Ever since my first trip to Europe and the UK in 1988, I’ve tried to emulate a European & British essence in how I live. Scattered about my various apartments, houses and again, apartment, are visual reminders of the feast that beckons from the other side of the Atlantic. By feast, I lump the satisfying design of these cultures, not just the food and drink. Typography, design, flavors, architecture, music, fragrances, flags and mannerisms. While typing, I savored a delicious cappuccino made for me by me on my vintage orange illy francis francis Italian espresso machine, nibbled on toast slathered in British jam while gazing up at framed maps and retro travel posters that spill over my walls, visualizing a vista far removed from my midwestern roots.
My toast rests on antique French Bistro porcelain tip plates, a reminder of life that required changing currencies while trains blasted me across borders, ages before the Euro existed. My tiny espresso cups take me to a week spent wandering around Milan researching early 20th century violin makers when, with my faulty attempt to speak Italian, I tried to buy a pair from the patient and kind-hearted barista. I was so pitied that she gave the cups to me for free!
The centerpiece of my house is an enormous farm table, kept rustic on purpose to emulate an open air robust lunch of wine, bread, cheese, olives and prosciutto shared over the rolling hills just steps from Florence. The deep red and twisty Mandevilla flowering vine just outside my french doors reminds me of a quaint brunch enjoyed on a terrace in balmy Cannes, overlooking the salty blue of the Mediterranean. The best mussels I’ve ever had!
Of course, a montage of postcards, books, receipts, metro stubs and sketches of my travels are dotted all around the place, drawing me back always to the days spent immersed in a foreign languages, clinking plates, church bells wildly ringing in the morning light, the horn of a train about to pull out of elaborate, majestic train stations, and the pulsing wonder of discoveries yet to come.
Whenever I luck into a creative commission from clients in London or Paris and beyond, I fall into a type of reverie, gleefully plunging into new illustrations which transport me from here to there. No passport required!