1985, living in Portsmouth NH, working for Sameul Weiser Inc., book publisher/distributor, relocated from NYC to Cape Neddick ME.
Early in the winter of ’85 Betty Lundsted Weiser apprised me of the fact that she had volunteered our office’s design services – i.e. myself – to help a friend, fellow astrologer Wendy Ashman, by designing a poster and directory promoting an upcoming 3-day weekend conference titled Psyche – The Fabric of Human Perception, scheduled to take place at the University of Southern Maine in Portland that spring. In preparation for that, Wendy drove down to Cape Neddick from Portland one afternoon to conference with both Betty and myself about the project. We got along famously, and were soon tossing around ideas for the project, informed by the economically-dictated limitation of printing only a single color – black – on white stock for both the poster and the multi-page directory.
Dance with your Dragons was the name Wendy and her planning committee had selected for Saturday night’s post-dinner event; levity after a long day of seminars dealing with a number of favorite New Age study topics: Anthropology, Art, Astrology, Creativity, Dance, Dreamwork, The Goddess, Guided Imagery, Massage, Meditation, Native American Traditions, Psychic Development, Sufi Dancing, Tai Chi Chuan, and more. The image of Dancing with your Dragon – learning to deal creatively with your own personal ‘dark’ side – so stuck in my head that I immediately put an idea to paper, which
became the basis of the concept drawing above. I submitted this to Betty expecting the idea to be nixed, but she was actually amused by the drawing, so we forwarded it to Wendy. After conferring with her planning committee, Wendy let us know that as much as she personally ‘loved’ my first idea, the committee felt that the female figure really needed to be clothed. So I went back to the drawing board, and came up with the second, more developed drawing seen at left. In the process I transformed the leering look on the face of the dragon, replacing it with a much more entreating expression that looks like
he’s pleading for attention rather than demanding it of Psyche. So much for being a dragon!
The altered drawing concept was eventually approved by the committee, so I proceeded to creating final line art. A few weeks later we received our first copies of the printed 11″ x 17″ poster, seen at left. I heard afterwards that there was one dissenting voice in particular on the committee who wished the figure of Psyche hadn’t looked quite so much like Cheryl Tiegs, one of the most popular fashion models of the day.
In preparing this posting, I had to scan the three images that are grouped together at the top of this posting. Because I’ve always liked my original concept drawing best of all, I decided to enhance it, by cleaning up and sharpening the art – one of the great benefits of Photoshop. The nude figure is reminiscent of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, which I had pastiched in the color illustration for Cosmic Trigger Volume 2, featured in a recent posting. So pleased was I with the enhancement that I decided to turn it into a humorous cartoon, expressing what the original drawing had been intended to say.
And speaking of dragons, here’s one that was originally created as b&w line art for one of the covers designed for Weiser’s in 1978, while we were still in NYC. Once I moved to Philadelphia in the late ’80s, I took the original line art and Aldenized it in full glorious color. Cheers!