Larry O. Dean

Artist's Statement

I'm one of those semi-mysterious figures in the aesthetics biz known as a multi-hyphenate. This is not a designation fostered by design but rather by circumstance. I have always loved reading, and writing my own stories developed at a very early age because of that. Drawing is also something I was precociously good at from quite early on; in fact, before I got serious about poetry (songwriting and guitar playing too), I was hunched over the drafting desk my dad had built for me, drawing cartoons for fanzines and independent publishers before all that was the rage. I was a comic book collector, heavily influenced by the "silver age" of Marvel, and imagined a career as an illustrator—as much as I thought about a job or a "career" at that point.

Yet somewhere along the line I got sidetracked on the drawing. Music continued its ascendancy in personal importance, but rather than skip college (which had been the plan) and plunge straight into some semi-romanticized "blue collar" artist mode, my mom talked me into enrolling at the University of Michigan–Flint the summer after I graduated from high school. There, I was fortunate to take some classes that enhanced my interest in writing and literature, and after a year at home I transferred to UM in Ann Arbor, continuing along the same academic path, albeit in a zigzagging fashion. (I wound up with a Bachelors of General Studies.) My trusty drafting desk made the trip, but once ensconced in such a vivacious undergraduate milieu, I drew less and less, at least in a concentrated fashion, focusing instead on band posters and other gig-specific kinds of graphic design. I eventually gave the desk away to someone who I knew would use it, and needed it.

Today, I probably incorporate that early love of illustration in more pragmatic ways than I realize, but actually sitting down with the intention of drawing is rare for me. One thing I enjoy doing, however, is media-specific sketches. I've been known to leave drawings on bills and receipts for favorite waitpersons, but the problem there is that they couldn't keep them, even if they wanted to; so now I'll draw on napkins. Napkins are great because they have a finite space in which to work, and because they are thought of as disposable, I like to recommission them as canvases. Napkins have delicate surfaces, so I tend to use a lighter touch when sketching on them. Often I simply use the pen the server brings with the bill, but sometimes, if I have my shoulder bag with me, I'll use different colors, or add shading in pencil. Part of the pleasure is working on-the-spot and with restrictions, so I don't labor or think too long when doing these drawings.


All the Frame Wanted

Amanda Was Stunned

The Vodka Spilled Itself

Larry O. Dean was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. His numerous chapbooks include I Am Spam (2004), abbrev (2011), About the Author (2011), and Basic Cable Couplets (2012). A full-length collection, Brief Nudity, is forthcoming in 2013. He is also an acclaimed songwriter whose most recent CD release is Fun with a Purpose (2009) with The Injured Parties.