Virtual Memories Show 337:
Amor Towles

“In the back of my mind I knew that if I didn’t write a book that I felt proud of by the time I was 50, I’d probably end up bitter in my old age.”

After a 20-year sojourn in the investment world, Amor Towles returned to his first love by writing the bestselling novels Rules of Civility and A Gentleman In Moscow. We get into how he managed that jump, the lessons he learned from his first failed novel, and the advantages of making a later start in publishing (and whether he could’ve written either of his books when he was young). We talk about his intense outlining and planning process for novels and how it allows for more creativity within the writing itself, his relief at showing his writing teacher (Peter Matthiessen) his books before it was too late, the symphonic model he applies to novels, his best practices for book tours (writing short stories and getting out and seeing the cities he was visiting), the perpetual nostalgia that is New York, his use of recurring characters in his fiction and whether it means he’s creating a Towlesiverse, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy A Gentleman In Moscow and Rules of Civility!

“For a young artist, you don’t need a chorus of support; you need one person.”

“History is not very good at capturing all that is of quality in art. However, history is very good at filtering out all that is mediocre in art.”

“People are always attracted to a New York that’s gone.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Born and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles graduated from Yale College and received an MA in English from Stanford University. Mr. Towles’s first novel, Rules of Civility, which was published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller and was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best books of 2011. The book has been translated into over 20 languages, its French translation receiving the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald.

Mr. Towles’s second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, which was published in 2016, was on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year in hardcover and was named one of the best books of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Francisco Chronicle, and NPR. The book has been translated into over thirty languages including Russian. In the summer of 2017, the novel was optioned by EOne and the British director, Tom Harper, to be made into a 6-8 hour miniseries starring Kenneth Branagh.

Having worked as an investment professional for over twenty years, Mr. Towles now devotes himself full time to writing in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mr. Towles’ home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Towles by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 331: Liniers

“In my mind, I thought, ‘Maybe if I can get my comic strip to Uruguay, my father will believe this is a real job.’ I’d be an international success. Montevideo was as far as my imagination could go.”

In a rollicking conversation at the Society of Illustrators 128 Bar & Bistro, Argentine comics star Liniers talks about making the jump from Buenos Aires to Vermont to teach at the Center for Cartoon Studies, the amazing US syndication launch of his comic strip Macanudo last year (and the origin of that strip in Argentina), the difference between drawing well and drawing funny, the mix of comic and comedic influences that melted his brain as a kid, the time he almost met Bill Watterson, and what it means to be a Latin American cartoonist. We also get into how he learned English from Mad Magazine, when he caught the live performance bug, why he eschews a regular set of characters in favor of a schizophrenic style of humor in Macanudo, how he felt the first time he saw a tattoo his work on a fan, why seeing his work pirated helped balance out his karma from downloading all those mp3s, and how his kids books help him press Pause on perfect moments from his children’s lives. Give it a listen! (conversation begins around 7:00) And go buy some of Liniers’ Macanudo collections and his TOON books!

“Every cartoonist, this life is their second choice. My first choice, I wanted to be Lou Reed, but that didn’t work out for some reason.”

“My job is not being very good at drawing. It’s making little doodles and somehow infusing them with soul.”

“Every cartoonist, this life is their second choice. My first choice, I wanted to be Lou Reed, but that didn’t work out for some reason.”

“The most difficult things for people to draw are horses and bikes, so I bet the most impossible drawing of all would be a horse riding a bike.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Born in Argentina in 1973, Liniers began his artistic career when he realized he wasn’t cut out for law school and started making fanzines for friends. Since 2002, when his daily comic strip Macanudo began appearing in La Nación, Argentina’s most widely read newspaper, Liniers has become an international comics star, with many New Yorker covers to his name, among other accolades. Macanudo is published throughout the world, and Liniers’ social media reaches nearly a million followers. In the US, he is also the creator of wonderful children’s books, two of which are about one of the greatest characters in Macanudo: the wry, philosophical girl, Henrietta. Liniers also tours Latin America and Spain with musician Kevin Johansen, drawing on stage while Kevin’s band performs. Liniers currently lives in Vermont with his wife and three daughters.

(NOTE: I’m wearing my Argentina national basketball team jersey, in honor of Liniers’ pal Manu Ginobili.)

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Society of Illustrators’ 128 Bar & Bistro on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Liniers by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 330:
Milton Glaser

“Everything is design. Design is planning. It’s having an objective of any kind. When you go out to dinner, you’re designing your meal. There’s no design without intent, and there’s no life without intent.”

He turned 90 a few weeks ago, but design legend Milton Glaser isn’t slowing down. We got together to talk about moving to a new studio after nearly 55 years and what he plans on doing with the 250,000 posters in the cellar. We get into art vs. design, why he painted “Art Is Work” on the transom of his building, how he’s working more actively and faster than he ever has, the first time he saw his work in public, how drawing makes us conscious of reality, the influence of Giorgio Morandi on his life, the joy of ~60 years of teaching, the decay of design into commodity and corporate metrics, and the overlooked role of Push Pin Studios in design history. Along the way, we also get into the worldwide phenomenon of his “I ♥ NY” design, what it’s like to live in an age of collage, where we find things instead of making things, how the computer can compel users into doing what it’s good at instead of what they’re good at, his marriage advice after 60+ years with Shirley Glaser, and his story about designing Trump Vodka. Give it a listen! And go buy some of Milton’s posters!

“Art is not about persuasion; it’s about transformation.”

“Capitalism produces the sense that the only thing that matters is wealth and fame, and that’s a terrible basis for culture.”

