If there is one thing more iconic in the pantheon of rock ’n’ roll clichés tropes godliness than a guy standing on stage playing a guitar, it is a guy standing beside the stage playing without a guitar.

In homage to the slobs nerds gods of air guitar, Brooklyn-based illustrator Fred Stesney has created this post’s imagined depictions of real musicians doing a pretend thing in homage to a fantasy lifestyle.

Why would a creative person do something like that?

The beginnings of an explanation are archived on Stesney’s Behance account:

Academic Rationalization: By deconstructing the pop culture icon of the guitar hero, the artist recontextualizes the existence of the non-object and implies the question of the viewer’s involvement in the art-making process, i.e. distancing techniques, semiotics and transgressional strategies. 

Common Explanation: Guitar players can get away with making some funny faces and postures but, when you take away the six-stringed excuse, they look pretty silly.

These rationale are a couple of likely stories, but why let the artist off with facile explanations? Seeking a deeper meaning, the Skeeve subjected Stesney to profound questioning.

The Skeeve: How did you land the air-guitar job and figure out these illustrations?

Fred Stesney: It was the reverse of that. I had the idea for an air guitar series and, after finishing it, saw an open call from Guitar World for guitar-related art. 

The Skeeve: Why didn’t you do any women guitar heroes?

Fred Stesney: My subject list is far from comprehensive. No Lita Ford. No Hendrix, Page, or Blackmore either. 

The Skeeve: Can you explain why air-trumpet competitions have never caught on?

Fred Stesney: Racism, pure and simple. 

The Skeeve: Do you have any warnings and encouragement for the young creative pondering a career in illustration?

Fred Stesney: Learn to draw realistically. It will put you ahead of legions of other aspiring artists.

The Skeeve: Why Brooklyn?

Fred Stesney: Have you tasted the artisanal sauerkraut?

All illustrations copyright Fred Stesney

Allan MacDonell Administrator
Director of Skeeve Allan MacDonell is the author of ‘Prisoner of X’ and ‘Punk Elegies.’
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