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Kevin Guilfoile's Match Preview

Squid Pro Quo

My son’s favorite book is called SQUIDS WILL BE SQUIDS. It’s a series of fables with very wry morals. One of the stories (which contains the apparently hilarious-to-a-five-year-old quote, “I have beef lips”) boasts as its moral: “Just because you have a lot of stuff, don’t think you’re special.”

My experience with Layer Tennis, which I'm proud to say goes all the way back to conception, says that's a good lesson for this competition. Layer Tennis rewards wit and simplicity more than it does clutter and flash unless, that is, your flash shows some especially good Kung Fu. (No Flash puns intended.)

This will be even more true today as Layer Tennis is bringing a pair of outstanding illustrators into the studio for the first-ever analog Layer Tennis match. It will be the first time that competitors and commentator will all be in the same room. It will be the first time the competitors will be playing in front of an audience not made up of their own bewildered co-workers. There will be an unprecedented amount of presentness. There will be ink and pencils and video. I'm assuming photos and scans and scissors will come into play. Possibly glue will be used (if not by the artists, certainly by the commentator).

Speaking of squids, Phineas Xavier Jones has something of a thing for them. Squids reappear again and again in his work. Even his non-squid pictures contain memories of squids. His subjects are almost always sensual and organic, like liquid under thin skin. A straight line in a Phineas X Jones drawing always feels to the viewer like a threat--like a knife or a pin or a shard of glass. Every one of Phineas's creations seems to me like something fragile and deadly (and frequently very funny) all at once. I can't promise you will see one literally in the match today, but figuratively at least, there will be squids.

The author of SQUIDS WILL BE SQUIDS is named Jon Scieszca. I thought I knew how to pronounce that until I found out our second competitor, Dan Grzeca, pronounces his name "Jet-sah." You will never get a job teaching English as a Second Language if your name is spelled Grzeca and pronounced "Jet-sah," which is probably why Dan became an illustrator and that's good news for us. You might know Dan from his terrific gig posters and like Phineas his art has surrealist vibe. Dan's however, seems more rooted in American folk art, if American folk art had been more concerned with the complex relationship between nature and civilization, with the intersection of the organic and inorganic, and less concerned with the relationship between grandmas and quilting. His creations are wildly imaginative, metaphorical, and (appropriately for us) layered.

Put some ink in your printers, ladies and gentleman. This might be a match that, like a good book, is best viewed on paper.


Play by play commentary for this match is provided, as it happens, by Kevin Guilfoile.

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Congratulations to Mig Reyes, Layer Tennis Season 3 Champion. jc-12.20

Thanks to all the players, commentators and fans who made Season Three of Layer Tennis a big success. And thanks to the crew at Goodby Silverstein & Partners and all the folks at Adobe Creative Suite for making it possible. Watch this space (or sign up for Season Tickets or follow us on Twitter) for news about some special exhibition matches being planned and about Season 4. jc-12.20

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