Issaquah artist picks brains to create zombie cartoons
September 6, 2011
By David Hayes
For years, Ray Basile thought his jobs as a designer defining in-store branding strategies was an outlet for the creative right side of his brain.
Unfortunately, his brain’s left side eventually took over and he found himself mired in the process of the job and doing far fewer creative things.
“While driving back and forth to work in my PT Cruiser, I’d get this feeling of growing intensity that my work life was devolving into zombies eating my brains,” he said. “I felt like I was always fighting zombies.”
As a result, Basile would turn to side projects, including two blogs, to channel his creativity. His latest endeavor, Zombie Wagon art — the result of combining his drawings with his observations of mundane life through the eyes of a zombie — goes public Sept. 9 at Caffe Ladro in the Issaquah Highlands. Essentially, his musings are tweaked truisms.
“I take common observations from current, every-day life and tweak them to a zombie’s perspective,” he said.
For example, one of his drawings comes directly from a conversation he had with a prior boss.
“You’re too old to be chasing your dreams,” I was told.
The character’s response in the cartoon who feels he’s now addressing one from the zombie nation: “Let me guess. This is when you try to grab my skull and start eating my brains.”
If you go
Opening reception for Ray Basile’s Zombie Wagon art
Basile had cataloged dozens of such observations since arriving from California to Issaquah in 1999 to design a new in-store sound for DSW Shoe Warehouse. He found additional creative outlets in his blog, www.iphonesavior.com, which launched at the same time as Apple released its iPhone to consumers.
“I quickly grew a viewing audience for my blog from zero to 3 million in less than two years,” Basile said, thanks to the popularity of the device.
He also would launch www.bestkisses.com, a kissing photo and loving message website designed to promote the power of love.
But when Basile, 52, found himself unemployed in May, he refused to sit idle as he searched for work. It was during this downtime that he made Caffe Ladro his homebase of job-search operations and the zombie drawings first took shape. His medium of choice — the 24 box of Crayola Crayons. A staffer was so impressed by his sketches, she recommended he show his work. After some additional convincing by his wife Terri, Basile gave it a shot.
“So, I decided to dive headlong into cartooning with a message, leveraging the rise of zombies into pop culture as a key launching point,” he said.
One of the sticking points of actually showing his latest work, even though he’s been selling computer art in the Issaquah community since 2001, was he realized he wasn’t exactly Picasso or da Vinci. That’s when he hit upon donating 51 percent of proceeds to his favorite charity,
“Then it hit me that the work didn’t have to be important. Rather, it could result in going to an important cause,” he said.
His show will feature 20 of his best works, framed and available for purchase. Whether or not the Issaquah show is successful, Basile is already looking for venues in Seattle to expand his zombie invasion.
David Hayes: firstname.lastname@example.org, 392-6434, ext. 237. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.