“All of my friends were there…
Not just my friends,
But their best friends, too!
All of my friends were there,
Too stand, and stare”
-The Kinks, “All of My Friends Were There”
There’s a fine line between a dream and a nightmare, isn’t there? In a dream, you are naked, and with a beautiful person. In a nightmare, it’s the same only you are the only one naked.
Nothing is more nerve-wracking to me than preparing for a demo. A demonstration neatly combines one’s most insidious neuroses. Fear of public speaking. Fear of beginning a project. Fear of ending a project. Fear of humiliation and failure. A demo is like a naked dream, only with ink (“Out, damned spot”), and a 5,000 foot/pound per square inch roller ( “Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy planning other things”) standing between you and success. And ironically, the traditional advice to calm nerves when speaking in public is to imagine one’s audience naked. Now everyone’s naked. Is this a demo, or a revival of “Hair”?
I’m inviting everyone!
On Feb. 11th, from 1-3 Pm, in the Art Students League’s beautiful, bright print room I’m doing a demo of monotype that will give to people a quick glimpse of the monotype process, and my approach to it. I don’t know what I’ll wear, but I don’t think nothing at all will cut it. Still, channeling sheer terror is what makes a demo fun. I used to do improv comedy, and though I always had some stage fright, I did enjoy the interplay with the crowd. Which actually sort of hinged on the human truth that even failing miserably is entertaining to someone.
One day while showing one of my workshops how to run the press, I noticed that the pressure was too tight. I very carefully removed the printing plate with its inked image and precisely placed paper, then adjusted the pressure a bit and relaid the slip sheet and press blankets. When I began to roll the press again, it didn’t feel right at all.
” Gee, now it feels way too light,” I announced in a puzzled voice.
Silence. And then:
“Shouldn’t the plate be in there?”
Why, yes. Yes, it should. My head swiveling wildly I spied the printing plate, still safe on the table across from the press, where I’d carefully placed it.
“you were just testing us, weren’t you”? some wag jumped in, to general hoots.
“Why, yes. Yes, I was.”
Every class must have its clown. And every demo must have its demonstrator. At mine, I will try to remember to put the plate on the press bed before rolling it through. And to wear clothes.