Dave Russo Art

ScribblesOfDave@gmail.com • 413-320-6250 • ETSYFACEBOOKINSTA






Sci Fi Vessels
Bela Fleck Poster






Covered Bridges
Dominican Ruins
Northampton MA
Ashfield MA
Brattleboro VT

Mayan Ruins
Niagara Falls
Music Venues


Main Portait Gallery
Lot Artifacts
Frank Zappa
Les Claypool




THANK YOU!!!! to everyone who sent me a scan of their lot cartoon. I'm honored that you kept it all these years.

What a beautiful gift from the internet. I did these before digital cameras and smart phones. I never documented any of them before tearing them out of the pad and trading them for a burrito (or buds, or champaign, or ticket, or a random hemp something or rather). For years, I'd hoped I'd come across one of these. After asking for these on forums and social media, a new one comes in every day.

Here's the story. I've been cartooning since I was a kid, usually for my friends at random gatherings. At the Great Went (Phish 3-day concert), everything we brought was blown away in the storm. I borrowed a sharpie from a smoothie vendor (wow, what kind of vendor parts with their sharpie?) and a sketch pad that was in my car. I started offering caricatures of vendors in exchange for food. This evolved into drawing groups of people at their campsites. I would offer to draw the crew while they sat around pre-gaming for the next set and they could pay me whatever they wanted once they saw it. Often I would use a picture of the band as a demo because everyone knew the faces.

I wasn't a usual caricature artist. I'm actually kinda' face blind. But if I talked to someone for a minute or so, I could try to see the expressions and personalities that make them unique, particularly in the ways that friends interact with each other.

At the very next event, I made sure to have my professional illustration markers in tote. After a few years of this, people would seek me out and make appointments. My fest map had times and names written all over it. I ate like a king and hadn't paid for a ticket (or really anything) since. The wild-west style of commerce on the strip was fascinating to me. I loved that a temporary city could pop up just outside of a concert and the businesses of art, cuisine, libations, clothing, etc would fill in naturally. It was self regulated, highly efficient, and wildly imaginative.

Eventually, I started trading for things that I had no use for, simply because I knew I could sell it at a different part of the camp ground. That's when the real education started. I learned the value of pretty much anything you could find on shakedown, not to mention forged relationships with main-stay vendors and "social clubs" from all over the country.

Crazy things seen in the process:
  • The inside of a surveillance bus full of screens showing various parts of the campground.
  • Drawing Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top.
  • Jammin' with Upright Citizens Brigade in the furthest reaches of the campground.
  • Having a bunch of butterflies land on me in the middle of an air force runway.
  • Meeting a high-up member of the NO2 Mafia (who was dressed as event security).
  • Drawing a group of 17 naked people.
  • Holding the leash to someone's wolves (2 full-blooded gigantic wolves) while he used the outhouse.
  • Seeing the glow stick thing happen for the first time.
  • Preparing to draw Mike Gordon (in exchange for his agreeing to play Divided Sky that night) before he ran over my foot with his golf cart to escape rabid fans.
  • Singing "Hey Jude" in the trunk seat of my waggon with a cave man. A real cave man.
  • Being the largest city in Maine for one weekend.
  • Getting rained on and then realizing it was actually everyone's collective New Years champaign.
  • Finding the previous year's drawing on T-shirts worn by the whole crew (Canadians are weird).
  • Standing behind Chris Kuroda, watching him run the lighting board.
  • Les Claypool completely making fun of Bob Weir in front of a bunch of deadheads.
  • Gnomes riding tiny xmas lit bikes through the vending area under blinking carnival lights and thinking, I know what kind of band I want to start.
  • Trading a drawing for a small strip of paper. Selling said paper to someone else 2 minutes later. Getting abducted by said someone else the next day. Refunding the money.

By the new millennium, I'd become extremely well versed in campground economy and carried that influence over into my music career, which focused on a connection with the off-stage lifestyle. I returned to many of these events as a musician (Gathering Of The Vibes, Superball, etc) with Primate Fiasco, turning the lot upside down with surprise street discos. It was pretty safe to say the campground was not only my home, but a home that I'd taken part in building. Each time I re-entered the gravity of regular life, often at the first gas station on the way home, I would look around and feel like the outside world was just a little.. I don't know.. off.

In my musician days, I hadn't drawn much. Everything at the fests were already free to me but I missed it. I'm sure I'd come across previous customers but they would have no reason to know that I was the guy who drew that picture hanging in their office. I once noticed a familiar face in the audience while we were on stage at Peach Fest in PA. I never got the chance to ask. But it made me wonder how many of these drawings still exist.

When I requested some of the relics from the internet gods, I didn't know what to expect. The results are perhaps my most prized possession. Don't get me wrong, the art is not amazing and without the person's face, you can't tell if I captured anything at all. They just look like the quick little sketches that they are. But the nostalgia. Oh man.

I'm going to keep adding to this collection as people send them to me. Who knows? Perhaps I'll hit the lot with my markers again.

-Dave Russo

If you still have a caricature laying around from back in the day, please scan or photograph it and send it in. Your identity will not be shared, only the art. Please send to ScribblesOfDave@gmail.com

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