BWR: Mark, thanks for taking the time for this update on one of your projects; the Tom Evans lithograph. Can you give us a behind the scenes look at how this all came together?
MVP: Hello Rick, first let me start by thanking you for taking the time, and for this opportunity to elaborate on my latest lithograph project. The Tom Evans lithograph was prepared in part for keeping my promise to produce a companion to the Pete Ham lithograph. As you may know, these were prepared in an effort to help raise money for the release of more recorded material from Pete, Tom and early Iveys.
BWR: I know the quality of your work, which we first saw with the Pete Ham lithograph, but still to actually see the new Tommy litho...well it's STUNNING!!!
MVP: Thank you very much for the kind words. Preparing Tom was the most difficult portrait I have ever done, for I knew that it would have to be pleasing to his family and friends as well as withstanding the scrutiny of all the Badfinger fans out there. I spent a total of 85 hours drawing and when he was all done I couldn't bear to show anyone for fear of criticism. When I finally got up enough courage to show him to Dan Matovina, he calmly said "It's definitely Tommy, but can I suggest something? I believe he needs to have thicker eyebrows, longer eyelashes and more stubble." I took it home, did just what he said and the portrait came alive! Dan was totally right, after looking at it for so long, I didn't have anymore insight as to what he might have needed.
BWR: I noticed his eyes right away! It feels as if you had just walked up and caught him in a pensive moment. It is a penetrating gaze...Just what is Tommy pondering? Your eyes have seen the glory of the future that is past.
MVP: You have coined a truly unique combination between Tomís lyrics and my portrait of him. Interestingly enough, this is the first comment people tend to make about my portraits. I do begin each drawing with the eyes, as I believe them to be the most important aspect of the drawing. To further illustrate, I just received a nice card from Marianne Evans, in which she states "You got it all well, especially his eyes, he had beautiful sad eyes". Marianne is a most kind and gracious person and quite honestly, my main inspiration for preparing his portrait. Just by chance the portrait arrived on the week of her birthday which made for a very special day.
BWR: Did you work from an existing photo or is this rendering your impression of Tommy taken from several sources? At what age would you say Tommy is in this drawing? In 1969 at twenty-two or so?
MVP: I spent countless hours piling over many photographs of Tom, none that were really to my liking. Usually I can find one picture that instantly captures my attention. Though an initial photograph did present itself to me early on, it was decided that because he was looking down, I would be missing a very important aspect of my drawings. Growing ever frustrated, I finally spotted a photograph of a somewhat disheveled Tom, using two additional photographs, I was able to combine all three in order to get the Tom Evans that I so envisioned. The main photograph I used has already been discovered by a good friend who had this to say "I spotted the photograph you drew the portrait from and realized just how alive the lithograph is" (I didnít think anyone would be able to put them together - thank you Anne). I would say that this portrait of Tom is in the era of 1969 to 1971.
BWR: Sometimes it seems that Tom Evans is a bit overlooked with his treatment on the Internet. This lithograph may be a first step towards remedying that situation.
MVP: Tom has always been my central figure in Badfinger. I believe it is because of the Straight Up album cover. When I was 11 years old, I can remember seeing this in my dadís record collection and I always focused on Tom. I never knew who he was and never even saw the cover again until 1995, when I read a little blurb about Badfinger during the release of the Beatles Anthology and I thoughtÖ..Badfinger? I remembered the name, got curious, went to the record store and found the Straight Up CD, got home, put it on and could not believe what I was hearing. These songs were so familiar, yet they had alluded me for some 25 years. After a while I was able to put the voices to these familiar faces, Pete wrote and sang the hits, but my heart went out to Tom. His songs to me have an inner sincerity, he truly sings from the heart and in doing so touches mine as well. Hopefully, this lithograph will help with the release of Tomís songs in the same flavor as done with Peteís and thus elevate his status as well.
BWR: A new CD showcasing Tommy's demo songs would be most welcome! I hope that the sale of this lithograph will help that process along. Tell me a bit about yourself. Are you an artist by profession or as an after hours passion?
MVP: Drawing portraits is something I do only a couple times a year. It is most difficult to find the time because of the manner and frame of mind needed to complete them. I usually book a three day weekend and I donít stop until itís finished. The night before beginning, I ready my drawing table, sharpen my pencils, choose my music and take a few minutes to envision the process. As a ritual, I always start out by listening to former Babys singer John Waiteís solo album titled No Brakes to get the feeling I had when my first real portraits started to take shape. Billy Martin, drawn back in 1983 was my first big breakthrough. About myself; I have been employed by the same company for 15 years, working full-time as an AutoCAD drafter in the field of civil engineering. I am 39 years old, married and raising three boys. Our oldest son is in the military, middle son enjoys biking, youngest is an accomplished drummer and he does a great Tom Evans singing impressionÖ. Whooaah Yeah!
