The Work

Art / Aaron Burch 


:: Pocket Knife Buffalo ::




Pock­et Knife Buf­fa­lo; 2023; Water­col­or; 5″ x 8″

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. 🙂