(12/7/03) My name is Michael D'orazio, and these pictures are a history of my devotion to drawing, and painting pictures.
Throughout my life I have followed my interests. My interests dictated what direction I wanted to take. Whether it was watching animations, or reading comics, reading folklores, going to art school, or just listening to the many kinds of music there is on the market.
I used to like driving myself crazy. For that reason I think I was well suited for the arts.
The picture above is an illustration of a Japanese folklore called A Man with a Wen. A picture I did while I attended the University of the Arts , in Philadelphia. I was supposed to be doing children's book illustrations, but ended up doing spooky monsters, and wicked looking demons. The teachers respected my determination to create, but they didn't buy it. I was not equipped to fall into any mainstream market. I mean the whole business of being an artist seemed so overwhelming. I could not fully grasped the fact you had to do it in a particular style, or you have to do the same concepts over, and over so you know where you fit in. I just never could do it.
So I accepted this fact I may never become a children's book illustrator. It seems everything I do is slightly twisted, or negative in some way. That's what people tell me. But that doesn't stop me, I still do what I wanna do.
And life just goes on, whether you wan't it to, or not. No matter what happens.
The picture on the right, is my attempt at Hansel & Grethel. I had to pick a theme, and that was it. I mean, A couple of kids, left in the middle of the wilderness to starve. Sounded great to me.
I think I really pushed my watercolor technique to the limit in this piece. My teacher told me before I did it, that maybe I just couldn't paint. He pissed me off big time, cause I thought a teacher is supposed to encourage you to push your limits, see how far you can go with what you got. Not say you should stick with what your good at, which maybe nothing at all. I think he was using reverse pyschology.
Anyway they said "I wanna see the Holy Grail", in this piece. So that's what I tried to do. The gingerbread house had to illuminate, like it was the light at the end of a dark tunnel. It's to be their only hope. What fun.
But after this picture, I wen't down hill with that technique. It just seemed so laborious. How do other artists do it. Keep doing the same technique over, and over, even though it takes so much time. I kept up with the Hansel & Grethel theme, but I went to a more direct way to paint. I used goauche, instead of layering with watercolours.
I did the pen, and ink first, then I photocopied it onto watercolour paper. This was so I could do multiple color variations of the same drawing.
I guess my painting, became more simple, more graphic. I think my earlier technique was more interesting, but I think I would only do it again if someone paid me, or if I had a place to show it off(a rather large forum of some sort.)
But the truth is I like to change. I like to explore, and see what else I can do. Try different techniques, try different concepts. I mean I can still do what I did before, it's just that I get bored (yeah right who am I kidding)!!!
After I got my bachelors degree at the University, I faced the fact I had to get a normal back-breaking menial job. I tried waiting tables again, but my mind, and my body we're just not able to cope anymore. I didn't know what to do. My plans to be a rock star fell through before college, and I had no other skills. I then resorted hanging out in coffee shops, drinking coffee, and drawing pictures. A habit I learned while in school, cause I had no social life at the time.
During that time I filled sketch book, after sketch book while trying trying to sort out my life, and find direction. I did suprise myself with alot pictures. Here I defined my skills, and my confidence.
I went out with some girl from pheonixville. I gave her the picture to the right(deciding, I could probably krank out another one no problem), and she blew me off thereafter. I don't think she liked me at all, and I have yet to do that piece over again.
So here I am frustrated, with what to do with all of the work I've been producing. I mean, who to show it to. I was offered a job at a advertising agency, but they didn't want anything with style. And that's all I was. I can't do what people want me to do. That's the catch 22 to my talent.
So I said to myself, maybe I would be better trying my hand at comics. I've always liked comics. I used to like that Japanese animation, but got away from it. Why don't I try it, and see for myself If I am any good.
So I began researching. I looked at R.Crumbs work. I liked it. I also like Jim Woodring's "Frank" books. The underground scene is always exciting. I hate superhero's. I thought with all this new found knowledge the possibilities we're endless.
I tried to make my work as exciting, weird, and dynamic as I possibly could. I love black, and white. I like crazy. I like to think that I could have a nervous breakdown, and have it get into my work.
I think pounding on my nerves, from drawing, coupled with my use of marijuana, and mushrooms, had put me over the edge. It was either that, or trying to move out of my parents house that started to make me sick. I think I read too many books on transcendental meditation.(I can tell you about alot of good ones).
So I started doing this comic called "Freak'in Out". It was about some guy who always freaks out, in any given situation. I don't think it was ever really that funny, but it was definitly a real trip to work on it.
The picture on the right is my depiction of the club life I led in Philadelphia. How pleasure in the end, can be oppressive. Back in those days I had long hair, and I used to dressed up like a stylish vagabond, swilling beer, and avoiding xanex. Girls were all dressed in sexy apparel, but they were not to be trusted. They were so domineering. Music was overwhelming, and loud. By the end of the night your ears were ringing, til the next day.
During this period I focused on the intricate detail of black, and white drawings. I tried to make it as psychodelic as possible. It definitley took a bit of time to create, but the results we're worth it. And I think peoples response to it was positive. Especially all those ex-underground comic computer geeks, who love art.
Anyway, I have to say that I think music inspires my work, more than other kinds of visual art. The piece on the right kind of reminds me of "Renegade Soundwave", a english band from the early nintey's.
There was a time when totally music inspired one of my characters. I was listening to Bjork, an icelandic pop-singer, who used to sing for a band called "The Sugercubes". I started to draw Bjork from magazines. From there I just kept drawing how I remembered it, and came up with a face. Bjork is known, for being a pixie. I called the character "Trixie", Because it is a popular name that rhymes, and thought well she is full of tricks. I also thought well she is kind of a crazy girl, so I came up with "Trixie, the Schizophrenic Girl".
This is one of my favorite pictures. I don't know if it's my best, but it is definitly one of my most original concepts.
The girl(some say looks like an old lady), looks at you with a dead stare. She's outside a window looking in. Rose petals are falling from the sky(a sign of royalty). And the picture is slightly distorted.
The whole picture came from the top of my head. None of the ideas I communicated, was planned at all. This is the joy of painting. It comes much as a suprise to me, than to anyone else. Not to blow smoke up my own ass.
The "Trixie" theme has evolved very much to this time. Most of my cartoons are based on this character. I sort of fell in love with the idea of a crazy girl, living in a sureal world. I kind of remember the cartoon "Little Nemo, in wonderland", or comix from Heavy Metal. If I could push it that far I think I would be happy.
But to no avail, nothing I come up with is marketable in any large scale. Except that I started to publish my cartoons in a local Philly paper called "The Funny Papers of Philadelphia".
The paper ws a venue for local philly artists. There you would find an array of different talents collaging there work into one periodical. Now looking back I realize that the Funny Papers of Philadelphia helped me grow alot during the development of my comic. I look back at the work that I did back in those days, and I realize that this paper was a land mark in the history of art. The paper didn't turn into anything bigger, but it was exciting to showcase ourselves as unpublished authors.
The paper displayed some dark themes, such as violence, corruption, social indifferences, and also mundane topics. One time the founder Charles Bordin told me over the phone that he was skeptical about publishing some of my work due to the fact it was gross. One of my comics had a girl burping in the face of some guy who wanted to know her name. I thought it was light hearted, so I started to feel a oppressed that I couldn't get away with some topics. When I look back I realize he published worse.
I kept alot of the issues of the paper, as a memory, and art artifact. I look back at it and wish it would have turned into something. I bet that there is a lot of artists who may follow on to better careers. I think alot of them belong to the philadelphia cartooning society, which I am not affiliated with. For some reason I do better alone, and by myself.
Anyway, the picture on the right was inspired by one of my favorite musical artists "Nick Cave, and the Bad Seeds". Notice the lyrics to his song "Do you love me". It was a three panel drawing about Trixie, executing a man for trying to molest her on a street corner. She put a bullet in his head, blowing his eyes out of their sockets. She went back to a bar , where some other guys tried to pick her up. She probably wanted to entrap another victim. It was a good practice piece.
One of my goals was to try to make a living with my art. I always wondered what could I do to make some money with my talents. One day I posted some of my work on a newsgroup, on the internet. And I got a response from some guy who hosts a website in Amsterdam. He asked me if I could do some work for him. It was a called "Torture Palace". It was all about torturing girls, and snuffing them out, with different strange techniques. I thought it was kind of strange, but I thought who knows let me try it out, maybe I could make a good living out of it.
I did one picture, and sent it to him via e-mail. He responded, by criticizing it, and said it was strange(ironic). I did another one, and sent it to him. He said that"I didn't get the point". I failed again. It seems my life as an artist is a long string of failures, but I really like these pictures. I didn't understand. No one besides myself saw any value in them, but me. So life goes on, no matter what happens! Well anyway doing the Funny papers only lasted a short while, either did the paper cause I don't think it runs anymore, but I have kept up with my drawings
The next stage of my art is me taking my black and white art, and transferring the design onto to clear acetate, then doing waterclolours underneath. This will be the only original art available.
Trixie, the Schizophrenic Girl is a comic that comments on mental illness, social decay, and artistic developement. Sometimes truthful, sometimes dark, they bring up valid points about the world the author lives in. Hope you enjoy.
My earliest memory of making music was when I was really young, playing around with a casio keyboard. I used a portable tape recorder to record a track, while I played music over it to make it sound better.
When I went to high school, I sang "Misfits" song to two friends(Marc Dingus, and Mike Flynn) who had a band at the time. They kicked out one of their friends, and they made me the singer. Since I liked Danzig, we became a misfit cover band who occasionally played other punk songs. The bass player named the band "Feedback". We only played one gig, and that was at the High School talent show.
When the band broke up, a friend of mine told me about someone he knew who played guitar, and wanted to start a band. I looked up the guy(Mike Smash, a current ceramics muralist in the city of Philadelphia), and he knew some other people: Ross Airhardt(Bass), Jeff(the Cuban)Valcarcel(drums). The band formed during the late eighties, but was very much influenced by early eighties goth/punk. I came up with the name "The Burning".
During these days I would frequent underground clubs, which we're popular at the time(Bebop Cafe, Shadows, Voodoo lounge, and Vampire, and Revival), making lots of friends who we're into alternative living. I also used to sing at a bar in Norristown called "Secrets", where I would sing David Bowie, and Jane's Addiction songs with professional musicians in some basement.
"The Burning" played parties, and clubs down the city of Philadelphia. We also played a few talent shows one of which was at a fair in Kimberton, Pa. I learned a lot about song writing during this phase. The band recorded two sets of 3 songs, on a 8-track analog reel to reel with musician/producer Ian Cross. When the band broke up, me and the guitarist recorded 3 songs in a 16 track studio, produced by Scott Bricklin in "Dome Sound Studio" in Royersford, Pa. I also went on to record with Steve Cluthe who had a whole studio in his apartment. I did a string of recordings, which include the song "Freak'in Out", and "Loonier than Looney". After this I called it quits working with other people, and picked up the guitar, and went to Art School. It took me 12 years to get comfortable playing guitar, before I started to write and record my own music.
Later I made up my mind that I would persue my interest, and went out and bought a tascam 4-track tape deck to record some of my ideas. I took me years to actually use this thing, but when I got started, it became a little bit of a habit. I began compiling the music on to cd's, and designing the packaging.
When I moved to the city I started playing open mics in 1995, at a coffee shop in Philadelphia called "Lion Fish". It was owned by two hippies. My first two songs I played live we're David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes", and Tom Waits "Dirt in the Ground". I also played Nick Cave's "Ship Song". I also played open mics at a coffee shop called "The Last Drop Coffee House" which had an impact on my sense of creativity. It didn't take me long to get accustomed to play covers, and my own songs for a live crowd. I took chances sometimes, and played songs that didn't fit in to the venues criteria of good taste. One time I played "Junkyard" by the Birthday Party, acoustically at "The Point" in Bryn Mawr, Pa. The people in the front row we're in tears. Two people came up to me afterward and told me they liked what I did. The host didn't didn't approve saying everything I played was one chord. I thought what is the point, if you aren't going to make a artistic statement. What good are all those chords when you aren't saying anything. I believe that music was to communicate a message, rather than kiss someone's ass.
I am not schooled at music, in fact I took two jazz classes at the University of the Arts for guitar, and I got a "C" in both. I was not comfortable learning the technical aspects of music, cause I had little use for them. I consider myself more of an artist, or a conceptualist, than a technician. To me creating music is evoking a feeling. I can't write unless I have that feeling. I can have all the chords in the world, but I can't put that number together unless the feeling comes.
I may not write anything more than what you see on this website, unless lightening strikes. I probably have more material I can record, but I am saving it for a special occasion. I have all the time in the world, but now I am lazy. Nothing matters.
Click to hear a sample!!!
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