When I was a child I had a small flip book—a kind of notebook bestiary. Each page was smudged and brimming with portraits made of wings and teeth, of sunflower petals and horns: desires made up of scales and yellowed toenails abutting soft green flesh. I realize now they were reflections of something I did not understand, and collected from ideas of a world that seemed breathtakingly huge and possible.
In hindsight, they betrayed my desperate urge to create something that had never existed before.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve never stopped drawing monsters. But largely, these reflections have shifted from those creatures that do not exist to those that do, albeit ones that are mangled and magnified into ridged, and painful constructions.
Lately I’ve been drawing Donald Trump. I sit at my desk at work trying to record the flesh that hangs in a soft parabola under his chin, or his eyes that seemed pushed with thumbs into the ruddy clay of his face. But I can never, even in part, capture his aura of white-bellied malignancy or his small-predator musk. As the person I am, with luxuries I have, sometimes I forget that he is human. Sometimes I forget that he really exists.
I’ve been staring into space a lot lately. I will suddenly become overwhelmed, overcome with anxiety.
I am unwilling to speak for anyone else. I have no answers. All I know is that if I must keep going, and I must, I have to build something new. It’s the same urge as when I was younger, and perhaps it is what we must do to beat back this thing we have let into our midst: to create something that has not existed before.
And I will keep drawing monsters.
Tanner Servoss lives and works in Minneapolis, surrounding himself with strange books and records.