Over the past year (14 months to be exact), I've received a fair amount of attention for my artwork thru both word of mouth, and social media. What's the one question I get asked the most? "Do you still have any of the Walter White artwork left?" Seriously. I would say 99% of the time, that's the first question I'm asked when someone is turned on to my artwork either by a friend, or the shameless self promotion machine that is known as twitter/facebook.
Since August 2012, I've been referred to as the "Walter White guy" more times than I can count. It's not something I take offense to. Actually, I think it's a pretty cool compliment.
I was a latecomer to "Breaking Bad." I missed the first season during it's initial run, and didn't begin viewing until it was well into it's second season. After giving it a shot on Netflix to see what all of the hype was about, I was INSTANTLY hooked. I managed to watch the entire first season, and catch up on the second in less than a week. I don't care what you say - that's impressive.
The story of Walter White is unlike anything I've ever seen. It's an EXTREMELY rare occurrence in TV that you find a show that doesn't feel like a show - it feels like real life. With "Breaking Bad" I honestly don't feel like I'm being told a story. I feel as if I'm watching real events unfold right in front of me. I feel as if I've grown to know these characters, and care about them over the past few years. It's almost unprecedented that a TV series runs it's entire course without a single bad episode. I truly feel as if "Breaking Bad" has done that. I don't know if that's ever happened before, and I HIGHLY doubt it'll ever happen again.
As far as the infamous Walter White artwork goes....here's the truth. This artwork was created on August 8th, 2012 at 4am in the morning. For years I had struggled with my ability to illustrate likenesses. It was just something I could never seem to do. I mean, I could draw a "cartoony" version of someone that resembled the character, but as far as a dead on "I know who that is!" likeness? Couldn't do it. Was definitely lacking in the self confidence department.
I had watched a few episodes of "Breaking Bad" the previous night, and couldn't sleep for some reason. The show was still fresh in my head when I finally decided to get up, so I decided to try my hand at illustrating the infamous Walter White. I scoured google for pictures that caught my attention, and then I found a very simple, very straight forward image of Walt's face. Nothing fancy, just a close up of his face. Bingo.
The thing that really caught my attention about the image is that the character of Walter White (and I don't know if the same goes for actor Bryan Cranston) has so much expression on his face. Even when he's being stoic - there's a lot of mileage on that face and in those eyes. That dude has been through a lot.
What I originally set out to do was just try my hand at illustrating a likeness with someone who's got a lot going on with his face. My reasoning? Because even if I did eventually mess up, I could just chalk it up to part of the detail. No joke. That's what was going thru my head at the time.
I never intended to sit down and create a piece of artwork that I would ever intentionally sell, or even frame and hang in my house (as I'm VERY particular about that). This was solely an exercise in skill and in confidence. I didn't even put in a lot of time. In fact, the entire illustration (color too) was done in just about 30min total. That's it. I would LOVE to say that it was some super long process that I went back and fine tuned to get just right, but that would be a lie. The truth? It was quick. Messy. Sporadic. And I was seriously half awake. When I was done, I sat back, took one look and my immediate reaction was...
Now, that's not meant to sound conceited or self absorbed. Remember, I was dealing with some SERIOUS confidence issues artistically, and that was probably the first time I was genuinely proud of something that I had created in well over a year. My next immediate reaction was to try my hand at Jesse Pinkman. I mean, I figured I was on to something...might as well strike while the iron's still hot, right? So I did.
The rest, as they say is history. I would assume that most of you reading this are familiar with both illustrations, so I will leave it to you to decide whether or not both (or either) is good. I mean, art is subjective right?
Seriously though. With the series finale of "Breaking Bad" just about 45min away, I can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of...sadness. Yes, I realize that these are fictional characters and none of this actually happened. Also keep in mind that this is being written by a guy who makes his living off of fictional characters, so you'll have to forgive me for being slightly more attached to them than the "average joe" (no pun intended).
The story of Walter White (to me) is the story of a man who decided to take his fate into his own hands. He was dealt a devastating blow with the diagnoses of cancer, but rather than shrivel up and succumb to it over time, he set out to make sure that his family was taken care of well after his untimely demise.
So he created the purest form of meth anyone has ever seen.
And became a murdering, power hungry, drug kingpin somewhere along the way.
But at his core, it was ALWAYS about providing for his family. I can respect that.
Walter White did what we all would like to think we'd do in any situation where we're suddenly powerless (no, not cook meth and kill people) - he took control. He didn't sit idly by and cry "poor is me." He did what he had to do to reach his endgame. I don't care who you are - we ALL like stories of people taking control of situations. Because that's what we wish we could do all the time. But we don't. Not always at least.
From a fan's perspective, the character of Walter White represents change. The concept and execution of "Breaking Bad" has (likely) changed how TV shows are handled in the future. The portrayal of Walter White has changed what's deemed "good" and "bad" and blurred the line so much that most of us are rooting for a drug dealing murderer to get away.
For me personally, Walt represents change in myself. I never thought I was able to do what I did with Walt (artistically). It just never seemed possible for me. I've always said that art is probably the easiest thing to excel at because of the fact that it is so subjective. You just have to be confident in the art that you're producing. Whether you're spending hours doing intricate illustrations, or blowing your nose on a canvas and calling it "modern" - do it with confidence and people will follow.
And that is what I do with everything I've produced since August 8th, 2012. Because of Walter White.
Truth be told, I've made a lot of money off of this piece of art. No, it's not set me for life or anything like that (let's not be ridiculous here), but I have been able to afford many things because of one simple 30min drawing. And I'm not even talking in the direct "I've sold X amount of Walter White pieces" either. I'm talking about what it's opened me up to do artistically and give me the confidence to do things that I previously didn't think I was capable of. Over the past year, I've been asked to give many people the "Walter White treatment" when I do likenesses of them or their friends/family. It always makes me smile.
It's weird. I have absolutely nothing to do with this show, the actors, or the people behind the scenes. I watched every single episode as a fan just like the rest of you. But...in a way, I feel appreciative to the people behind the show for bringing such an incredible story to life. I'm sure it will be debated for years to come, but in my opinion, Walter White will go down as the single greatest character in TV history.
So as the world says "goodbye" to the show and it's characters, I sincerely want to thank everyone who purchased a poster, t-shirt, pillow, keychain or any other product I could come up with that featured my Walter White artwork. It means a lot to me that you spent your hard earned money simply to own something I created, and that has such personal meaning to me. When people ask me what piece of artwork I'm the most proud of, I always give them the same answer - Walter White. It didn't take me very long. It's technically not very good. But it has forever changed my technique, and the way I approach my artwork.
Now, I need to wrap this up so I can glue myself to my couch and see how the tale of Walter White is brought to and end...
"Yeah Mr. White! Yeah Science!"