Thursday, August 20, 2009

Strip-Mining the Suburban Archaeology: The Keeper of the Flame

Ah...Summertime. Of the four seasons, it's perhaps the most conducive to suburban life patterns, and few activities seem more iconic of the season than the backyard barbeque.

I remember many a Summer day when my father would preside over his fiery outdoor furnace, cold beer in hand (smile on face), guarding over the flame-licked steaks and fish like some mythical sentinel guarding the Flame of the Gods. Aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors – they would all eventually find their way into the backyard like bears to a campfire.

Little of this right of passage has changed since Dad's or even Gramp's day: A hot grill, a freshly mowed lawn, a mixed meaty bounty, anxiously waiting (and salivating) family and perhaps a friend or neighbor or two. The backyard has, and continues to remain, an extension of both the suburban home as well as the overall social composition. Like some sunny, insect-riddled second living room, the backyard is an interesting dichotomy: part of a greater, open-air public fabric and a private, invitation-only dominion belonging to the household; belonging to the family.

Before the seemingly fleeting season of the sun is gone again for another year, let us all make our way through the sliding back door and out onto that earthy green carpet where weathered, patinaed furniture cohabitates next to the primal scent of hickory smoke and scorching beef and laughing loved ones beckon. Grab a cold something to drink out of the ice chest, tell an old story or become part of a brand-new one and join the fun.

[A word on the illustration: a layered, combination layout featuring “found archaeological relics” as well as hand-drawn elements. Clockwise from left: a) “Keeper of the Flame” illustration and poster I created featuring hand-drawn character and grill over manipulated photo background – the text bits and arrows make it almost like a theatre poster for some action film, I employ this tactic often to render the otherwise mundane a bit more glamorous…Like 'what if James Bond were helming the grill?'; b) old photo of a full-out vintage California backyard spread with quite a bit of digital manipulation; c) Vintage SPAM bbq ad with heavy digital manipulation and many hand-redrawn bits for effect.]

- David Paul Seymour is a Twin Cities designer, artist and illustrator. More info and prints from this series can be found at

1 comment:

Tom said...

Very cool graphics! Love it.