Sunday, 26 June 2011

Mike Hinge 118

Mike Hinge, front cover wraparound for Lunacon 1968 program.

Whilst researching Mike Hinge I came accross Cecilia Cosentini a film maker in New York who had known Mike Hinge personally and was able to recall some interesting encounters which provide further insight on his personality. Cecilia kindly wrote this article specially for Onyxcube and I hope you will enjoy it. Thank you Cecilia!

Some links and history to Cecilia's work...

2003, Worked on the SciF Channel's Frank Herbert's Dune and Children of Dune which both won Emmy's for Special Effects.

1998 HBO's "From the Earth to the Moon" 12 part miniseries that got 17 Emmy Nominations (including one for special effects for the episode which she worked on),

1984 Interior illustrations for S. P Somtow's - Vampire Junction.

1978 Galaxy cover is found here.

1969 designed a Tarot Card for a Tarot Card project by Bruce Pelz that featured various artists. You can see it on this page here. It's the Lady of Swords which was one of the cards Bruce invented.

I was a long time reader of Science Fiction and grew up watching Star Trek. I was involved with SciFi fandom professionally from approximately 1975 to about 1985ish. During those years I attend Trek conventions and SciFi cons like Lunacon to sell my initial art experiments at the Art Shows.
There were also gatherings at Andrew Porter's home in Brooklyn, meetings at Stu Shiffman's in upper Manhattan and various other's: Devra Langsam of Spockanalia fame, "The Frog Palace" which was the home of Connor Cochran who in those days used his nickname, Freff (a contraction of FRiend jEFF) and Amy Sefton. The large home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn was so named because of two cement frogs standing guard on either side of the staircase entrance. This was how artists, writers, editors and readers of SciFi networked. Somewhere in this melange of odd people, creative people and just plain nutty people I met Mike Hinge, but the exact occurrence is lost to the mists of Time. And I hope people reading this will recognize some names to help piece together more of the hinge puzzle. One of the first things that struck me is that he would sometimes sign his work with a drawing of a hinge. How clever, I thought!

In my 20's and at the start of my career I was totally focused on learning and figuring out where my talents really were. I was not mature enough to really appreciate Mike Hinge and his various interests and talents. I say this by way of apology because I wish I had more brilliant observations of Mike. Unfortunately, I was a dummy. 

However, I do recall one very important lesson. At the time publishing was a major source of income for artists. Even I had covers and interiors in Galaxy magazine (1978ish) and other publications. It was well known that most new artists are so desperate for work or acknowledgement that they will allow editors, agents and anyone to abuse them. One editor regularly screwed the artists out of their money. Editors and publishers would often keep or throw away an artists original work. The disrespect was amazing. And Mike was understandably bitter about this.
There were many subtleties when dealing with the Politics of Publishing and Mike showed me one. Generally (in those days, anyway) when you got a commission for an illustration you brought in several mock-ups and the editor chose the one they liked. I remember talking to Mike about this while looking over some of his work on a long table. He said he would make approximately five mock-ups, look them over and pick the "worse" one. He would set THAT one aside and bring the other best ones to show the editor. Mike knew that the editor would ALWAYS, Every Single Time love the worse image. He said this with some understandable disdain. (The look on his face could be translated to , "man, those guys are idiots") This was an important and revealing lesson. An artist should Always trust their own taste above everyone else's. You have to live with your decisions and what others do to your work. So, you don't give any opportunities for others to abuse you. You only show people work that you know you can be proud of. After all, it's your name on the page. Artists have to be responsible for their career.
And because of similar lessons I always made sure to get my original work back, to have editors sign a kill-fee contract and get the respect I deserve. 
When I look back I think I carried this outlook with me as I went on with my career in films and computers. 

Mike had many interests and one was music. Somehow I ended up going to a club with Mike. I don't know why the location of Columbus Circle in Manhattan pops into my head when I think of this, but I hope it's because it's near where this took place. I can see myself and Mike standing in a balcony area looking down at the band raucously and loudly playing. The crowded audience near the band were jumping up and down as if their feet were on fire. I later learned this was a "pogo". To say I was shocked is putting it mildly. I don't think I had seen anything so loud and so chaotic. I'm sure Mike was disappointed with my reaction, but it wasn't the first time and wouldn't be the last. Mike was WAY ahead of his time and I was too young to know it. When I was in my 30's I frequented CBGB's and throughly enjoyed Hardcore shows to the point where I was there every week at least. By then I had abandoned most of my scifi connections so I wasn't able to let Mike know I had finally SEEN THE LIGHT.

Mike was very much an "analog" artist, He knew how to pick up a pencil and draw. How to use a rapidograph pen, cut Screentones with exacto knives, design font faces, paint in gauche and probably knew various printing techniques like Silkscreen. I've noticed in my work in films that lots of "kids" seem to only have experience with their computers. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with "digital". I just think that an artist's work is influenced by the Many techniques they learn. I know that's been the case with me as MY analog experiences definitely affected my later digital work. Each technique adds an important point of view and understanding to all future work. Mike's sense of design was bold, unusual and beautiful. I wish someone had plumbed the depths of his brain about his influences and the process.

Yes, I do think Mike left a lasting impression on me. And it's shame more people don't know him and his work. I hope this small contribution helps remedy that unfortunate vacuum. And maybe looking at Mike's work we can, like archaeologists, begin to unearth the meaning.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Mike Hinge 117

Mike Hinge - Penny's Shoes and Purses Spring Clean 2. Marker pen and pencil on tracing paper. Approximate size 60x70cm. Date: 9th of May 1965. Unsigned.

Mike Hinge 116

Mike Hinge - Penny's Shoes and Purses Spring Clean. Pen and pencil on thin paper. Approximate size 60x70cm. Date: 9th of May 1965. Unsigned.

Mike Hinge 115

Mike Hinge - May Co - Sale. Carbon Copy?. Approximate size 60x70cm. Date: 3rd of March 1960. signed cutty / mike.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Mike Hinge 114

Mike Hinge - May Co - Children's Clothes. Carbon Copy?. Approximate size 60x70cm. Date: 3rd of April 1960. signed mike / dian.