All posts tagged: imagination


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 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.


I once made my own toy, when I was a kid. I did so in order to participate in an adventure I knew others were experiencing. — Money was tight when I was a kid…at least for a period of time, long enough to prevent me from obtaining one of the most coveted toys on the market at that point: Voltron. There were three versions of this mechanized force for good—gladiator, warrior, and lion—and I eventually owned the first two. But before that blessing was bestowed upon my young imagination, I owned none. And during that period of none, the version I wanted most was the Deluxe Lion Set. We can all relate to being a kid who doesn’t get what they want. Especially when others in your neighborhood had what you wanted. That’s how my Voltron period began. But instead of focusing on the problem, I committed to a solution: I made the toy I couldn’t have. “Let me tell you that my level of patience as a kid was apparently, and significantly, more …


time travel in white snow records a fresh journey footprints, a story While looking out of my studio window last week, I noticed a few tracks of footprints snaking across my driveway and side yard, after a light but fresh overnight snowfall. I didn’t see imprints from boots or loafers but instead, paths…decisions…time, by the moment. Someone was there. They had a place to go, or someone to greet, or maybe just needed to eat. And they were probably thinking about something, although the subject of that thought is now lost to the ages. But it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that they had a story. © 2018 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.


I don’t draw what’s in front of me. I draw what I see. My style has been sculpted through careful study and exploration, and it found its momentum with a simple approach: perspective. The definition of the word perspective is, in part, concerned with “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.” (Merriam-Webster, s.v. “perspective,” accessed January 21, 2018, Relative importance. That’s how I see the components of a subject I’m drawing. I blur my mental focus—only paying attention to what jumps out at me, as the most critical elements to the function or form—in order to draw not what’s in front of me, but instead what I see. What my mind sees. Clearly, my artwork above is not a French press in its entirety. That’s because to me, a French press wouldn’t be a French press without the plunger and filter assembly. Everything else is merely a support system. To me, anyway. SUBJECT: An original abstract drawing of a French press DIMENSIONS: 7.75″ x 9.75″ MATERIALS: Black drawing pens on 90 lb. Strathmore …