Interview with L A Enoaraf
FRiGG: Tell us about the illustrations.
ENOaRAF: The Illustrations was my favorite band when I was growing up. They were a local Bronx band. They never made a record. Someone gave me a tape of them that was recorded at a party. On it they played two songs. Actually, one song. It was called "Never Dance with a Stranger." They played it fast and then they played it again slow. Then they went home, I guess.
FRiGG: We're asking about the illustrations you did for FRiGG.
ENOaRAF: What about them?
FRiGG: Some people might find them interesting and want to know how you created them.
ENOaRAF: I look at objects and people and then I take their picture using a Nikon Coolpix 950 digital camera. If the objects or people I look at can fit on a scanner I scan them. Then I use Photoshop and a Wacom drawing tablet. I keep messing with the image until it looks like something I can send to FRiGG.
FRiGG: That's it?
ENOaRAF: You can go on the Internet and find a bunch of Photoshop tutorial sites. I've been to a few but I don't have the patience to get through any. I'm totally self-taught when it comes to Photoshop. I just sat down every night for about three years and played with Photoshop. I clicked that button and then the other one and then I clicked that one again. I used to write down the order I clicked the buttons, but I found that slowed me down. I don't take notes anymore. It's better not to take notes. Just keep doing it. Then it's like a hammer. It becomes a tool. Most of my illustrations were like taking a hammer to pixels. Wham. Sometimes I hit my thumb.
FRiGG: How do you think the illustrations would have turned out if you had taken lessons?
ENOaRAF: They would have been better.
FRiGG: What is the point of these illustrations?
ENOaRAF: They are for the story writers and the poets of FRiGG. I once had a short story accepted by a sci-fi site. I was pretty excited. I wasn't excited about my story being accepted. I was excited because this site illustrated all the stories they published. The illustrations were awful black and white line drawings. Remember in high school the kid who drew in his notebook all day long only he had absolutely no talent? You knew he was never going to make it as an artist plus he was flunking everything including art and English. This sci-fi site's illustrations looked like they got this kid to draw them. Even so, I was pleased to think anyone would read my story and imagine an illustration for it. When the issue came out I didn't get my line drawing. I got a spiral thing. A computer-generated spiral thing. I vowed if I ever had the opportunity I would do something better than a spiral thing for people who put their heart and soul into writing. They may like the effort or hate the effort but they can't call them spiral things.
FRiGG: Who influenced you most?
ENOaRAF: My father. Hit the back button and look at the photographs on the preceding page again. I'll pause while you do. They were hand colored by him. He was an excellent amateur photographer. His darkroom was the kitchen of our one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. The kitchen didn't have a door. It was at the end of a long hallway. He'd tape black paper over the one window and my mother would sit in the dark in the living room at the other end of that hallway. I'd be his assistant. He'd develop the film and I would watch as the image emerged from the chemical bath. What he did best was hand color photographs. He used Q-tips and oil paint. He'd carefully thin the oils and daub the Q-tip into the paint and gently wipe the thinnest coat of color...and daub and wipe, little by little. That man with the pipe is my father. He is eighty-six now and he's recently been introduced to digital photography. He likes the old way better. The color he did on his self portrait is smudgy. He was learning. This was his first try. The wedding picture is from 1947. That's him and my mother. Notice the skin tones of my mother's face. That's why I consider him to be a master at hand coloring photographs. I have books on hand coloring photographs by professional photographers. I look at the skin tones. Muddy. Brown. My father was the better artist.
One last thing about Dad―about something he did for me the Christmas I was eight years old. He bought me a Webcor reel-to-reel tape recorder. This was 1956. No one owned a tape recorder. In my neighborhood hardly anyone owned a television set. You went to the neighbor to watch television. I had my own reel-to-reel professional model. I taped everything and everyone. I experimented with sound. So? Well, if you have kids you love―or anyone you love; they could be older than a kid―give them something like that. Something grand and open ended. Something they can create with.
FRiGG: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
ENOaRAF: Yes, I try not to work alone. I have an artist friend, and wife, Kerensa. She did Dave Fromm's illustration. It's one of her "Scan-O-Graphs." She places objects directly onto the scanner. She didn't invent placing objects on scanners. This technique was invented by the first bare-ass to sit on a Xerox copy machine. However, she did the placing of the objects and I did the cropping. It was a collaboration. She also molded the clay people for Ellen Champagne's illustration, with the help of my artist friend, and daughter, Kaitlin. So there you have it.