Monday, May 18, 2009

Rockin' Memorial Art

This will be a very strange post, but I assure you it's art-related, so please bear with me. =)

I'm not sure if I mentioned it on my blog - I know I mentioned it in emails to some of my illustrator friends who were checking in on me - but as the only artist in the family, I was plagued with the task of designing my own brother's headstone. Our father had no idea what to put on it, and we wanted it to mean something, to have something special to remember Dave by. Not only did I have to come up with a design, but I had to do it in under 48 hours, because we'd put it off for months (too depressed to even discuss it - I guess it sort of finalizes things?). It was something we needed to get done. Stone needed ordering, and the granite company needed a plan.

The first day designing did not go so well. I wasted most of the first 24 hours crying about how unfair it was that I had to design my little brother's headstone. The best way to describe how I was feeling is to say I felt tortured. I hated every design I came up with. As an artist, I often times hate the art I create by the time the year is up, and I kept thinking people are going to look at this stone for the next hundred years!!!

Yes, I was throwing a huge fit, and I'm thankful to Joe for coping, telling me to take a break and start over later. On the second day, I really started thinking about what Dave would've wanted. For starters, his favorite picture - his "hero shot" as he called it:

Since this was his absolute favorite picture (taken a bit too late to be in his high school yearbook, unfortunately) it made the most sense to start with that.

Next I thought about his favorite place, the place he'd told me just last July he'd wanted to return to someday - Gates of the Arctic National Park in northern Alaska:

Dave was such a huge astronomy buff (wanted to work for NASA), so of course I had to add planets and stars to my list. And a compass rose, because after all, he did get that B.A. in Geography at the ripe old age of 19. I'd also decided the compass should point north from the grave, so if he's still around in spirit, he won't lose his way home.

So I made up a sketch and described what I was thinking the best I could - leaving the lettering & final details up to them - and to give credit where it's due, I sent it along to the kind folks at Stroudsburg Granite in NE Pennsylvania. And here's what they did:

We are all so happy with how it turned out! I can't believe the amount of detail they could get into stone! As an artist I am just marveled by how they can do this - I mean there is practically no difference between him in that photograph and him etched in stone! It has to be one of the best-designed and best-etched rocks in the cemetery, it literally "rocks"!

I would prefer, of course, to never have had the need to design it at all. This was absolutely the hardest design I ever had to work on. But I'm so proud of the result, I wouldn't have it any other way!


Frank said...

it really is beautiful!

Chrissy Fanslau said...

Thanks, Frank! =)

Lisa M Griffin said...

Wow! I can't imagine how hard this must have been for you - but it is truly beautiful and a wonderful tribute to the life he lived. Truly touching, Chrissy... what an amazing share.

Chrissy Fanslau said...

Thank you so much, Lisa, for your wonderful comment!