"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Jessie, a graphic and product design major at the School of Visual Arts, admits (with a smile) to papering her walls with creations by some of her favorite artists, and in some cases, instructors. The work serves as Jessie’s daily dose of inspiration, and prompted her to immortalize her heroes on paper.
These simple ink drawings made me smile. And the portrait of Paula Scher ― also one of my heroes ― is kind of genius. But Jessie’s earnest humor is what captivated me more than anything.
“My impression of Steve Heller,” she says, “is that cute man who is so passionate about what he does. His entire look is adorable.” I concur, and was even able to get somewhat of a thumb’s up from the man himself (“She nailed … my ears.”).
The length of time spent on each portrait is sometimes based on how well Jessie knows her subjects. She is fortunate to have been selected for an honors class with no less than Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar. Of the storied duo, Jessie comments, “They’re both so clever, and their partnership is heartwarming. They’ve achieved together, but also have tremendous names for themselves individually. There’s an interesting balance to their partnership that I get to witness each week, and that’s what made their portraits come pretty freely. As an instructor, Tom is nice and yet strict, and Ivan is the type of creative person who ponders several directions as he finds his ideas. It seems like a wonderful balance filled with mutual respect.”
“I don’t know Paul Sahre,” Jessie says, “but I’ve always heard about him. He seems like an edgy, contemporary designer. It took awhile to capture him because I don’t have the same personal experience with him as some of my other heroes.”
“When I think of Milton Glaser, bright colorful patterns come to mind, she continues, “so that one was easy.”
Jessie’s focusing next on important designing women (Louise Fili, for example, not TV’s Delta Burke). And she’s pondering some of the up-and-coming female designers. “There are women who are making an impact right out of the gate, so I’ve got my work cut out for me,” she says with a smile.
What to do with Jessie’s gang? A blog? A book? A hat? A brooch? A pterodactyl?
Copyright F+W Media Inc. 2012.
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Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)
Salon is proud to feature content from Imprint, the fastest-growing design community on the web. Brought to you by Print magazine, America's oldest and most trusted design voice, Imprint features some of the biggest names in the industry covering visual culture from every angle. Imprint
advances and expands the design conversation, providing fresh daily content to the community (and now to salon.com!), sparking conversation, competition, criticism, and passion among its members.