I started this project about a year ago with the goal of reading each of Vonnegut's fourteen novels. It took just a few pages of that first book to be taken aback by all of the wonderful visuals his words created. I started bookmarking every page that had something I wanted to illustrate. By the time I reached the end, the book had become completely dog-eared. I found Vonnegut's prose colorful and illustrative, yet beautifully simple. I used my go-to black Sharpie to try to somehow capture that simplicity as best I could (I use the term "simple" here as in "frank" or "no frills").
As the project went on I felt that my style paired with his words effortlessly for which I was thankful (and super relieved). I was truly enjoying it. I smile as I write this because this past year of working on the project was actually the hardest year of my life so far. There was a loss of a family member, a serious family member illness, and a move to name just a few. Vonnegut and his words were always a constant, though. I'd pick Vonnegut up while waiting at the hospital. I'd pick him up while waiting to change my address at the DMV. I'd pick him up during any sort of downtime and I'd read and realize that all of these heavy things we go through are just "life". It's that simple. And Vonnegut is able to narrate some of the heaviest things a character can go through in an appreciative, humorous, and forward way. I'd read thankfully and draw simply.
I talked to a lot of people about the project and I remember a couple of folks commenting that they had to stop reading Vonnegut because he was "too depressing". My jaw dropped. I was in awe of that response. After the bulk of the project and the bulk of "life" I had gone through in the last year, I couldn't imagine how Vonnegut could be anything but a relief. His quotes are words to live by, really. I would read my way to a famous one and grin. "So it goes" hit home and "goddammit you've got to be kind" has always been a staple in our house. I was also able to find some new favorites that aren't necessarily on a lot of the more popular lists of Vonnegut quotes. "Strong stuff" is a good one. "Hup alley oop whoops" is one I will keep and put on my wall as it was the first line responsible for me actually laughing out loud while reading. The story behind the "hup" quote is comical but - even more - it's genius. It's Vonnegut's commentary on life. He's the only person I've ever found that can illustrate the complicated bits of life with nothing more than a handful of silly words... If that's not a life-lesson, I'm not sure what is....
I am traveling to Indianapolis to celebrate the anniversary of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library this month. I'm honored to be showing the project during such a wonderful occasion. I have over 20 illustrations to show. I can't wait! Visit the library website here.