It all started as a brilliantly simple creative exercise. Stefan G. Bucher would film himself putting a few drops of ink on a piece of paper and then transforming that somewhat random little blot into a fully realized illustrated monster. He didn’t just do it once. He did it for 100 days. And soon, hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of people from all over the world heard about his insightful and inspiring work.
“The thing that is most difficult about any creative project is the starting of it,” says Bucher. “The idea is in overcoming the fear — am I good enough to start it or do I have a good enough idea to start it — is short circuited by starting with something random. For me it’s ink blots and I’m very curious to see what it might be for you.”
As each new monster was posted on his project website, The Daily Monster, vistors would post stories about the monsters that he would bring to life — an ink blot that becomes a jawbone and grows wings and a ruffled tail before toucan beak and expressive eyes that make it complete. In almost no time, these first 100 monsters were downloaded more than a million times, along with selected short stories.
Since then, the clips and stories were collected into a book with a foreword of sorts by Ze Frank. In it, Bucher shares how his very first monster came to visit him in 2006. He was driving on the 10 East freeway in Los Angeles when he saw an inky black monster around his right arm. It seemed friendly enough so he drew it.
He drew bunches of them, enough to fill a book. Several publishers loved these little fellows but we hestitant to pull the trigger. So Bucher did what any impatient creative might do nowadays. He started to publish on the web.
Now, the series has been included in the Communication Arts Illustration and American Illustration annuals. It was the subject of the annual Fresh Dialogue event held by the New York chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). Variations of the Daily Monster clips now appear on the relaunched TV show The Electric Company.
“I think it’s really important to start these kinds of projects with a set amount of time and to do it publicly for others to see,” says Bucher. “It will keeep you doing it on the days you don’t want to do it. It’s super easy to be creative and make interesting and fun things on the days you’re feeling awesome. The days you really need to prove that you are an artist on the days when you feel shitty, you’re tried, you haven’t slept, and you don’t feel inspired. Those are the important days.”
For Bucher, this is what the monsters are about. They are a project that helps him get up, get in the seat, and get to work. As soon as you’re working, it gets better.
It not only gets better for monsters but also for all his creative work. In addition to monsters, Bucher had started a career as an art director in Portland, Oregon, before going on to CD packages for Sting, Whitney Houston, and other artists. In 2004, the Art Directors Club of America honored him as one of the leading creatives age 30 and under, naming him one of their Young Guns.
AIGA Las Vegas is thrilled to have him as the featured speaker at the AIGA Las Vegas Centennial Celebration, which will take place from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday at the Neon Museum, 770 N. Las Vegas Blvd. In addition to Bucher, the AIGA Las Vegas Centennial Celebration includes a reception with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, tours of the outdoor museum space and neon boneyard, and demonstrations of a Chandler and Price tabletop press to produce limited edition take-home commemorative prints.