Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bull Skull with horns

Movie prop, housewarming present, something to be brandished menacingly by the lead singer in your black metal band—a bull skull is surprisingly versatile item.  Use it as a hummus dish at your next party.  Hang it on your wall for some instant Texas cred.  Or cash it in for $85 and get on with your life.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


At the Pennysaver a little spiritual inspiration can be got for free, which is exactly as it should be.  Take that, dollar stores everywhere!

Monday, September 2, 2013

bone china thimbles

Collectible,  (100) available, case
included, $75 all.

Previous to seeing this listing I was not aware of the thimble's potential as a collectible. Having done the requisite Google image browsing, I appreciate the range of subject matter that graces these little cylindrical treasures. There’s the expected flowers and horses and birds and dogs and cats and British Royals and tourist locations, but also (and this is a partial list) playing cards, The King and I, Loretta Lynn, Heinz Baked beans, centaurs, the main characters from Finding Nemo, Beyonce, Monopoly, creepy clowns, the Spice Girls, Dirty Dancing, the Beatles, Abraham Lincoln, and my all-time favorite, a thimble adorned with a picture of a bunch of thimbles. The thimble is truly a blank canvas upon which you can project all of your pop culture and animal dreams.  In that spirit, I decided to leave mine blank. 

For no particular reason, I would also like to point out that I found one depiction of Guy Gibson on a bone china thimble that bears some resemblance to Bob Dobbs, purported founder of the Church of the Subgenius. Conspiracy?  Meaningless coincidence?  A little of both?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Free: (2) Bowling Balls

I am curious as to why so many quantities printed in Pennysaver ads are in parentheses.  So far two of the drawings I've done feature this idiosyncratic punctuation and there are, as you might guess, more to come.  Also, who knew you could get a couple of bowling balls for the low, low price of nada?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Neighborhood News

Perhaps an introduction is in order:

Welcome, curiosity seeker/lurker/distant relative, to Or Best Offer.  This blog will chronicle a series of drawings I’m doing based on listings I find in the Pennysaver, a.k.a. the circular of oddball free-verse classifieds that appears in my mailbox each week, and with which I have a mild but persistent obsession.

Now you might have questions such as “what is the allure of the Pennysaver?” and “are you drawing the listing or what’s described in the listing?” and “this sounds like a lot of horseshit, if you ask me.”  To which I would probably reply, “it’s complicated,” and “some combination of the two,” and “that’s not a question, chief.” And if you pressed me further, and you seemed genuinely interested, and maybe plied me with a couple of free drinks, I’d oblige you with some background, like I’m about to do right now, even though you didn’t buy me any drinks, you cheapskate:

In 2011 I decided to draw every front page of the LA Times for an entire year (the results of which can be seen at Mixed Media Daily ).  That project proved to be a great incubator for a whole host of themes—our relationship to the media we consume, our waning love affair with paper/physical goods, typography, advertising, and so on. It was great fun, but inevitably it had to end. And so, after a year of late nights and countless worn-down Mono 2Bs, my inky muse and I parted ways. 

Of course finishing the project did not mean that I was finished with the ideas that had sprouted from its loamy expanse. I found myself jonesing for another media source that would provide me with a bumper crop of au courant text that I could harvest, grist I would mill into more drawings and more strangely elaborate farming metaphors.

Let’s cut to my art materials cabinet. In there, flattened under a pad of tracing paper that I never seem to find any use for, is a small stack of Pennysavers in which I have highlighted any listing that caught my fancy because of the way it was written, or because the item offered was intriguing (e.g., “For Sale: Bull Skull”), or because of some cryptic possibility that would no doubt reveal itself to me if I held onto it (a rationalization that is not, I imagine, dissimilar to that of the compulsive hoarder).   

Soon enough I put two and two together and concluded that those little text blocks in the Pennysaver were written to 1) make you visualize something, and 2) make you desire the thing visualized. And there’s a weird intimacy in the deal: you are being invited to inspect a tiny detail of a person’s life, a detail on which that person has made a judgment (set a price). And you, the prospective buyer, are being asked to validate their assessment (agree to their price). It’s a commercial transaction, but it's something more as well. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it was enough to get me started; the Pennysaver’s endless lists of want and need were making my pencil move (settle down, Freudians…). And really, when presented with an opportunity to dream up 60 potted cacti (an entry I have highlighted but not yet tackled) I cannot in good conscience say “no.”

I’ll be posting outcomes here from time to time.  I might throw in some commentary occasionally.  And, if I ever come across a Pennysaver listing that I feel compelled to own (I have once or twice), and if I act on that desire (I have not yet), I’ll tell you all about it.