Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Stroke of Genius or Just Damn Lucky? The Story Behind My Post-It Note Art

Here is the story behind my Post-It Note Art, an amazing chapter in my life that started out with a tragedy, but led to a miracle. Before, I was nothing more than a casual doodler, but today I sell original pieces and limited prints for ungodly amounts of money. It has also allowed me to publish a graphic novel, called Bushers who is currently available on Amazon.com.

Here I am (at the left) with my writing partner Eric Gouldsberry at a book signing for "Bushers" at the Book Passage bookstore in the San Francisco's Ferry Building. 

My name is Ed Attanasio and I live in San Francisco. (That's me on the left) My art career started when I was rehabbing after having a mini-stroke on August 4, 2009. The stroke did not come as a surprise, because at that point I weighed 350 lbs. and had a wide range of other health problems.

The stroke didn’t affect my motor skills, but it definitely addled my brain to the point where I was unable to continue my job as a journalist/ad copywriter. 

Ruffled Feathers, 2014
My speech therapists suggested that I find something to do--an activity where I'd be able to exercise my brain on a daily basis. 

So, I started drawing a series of illustrations on Post-It-Notes, for hours and hours, as I went through a slow 14-month recovery.Sometimes I would sit in my office and draw 10-15 straight and other days I couldn't do even do one I could keep.

Scary Nights, Halloween 2013
At first, I drew these characters only as part of my therapy and nothing more. My wife Simone and my two stepdaughters always seemed to enjoy these silly 3” x 3” creations, but eventually they would migrate down to our refrigerator door and after a while, they'd disappear.

Left Brain, Right Brain, 2012
Then, in October of 2011, my wife gave me a notebook and all of the drawings were there—close to 400! I had created a my own world of baseball players, football players, gangsters, monsters, dinosaurs, dogs, dysfunctional couples and aliens. All of these peculiar-looking illustrations had emerged from my stroke-scrambled brain and now all together, but ready for what? 

As I browsed through these images, I thought wow--these characters drawn in black felt pen and colored pencils tell a great story. 

For more than a year, I didn’t know if I would be able to be a professional
Bushers, 2011
writer again and these drawings are a map that shows how I recuperated or maybe digressed, depending on how you look at it.

After I went through all of the images, I assembled some them into collages.
I named my first one 'Bushers--A Fantastical Collection of the Craziest Ballplayers You Never Saw' consisting of 48 baseball players I created. 

Pretty soon, I assigned each player with his own name, complete with a colorful nickname and a biography describing his baseball career. It became a fun project, but at this point it was just like the drawings themselves--a continuing mental exercise.

Then one day, I decided to submit my image of 48 “Bushers” to an upcoming show at an art gallery in San Francisco. The George Krevsky Gallery of American Art was holding its 15th annual baseball art exhibition called The Art of Baseball. But after a couple of months anxiously waiting for a response from the gallery and not hearing back, Attanasio figured that his players were probably too bizarre for their show.

I resigned myself to the fact that my sad-sack “Bushers” might not get out of the minor leagues. Then, one day the phone rang and the people at the gallery were on the other end. As a writer and a former standup comic, I hate to admit it, but I expect rejection. 

As the woman on the phone started talking, I was waiting for her next words, telling me that my “Bushers” were not an ideal match for their show. So, when the people at the Krevsky gallery said they liked the image and wanted to meet me, I was obviously very pleased and surprised. In the end, it was accepted into the Art of Baseball show and even before the exhibition began it was sold!”

So, rather quickly my therapy turned into an art career--something I never imagined even in my wildest dreams. Now I sell originals and prints from $30 to $3,000 and participate in as many exhibitions as I possibly can. 

Now I am experimenting with other size Post-It Notes in larger collages and other other formats. It has become truly my passion and the perfect way for me to unwind. Some people do yoga or needlepoint and I draw. 

I haven't stopped drawing and in fact, now I draw even more. When people look at my images and react--whether positively or
negatively--I covet that feedback, because I love what I'm doing and I want as many other eyes on my art as I possibly can.  

Things have improved tremendously since the stroke. I have lost more than 100 lbs. and I swim a mile every day. I turned my life around and my Post-It Note art has definitely played a major role! 

In October of 2013, my Bushers and their stories became a graphic novel, published by McFarland Publishing. Now the whole world can read their stories of near fame as they play this great game on baseball fields from Parole, Maryland to Sweet Lips, Tennessee. 

The book is available at www.amazon.com or email me at: era39@aol.com if you want an autographed copy. 

Also, if you want to purchase an original or a print from me, give me a call at 415.994.5335 to discuss images, sizes, formats and more.