Juiced and jazzed and generally jiggy that the great collage/assemblage artist Norman Mallard has agreed to create an original cover and six inside art pieces (one for each story) for the third book in the AMWA series, Two Spirits, a collection of six novellas, due out in hard copy in February ’20.
I’ve worked with Norman once before, when he provided supercool mood boards for IRL, a TV series I developed. And I’m honored to own a Mallard collage, mixed media on wood, which hangs in my home in WeHo. So it’s especially amazing he’s willing to join me in this crazy adventure.
Norman hails from Akron, OH where he works as a fulltime graphic designer and occasional fine artist. He’s an avid reader (reading at least one avid a week), and we’ve spent scores of hours discussing (dissing, digressing) literature in all its forms.
He grew up in Norfolk, VA, trained in Atlanta, GA, spent a few formative years in Richmond, VA (a town he adores), and settled in Washington, DC, where he thought he’d stay forever (such a fun place to live, even if one isn’t in government!). But a twist of fate led him to Ohio, where he’d never even visited. He finds he loves it there, too. Far from a tortured artiste, he’s more a happy little seedling who grows wherever he’s planted.
Professionally, Norman has worked with many clients over his long career, ranging from shipping companies to banks to nonprofits to small business to universities to governmental (and non-governmental) agencies. He’s created ad campaigns, flyers/brochures, websites, postcards, annual (and non-annual) reports and logos. He likes logos best. For 95 percent of his career he worked at agencies and design firms, but is now on his own — and has surprised himself by loving it.
Norman is self-taught as an artist, but brings his strong design training to the table when he creates. His preferred medium is Collage/Assemblage (He likes sticking things together.) His work often employs juxtaposition and humor to make sense of an ever-changing world, and his reliance on images and graphics from the past speak to this.
Humble to an extreme, he only occasionally shows his work in juried shows — National Collage Society’s annual juried show (twice); Summit Artspace’s juried competitions (thrice) — mostly showing in his basement studio to family and friends.
I sought out Norman not only because of the strong narrative bent in his work (see attached samples) but because I think he’s the living artist I know who best exemplifies a certain imperative occasioned by the insane barrage of media (images, icons, idioms) heaped on us daily by technology and the always “on” world. Norman’s art seems to me to seek to reassemble in small, more digestible bytes his ideas of an ostensibly confusing but perfectly sensibly put-together world. Each of his pieces represents one mashed-up, mixed-media mélange re-presenting some aspect, some angle, some view of the whole of our modern existence. As though his brain’s a machine that can dissect the universe slice by slice. Animalia, technology, time, humanity, gender, geography, language, etc., all exist, jumbled, interpenetrating, comfy, juxtaposed, on a single plane.