Behind the Art series

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These posts are part of a series that will talk about various aspects of my art and design work.

Behind the Bars illustration (2005):

Sometimes you just never know where your artwork will end up.

I drew this simple illustration in 2005 for the book Reproduce and Revolt! A Graphic Toolbox for the 21st Century Activist. The book was not published by Soft Skull until 2008. Everything takes longer than you think it will. Editors Josh MacPhee and Favianna Rodriguez did a great job putting the book together.

I got the idea for the pen and ink illustration from reading statistics about prison populations in the world. The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population. But it has almost 25% of the world’s prisoners. The U.S. has 2.3 million prisoners, more than any other nation in the world, according to the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College in London.

China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison. The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people.

Studies have also shown that the level and duration of prison sentences do not correspond with a drop in the crime rate.

So, four years after making the drawing, I see the online magazine On The Issues (a feminist publication of critical, independent thinking) based in Long Island City, NY is using it to illustrate an article called “End Torture, End Domestic Violence” by Rhonda Copelon. The article asks the question: how would the world be different for women if domestic violence were treated as torture or as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment?

The magazine used the book Reproduce and Revolt! in the way it was intended, as a resource for art. How perfect are the travels of a drawing.

Reproduce and Revolt! is available from:

I’ll be on tour in April with my duo Mecca Normal. Tour dates at

Come out to the show and say HI.

In addition to playing rock shows we will be presenting “How Art & Music Can Change the World” — a lecture, art exhibit and performance event in university classrooms, bookstores and community centers. We intend to inspire audiences towards considering political content in their creative self-expression.


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