Earlier this month, I found myself in familiar territory; severely behind schedule on several projects and needing to get my proverbial ass in gear on what would be my fourth concert poster for the infamous noise rock/sludge/doom/stoner/hardcore/alternative/metal trio, simply named, Melvins. I should note that this is actually my fifth poster, if we are to count my contribution to the 2014 King Buzzo solo tour, but I digress.
Simultaneously, I was experiencing a great and sudden sadness in my personal life, a feeling of loss too personal to share in detail, but something that was causing me deep emotional pain. I've experienced more than my fair share of tragedy, but for some reason, this felt entirely different. I wasn't eating, I had trouble catching my breath (especially at night) and more than a few times, I was unable to prevent myself from crying in public. I've become somewhat of a master at intellectualizing my emotions, constantly trying to outsmart my feelings and negotiate with my anxiety. I recognize these skills are somewhat foolish, but it's how I learned to cope. However, in this particular case, all of those coping mechanisms failed me, and I felt completely and utterly powerless.
I'm lucky to have a few wonderful friends in my life who talked me through what I was feeling. They shared their personal experiences with anxiety and I realized that it was okay to be sad. The more I accepted this, the better I felt and I’m eternally grateful to them for helping me come to this realization.
As I've done my whole life, I set out to turn something terrible into something beautiful. Casting aside my earlier thumbnail sketches for this poster, I began conceptualizing a piece of artwork that personified my feelings about this recent bout with anxiety.
The large bird represents my fear and anxiety, and perhaps even the looming deadline of this and other projects. The birds circling above hint that, even if I chose to do battle with this particular foe, there would be an endless number of them ahead of me. The girl, more or less, represents me and how small and insignificant I felt in the face of all of that stress. The flower, held behind my back, is my acceptance. With great humility and humbleness, I (as the character in my fictional narrative) present this flower as a gift to my opponent. Perhaps the flower represents my physical gifts as well, my choice to be an artist and make my daily contribution to the world a positive one. Those who know me well, know that this is something I take seriously.
As always, there are a few things I’d prefer leave open to interpretation, little easter eggs that I keep for myself, but I sincerely hope that this poster resonates with Melvins fans as well as my fans who have dealt with anxiety, or continue to on a regular basis.
This poster will be available for purchase at the show in Austin, TX this evening, and my copies will be available here tomorrow as well.