For decades, Massachusetts-based artist Ed Emberley has offered hope to people who feel completely talentless in the visual arts. His books break down popular subjects such as animals, trucks, monsters and the like into easily copied illustrations.
Emberley’s colorful cartoons have influenced artists all over the world. Now five of them pay tribute to the 78-year-old artist with giant paintings on display at the Scion gallery in Culver City, starting July 17.
Ed Emberley is in town for the event. He stopped by our studios and spoke with KPCC’s Alex Cohen.
Emberey says he remembers the exact moment his career as an artist began.
"I was in the first grade, Ms. Dance was my teacher and one day I was sitting in class and had drawn a ship, a very simple ship with smoke stacks," he says. "And Ms. Dance walked up behind me and said, 'Mmm. Nice ship.' and that was it!"
From that moment, Emberley says, he's never wavered from the goal of becoming an artist.
In books like "Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals" and "Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Weirdos," users copy a series of shapes to make colorful illustrations. Emberley says basic shapes like circles, lines, squares and triangles can be used like an alphabet.
"Our brain is able to take 26 characters together and make the Bible and Shakespere and the dictionary with just those 26 letters arranged and rearranged," he says, adding that all you need to know is how to draw the shapes and he'll teach you how to put them together.
"I figured the point of the drawing system is that you not necessarily be trained to become an artist but it adds to your feeling of success," Emberley says. "The remark I get most often from people who use the book... what they remember is the book made them feel good."
In the exhibit "Ed Emberley and Friends" at the Scion Gallery in Culver City, Ed Emberley displays his original 1970s mockups alongside five grown-up artists who were influenced by him.
Curated by Caleb Neelon, the exhibition features artists include Raul Gonzalez, Seonna Hong, Matt Leines, Christopher Kline and Saelee Oh.
Each artist will create a six-foot-by-six-foot wood panel that is a mash-up of their own style and that of Ed Emberley's instructional drawing books. The tribute paintings will be exhibited alongside examples of each artist's individual work. After the show, each of the large painted panels will be donated for long-term display in children's hospitals around the United States.
Take a sneak peak:
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 17, 2010 | 7-10pm