Earth Day

Yesterday was Earth Day, which reminded me of something I haven’t thought about in a long time: my first public recognition as an artist, that I can remember, came on Earth Day — probably the first one in 1970, though it may have been the second in 1971. The children in whatever grade I was in at Roosevelt Elementary School that year were put to work designing “buttons”, on circles cut from posterboard, maybe four or five inches in diameter, to mark the day. These were subsequently voted on by my classmates; my colorful design was the clear winner. Then it was time to reproduce the button so that all the children could cut it out and tape it to their shirts and blouses on Earth Day, which marked another first for me: my first experience with the limitations of reproduction technology. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times over the years I’ve been hosed by bad print jobs, and it all began there, back on Earth Day in ’70 or ’71. To be honest, I do remember wondering how the teachers planned to reproduce the button, but figured they must have something in mind — they were, after all, the teachers. As it turned out, they asked me to trace the design onto that carbon paper they used, and then they churned out terrible mimeographed approximations of my design, which the other kids were then supposed to cut out and color in themselves. An utter fiasco, as you may well imagine. And I’ve been fighting with printers and publishers to get my work reproduced accurately ever since.