About 8 years ago my lovely wife, Michelle and I were debating on what to watch on TV before bed. We stopped on a channel that I never stopped on, channel 55. This was a channel that I avoided at all cost, so much so that if I was watching TV with Michelle and we were flipping stations, I would stop on channel 54, slyly glance over at her to see if she was paying attention, and type in channel 56 just so she wouldn't catch a glimpse of what was on because I knew if she did, we'd be stuck watching it for the next 90 minutes. That channel was TCM. Turner Classic Movies.
Now, I've been an avid movie watcher my entire life. I grew up in the '80s and I still remember the beautiful day when my dad brought home our first VCR. It was a life changer for me. My family was a bit on the conservative side so I never saw the "really good stuff" at home on videotape and we never had the movie channels, but I definitely got them in at my buddies' houses. I was hooked. Just getting a taste of the Goonies, Freddie Krueger and Big Trouble in Little China was a glorious event. I remained a fanatic through jr. high and high school but it was in a college art class that my teacher introduced me to Taxi Driver. I was struggling to achieve a dark and brooding atmosphere for a project I had been working on and he told me to check out the Martin Scorsese masterpiece. After one viewing, the obsession with movies grew even stronger.
All of that being said, I had one (or several I would soon find out) glaring movie watching deterrent. I HATED black and white movies. I could not stand them. They bored me to tears. That is, until the day that I forgot to stop on channel 54 and type in channel 56 and we ended up on channel 55, Turner Classic Movies. The movie was Topper, a very early Cary Grant comedy. I was in agony, furious with myself for forgetting to skip the channel. To make it worse, Michelle was dying with laughter. She grew up watching all of these old movies and had begged me for years to watch some of them with her. But I was stubborn and always resisted. In between her bouts of laughter she once again pleaded with me to just watch for a few minutes but instead I acted like a big baby. I almost just left the room all together, but instead I took a small break from pouting to take a super quick glimpse of the black and white boringness that was on my screen. It was in those few fleeting moments that the most charming man to ever live, Cary Grant, changed my movie life one more time. I fell in love. Not with Grant, although he was quite handsome, but with movies, only this time it was on a whole new level.
A Passion for Cinema
That was it. That was all it took. 5 minutes of Cary Grant and I was all in. I soon started to go through the cable "guide" every week and record every single black and white classic on channel 55 that I could find. I filled my Netflix queue with every movie from AFI's top 100. When I was done with that I hit IMDB's ever changing top 250. I grabbed every foreign movie from Bergman to Kurosawa that was available on DVD (I even bought a couple of old VHS movies and dug out my old VCR to view a couple of hard to find titles).
I was addicted to movies. After about 5 years I was watching every single movie I could find no matter how good or bad they were. I hit up the Hammer Horror collection. I did hundreds of samurai movies. Kung fu. 1950s sci fi B movies. Giallo Italian Horror flicks. Every silent movie I could find. I destroyed the Criterion Collection and Janus films. And on and on and on and on. I could not be stopped. Until... my lovely wife had a little baby girl.
Becoming a Father
That day I fell in love with a different kind of obsession. Being a father. It was incredible, amazing, life changing, etc... everyone on the planet already knows all of this and is probably sick of hearing it so I won't bore you with the details. But, hidden away in my basement closet, in my Netflix queue that now didn't change for months, and on the once again lonely channel 55 were my beloved movies. They were a distant memory. Something that made me sad to think about, rather than happy. I could have made a movie about how much I missed movies. They were out of my life. Until... I decided to take my love of art, my new found life of fatherhood, and my lust for cinema and mash them all together.
The Birth of Creatureland Studio
I started a small side project where I would take children's crayon and finger painting drawings and bring them to life with color, depth and animated-photoshopped glory. I called it "Creatureland Studio" and had an absolute blast bringing these little masterpieces to life. My main passion with this was having children draw famous movie characters, scenes and/or movie posters. Seeing how their 5-year-old brains interpreted Batman, The Life Aquatic or Shaun of the Dead was as amazing to me as hilarious. (Important note: I never had the children watch such movies, but rather just look at the movie posters with the parent's permission. Unless it was a kid's movie.) And re-creating them was a pure bliss. My own daughter was only 2, and her drawings, although adorable, made absolutely no sense, so I began to ask everyone I knew with a small child to have them draw their favorite movies for me.
I received little scribbled gems for movies from The Little Mermaid to Hot Fuzz to 12 Angry Men. I loved it. I had a grand goal to do this in every spare minute of every day, (after working all day and playing with the wee one that is), as long as the submissions kept coming in. Then, that little sweet child of mine changed everything again. She started to talk. And she started to say some really really funny stuff. And we started to say some really funny stuff back to her. And a new idea began to brew in my head.
The Birth of Spaghetti Toes
I started "Spaghetti Toes" as a fun idea to illustrate the ridiculous things heard in my house and give them to my wife for a Mother's Day present. I did four prints of these quotes by my then 2-year-old, and wrapped them up with a cover and a dedication page and handed them to my wife like an unfinished manuscript. She loved it. Shortly after, I threw together a Facebook page and a Tumblr account and filled it with my family's quotes and artwork.
The best part is that my now, 3-year-old girl also has a movie obsession which has led to a ton of her quotes including and/or incorporating Batman, Cinderella, Princesses, Zombies and lest we forget her boyfriend, Spider-Man. She constantly talks about her on-again off-again relationship with Spidey. She's always comparing me to Disney Princesses and incorporating movie characters into her eating, sleeping and pooping patterns and I instantly jot the quotes down and turn them into artwork as fast as I can.
Since starting the Spaghetti Toes Facebook and Tumblr pages my life has changed one more time. I have gained an amazing following on social media and have sold hundreds of custom prints to parents all over the globe who send me their children's funny quotes. I've worked with some incredible companies and have numerous projects on the horizon. I've been blessed my entire life with a talent that was always encouraged by everyone I hold dear to me. I've somehow managed to take 3 very important aspects of my life... my family, my artwork and movies and turn it into something that people enjoy. And to think, if I had simply remembered to skip channel 55 all those years ago, I may have missed out on a whole lot of really great movies and more importantly, an opportunity to create a ton of fun artwork and put together a collaboration that my daughter and I will share forever.
If you are interested in seeing more work or requesting custom artwork please see below.
You can view my Spaghetti Toes Facebook Page here.
You can see my work for Spaghetti Toes at my Tumbr Page here.
You can order your own custom quote and several existing Spaghetti Toes Prints here.
Sadly, my passion for Creatureland Studio and creating artwork based on children's drawings has been put on hiatus but you can view all of my prints at my Tumblr here.
You can also see my Creatureland Studio Facebook page here.