Art / Aaron Burch
:: Pocket Knife Buffalo ::
From the artist
:: Account ::
My primary goal with my art is to entertain myself. To make myself laugh, ideally.
I started drawing and painting again early in the pandemic. I drew a lot as a kid—cartoon characters, sports heroes, favorite comic book panels—but had barely even doodled in twenty, maybe twenty-five years. And it felt a little like picking right back up where I’d left off! Like riding a bike, like the patterns and rituals of the church services of your youth. My hands felt like they knew what to do—the art seemed better than by someone who was “just starting,” I had a pretty good eye and also spatial awareness—but also my “style” was still not what I wished it were. I wished could just draw—from my imagination, not only from what I was looking at—and also that I could draw… well, cooler. I needed reference images constantly, for everything, and everything came out kinda cartoony, goofier than I’d prefer.
In all those years since though, I’d grown up, I’d matured, I’d devoted so much of my life to writing—doing so myself, editing, teaching. As I’d let go of the kind of writer I wish I were and embraced the things I do best—as I became more myself—I got better.
And so, with my art, I leaned into myself, my personality. I smile, rather than get frustrated, at some of the goofiness. I use reference images constantly, but I combine two, three, four different ideas in ways that feel like encapsulations of myself, and also that make me laugh. I draw skulls because they’re look cool even if—maybe especially when—they aren’t perfect, and I mash them together with other things I love—Oreos, buffalo, pizza. I draw tiki mugs that look like skulls, or anatomical hearts, or fists. I draw tattoo-style pocket knives with buffalo blades and Mt. Rainier in the background because I love tattoos and knives and buffalo and the Pacific Northwest.
Aaron Burch is the author of an essay collection, a novel, and a short story collection; the editor of a craft anthology, a journal built on spontaneous submission calls, and another journal for longer short stories; a teacher; and a bit of a painter where his main goal is often to make himself smile, which “Pocket Knife Buffalo” very much does. 🙂