Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Time Flies

Always thought that would be a great name for a garage band, The Time Flies. Kinda SF, kinda horror, kinda mind bending. In any case, it does and this year it did. My to-do list hung over from February lies faded and incomplete taped to my desktop. It's November now and I don't know what happened. I had some serious plans. Our late winter illnesses spread out and engulfed the spring and then summer said a brief hello while zipping by on it's bike and well, here we are.

So I'm simply checking in to say I did, to send another 'there, ok?' into The Universe, a symbol of my waddling intentions.

I remain confounded about my role as shop keeper / gallerist. I need a serious leave of absence away from the public, I take things way too personally and, to boot, I require full time assistance here. I need a crack team of devoted interns to hoist up my flagging morale and to help me get my papers in order. papers like scraps and drawings and photos. My official papers, taxes and the like, are not the problem this time.

I think the problem lies in the fact that the heart of my collection is the art that I myself have made coupled with the papers and objects I consider sacred. These collections are in disarray. They are stacked here and there and I've lost control of them. Before i had a shop my special collections remained tight and tidy, i knew where everything was and I'd go through the boxes and organize.

Those boxes are now equivalent to several cubic meters of material and I feel at sea. With that, a tiny muffled cry into the wilderness, heard slightly over my stubborn reminders to myself to be grateful, I send my hopes and my desires.


Friday, February 26, 2016


With tyke down with a cold and me sneaking by with half of one myself, it didn't happen this week, the usual writing/drawing thing. I still somehow managed to stretch and meditate.
Last night I did so at four in the morning when I found myself suddenly awake and having trouble re-submerging. I got up and hit the rug with some attempted plow positions and general groin stretches (TMI ?). Then I sat on the bench and had an uneventful sit.
Nothing emerged, nothing to write about but here we are.
I recalled how as a teenager the best effects in meditation occurred after I was convinced that I couldn't handle any more of it. Now I'm awestruck when I can sit for ten minutes without a neck snap.
I've also dusted off the aura seeing exercises this week. I figure, I've seen bits before I can see more if I apply myself. Reading Light Emerging by Brennan certainly has it's effects on ones outlook.
I'm just rambling now, rambling my intentions to communicate and commit to being a full-on swinging new age guy. Peace.

Image from forthcoming zine from Toronto's Run Through and plunked here to make up for the ramble above.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Twice a week, very Tuesday and Thursday, I drop the tyke off at daycare and head for the third floor corner seat of the McGill library to pore over the Blue Book, which is my business strategy and enhanced lifestyle notebook, and to pound out an average of ten pages of minimalist comics, today I did twelve.

The Blue Book is where I've been detailing plans and thoughts for my business, Monastiraki, and my art and career in general. In blue ballpoint pen, I write down schedules, attainable goals, ambitions. All in a fairly clear and organized way, cross referencing entries and everything. I do this to warm up. I get into it. Sometimes I find some book on branding and read a page or two to bring the experience up a notch. This is new for me. My notebooks of yore have been havens for scribbles, stoner notes and doodles, all words hardly revisited let alone legible.

When that's done, I crack out a couple of mechanical pencils and my clipboard full of fresh 8.5 x 11 white sheets and start drawing minimal little heads, six per page, each with a few words, telling a simple story. I started this comic project last year and mostly spun my wheels, creating a frustrating stream of consciousness comic about the false starts of the creative process, all in real time.

Since the new year, since I've turned the corner, as they say, the comics are considerably less about humming and hawing and more about the thoughts and experiences I've been having rediscovering my path as a magician who is intent on authoring his life proactively. It's been liberating to say the least. I draw simple lines and write simple words in a way that feels like journaling and comic making. I thought today that if I were to make a zine of this stuff, which I will (for TCAF 2016), I may write as part of my bio on the back cover that the author has shown he can draw elsewhere, this is about something else.

