The death of an artist

We have a friend who’s been dying for as long as we’ve known him. Treatments grayed his hair and papered his hands, leeching every color from his skin save a toxic yellow.

Every day, he made his art. His illustrations were sexual, grotesque, humorous. His stories were vulgar, explosive, absurd. From this description, you would think he was a provocateur—that he’d set out to rebel against authority or to school the unenlightened masses with a quip. Not so. Since his time was brief, he acknowledged no detractors, no bullies, no masters. The entire world was the artist’s tribe, and he was a scout who went out into the jungle every day, returning to tell them what he’d seen.

For our friend, art wasn’t the truth as he wanted it to be. It wasn’t the party line. It wasn’t a dig at his enemies. For our friend, art was merely what is. Those things he saw were real. They existed. And the one who drew them existed. And those who saw those illustrations—well they existed too. Like a handprint dusted on the wall of an ancient cave.

Our friend didn’t care about awards, his network, or financial success. He knew he was going to die since the day that we met him. Our friend only cared for his art and his tribe and what he spied in the jungle. You can see it all, every single bit of it, in the last thing the artist told the world:

“This is not how my story ends.”