“I’ve been possessed by my work for a long time. I’m very old but I have a lot of energy for the work.”

“My mind, fortunately, has not degenerated to the same degree that newsprint paper does.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Milton Glaser (b.1929) is among the most celebrated graphic designers in the United States. He has had the distinction of one-man-shows at the Museum of Modern Art and the Georges Pompidou Center. He was selected for the lifetime achievement award of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in 2004 and the Fulbright Association in 2011, and in 2009 he was the first graphic designer to receive the National Medal of the Arts award. As a Fulbright scholar, Glaser studied with the painter Giorgio Morandi in Bologna, and is an articulate spokesman for the ethical practice of design. He opened Milton Glaser, Inc. in 1974, and continues to produce a prolific amount of work in many fields of design to this day.

(There are longer versions at his site)

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the offices of Milton Glaser Inc. on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Glaser and his staff by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 327:
Karl Stevens

“I wanted to be an artist but I didn’t know how, and comics were so accessible that I latched onto that.”

It may be a fine line between comics and art, but Karl Stevens‘ fine line crosses effortlessly between them. Karl & I talk about how his realistic drawing style and watercolors treat comics as fine art, and how that visual style complements his naturalist stories, especially in his recent collection, The Winner (Retrofit Comics). We get into his gateway from superheroes to art-comics, his recent commission to make comics that accompanied a Botticcelli exhibition at the Gardener Museum in Boston, his work as a guard in that same museum, the challenge of drawing his wife, the challenge of getting paid as a freelancer, and whether he regrets his his teenaged decision to devote his life to comics. We also talk about his upcoming book of cat comics, drawing gags for the New Yorker, being WAY too high to meet your idols, visiting the Words & Pictures Museum in ’90s Northampton (a.k.a. Comics-Mecca), his road not taken with Dave Sim, how short strips and gag panels have made it tougher for him to write longer stories, and plenty more! BONUS: You get the origin story of my friendship with Tom Spurgeon AND my recent crisis of faith! Give it a listen! And go buy The Winner!

“The way light hits objects is part of the story.”

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if you could make a comic that took the techniques of the dead painters I’d been studying?'”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Karl Stevens is a graphic novelist and painter. His first book, Guilty, was published in 2004 with a grant from the Xeric Foundation. He is also the author of Whatever (2008), The Lodger (A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, 2010), Failure (2013) and The Winner (2018). His comic strips appeared in The Boston Phoenix between 2005 and 2012 until an incident with an advertiser resulted in the strip’s cancellation. The realist comic artist has also co-produced the Phoenix comic “Succe$$” with Gustavo Turner. In 2016 The Village Voice began running his cat comic strip “Penny”. Stevens’s work appears in select art galleries and he has published numerous cartoons in The New Yorker. He was recently commissioned to produce a comic to celebrate the Gardner Museum’s Botticcelli: Heroines and Heroes exhibition.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Karl by me. They’re on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 326:
Barbara Nessim

“I couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling life than being an illustrator and an artist and having people recognize and like my work for what it is.”

With a career in illustration and art stretching back to 1960, Barbara Nessim has been a trailblazer in multiple ways (albeit unintentionally). We talk about the 2013 retrospective of her work at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the process of seeing her oeuvre distilled by a curator, as well as her own 7-year project of archiving her work, and the role and rules of her decades-long sketchbook practice. We get into her pioneering work in computer art and her involvement in SIGGRAPH, her career drive and her “1 for them, 6 for myself” philosophy, her decision to take up pottery at 80, her Random Access Memories exhibition and its one-of-a-kind art-generator, what it was like working with Harvey Kurtzman for Esquire and on fumetto, her 65-year love affair with salsa and how she taught a bunch of illustration and design legends to dance, and how she may be the most well-adjusted, thankful and gracious artist I’ve ever met. Bonus: you get my oddball story of meeting Gary Panter in the ’90s! Give it a listen! And go buy Barbara Nessim: An Artful Life!

“Curators say they love working with me because I don’t have a big mouth.”

“When I see it, I don’t feel like my work has anything to do with me anymore; it’s like someone else did it.”

“I like the work I did in the past, but I don’t miss anything.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

A vital contributor and influential visionary in the world of art, Barbara Nessim has always been original in her thinking and unprecedented in her creativity. Inspired by her mother, a clothing designer, Barbara financed her studies at Pratt Institute by working as a freelance fashion illustrator, designing everything from shoes and apparel to textiles.

Recognized for her fresh approach to image-making, she was among the few female freelance illustrators of her time. In 1980, she embraced innovation and began using the computer to create published and personal imagery. Never short of inspiration, she attributes the ongoing creativity in her work to her fine training as an artist, and relies almost solely upon her sketchbooks to generate new ideas.

Nessim’s passion for her work and desire to bring more to her art set the stage for what would become a long and illustrious career that has inspired many others along the way. Her illustrations have appeared in our nation’s most prominent periodicals, from The New York Times to Rolling Stone, and her paintings and drawings have graced the walls of prominent museums and galleries around the globe including The Smithsonian Institution, The Victoria and Albert Museum, and The Louvre among others. She has also shared her gifts in the classroom as a mentor of aspiring artists at the School of Visual Arts and at Parsons/The New School for Design, where she served as Chair of the Illustration Department from 1992 to 2004.

Today, the artist focuses on the creation of large-scale works for public buildings, and continues to create personal art for exhibition in New York City and beyond. She’s on Instagram as barbaranessim.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Barbara’s studio on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Barbara & her studio by me. It’s on my instagram.