I've often derided what I call 'Head-Coffee-Head' comics, comics that simply show the characters head in some panels, and a coffee cup or other mundane feature in other panels. Well folks, I've come a long way and I'm done for the time being busting my back on ornate guitar solos. I've searched for a way to write and draw quick stream of consciousness work and I've found it. It's one floating head and a few words in an open panel six times per page. I've got a nice stack of the stuff now and I like where it's going. Some of the pages, even when they are part of a sequence, seem to stand up on their own, like a serial, so I'm thinking hard of uploading them as a webcomic. I'll also make a series of 12 or so page zines, each with a simple cover design that repeats, kinda like King Cat.

I'm truly excited about all this stuff, Wr for writing and Dr for drawing, whether it's journal and notebook focus or simple comics. Stay tuned. I'm going to share this stuff.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Turned Corners

Shall I go out on a limb ? Sure, why not.

I've recently rediscovered that authorial authority is within my domain, ie: I'm writing my life.
I've known this for a while but a bout of mundanity, lasting maybe ten plus years has recently been sloughed off. What was revealed was how to continue scripting.
You see, since childhood I made up stories about who and what I was. This continued well into adolescence and adulthood. Somewhere along the way the narrative fell off, the story was dropped and consequently I was at sea. I knew I was somewhat lost but couldn't put my finger on it.
Late last year I started addressing my dilemma. Dissatisfaction with my job and my art led me to realize that I had to find a way to continue telling the story of my life in a way that I wanted it to be told and lived.
I had the past down. I knew what had happened. And I knew there was this vague interval where mythologizing myself was replaced with a pity party, bitterness, frustration, anger and all that.

Since December 2015 many factors have converged allowing me to see that I can resume storytelling, rebuild meaning and continue on my way towards a happy ending or even a to-be-continued.

I am religious. My religion, I remembered, was mine. What religion are you ? Mine. Period. It's my religion. I built it and I build it. My art once paid attention to it and now i'm learning to siphon my art back through my religiosity. Sure, I'm spiritual too if that makes anyone feel better.

I now openly admit to gnostic revelatory experience. I have on occasion been graced with understanding in the form of geometric models that speak volumes to my personal mythology. These models look a lot like the kind you get via the study of esoteric subjects in general. They are hard to word and often are benefitted by diagrams and drawn symbols. They are devices to know and to learn from.

They come at me and they come clearly and better when my head isn't in my ass lamenting my lost sense of meaning. Meaning has returned and it is imperative that momentum is sustained. Momentum will be sustained via regular somatic/spiritual work as well as regular writing and drawing.

Henceforth, and until the next revelatory moment, I will be working on the vertical as it seems I have the horizontal down pat. The voice told me this clear as day. The voice that was so much like my own voice but as if it knew something I didn't. I've been puzzled by how the horizontal becomes the vertical since forever. I've been looking for that crux left and right. I found it in the cresting nexus point of the now. That place where mystery becomes known and collects behind you in an ever widening cloak. It's slippery to write about but it's also head rattling, exhilarating and liberating.

I'll continue this ramble in future posts.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Asemic Scrawl

A close up of a pencil poem

Hold your pencil higher up so it feels like you have less control over where it would go if you pushed down and away while letting go. Add branches to the lines you've made. Twist the pencil with each slight release. See how and where it goes. Repeat.

The Hidden History of Mail-Art

As an occasional mail artist and a full-time collector of books and ephemera I came across this battered old copy of a Ripley's Believe It Or Not paperback. In it's yellowed pages was this account of the popularity of the brand.

Here is what the man himself, Robert Ripley had to say in regards to the scads of post he received as ringmaster of the sensational and the bizarre.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


I've expanded the pages on this blog, adding some CV material under a couple of headings (Books, Art Shows), elaborating a bit on my work speaking on and teaching art as well as telling the reader a little about myself in a new Bio section.

I'm unsure how these pages will grow, if their headings will change, if I'll forget to update them, etc.
I'd like to add a 'press' page but maybe Google is good for that. I'd love to add a collaborations page, documenting the fun I've had working with other artists. We'll see.

As it stands I'm trying to consolidate basic information onto this blog until I get my act togetherish enough to go for a dot com. That may not be necessary depending on how frustrating or not I find working with blogger.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the additions.

