The first time I saw the following hand-written letter, it was for sale on ebay. Although I was sorely tempted, having been an admirer of Jones’s ongoing self-education and steady development as an artist since the early 1980s, when in my late teens I purchased in quick succession the three Dragon’s Dream books, The Studio, Yesterday’s Lily, and Idyl, I could not afford at the time to bid for it — or, at least, I didn’t feel like I could justify the expense to my wife — so I let it slip through my fingers. However, as a compensation of sorts, I saved the JPEG from the auction listing, so I could re-read it later for inspiration, because the fact is that I DID, for various personal and professional reasons I won’t go into here, find it tremendously inspiring. But then, somehow, I misplaced the JPEG when I moved all my e-stuff to a new computer, this computer, and the fact is, I thought at that point I would never get to read it again. And I was okay with that. I shrugged and moved on. It wasn’t that big a deal. But today is my lucky day, because here it is:
I think the line that really gets me is this: “With the Lampoon for instance I am free to do whatever I want with my page.” A single page of unconstrained artistic freedom every month: that’s the modest but essential standard by which Jeffrey Jones judged proposed projects in 1973, five hectic years into his career in commercial art.
Small things, even ill-favoured things, are treasure when they are truly one’s own.
Thanks to Rob Pistella for inviting me to use scans from his CAF gallery on this blog. Rob has a terrific and growing collection of artwork (and ephemera!) by Jeffrey Jones, and I am delighted to be in a position to highlight some of those items here.