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Celebrity Art Pants, The Story (part 1)

January 2, 2012

As I merrily go about my business here in beautiful, downtown Allentown, PA, I’m finding myself telling the story behind this journey to more and more people that are interested, especially with my upcoming exhibition on January 13th. So, I thought why not keep a record of how the idea for this project came about, and from time to time post updates here on my blog to share the journey. It’s an extremely fun project to be working on, and hopefully will raise lots and lots of money not only for Doug’s charity, but many others as well.

This first entry will cover some of the background history of how this whole ‘crazy’ Pants idea started…

Setting The Stage:

I was born on the outskirts of SE London, which was cool, as I had the best of both worlds: big city in one direction, lush Kent countryside in the other. I have traveled extensively, and actually lived and worked over half my adult life outside of the British Isles! My major background (looking only at my education and work experience) is marketing and business, although I’ve been creative since a very young child – writing, drawing, doodling, acting, making up songs, etc. (My earliest childhood memory is my Junior School teacher, Mrs Robertson, saying, “You’re a born natural actor, I’ll be watching you on stage one day!” But that’s a whole other story.) In the world of business, advertising, marketing and promotion were always my strongest points.

I have been financially ‘comfortable’, I have also been homeless, penniless, and (somewhat) destitute – I have slept under the Eiffel tower in Paris, the Band Shell in West Park, Allentown, and I’m a proficient sofa-surfer! I have owned businesses and lost businesses. I have helped other people’s businesses thrive, but art and creativity is the only place I truly feel joyous, happy, free, and at peace. I now call Allentown, Pennsylvania, ‘home’, and believe it is a wonderful place with an awful lot of untapped potential.

I mention all of this only to give a point of reference – a foundation, if you like – to who I am and where my head is normally at. For the most part I am ‘sensible’, but I’m forever coming up with ‘hair-brained’ schemes, ideas, and ‘crazy’ concepts… like this England World Cup Song from 2006, which could have launched the boys in the band’s careers (and mine) and covered our hefty expenses producing it (IF they could have been bothered to show up to a Channel Four broadcast!) as just one example… It did get played at Old Trafford Football Club, though, which I’m very proud about. I’m always working on ‘something’ – That’s just me!

Fast-forwarding (a lot) to 2010. A little over a year ago, I was invited into the local art community in the Lehigh Valley area, and was immediately inspired. I hadn’t done any art or been ‘creative’ in that way for almost a decade. That little, lonely voice of a child inside me began whispering: He wanted to have some ‘fun’ again!

The Hanes Project:

Thinking of a creative way to promote some of the local artists, I concocted an idea: a new spin on the Hanes clothing slogan, “Look Who We’ve Got Our Hanes On Now”. I always try and look for ‘mutual benefit’ in projects I devise (win-win-win, as is popularly stated) and like to add a charity element, since giving back is a big part of who I am – I’ve had a great life up to now, and feel very priviledged. The charity idea I pitched to Hanes’ marketing folks was very simple:

  • I needed a bunch of T-shirts from them
  • The local artists would create designs
  • We’d all sell the shirts for charity
  • The project was titled: “Look Who We’ve Got ON Hanes Now”
  • Hanes would be free to use this any way they wanted

I thought it was a pretty good idea, myself, but then I usually do, it’s other people that have a hard time keeping up, sometimes! Sadly, the project fell on deaf ears. Perhaps Allentown, or the artists weren’t famous enough for them? Perhaps it was my strong, English accent?! (Who knows, the idea may wellย  be resurrected from the ashes yet…!)

Throwing Paint With Pollock:

Anyway, the little child within me was unperturbed. With some prodding and support from my girlfriend, Katy, and some friends, I had started ‘doodling’ again. ‘Henry’ the Fried Egg was born (See ABOUT THE ARTIST for that story!) Amazingly, on both counts, I began exhibiting and SELLING my works. Greatly encouraged by this, I began to stretch my creative wings a little and experiment with abstract expressionism. Pollock had fascinated me for years, and I was reading about the Dada Movement (I was reading as much as I could about art, as well as practicing my craft).

My 'messy' Art Pants

I found throwing paint exhilarating, liberating, freeing, it was wildly fun… and MESSY!!! I was hooked, and I really didn’t care if anybody else liked what I created, I simply enjoyed the whole act of creating. It was pure, innocent, passionate… it was alive! And did I say “MESSY”? (Just look at a pair of my early ‘Art Pants’ and they’re still fairly clean!)

It was about the same time as I took this picture that the small seed of the ‘Sell Yer Pants…!’ project took root.

Celebrity Sell Yer Pants…!

