Pulp and Circumstance

“Pulp and Circumstance” is the title I gave to a set of collages made in the winter of 2017-18. Life’s circumstances had led me to recoil from the outer world and retreat into the haven of collage. I made most of these collages laying in bed using (miracle of technology) a “Wacom Mobile Studio Pro” graphics tablet. I surfed the web for old pulp magazine covers and similar illustrations to use as source material, and worked up one design after another which I posted on my Instagram profile as soon as they were ready.

I’ve always been enamored of the pulp magazines; sci-fi, detective, and otherwise, and otherwise. The sheer fecundity of the outpouring of imagination into these cheaply printed publications is astonishing, and the imagery, with that hunky-dory all-American robustness, has a certain homogeneity which I find useful for the “seamless” style of collage that I favor. What I mean by “seamless” is that the finished collage looks as though it is not a collage at all, but the illustration work of one artist. A successful example of this is “Insanity Claws” a kind of Norman Rockwell-like Xmas satire:

“Insanity Claws”, digital collage, 2017

This image combined the cover of a sleaze paperback novel about a Parisian prostitute with a saccharine vintage Christmas Eve image of an elfin Santa beaming over a couple of small children sleeping innocently in a green easy chair. A lot of careful retouching had to be done to get the girl to fit in the chair. I added the Freddy Krueger style fish-knife gloves, and replaced the children’s book illustrations with kinky porn images. The result is a pretty “seamless” collage that gives the illusion of being the vintage relic of one demented illustrator of yesteryear.

Print of the Month Club – May 2024

Print of the Month for May 2024:  1943 Series Collages

I’m revamping my Patreon Print of the Month Club program with a new series and concept and larger prints on better paper.  These images are part of the ”1943” digital collages.  For the next year, each month Patreon “Print of the Month” subscribers will receive an 8.5 x 11 in. print on Moab Entrada Natural cotton rag paper.  The print will feature two collages with variations of the same elements.  It is $15. a month to subscribe and that includes postage and handling.

You can join here:

https://patreon.com/davidnormal

“1943” – Collage Series

During the Pandemic, my friend and collector, Josh “Doggy” Norman, gave me a stack of old LIFE Magazines all from the year 1943. Of course, in ’43 the world was plunged into the depths of WWII – the Germans surrendered at Stalingrad, The Japanese defeated at Guadalcanal, and, in the Fall of ’43, after the resignation of Mussolini, Italy made a truce with the Allied Forces.
Even as the war seemed to turn in America’s favor, at home, and certainly in the pages of LIFE Magazine, nothing was certain. It is strange to view this era through the looking glass of its advertising because the advertisers, whose stock and trade is illusion, swing fervently between efforts at buoying up an All-American status quo that is faltering*, propagandizing against the enemy, and rallying the citizenry – especially the women whose men were fighting overseas – to patriotism and sacrifice. It is difficult for me not to feel a poignant empathy for this time, the generation of my grandparents, and the period in which my own parents were born. Despite all the many momentous things that have happened since then – atomic power, space travel, political and cultural revolutions, computers and the internet – 1943 is not a year from the distant past. Not only are the cultural values expressed in these images still relevant, but the entire world continues to feel the consequences – good and bad – from this momentous period.
Yet, in making these collages I have not sought to make a statement of any kind. Rather, I just sought to playfully re-combine the imagery of the period into new configurations that evoke the dream of the collective consciousness (or “unconsciousness” – if you will) of America. Nor did I create the images to be static finished pieces, rather the images are what I would call “instances” of imagery as though they were just stills of a film (or perhaps keyframes of an animation). For this reason the work remains “Work in Progress”, or as my hero, machine artist, Jean Tinguely, would put it: “Remains static in motion”.

*Has the American “Status Quo” ever actually existed?

1943 Print of the Month Club Series

The 1943 Collage series is being offered in monthly installments as part of my Patreon Print of the Month Club. If you like these images then please subscribe. Starting now (May 2024), For $13. a month you will receive an image from the 1943 series for the next year. Actually, to be precise you receive one print that features the selected image in two states. For example; May’s “Print of the Month” shows the interrelated collages “Save Me!” and “Bottled Right at the Spot”: