The next installment in the mock GQ covers is the Lushlife cover!
Linked here is the original Lushlife post if you missed it.
And here’s what it would look in the real life.
Shawn Cuni is one of the coolest people you could ever know. I had the pleasure of being his roommate for a while and respect him as a person and a creative. Few people are as neat and organized, and few people have his potential.
Check out his instagram @psjc
and the website on flickr Shawn Cuni
All of that said his street fashion is what we are focusing on today. You might think ‘hipster’ upon meeting him- at least that is what comes to my mind- then you find out his love for PBR and Radiohead and you know that’s probably a good assessment. During a night of chilling on the porch I snapped a few photos and brought them home to paint.
I started this painting by pasting pages from an old book onto hardboard with matte medium.
Then I proceeded to sketch out the basic forms with a colored pencil. After that I go over the lines with waterproof india-ink.
After that dries I pool in washes of watercolor and add highlights with white acrylic paint.
Finally I add shadows and washes of other colors to bring out the form and it’s complete!
In High School I fell in love with the works of Edgar Allen Poe. I realize that’s not particularly unique as many high schoolers identify with his sort of reality. Somewhere in me that same sort of intrigue exists. The vultures are testament to Poe’s influence on me. To look at things that are dark and relay them to the world. And the hope that is within that is not to shock people, but to engage people and challenge culture.
I was writing a Poe-esque fiction to follow along my vulture theme and to co-habit a space with this image above. Like Poe I wanted to create a space that drew the audience out of the words and into the story. To feel the talons of the bird, and smell the stench dripping from the end of its face. Unlike Poe I have a tendency to be contrived and reaching. Poe had an ability to over embellish and yet simply tell his story.
Vultures are shadows in the sky. Searching for the dead. Coveting the diseased.
Vultures are death-eaters and life-bringers.
Think about the the thoughts that are associated with the imagery and name of vultures.
Are they majestic?
Are they noble?
Are they beautiful?
It is common to view vultures with contempt. They are symbols of death. How could they not be with their writhing, red, balding heads. The sunken eyes are the vision of their teetering between the living and dead. When there is a vulture over-head then death is near-by. What high praise can be given to a bird that seeks out death?
John Mayer expresses this view plainly in his characterization of vultures in the aptly titled track ‘Vultures.’
All of these vultures hiding
Right outside my door
I hear them whisperin
They’re tryin to ride it out
Cause they’ve never gone this long
Without a kill before
I might just go ahead and posit another thought here. Perhaps the nature of vultures is not about death, but about life?
It is about more than the vital role that they play in the environment. Vultures represent a specific moment in the transitional times of life. Their lives transcend the simple but lead us to the sublime. In certain cultures the vulture is revered. It is called a death-eater, a cleanser, a purifier. Imagine the beauty of life. Imagine a life being lived and filled with the joy of existence. When that joy has turned then death enters. Note that this is not when the vulture enters. Death takes what it wants and leaves nothing but a token of what once had lived. In the midst of the tragedy of death comes the vulture to eat what death has left behind. In this death the vulture finds life. The vulture redeems the act of death to an act of life.
The vulture’s life is all about redemption!
The vulture’s life is about renewal!
Ponder that idea. Wrestle with a new understanding.
As I was peering out the window of the rickety old Taurus I inherited from my parents I saw a shadow circling in the air. With my poor vision it was hard to make out what exactly it was and came to the conclusion that it must be some sort of carrion eating scavenger. Its movement in the sky was nothing less than graceful. Wondering at the fowl creature’s beauty several thoughts crossed my mind. Thoughts of ravaged carcasses, thoughts of rotting flesh being torn from the bone, thoughts of a rickety old bird with sunken red eyes and an 80 year old man’s scalp huddled in shadow, reaping death’s reward.
What is it about vultures that invoke such thoughts as ‘reaping death’s reward?’ I think back to Disney’s Snow White, toward the end of the movie and the portrayal of vultures. There is nothing endearing about these birds. They are framed in greed and lust for death. As the Queen falls to her death we are comforted by the justice of fowl loathsome animals descending to devour a fowl and loathsome being. And even from the first shot of the vultures’ piercing eyes, crooked necks and stormy sky debut we are begged to have an unease about them.
I like Disney’s portrayal of vultures in the Jungle Book much better. Perhaps they are not quite endearing characters but they have an attractive appeal that is lost on such- dare I say- noble birds. And I will not go as far as to say that they will help you tie a burning branch to the tail of a lion, but they certainly represent something more honest about the ideal of a vulture.
As I drove on down the highway I wondered if there really was something dead nearby. I wondered how it might have died. I wondered if it was something that had to happen. I wondered where my exit was.