BWR: When did you discover that you had this talent to draw portraits?
MVP: I was first inspired to draw after seeing some portraits that my Grandmother had drawn for my Uncle of baseball players from the 1940ís. She would draw his favorites and then he would send them to the ballplayers for their autograph. I was so impressed I immediately sat down and drew my baseball hero Johnny Bench (Hey, cut me some slack I was only ten years old)! Over the years and after hundreds of portraits later, I finally developed the style that you see now. It just comes natural, much like a musician who doesnít read or write music.
BWR: When did you first find yourself drawn to Badfinger's music?
MVP: As I mentioned earlier, my introduction to Badfinger came from my father, whoís interest in the Beatles led him to buy the Magic Christian Music and Straight Up albums. "Day After Day" is the song most familiar to me, however it is Pete singing "Take It All" and Tomís vocals on "Flying" that literally melts my heart. To me, that gutsy guitar sound on "Itís Over" truly epitomizes the unique sound of Badfinger.
BWR: Can you define just what it is that has you still listening to Badfinger's music so many years later?
MVP: The songs are just as powerful to me now as they were when I was eleven years old. I NEVER get tired of hearing "Day After Day" or "No Matter What". I recently was able to bask in a strange glory at the movie theater. After watching a full feature film, a friend and I decided to take a breather and let the crowd disperse before leaving. While sitting there, a load advertisement played to promote the Outside Providence soundtrack. After hearing the initial snippet of "No Matter What", the theater played the song in itís entirety! I sat there with this great feeling, sitting there all alone and thinking to myself how Pete and Tom might have felt all these years later. I once read where a famous rock star said that after all the years of fame and fortune, the ultimate reward is still driving down the road and hearing his music on the radio.
BWR: Have you ever been to a Badfinger concert and/or met any members of the band?
MVP: The closest I ever came to seeing Badfinger was about a year ago (let me explain). I went with my wife to see a small concert at a great old newly restored local concert hall. As I sat there watching these two musicians, sitting on a stools, singing songs, telling stories, crowd laughing and loving every minute of the performance, I looked around and thought wouldnít it be great if I could transform them into Pete and Tom? What would this most appreciative crowd think of them? I sat with my eyes closed and got so completely lost in the fantasy that I temporarily lost contact with the current performers. For that brief moment it felt as though they were both there and what a great feeling it was. As reality began to set in, I got a bit choked up so I slowly wandered to the hallway until I ran into a vendor and struck up a conversation. The vendor asked me if I was a fan of the group playing, "NO" was my reply. I told him that I was really into Badfinger, he quickly replied "Yeah man, I remember those guys, I hear they are getting back together". I solemnly said "NO" and then began to tell him of the tragedy in which he again replied "Well, as long as Paul Rodgers is still doing the singing, thatís all I care about" (Bad CompanyÖ.right). He was well meaning, but Iím sure youíve all encountered this person a time or two in your life. At that point I knew Iíd better get back to my seat. Every time I see anyone perform, I try to envision Pete and Tom. Sadly, the answer to your question is no.
BWR: What prompted you to come up with the original idea for the Pete Ham lithograph?
MVP: Aside from the initial thought to help Dan raise money for projects, another idea was to generate enough to purchase a commemorative stone for Pete and trek over to Swansea and have a dedication where everyone who wanted could gather and get to know each other. Ultimately, I wanted to express my deep appreciation to Pete and Tom. One of the greatest joys has been packaging up each lithograph, addressing it to their good friends, family, and fans. After the Pete Ham lithograph, I received a nice letter from Bob Jackson in which he states, "As you must know, I had worked closely with Pete yet, maybe surprisingly, have no personal pictures of him from that time. Your portrait fills that gap". The reward for me is receiving nice letters from those of you who have supported my effort.
BWR: Are there any thoughts about continuing the series? Would Mike or Joey agree to have this tribute done for them? Or what about a group drawing?
MVP: That would seem to be a natural progression. I sent them both lithographs, but they have not expressed any interest as of yet, nor have I made any serious attempt at contacting them to see if they might be. Wouldnít it be fantastic to do an autographed series with Joey and Mike?
BWR: Mark, that would be outstanding! I hope that you decide to pursue that idea. Can you take us step-by-step on how your thoughts and ideas were transformed into the series of drawings that we now see?
