Monday, September 14, 2015

This Old Desk

This old desk wasn't the most expensive item in the shop when new in the 1890s. In fact, it was mostly machine made with cheap pressed hardware and box nails holding the pigeon holes in the writing area. It was made out of red oak with dovetailed poplar drawer backs.

The story goes that during his teenage years, my father worked for a local farmer in Kingwood, New Jersey. This was the 1930s, and he labored hard for whatever they would give. He saw this desk was being discarded (or sold), and he bargained with the farmer to buy it. After buying it, he had to get it home... So he carried it for three miles.

He trudged past the property where the local New Jersey Bund was teaching children of German decent how to Goose-step and wave Nazi flags. He carried the desk until his back went out. This was the first of many times he would injure his back.

Dad went off to college in Chicago and Connecticut, with his desk stored at home. He ventured to Alaska, and eventually back to New Jersey to start his family. That same desk would become a fixture in our home as the children grew, eventually handed off to the older boys to help with their studies, landing in the boy's room in the basement - becoming my place to draw and paint.

One day in the 1970s, I got curious. The lion's head pull on the slant top was staring at me from my bed... What was he hiding? I found a screwdriver and pulled the lion from the oak writing surface. Inside I found a note!

"Congratulations, You have the same curiosity I had. It is March, 23 1965. The Gemini capsule is orbiting the earth. -- Mark Zdepski"

My older brother Mark had place a time capsule inside. I was opening it over 10 years later. He was in Alaska working as a Geologist on the oil pipeline.

This old desk got abused by my studio habits... Cadmium red and yellow smears, spills of India ink and multiple scars from Xacto knives. Each year getting trashed a bit more.

My younger brother James took the desk with him as he built his home and family. The desk found its way from the upstairs to the garage as it fell further into disrepair. Twenty-five years later I got the phone call.

"You want that old desk?"


So I traveled to the Delaware Valley and picked it up. I was able to shoehorn it into my Nissan to get it back to Virginia, but just barely.

I spent 2 days washing and scraping, gluing and screwing, lightly sanding and waxing to get it into a stabilized situation. This desk has little monetary value, but it does have family history. I've fixed it to the point that it should make it through another 50+ years of service.

Now serving my son Nikita, as he starts his first year of high school and adds his own stories to the desk.

and yes, I've added a time capsule of my own:

"For my father, Stephen Zdepski, who carried this desk three miles on his back. For my brother Mark, who wrote a time capsule about the Gemini Astronauts. For the years of service this desk gave me as I prepared for Art School, and for my son Nikita, as he begins High School. Much Love, Paul Zdepski - Sept 13, 2015"

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lecture: Printing Your Own Mini-Comic

SATURDAY, July 18 2015: 1 until 2: Printing Your Own Mini-Comic - I will be giving a talk on how to print your own Mini-Comic with both lo-tech and high-tech options. I'll even give you a link to a Word doc for an 8-page "Signature". You can just replace the panels with your own and print! Come to the Shenandoah Arts Council, 811 South Loudoun Street in Winchester VA to spend an hour with Paulie Z, winner of the 2011 SPACE prize for best Mini-Comic at the Small Press Expo!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Nixon, Ladd and Chicken Little

A tale of three friends: One of my best friends had portrait of Ex-President Richard Nixon hanging over his pillow above his bed - FULL SIZE knock-off of the official presidential portrait. I thought it strange, since it was the late 1970s, and public opinion was such that he was considered a disgraced president.

My other close friend had a poster of Cheryl Ladd stepping out of the water. This seemed more appropriate for a pubescent teenager with girls on the brain. Although quite unique, since the crowd was generally hanging the famous portrait of Farrah Fawcett in the Red One-Piece.

I can't remember anything on my walls beyond a map of the world, a few hotrod pictures and a 1968 blacklight Anti-war poster saying "Chicken Little Was Right".

One friend went on to become a police captain. The other became a successful salesman. I'm not sure how any of these images influenced the outcome of our trajectory.

I do know I haven't been very Pro-War.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Travels With Eric - Personalized Illustration

Travels With Eric, illustration by Paul Zdepski

Travels With Eric
Digital Illustration, 10" x 17"
This is a birthday present to an Medical Doctor who's a fly fisherman, born in Portland Maine, went to Tufts University, did his Medical Internship in San Francisco CA, taught at Harvard, loves Lake Winnisquam NH, has 6 kids and 3 grandkids, met his wife in Trenton NJ, lives in a small town in Virginia, loves gardening, has two dogs, one black, one white, loves traveling to Europe...
Won a bunch of swimming trophies, a past president of Trout Unlimited VA, loves bonefishing in Abaco, Bahamas...
oh, and he's very proud to be born Jewish (Star of David around Stork's neck)... I think I crammed it all in there.
Trying to keep the retro feel.

Another Satisfied Customer!!!

"Paul !!
The print was a huge hit. It made me look like a hero, and it was all you. This was an "all weekend" party and my brother in law said yesterday "my favorite part was the gift from you"
My nieces husband that doesn't really react much about anything went on and on about how great it was.
Thank you so much.
You are very talented and that was appreciated by my entire family in helping us present the most perfect gift.
Thanks again.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Monday, May 11, 2015


My buddy Michael (a Swede) has picked up an old prospector's term and made it his own. I catch him on the gamer site, Twitch, which streams live play from people all around the world. Michael is what I'd call a humble gamer. There is no pretense or trash talk about how great he is, or how awful someone else has played. He's just there to experience it all.

I am struck by the way he will open a game he has never played... no clue about what the "official play guide" says. He just starts going whole-hog. When he gets stuck or killed "TARNATIONS!" in a Swedish accent reverberates. His gaming channel is stocked with videos of him crashing and burning, but all the time laughing about it all. No attitude, just honest gaming fun. LanokirX is his name, and Tarnations! is his game.

American Heritage Dictionary TARNATION:
tar·na·tion (tär-nā′shən) New England & Southern US
The act of damning or the condition of being damned.
Used to express anger or annoyance.

As a disclosure, I play a couple of games, but not as a gamer. I'm just an old dude that loved them from the Colecovision days. I think twitch has opened my eyes to where the gaming culture and art form has grown.

As a point, I try not to spend too much time online, but having LanokirX steaming in the lower left-hand corner of my screen as I'm working on a project is like listening to a radio show. The guy cracks me up.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Carving the Bluesman

Bluesman in Cherry

Here is my next Automata - In honor of BB King, my Dad and all the older dudes banging away at their instruments. I'll post the action of the Strummer when I finish it.

Carving Station

Here's where I do it all - Outside, on two large Trashcans. I don't want the dust in my studio, so I let it fly around the neighborhood. My neighbors must hate me...