Something Circus This Way Comes

Radio Xrisville Winter Circus Cover Final SmallIn the pre-dawn hours of a winter morn, the living room was only a wash of darks and less-darks, fringed here and there by less-more greys. The skies outside my frosted window were blackness at war with the flurrying white of yet another snowstorm, and my tea, though brown, seemed almost garish in its non-black-grey-whiteness. By the roiling of a wind rumbling at the window glass like some terrible, invisible northland beastie pawing for ingress, I was half-inclined to turn and whisper, “Hush now, children. Something wicked this way comes.” Yet there were no children, save my son far away in Esquimalt, BC. There was only my cat Majyn lying asleep and dreaming cat dreams in the chair beside me. So I sipped my brown tea and thought about the long grey drive ahead to Kitchener behind the grey steering wheel of a cold white car, and as I did, I knew I wanted to make warmth and color foremost in approaching the design and creation of web art for the February, 2015, Radio Xrisville humor podcast. I also knew I wanted the art to be escapist and I wanted to reach above the cartoonish quality I’d established in the Radio X cover art while somehow still emulating it.

As ideas ghosted across my mind like some ancient television set on the borderlands of reception, something came into focus—the vision of a circus coming to town in winter. The idea had an otherworldly, almost Willy Wonka-esque quality to it that felt good. So I let the good feelings be my art director, and I set about creating a ringmaster character to appear as the main image on what would resemble a circus promotional poster. Rummaging out a vintage lime-green Versace jacket I’d found at Exile in Kensington Market, I buttoned it over a purple collared shirt and lime-green pinstripe tie rescued from the 1980s. Strapping German welder’s goggles over a grey English cap, I removed the background from the original image (shot in my bathroom, or your basic selfie studio) and tried it both against and blended with different circus-tent textures and colors before finally sampling color from the jacket and creating my own tent textures and shapes to match it.

Overall, I felt the circus theme worked well as art for the podcast—a collection of satiric, character-driven fictions assembled under the main podcast banner, much like different circus acts all appearing under the same big top. Beyond this, I felt the overall use of spring colors was a nice bit of warm escapism in the greyness of winter, and I hope it has the same effect for others.

 

 

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