Jackass, Jackass

Picture this: it's dark, you are working your way through the stacks. You see a beautiful old book, and pull it out. It's a story, on old crumbling paper. Every thirty pages or so, you flip past a delightful, bright, lighthearted and lovingly crafted illustration of the characters in the story. The very images of Levity and laughter brighten the dark stacks around you and make you smile. The paper is so delicate between your fingers, threatening to crumble then and there, taking the joyous moment with it, into oblivion.

That's what these are. Snippets of happy moments in Kvothes story, illuminated and frozen forever in that moment. There are only so many of these precious collections of time.

I am an illustrator. The difference between illustration and fine art is that illustrations tell stories, communicate ideas, or sell products. Fine art is generally more a personal expression from the artist, or a beautiful depiction of a subject.

For the Levity print set – I purposefully chose to give you illustrations. There are many beautiful moody portraits of Kvothe out there, and I myself will probably do one in the future because they are just so darned fun – but this is not one of those. These pieces are designed to tell stories of happiness.

Will I do a Bravery set? Showing darker aspects of Kvothes life? I suppose it's always possible. But these are from the Levity chapter in his life – precious few happy moments in a hard life.

For the first piece, "Jackass, Jackass!" Kvothe plays his controversial song, somewhat covertly, while Wil and Sim try to stifle their laughter. He is young (remember, at this point in the books, he is a tender sixteen – barely). For this moment in time, his laughter eclipses his drawn face, his scars and troubles. He is a carefree boy, enjoying time with his friends. He is being obnoxious in his best in a way that only carefree boys with the world ahead of them can be. A joyous healthy glow surrounds him from his music. You are seeing how Kvothe feels – young, happy, and not alone.

The viewer is on this side of the wall, while Kvothe is astride it – perched tauntingly on the very boundary separating us from the antagonist. Wil and Sim are shielded by the wall, safe from Ambrose's temper. As are we, the viewers. Sims laugh is infections. Wils is restrained, and a bit appalled that Kvothe is singing this. It's controversial but oh so funny.
Kvothe himself is carefree, leaning back a bit toward danger. The maple tree is simply that – but for those who have read the second book, it also serves as foreshadowing of a much more ominous sort of tree.

In my illustrations, I like to commit fully to the flavor of the scene. These pieces are glimpses of a happy time. Please enjoy them, they are so very rare.

Echo Chernik

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