I’m not a big TV watcher (I don’t own a ‘telly’) I much prefer to read a good, mind-stimulating book, or the company of good friends and conversation, or theater. But I do enjoy quality programs (and I enjoy movies, I’m not a total nerd!) As I looked at my messy pants, the idea came to me for a different type of celebrity interview show:

  • We’d invite a celebrity into the art studio
  • As we talked about what they were up to, we’d throw paint and have ‘fun’ with art!
  • Canvases and supplies would be everywhere and it would just be a very freeing experience. My thinking was people are more relaxed when they are distracted, and art brings out the care-free child within us.
  • The cameras would pick up the process and we’d edit for showing

Here’s the ‘pants’ angle:

  • All the artwork we created, AND the messy clothes they were wiping their hands on, would be signed and auctioned off for their favorite charity. You couldn’t get a more personalized work of art from your favorite celebrity, now could you?

Start to see where we’re going and how my mind works, now? Well, this idea, too, I pitched to a few ‘friends’ in the business… You’d have heard about it by now, if they hadn’t thought it the most ridiculous thing they had heard of! Sufficetosay, I don’t really talk to them much these days.

“Never Never, Never, Never Give Up”:

That’s from Winston Churchill, if you didn’t know. It’s also a quotation that has helped to keep me going on many an occasion. Nothing – even adversity – is permanent. There is ALWAYS a silver lining. The sun never stops shining. And Dreams never quit on you! Share when you are down, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. They can only say, “No.” So, ask somebody else, or rework your idea or dream.

A very significant event early in 2011 made me realize we spend a lot of time doing things of no significance, our lives just pass along like blips on a cardiograph. On April 2nd, 2011, my Dad unexpectedly passed away from a major heart attack. It was devastating. The second important person in my life to die suddenly from a coronary. I hadn’t seen him in 6 years – I’d been “busy being busy”. I realized then that I needed to pick up the pace and actually DO something with my life while I still had time.

“Necessity Is The Mother Of All Invention”:

That one’s from Einstein. It certainly applies to this project! During the time I was working with Doug Long on his “One Heart Two Wheels” charity, I ran out of canvas or paper to express myself on (money gets really tight sometimes!) I was making small sculptures out of recycled offcuts of roofing shingle at the time, but I needed a canvas! The little child HAD TO have canvas to throw paint onto NOW…! I looked down at the messy, cotton pants I was wearing… ‘What was canvas made from…?’ Without a second thought, I started to cut up my art pants into little canvases. I covered them with gesso and started some early experiments with acrylic paint and wax. You can see some examples below:

I really liked the look and feel of the pieces, and the smell of the recycled scented candles was pretty cool, too! Amazingly I hadn’t joined the dots yet and was thinking more along the lines of art fashion, or simply putting my artwork on clothing, and perhaps having a small art exhibition to sell my work and raise money for “One Heart Two Wheels” early in 2012.

That’s the thing about inspiration, it’s like waiting for a bus: the more you hope it comes before it starts to rain, the longer the bus driver hangs around the corner, just smirking and waiting…!

There Is More To Come Another Day:

If you’ve stayed with me this far, I thank you! This has turned out to be a much longer post than I anticipated when I began typing (sorry!) so I’m going to conclude this segment now, so you don’t die of boredom!

The early and continued success of the Celebrity Art Pants project has not been all my own doing. I’ve had a lot of help and support, both locally here in Allentown and via the Internet. YOU have all been a great help and inspiration to me. I also thank the celebrities and their assistants who have already offered their support to this project. Those people who have boosted this project along know who you are, and I know you are far too modest and humble to want to be exposed in this little blog, so I’ll just let you enjoy your anonymous satisfaction.

A great deal of thanks goes out to all of you that have helped at this time.

Stay tuned… there’s a lot more of the story yet to come… but for now, some links to information sites about the project:



Keep blogging about this special cause, following this blog, keep tweeting me, and most of all, find time during your day to just stop, smile, and just be happy!

  1. I love this long ๐Ÿ™‚ post! Just wonderful to read and to know struggles are so normal. And I love how we both mentioned creativity and being a kid again in our posts. Truly, my camera and just following my eye into creativity does get me back to that little girl who used to pretend her little purse was a camera during long church services. ๐Ÿ™‚

    So sorry about your father too. I know how that is too. I wish you all the best in your creativity, and I hope you get lots of pants! ๐Ÿ™‚ All the best!

  2. Thank you so much Katie!

    You have become a very special follower to me along this early part of the journey, and helped to put some wind in my sails. As you know, it takes time out of our day to like and post comments on other people’s blogs, and I thank you for taking time out of your day to follow and add your encouragement.

    Life is like any journey you take (a car trip, a flight, a cycle ride) there will always be ups and downs. I remember the ‘thrill’ as a kid when my Dad used to drive over ‘bumps’ or little hills, like a rollercoaster, I didn’t freak out. It’s strange that when we hit ‘bumps’ in life, sometimes we don’t take time to pause and just realize that’s just another ‘fun’ part of the journey to experience.

    As far as the ‘pants count’ goes, I think I have about four pairs coming to me at this stage, more than enough to be getting on with…!

    Have a wonderful start to 2012.

    Ant ๐Ÿ™‚

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