Shooting the Bullet – April-May 2005
© 2016 don baker dba android originals LC
I was having a really tough time in grad school last time, getting my last two degrees. Maybe because I was listening to a public radio station that played a very eclectic mix of music, I started having dreams about being able to play a guitar. With grace, style and passion. With about as much connection to reality as dreams about skating down stairs, just hitting the tread edges with the soles of my shoes, never catching a heel, or the finding the ground with my face.
This was back in the middle ‘80s to middle ‘90s, somewhere. It wasn’t until I lost my last job and went on disability in the early 2000s that I had the time to indulge any fantasies about playing killer guitar. Sometime about the beginning of 2005, I think, I bought my first guitar, an inexpensive electric Fender Squier Bullet Special for about $99. If the dream turned out to be completely busted, I wasn’t out that much money.
Soon after, I began to take pictures of the Bullet on my balcony with a digital camera, and made up a PhotoShop template so I could slide my artwork behind the hardware and reflections.
You can find more of them and some videos at theandroidsaxe.com. To back up a little, the artwork came from as far back as the late ‘60s, when I had taken three photography courses (at Minor White’s lab) and an art history course at M.I.T., where I finished in the summer of ‘69 with a B.S. in electronics engineering. I kept my hand in ever since, never as a professional artist or photographer (except once at a solar physics lab in New Mexico), and never making many art sales (the fingers of 1 & ½ hands).
For a long time, I worked in color slides and B&W silver prints, until both got a whole lot more expensive than even early digital cameras. I got started with Adobe PhotoShop™ in about 1997. Later I tried ink jet printing, air brushes, acrylics and pencil drawings. You can find much of that work at android-originals.com.
Unless you are one of the lucky few with a lot of talent and acceptance in the art world, or at least gift of artistic bafflegab (Good God, selling a canvas for 4 to 6 figures with the letters R A T stenciled on it.), making and selling art tends to be a black hole. Even the juried shows that don’t charge entry fees cost more to make and ship the art than you can generally get out of it. And if you should give it to a church to sell at auction for a “good cause”, you might well find them grasping for that last penny, and letting it go for the cost of materials.
So I had this thought (and it didn’t hurt). Why not combine the artwork with something people can hold and use, like a guitar. Artwork you can play. You may still find that the heads on a digital flatbed printer still sit too low to paint on a standard solid-body. And several musicians have expressed that putting digitally-printed vinyl van wrap material on their favorite and expensive guitars just isn’t going to fly.
Problem – how do you generate artwork in PhotoShop and get it printed on a guitar?
Solution 1 – Buy a somewhat expensive dye sublimation printer and learn how to transfer the image to the often curved upper surface of a guitar, then cover it with protective clearcoat (which can require special hazmat handling if it isn’t water-based).
Solution 2 – Design a whole new electric-acoustic guitar with a thin, flat and removable acoustic top, of not more that ¼ inch high, and print on the top directly with a digital flatbed printer at a printing shop. Then spray on water-based acrylic clearcoat.
Well, more about that later in articles to be written. First we have to chop up the Bullet and rout it out for more pickups, electronics and lightness.