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’, ‘Punk Elegies’ and ‘Now That I Am Gone.’
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