It’s that time of the quarter. I’m grouchy, perpetually dehydrated, and convinced that it’s too cold outside for life. (This California girl just can’t cope!) Between work, interning, writing papers, trying to keep myself at least half-way nourished, making sure my parents know I’m still functioning — not to mention figuring out my calling in life — there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to do anything creative.
That’s why people like Matt Kish amaze me. One day, a friend of Matt’s mentioned one of his favourite books, Moby-Dick. “I honestly consider Moby-Dick to be the greatest novel ever written,” Kish wrote on his blog. Inspired by this mention of the novel, Kish decided to create an illustration for every page of Moby-Dick. “I’ll try to do one a day, but we’ll see,” he said.
We should just pause here for a moment. I don’t know if you’ve ever read Moby-Dick. But if you have, then you know that the novel seems to weigh about the same as, well, a whale. It’s easily a 500+ page novel — in small print. It’s also notorious for its sometimes technical and not-so-fascinating descriptions of the whaling trade.
But Matt simply loved Moby-Dick, and he loved images. He had no formal art education. He wasn’t an artist by trade. But he wanted to do an illustration for every page of Moby-Dick... And why not?
The result is a fascinating project. Understandably, Matt didn’t complete one piece a day. He worked on the project from August 6, 2009 to January 29, 2011, but completed the work. Below are some of my favorites.
Title: It was nearly six o’clock, but only grey imperfect misty dawn, when we drew nigh the wharf.
(colored pencil on found paper)
Title: …Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it.
(acryclic paint and ink on found paper)
Title: His firm lips met like the lips of a vice; the Delta of his forehead’s veins swelled like overladen brooks; in his very sleep, his ringing cry ran through the vaulted hull, Stern all! the White Whale spouts thick blood!
(acrylic paint and ink on found paper)
Title: "… but base little Pip, he died a coward; died all a’shiver; — out upon Pip! Hark ye; if ye find Pip, tell all the Antilles he’s a runaway; a coward, a coward, a coward! Tell them he jumped from a whale-boat! I’d never beat my tambourine over base Pip, and hail him General, if he were once more dying here. No, no! shame upon all cowards — shame upon them! Let ‘em go drown like Pip, that jumped from a whale-boat. Shame! shame!"
(ink on watercolor paper)
Some days, the illustrations look a bit awkward, childlike even. I’m sure that some days, Matt felt rushed, or uncertain. Other days though, you can see Matt’s growth as an artist and the fruits of his dedication and focus on his project.
So on days when life just seems too overwhelming, remember the artist who tackled the white whale — and was better off for it. Whether you end up pursuing your art (or writing) professionally, or just continue to tinker for the rest of your days, I believe that you will be richly rewarded. I for one, can’t wait to find a white whale of my own to pursue.
-Jessica Beebe, Lingua Editor-in-Chief
You can read more about Matt and his project on his blog.
PS: And just a reminder! Today is our fall zine release party! You’ll be able to grab a free copy of our fall zine, which features art, poetry, and prose from the cream-of-the-crop in the SPU community. There will be sweets and hot drinks, so make sure you stop by for a little time to relax.