Damon Locks

Past Perfect Essay
by Damon Locks

Maybe a sense of style became a concept in 1978 when I bought my first comic. It was X-Men #111 (drawn by John Bryne written by Chris Claremont). This was the first inkling that if a person simply put on an outfit they could transform their image and the way they were perceived.  The introduction of comics did not have a great effect on my wardrobe (I was 10 years old after all,). For the next couple years my idea of style was matching terry cloth shirts and shorts.

It wasn’t until I got introduced to punk and hardcore music that I realized the possibilities of activating my own fashion sense (punk came with its own fashion explosion). I was about 14 at the time. Punk music, science fiction and comics all converged and the possibilities were illuminated. Immediately I started distorting my image: mohawks, hair dye, spray paint, usurped military clothing, thrift store acquisitions, spiked wrist bands, bullet belts were all used to piece together my ever changing look.  One great thing for me was that style could transform. Many musicians would change their looks from album to album sparking new excitement with each release.

The aggressive fashion of punk opened me to other stylistic ideas. I began to incorporate other influences into my arsenal. The genre scrapping “rebel rock” of The Clash matched my affinity for films like Escape From New York and Blade Runner. The sharp suited outfits of The Specials complimented my affection for tv shows like The Prisoner and The Twilight Zone. The bleak and stark mode of a band like Joy Division spoke to the part of me that enjoyed Eraserhead. This is the era where the thrift store purchase of the grey felt suit jacket with grey plaid cuffs and collar I requested for this project arrived in my world. The jacket was so unusual and so classic is seemed destined for me. The jacket’s origins were hard to determine. The jacket was unique and untraceable. Was it someone’s personal creation or was it a uniform to be worn for a purpose? This jacket was as perfect a compliment to a tie and wing tips as it was to an army pant and boots combo. I don’t know where this jacket ended up. I loved it so but have no recollection of when or why it disappeared from my closet. It had all but faded from my memory until Facebook presented me with a photo of me wearing the beloved item.

Originally, the main object of the superhero’s mask was to protect his identity. So he/she could fight crime at night and live his days unnoticed as a part of the crowd. It is clear that the mask, cape, costume or elaborate headgear really created the identity. Over the years, in comics, the secret identity became less and less appealing because being the super hero was the more dynamic and expressive life. In my teens and beyond musicians became my superheroes. In real life, it is the musician that is given license to transform themselves into larger than life characters in the eyes of the general public. Punk music brought that idea to the basement and VFW Halls and the kids brought it to school.

The blurring of the lines between: uniform and unique, disheveled and clean, forward reaching and classic are all elements that can be found in my stylistic choices of today but the threads can be traced as far back as a grey felt suit jacket with grey plaid cuffs and collar.

Bio Damon Locks began his schooling at SVA in NYC as an illustration major. Feeling limited by that major, in terms of his artistic exploration, he transferred to The School of The Art Institute in Chicago where he received his BFA in Fine Arts.His work often revolves around people and their landscape; the narrative themes of protest, unrest, and tension are woven throughout. The processes used to reach these ends are a combination of, but not limited to: drawing, photography, digital manipulation and silk screen. His analog upbringing nurtures the dirty, the antiqued, and the distressed, thus giving a warmth and tactile quality to both his screen prints and his digital prints. The work can feel socially political and/or fantastically abstract in its narrative.

Alongside his personal visual exploration, in recent years he has found himself returning to illustration and design. His work can be found shaping the look of album covers, movie posters, dvd package design, book and magazine covers.

Not only a visual artist, Damon has been a musician operating in the Chicago music scene since the late 80’s. First in the group Trenchmouth, he then went on to form The Eternals. These days he splits his time between being a visual artist & illustrator, a deejay and a member of both The Eternals and the jazz ensemble Exploding Star Orchestra. His travels and experiences traveling playing music have definitely influenced the look of his work (Brazilian buildings turn up regularly). His love for both visual art and music inform and compliment each other and help form an overall aesthetic with ideas and tonalities bouncing back and forth between genres.

photo by Alix Lambert
drawing by Jamie Hayes

Damon & Hope circa 1986

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