store. The name refers to small portions that provide sustenance when the mind is starved for creativity. And of course, it’s all crafted with ink. The content contains a variety of artwork alongside the haiku—art that reflects the meaning behind their respective poems—and includes the blackout technique and collage, in addition to drawings. The book is one of a kind; however, once it’s sold, it’s gone forever.                    IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOTE that none of the content was created using a computer. For example, the page numbers (along with the “About” page content) were created using an antique typewriter. Furthermore, all the writing and drawings were done by hand using a black pen (i.e. no erasing my mistakes!). And, the book itself is handmade (not by me). Handcrafted in Nepal, …


Ladies and Gentlemen, magicians are real. Flesh and bone, living and breathing. They are not, however, the masters of prestidigitation who dazzle us with trickery born from distraction, smoke, and mirrors. Although they employ wands —to fabricate marvelous creations and previously unimaginable accomplishments—the exclamation Abracadabra!, for them, is nothing more than eleven letters and a bit of punctuation. Real magicians spin yarns of wonder. They immerse us in worlds where anything is possible. They create something from where there was once nothing, and their stage is much larger than wood planks betwixt two curtains. Their magic resides within the pen, brush, and camera. Artists are magicians. – Writing © 2018 Joe Blend. All rights reserved; illustration © 2016 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.


Failed ideas. Attempts at something that eventually yielded nothing. Hope and excitement, shattered; a mess of broken ideas clearly born from inspiration that was delicate to begin with. But as the accumulated detritus is swept away—Whoosh!—a spark flickers. Hope is among the remnants. Therein rises the Phoenix. © 2018 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.