Comic artist Al Davison (creator of critically-acclaimed The Spiral Cage and his new book, Hokusai: Demons) has dropped us a line about his campaign on the global funding platform Indiegogo to raise £4000 to print his new graphic novel, The Alchemist's Easel: A rough guide to drawing the unconscious.
"One morning in 1988, I woke up to find I'd gone blind," the Coventry-based artist and author explains. "At the time, I had no idea that it was temporary. I just knew that along with the blindness I was losing my visual memory, the ability to visualize my family's faces, even simple shapes, and that the partial paralysis I'd had as a result of being born with Spina-Bifida had returned.
"I was blind for three months on two occasions that year. My reaction to my visual memory fading was to continue to draw, even though I had no idea if the pen contained ink or whether the paper was blank or not. When my sight returned I began to analyze the drawings I'd produced, and what I'd leaned about tapping into the unconscious, perception, dreams, and drawing. I have been teaching art based on that knowledge for over twenty years.
"Now seems like a good time to put all that on paper," he continues. "But a typical 'how to draw' book doesn't seem appropriate, given the subject.
"Utilizing the techniques I have discovered to create the book is the only way to go. I've ended up with part autobiography part 'how to draw' and part dream showcase. I've taught everyone from school children to senior art students, from dream researchers to teenagers at risk and abuse survivors. I hope this book will allow me to continue reaching more and more people."
Al and his partner Maggie, who also run Astral Gypsy, a graphic novel, manga shop and art studio in Coventry, are committed to the idea of the book as an art object in itself, as well as the book as a medium for reaching as many people as possible.
"Our project combines both," says Al. "We want to produce a limited edition collectors item. 200 hardback copies with a quarter cloth spine, printed with vegetable based ink in an outsized format 31cm x 22cm printed by Calverts containing an original black and white drawing in each copy and priced at $49.00 All the proceeds of the limited edition will then used to print an affordable trade paperback edition."
Al has turned to Indiegogo to try to raise the funds to print the limited edition graphic novel - but if they can't generate the $6,498 required but do get enough money to print a trade paperback they will do that, and contributors will receive a copy of that plus artwork to the value of their contribution.
"If we fail to raise enough for even the trade edition, the money will go into a pot until we can explore other funding opportunities," says Al. "Contributors will receive artwork to the value of their contribution anything from a pencil sketch to a archival art print to a full color acrylic painting.
"Should we reach our goal, and have money left over after printing the trade edition, that money will go towards equipment to help run art courses for young people in Coventry."
• Read more about the project here: www.indiegogo.com/The-Alchemists-Easel
• Al Davison's Facebook Page
• Astral Gypsy web site: www.astralgypsy.com