Matt and I were supposed to hang out one weekend, however, he got held up in Tampa. When he returned he presented the book to me with a handwritten note on the inside cover expressing his hope that I would find the same love and inspiration that he felt through this book. Shuffled amongst the pages was another handwritten note. This one was written after he found out he wasn't going to make it back to Orlando in time. He apologized for the lost weekend, expressed more love for the book, and most curiously of all - included an illustration on the back.
The end of the note read: "I drew this fairly recently, and I like it. Actually, I really like the woman, not so much the man. But it was an attempt at realistic art. (When I draw real art, I <3 <3 <3 the 40's.) Anyways, I hope you enjoy this, as I do enjoy our friendship."
I turned the note over to find this little illustration:
|A Matthew Dodenhoff original|
I've become accustomed to Matt leaving notes and illustrations all over Starbucks when we work together. Almost everyone is meant to draw laughter, especially when accompanied by a silly caption. However, this one was different. No silly phrase, no goofy characters, not even any context. It just looked like to people who's lives intersect briefly on a street corner without so much as a word.
I was touched by the book and the note, but the illustration stayed on my mind. Maybe because it was so unusual, maybe it was because being an artist I don't receive much artwork.
A few month's later Matt endured a difficult move. Although he remained in Orlando he moved across the city to be closer to work and struggled to get out of a living arrangement with a bad roommate. I had some rough living situations and I could definitely sympathize. Once he settled into his adorable apartment I set to work on his housewarming present.
I took inspiration from his note and decided to recreate his illustration with my style of drawing. I also pulled some ideas from Mad Men and I ended up with this:
From start to finish it took about seven hours and it is one of the first pure illustrations I have done in a long time. For the most part I create illustrations for myself but this one was made for Matt.