The author as a young man poses with the inimitable Sorrell Booke
at a Montreal auto show circa 1983

Making Faces

I can scribble at a frenetic pace. I launch into asemics and soon enough see faces. That place between calligraphy and cartooning becomes evident.

There is a certain collection of gestures I trace when drawing with a pencil or a ball point. Those tools allow a certain grind not feasible with felt tip markers or brush. The line coils out tightly into vertical drops and spins back up, jags along the page, spirals out, repeats. It happens over and over again. The above drawing is more an illustration of me trying to break up the gestures into discrete parts, otherwise I get a long 'run-on sentence' wobbling all over the paper.

Profiles and three quarter views of faces emerge, ugly rockers peeping out behind hairy helmets. These faces come easy, a scribbly dowsing, some lines suggest that nose, others that squint. There is a direct lineage between these faces and what used to be the alien bean motif I was obsessing over years ago, a voluptuous mango replete with fleshy folds. These are the raw cousins of those beasts, the brutish toss offs vs the anal line work of clean hard psych.

These guys are immediate and brooding. They satisfy me and prod me towards pure cartooning. They become finished if I have the patience. They become people, at least the masks that people carry.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Spiel on art

All my life I have been making art, mostly drawing. Nowadays, pushing 50, I consider myself an artist, true, but not necessarily a drawer. My drawing skills are limited. I can't draw you or your house. I mean I could give it a fair shot, even surprise myself, but that's not what I want to do, even remotely.

As someone who makes comics I've met and befriended artists that can draw you, your house, you as a centaur, your house on telescoping robot legs spanning the whole of a major city, tropical jungle, whatever. From any angle to boot. My own dear brother John Mavreas can do these very things. I cannot. Sometimes I wish I could but then again I also wish I could design playgrounds, do backflips, think of something to make for dinner, drive a car.

These artists impress me. They want to draw like their heroes draw. They cite golden age, silver age, adventure, fantasy artists. They cite renowned draftsmen and obsessive pop culture visionaries. I will never be counted among them. I realize more and more that the art I love to make is all project oriented. Sometimes it'll be drawing cute critters for a colouring book project (see a couple posts below), sometimes, collaging abstract bits of paper using a copier or old fashioned glue and scissors (see immediate post below). I also have conflated my collecting with my artistic practise, honouring certain found scraps as I honour my own creations. This has confused things a bit since I also run a curiosity shop.

My heroes are unnamed. I love lots of disparate work, lots of thinkers, writers, artists, lots of plain everyday working folk who do other things, like design parks or make dinners. Sure I love Frazetta and Kirby but not enough to become them if I could. I also love Schwitters, Debuffet and Klee. Maybe I could be 10 percent of those guys.

My art consists of some drawing, some collage, some writing. I do all these things freehand and I also do all these things on the computer. All these things also fit neatly into the pages of smaller or larger books. So, yeah, I like making books. But I don't only make books. I also make paintings.

I also make installations but I'm certainly not versed in the history or theory of installation art. I've read some art history, mostly dada, surrealism, pop and comics. I studied literature but my lit theory is abysmal. I make concrete and visual poetry but talk about that as if I was a parking lot rocker with mostly yelps and awed grunts as tools of communication.

Almost, because I also lead collaborative creative workshops that touch on all of the above. I've also yelped and grunted to rock music for years with my pals in a shitty practise room.

I needed to write a bit this afternoon, so here it is.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A visually poetic month

Recently I've had the good fortune of having three visual poetry mentions in three different places on the internet.

First off Nico Vassilakis invited me to participate in Singular Vispo :: First Encounters.
The challenge was to select one piece of instrumental visual poetry that got my personal ball rolling. Here is my effort:

Secondly, Amanda Earl asked me to participate in Brick Books celebration of Canadian concrete and visual poetry. I chose one piece from a series entitled New Value Black to showcase.

