People here don’t really talk much about the weather, probably because it’s mostly the same everyday, so the remark ‘ What a lovely day today’ seems oddly out of place as it’s just not that unusual. The second time I visited LA I came with a fellow illustrator, and he was definitely an illustrator whereas I’ve always been conflicted over my art gender, and have only really come to terms with being called and calling myself a cartoonist in the last10 years or so ( when for most of that time I was actually a print salesman ) I digress. In came here in the early 1980s with Derbyshire native Phil Dobson. He and I shared the same agent ( yes, we had an agent! ).That agent: Ian Chambers, ran an agency in London called Funny Business, great name if you are going to represent artists who did mildly amusing stuff. A name that I think Phil came up with and Ian sequestered and took the credit for.
He was a bit of a rogue, and eventually went bust owing thousands to several of his illustrators. But for a number of years he was very successful and got me and others a lot of work in the marketplace. He was very good at what is known as schmoozing…sweet talking people into paying more for our work than we would ever have thought of asking for. He bullshitted on our behalf very well.
Back in the 80s Ian met a young woman who ran what she called a gallery in LA and asked Phil and I if we fancied selling some pieces of work in it and going over there to promote it. It sounded very grand and like one of his customers he persuaded us that it was a great idea. We flew out while Ian, probably in the front of the plane on the champers, had booked an apartment for the 3 of us in Venice Beach. Trendy or what? When we got to it this huge apartment was bigger than anything we’d ever seen before, Phil and I hired a small Nissan car which we shared, and did the odd trip here and there while Ian swanned about in a hired Ford Thunderbird Convertible for himself and any possible female companion. He never told us where exactly he went.
The night of the opening came and we went over to the Gallery which we expected to be in a cool part of town, with lots of LA arty glitterati. It was in what’s called a strip mall over here. An unprepossessing row of shops, dry cleaners, insurance offices and fast food joints. It was in reality more of a picture framing place than a gallery. Smaller than the kitchen in the apartment where we were staying in Venice Beach. To be fair to the owners they gushed about the work and were very good to us making us very welcome. A similar place in London might have been located in Pinner, it was hardly glitzy.
I don’t think we sold anything, which was really no surprise to Phil and I. That aside we enjoyed our brief stay in LA. but perhaps the most notable thing about the trip was that it hardly stopped raining all the time we were there. Which made it a favourite topic of conversation to anyone over there we met, unlike this trip.