Greg Stones

What does it mean to be an artist? Well, here’s a thought: WHO CARES? Not me, that’s for sure. You pick up a paint brush, you paint something, and BOOM! You’re an artist. Good for you.

Sure, I could have been a doctor, or a nuclear physicist, or possibly even a toll booth attendant, but a) I’m not that smart, and b) I have no commercially viable skills whatsoever. Except for painting. So here I am.

Born in Glocester, Rhode Island where a man is a man, a woman is a woman, and babies are sent into the forest at the age of six months to be raised and educated by squirrels, I eventually broke free and went to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. While at school, I majored in Studio Art, learned to paint photo-realistically, and was the cartoonist for the school paper. Two years after graduating, I was barely making a living painting pretty little landscapes, and it occurred to me: What if I combined my pretty little landscapes with my cartooning sensibilities? That’s when I started adding UFOs, aliens, and flying people to my work. Then came the penguins and the zombies. And the sock monkeys and the garden gnomes. And any other random thing that would pop into my head when I sat down to paint.

 A common question: “Greg Stones, where do you get your ideas?”

 From YO MOMMA, that’s where! BOOM! (I just dropped the mic and walked off the stage.)

 In all seriousness, I don’t know where the ideas come from. Although I do suspect that Red Bull is involved. I will have to look into it and get back to you. (Editor’s note: He will never get back to you.)

Here is my favorite thing about being an artist: I get to write and illustrate books. In 2012, Chronicle Books published my title Zombies Hate Stuff, and since then they have also published Penguins Hate Stuff, Zombies Have Issues, Sock Monkeys Have Issues, Ninjas Have Issues, and Garden Gnomes Have Issues. My books are in Barnes & Noble, on Amazon, and occasionally at used bookstores, which makes me very sad, because who didn’t want my book anymore?? (Probably someone who is dead inside, that's who. So there.)

Well, that’s all I have to say about being an artist and an author and a man who was raised by squirrels. (Little known fact: Acorns are DELICIOUS!)

- Greg Stones

 

On penguins...

 There are people who have traveled all the way to Antarctica to study penguins.  That is incredibly impressive to me, because it is, like, wicked cold down there, and the place is teeming with Yeti who will kill you as soon as look at you.  (Or at the very least the Yeti will rifle through your backpack when you aren’t looking and sell your stuff on eBay.  True story.)

Then there are the people who did not feel like going to Antarctica, so they paid their local aquarium $60 for a 60-minute penguin encounter.   That is also pretty darn cool, though if you think about it, one has to wear a wetsuit for that sort of thing, and very few people who are not David Hasselhoff look good in a wetsuit, so I have had no choice but to wipe the mental image of people who are not David Hasselhoff wearing wetsuits from my brain to keep from vomiting.  (For that matter, I have also had to wipe the mental image of David Hasselhoff from my brain to keep from vomiting.  I vomit easily.)

Then there’s me, Greg Stones, author, illustrator, and tall guy: I actually went to the aquarium to see sharks, stumbled upon the penguin exhibit by accident, realized that penguins smell like poo, and then quickly moved on.

What is to be gleaned from this final anecdote, which is not really an anecdote so much as it is a single sentence describing a trip I took to an aquarium back in 2002?  Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is a really awesome movie, and sharks are both super cool and super scary at the same time.

All that aside, I have created a new illustrated humor book entitled Penguins Hate Stuff.  (This is what we in the writing business call a “segue,” pronounced “awkward transition.”)  Have you ever wondered what penguins hate?  What they like?  What they really hate?  If so, then you spend way too much time thinking about penguins and should probably write a book about it.  Wait…that’s what I did!  How about that?

Here is the thing with penguins: Yes they are super cute, yes they smell like poo, but they also have a dark side, which is what I find hilarious.  Just this fact alone speaks volumes: Adélie penguins will stand at the ocean’s edge, push one of their comrades into the water to see if there are any predators lurking below the surface, and then the rest will dive in.  That’s cold, Adélie penguins.  Cold.  No wonder you live where you live.

This is not to say that the penguins in my new book are evil.  (With the exception of the penguins that are exposed to nuclear waste and become zombies, of course.  Zombified things are always jerks.)  Mostly my penguins are just trying to live their lives, and as is often the case in this world, humorously bad things happen.  Luckily for all involved, humorously good things also happen, which is why there is a whole chapter dedicated to things that penguins really like, such as hanging with Bigfoot (similar to a Yeti, but less murderous) and Lepidopterology (in a rare moment of non-laziness, I actually looked up and used a fancy word).  And because my editor is super smart, this book, though not necessarily a kids book, has been sculpted to be kid-friendly, because why should adults have all the penguin-related fun?  Thanks to my main man Steve Mockus, your child will not be tempted to set a snowman on fire, encourage a turtle to kill someone with a hatchet, nor become a mutant and use a penguin as a hand puppet.  (Unless they read this artist's statement, of course.  Then we’re all in trouble.)

I don’t want to keep you any longer, because you no doubt have this sudden need to run out and buy a copy of Penguins Hate Stuff, like, IMMEDIATELY, and who am I to stand in your way?

I’m just a guy who paints penguins.

 

On zombies...

Hello.  I am the guy who wrote and illustrated Zombies Hate Stuff.  And when I say "wrote," I mean that I avoided using any actual sentences and stretched 80 individual words into a 64 page book.  Perhaps it is also worth mentioning that my editor thought of four of those words.  So, let's do the math: Between 2008 and 2011, I wrote 76 words.  The chances of my winning a Pulitzer Prize this year are fairly slim.

On the bright side, I also painted 56 watercolor illustrations to accompany the text, and since a picture is worth, like, six BILLION words, you are probably now regretting the fact that you inwardly mocked my intellectual capacity while reading the preceding paragraph. 

By now you are surely asking, "Greg Stones, how do you know so much about zombies?  How do you know what they hate?  And why do you smell of urine?"  

First of all, leave my bed-wetting out of this.  Secondly, I have no idea what zombies actually hate, partially because they don't exist, but mostly because research makes me sleepy.

My history with the undead boils down to this: I saw Night of the Living Dead for the first time in 2004 and thought it was really cool, so I started adding zombies to my paintings.  Not gross, rotting ghouls like you see these days, but classy zombies who understand the importance of a good suit and tie.  (The small amount of research that I did do showed that nine out of ten victims prefer being eaten by a professional living corpse who looks the part, versus some slacker zombie who thinks that it is actually okay to wear pajama pants in public.)  Getting back to my incredibly enthralling artistic evolution: first I painted lone zombies wandering through pretty landscapes, then I unleashed the walking dead on a series of unsuspecting penguins, and finally I turned the ghouls against the entire world in a series of pieces entitled "Zombies Hate..." whatever.  Eventually it occurred to me to organize all these random zombie hatreds into a book.  

More imagined questions from my audience: 

Will this book help us survive a zombie apocalypse?

Yes, obviously.  If you know that zombies hate clowns, you will not become a clown, with the added bonus that there will be one less clown in the world.  Based on this fact alone, Zombies Hate Stuff  benefits the entire planet.

 Should this book become a huge success, how soon will you begin to display diva-like behavior?

 Next Thursday.

And so concludes my artist's statement.

  

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