For Todd DiCiurcio, drawing was a rebellion. His mother passed when he was 14 and he didn’t have a great relationship with his dad, who had repeatedly told him “art is for sissies.” Drawing was an escape, much like the underground shows he would frequent. Music and art were a closely tied love, and he came to combine his passion for both at a Guided By Voices show in ‘99. From then on, he’s drawn bands such as Broken Social Scene, Dinosaur Jr., The English Beat, Grizzly Bear, Band of Horses and even Bon Jovi. Photography by Hew Burney.
We caught up with him as he wrapped up his artist-in-residency “Draw Us Sin,” at P3 Studio in The Cosmopolitan Hotel Las Vegas where he transformed the space into a working studio where musicians, performers, and guests could come and play together and experiment while he captures them on paper using various media.
LF: What has Vegas been like for you? Have you ever been?
TD: It’s actually my first time. There’s a definite energy here, but it’s a different kind of hustle than New York. There’s a feeling I get when I come to the West, how many souls have come out here searching and didn’t find what they were looking for, all those stories started coming through when I started working.
LF: The title “Draw Us Sin” is very provocative, did you want to create a certain mood or outcome by naming it that?
TD: The name reflects the lure and lore of Las Vegas. I think it points to the primal urges that define its underbelly, that’s what makes Las Vegas so tempting.
LF: What were some of the unexpected experiences that came up during your residency?
TD: It was as unexpected as I could’ve expected. The opening band, The Men were the only band that was planned. They ended up jamming for 3 hours because the sound was so good. The next night, someone from the San Francisco Philharmonic Opera wandered in and sang two incredible songs. Craig Martin came in and my friend Shaun Mcnally backed him up along with someone who came and jumped on the drums. They can be considered jams but I think of them more as experiments, both The Men and Peanut Butter Lovesicle came to work out songs and accomplished finishing them while they were here, and I’m experimenting as well using ink grounds and then drawing on top of them. Another incredible moment was witnessing Chelsea Tyler and Zoe Kravitz sing with Dpocket, a local singer/songwriter, and of course, drawing live with badbad.
LF: The “live” aspect of your work is often mentioned, the fact that you start drawing when the musicians start and end when they end, working in one continuous session. What does it feel like for you, to draw in that way?
TD: To work this way can only be described as a religious experience. The process is pure and unapologetic, strict to mark making and its emotional purgings.
LF: Where do you feel like you get your real education?
TD: As a teenager listening to Depeche Mode’s “Black Celebration” in my room all night and then skating a half pipe in the woods all day.
LF: If you could draw any band, who would it be?
TD: Led Zeppelin.
LF: What are you most afraid of?
TD: Losing the one I love.
LF: What are you doing now that you’ve wrapped up “Draw Us Sin”?
TD: Planning to head to Australia for Splendour in the Grass Festival in Byron Bay to draw live with all the bands there.
LF: How fast do you live?
TD: Pedal down.