BWR Note: The following Enlarged photos are optimized for the web. The actual Tom Evans lithograph is commercially printed at a much higher resolution, (screen value). [ Click Drawings Below to Enlarge ]
BWR Note: The following Enlarged photos are optimized for the web. The actual Tom Evans lithograph is commercially printed at a much higher resolution, (screen value).
[ Click Drawings Below to Enlarge ]
MVP: (Drawing #1) Oh boy, looking at it now I can remember the feeling of successfully completing the most important partÖ.his eyes. An exuberance comes over me and I almost donít want to finish. This feeling is coupled by the thought of failure and some 80 more hours, his mouth, chin and all that black hair! As you can see, I dabble by drawing a little bit of his hair as I nervously ponder what to draw next.
MVP: (Drawing #2) On to his mouth and more doodling with his hair, suddenly I can sense that something is amiss and almost feel that I have somehow lost something because of my euphoric state after nailing his eyes, but what is it that is wrong?
MVP: (Drawing #3) I finally figure out that something is desperately wrong with his mouth, after many hours of surgery, I am satisfied and continue on, down to his chin and on to his neck, still dinkiní around with little bits of his hair. I know now, that I have got my work cut out for me. Throughout this time I am listening to various Badfinger, Iveys and Tom Evans related music, the inspiration is definitely building.
MVP: (Drawing #4) Yikes, is it too light? Do I now have to redraw over what I have already drawn? When do I start getting serious about drawing his hair? The time is ticking, the day is getting long and I am tired. No hair today!
MVP: (Drawing #5) I finally get up enough courage to draw his hair, (a 30 hour endeavor) and without getting too out thereÖ.it is time to tell you that during this drawing and for the first time ever, I was overcome with emotion. This feeling came as I thought about Marianne and Stephen Evans and their continued love for him. Suddenly this becomes not only the most difficult, but the most important portrait I have ever drawn. (This version is not the completed portrait, as I still have to make his eyebrows thicker, eyelashes longer and add more stubble.)
BWR: Well, as I said earlier, the result is quite STUNNING! I believe Badfinger fans will be very pleased.
MVP: After putting those final touches on Tom I knew he was a winner, again I thank you for the great compliment.
BWR: How did you meet Dan Matovina and what else have you been working on with him?
MVP: I first met Dan after reading an early preview of his then soon to be released 7 Park Avenue CD and book project in ICE Magazine. I phoned him immediately to place my order and to profess my interest in Badfinger. At that time, I was fully entrenched with the music and I had just purchased some rare Iveys memorabilia. We got together and have been working closely ever since. One of the first things I did was show him some of my portraits; come to think of it, that is really where the seed was planted for the lithograph of Pete. Dan was having some trouble with the direction of the book cover art and I offered to help by preparing a new layout and re-creating the familiar Badfinger/Straight Up text style. The tricky part was interpreting what the other letters might have looked like if there had been a "W" or "Y". The result is what you see on the first edition printing as well as the design on the limited edition CD inside. I also prepared the layout for the new booklet and CD that is sealed inside the second printing of his book. Initially, I proposed a couple different book cover variations and the cover of the new CD booklet features one of those variations (my favorite). Working with Dan has been a very positive experience, he is a kind and caring individual, historian, multi-talented writer and recording engineer, a career that is second only to his fierce dedication to preserving the memories Pete Ham and Tom Evans.
BWR: What is the best way to order the new Tom Evans lithograph? Should those who previously ordered the Pete Ham lithograph let you know their Pete Ham number? You will match up the numbers on both, correct?
MVP: Yes and Yes! The easiest way will be for me to take advance orders via Cash, Check, Money Order or International Money Order, (for all foreign orders) by direct mailing to my PO Box, or you can email me directly at [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]. Please include your lithograph number for Pete, I will match the numbers to what I have recorded and to insure that you get the correct matching number on the Tom Evans lithograph that will be sent to you.
BWR: For those who have not yet ordered the Pete Ham lithograph, you can still do so right?
MVP: The Pete Ham lithograph will be available until the edition is sold out. Again, anyone can order this directly from me or through Danís website.
BWR: At some point will any of the excess Pete Ham Lithographs be destroyed?
MVP: Did you say destroyed? Never, absolutely not! Worst case scenario it becomes a very expensive item for my portfolio. I am hoping that after the VH1 Special airs, interested fans will flock to the record stores or visit all the great Badfinger websites and eventually sell out the entire edition. When that happens, we will start making plans for the commemorative stone dedication. Thank you for your enthusiasm and support, see you all in Swansea!
BWR: Mark, it has been really a pleasure talking with you about this exciting new Tom Evans lithograph. And I find it especially interesting that you shared with us the "Drawing in Progress" prints! Thank you! I wish you the best of luck with this venture.
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