Thirdly Ian Whistle kindly featured the entire series mentioned above on his blog h&


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Colour Me All Of Us ! My new colouring book

I recently completed a colouring book. It's 20 pages long with an introductory poem about how fun and easy it is to colour things. Now I'm well aware of the craze but must say that this is not an adult colouring book. I mean adults can colour it of course but I made it with the thought of entertaining kids. Sure, there are odd jokes in it that maybe only big people would notice but it's meant for kids. the lines are thick and chunky an the drawings are mostly of bunny creatures being the silly cartoon characters that they are.

I drew the whole thing on photoshop, using a large brush or eraser and switching back and forth between black and white, zooming in to clean up lines, changing brush size to taper lines. The process is a little like whittling. I'd draw a thick black line and then use an equally thick white line to carve the first line down a bit making it wonky and uneven. It's a fun process, easy to do, with minor head aches.

After each drawing was done I'd plunk in my little name logo I designed for the project and then print out the page, I brought a stack of paper to the copy shop and had the whole thing printed on smooth white cardstock and then had it spiral bound, the intro page printed in hot pink. A first edition of 200.

I've been selling these things for 20 bucks, offering a decent set of 12 markers as part of the package.

The whole thing has been pleasant, well received by my friends and family and has provided for me a necessary respite away from the pressure I have recently given myself to produce my next graphic novel, which is so far nowhere to be seen. Getting back to simple and fun cartooning has been a breath of fresh air. sometimes i get so serious minded about my art practise that nothing gets done.

This got done. If you want one message and paypal me at yesmonastiraki @ and ask for shipping details. Thanks.

Maybe my favourite one. I like to think of this one as vintage European kids art.

Ice Cream Angel Tramp

Modern Puzzle face finger pointing that-a-way
Bold and brash critter hollering !!!!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015


In university in the late eighties / early nineties I majored in Eng. Lit. I wrote poems using words and they were like rock lyrics for fictional glam bands all about the street and nonsense like that. I also made poems like the one above. Here I used a rubber stamp spelling FIRST CLASS MAIL to create the fragments, edging the stamp just so. Very satisfying. 

Monday, July 06, 2015

And i'm backish ...

As any casual visitor to this blog could figure out in a couple of seconds, I haven't been around for a while. I aim to return with more regularity, which shouldn't be hard, except it probably will be.

As one could see from my list of occasional and defunct blogs on the right, I have been busy spreading myself incredibly thin in various ways all around the internet.
I have not bothered to include another that many blogs that were/are one-offs, jokes, conceptual things, collaborations, etc.
I may get around to blogging about those projects here, though.

This is my aim, to consolidate all personal artish type web blogs right here. Not only that, but I also aim to comment on what I post, and not simply put up un-aided images or stark text solo.
Will I let my tumblrs and other blogs dwindle and die ? Maybe. Who cares.

Now, the most regularly updated blog I run (co-run, actually) is my shop, Monastiraki's blog.
The shop also has a tumblr (occasional), an instagram (fun!) and all that facebook nonsense, of course.

The above image, chosen because it's kinda fresh, is a photo of some asemic scraps I wrote recently and tore up. I have hundreds of such things. I very much enjoy the practice of gestural handwriting-like drawing.

Ok. Let's see where this goes. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

My Graphic Score for Suoni Per Il Popolo

Lisa Gamble invited me to have a my graphic score interpreted by some amazing local musicians for the Suoni per il Popolo festivals opening party, SoundTracks.
My piece, all twelve minutes of it, was played by Alex St.Onge, Rebecca Foon, Gambletron, gmackrr and a young man named Gabriel.
It was a lovely evening !

suoni per il popolo

Friday, July 10, 2009

Over On Another Blog ....

I have been concentrating my web efforts on maintaining my Monastiraki blogspot.

The shop forces me to update regularly so if you find this place and my drawing blog waaaay too slow in terms of updates, please strut on over to where the air is clean with activity.

Monday, January 19, 2009

'Nuff Said


This little red book, a business manual dating from 1920, has been a source of constant delight for me.
It would have us believe that ALL the titans of industry used psychic powers as just one tool in their toolkit to success.
And I've wasted precious time trying to speak to dust mites and trees.

Some of the ALL CAPS page headers include :