I originally completed this piece while I was still figuring out the transition between the tour blog and the new format (if you can call it that), so I thought I’d post it now. 🙂
The concept for piece has been mulling around in my brain for many months, but several attempts at execution have fallen flat. Finally I managed to create something I was happy with, mostly to do with a lovely shot taken by Tara at one of the Depeche Mode shows this summer, and my attempts to improve my figure drawing skills.
The hardest thing about drawing a serious interpretation of any real person, living or dead, is that I don’t like being generic. It’s very important to me that I capture the essence of my subject in question – their particular features and recognizable traits. Simply drawing a generic anime guy with black-brown hair and tattoos just doesn’t do him justice. However, it all depends on the purpose of a piece – obviously a chibi or sketch done for fun is just that.
Anyway, as a subject dear to my heart, this piece is laden with symbolism.. The background needed elements and details, and it’s my philosophy that most of the time, if you need to add elements to a piece, it enhances the value and meaning if you can tie in a secret code story. If you’re not interested in such details, I’d stop reading. 😉
Martin Gore would say “You people think too much.” But I say, in telling a meaningful story, the more thought put into it the better! And really, most of these ideas came quite naturally.
The center piece is obvious: David Gahan is the lead singer of Depeche Mode. Though he is wholly important/special outside this role, it’s how I “know” him. Artists in the thrall of performance are letting their creative spirits fly, and David certainly does so. I wanted the strength and elegance of his live performance to be captured well (why I struggled with the pose for so long).
Wings: Well, you know it might be a pretty generic thing in the DM fanart community, but I think there’s good reason. A great performer/artist is transcendental – music is a special thing that can cut straight through to our core being despite our personal barriers. To me, wings are typically a symbol of spiritual power, and there are very few things in this world that move the spirit as musicians do.
Cats: Harkening back to a nickname David was given in the 90s, during his dark period. Paramedics had seen him so many times they started calling him “The Cat.” When asked about it after he had sobered up, he said “the cat” was on his left shoulder all the time. This was quite a while ago, but the image of a looming reminder has always stuck in my mind, not to mention the fact that David has survived four life-threatening experiences reinforces the image.
The Gemstones: On that note, there are nine jewels (nine lives), of which four are broken. One for each experience: heart attack (1993), lacerated wrists (1995), overdose, in which he did die for two minutes (1996), bladder cancer (2009).
The Lotus Flowers: Renewal and progress, making oneself better than where one started. Lotus flowers seed in mud and murky water, but grow into the light to become something beautiful. This could be taken in two ways for David. One is his path from a troubled childhood in Basildon (juvenile crime, family problems) to becoming a successful musician, bringing joy to millions of people. The second would be that David today would not be who he was without the problems he went through in the 90s – a very dark and sad period, but he learned a lot about life and love and has been a better person for it ever since.
The clock: Tying in with the metaphors of time and life. It’s set to 1:01 (101 being a significant moment of his career) but you cant really see it since his head is there.
Anyway, that’s it! You get major props if you read all this (and don’t think worse of me for it)!
Copyright Usaku/Leliel 2009.
Copic Marker, Sakura Micron, Adobe Illustrator, Gelly Roll white
Pose borrowed from a photo by Tara Salt.