What Edward Gorey Taught Me

By November 19, 2013 21 Comments

Edward Gorey Victor Squashed Under A Train
Edward Gorey is one of my biggest artistic influences.

After an adolescence spent worshiping Salvador Dali, Hieronymus Bosch, and Rembrandt, I latched onto Edward Gorey because he seemed like the odd man out. His pen and ink drawings burnt a hole through quixotic childish comforts—a warm bed, a sweet peach—and subverted the basic order of how I thought This Illustrating Stuff All Worked.

It was not really

Millie Ho Cat Drawing

I drew a cat.

1. Get extensive arts training.
2. Draw what people want to see.
3. Sell a still life or two.

but more like

Millie Ho Cat Drawing Gorey Inspired

I Gorey-fied my cat.

1. Draw what you like.
2. Use what you have.
3. It’s okay if children die.

While other influences like Mark Ryden lavished the canvas with striking use of colour and technique, Gorey was conservative and borderline shy. His approach was like a child trying to dip his toe into a pond, and then getting pulled down by the tentacle that wrapped around his ankle. His concise narratives made Victorian England seem fascinating, mysterious, and perfectly anachronistic.

He taught me, in the most subtle yet fillet-your-brain way, that it was okay to massacre your characters. You didn’t have control over them anyway.

So cheers to you, Edward Gorey. You were the original Cat Lady.

Edward Gorey Sleeping Cats

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