Thursday, March 26, 2009

Conversation with John Cregar

John Cregar (right) drew the wonderful caricatures of the NPHS teachers that was posted on March 24. I thought this would be a good time to catch up with John and get some insight into the creation of his posters. On a personal note, John was a good friend and neighbor of mine from grade school through the middle of high school. He lived at 65 Willow Ave; I lived at 69 Willow Ave. His creativity and artistic talent always awed me. Together we wrote and he drew "Goop" magazine in 6th grade, which we sold at Harrison School. We also wrote the pamphlet "Things Every 12-Year-Old Should Know" (and I think I still have a copy).
What was the school’s response to the posters?
Did you ever hear from any of the teachers? Were they pissed….or flattered?
I didn’t get that much feedback. Only one teacher really got angry about his recurring role in my “marketing efforts”. His wrath did result in a few lively exchanges in Messer’s office.

Perhaps it was my vigilant passion to harness this teacher’s “star power” for righteous causes that blinded me. In hindsight, I now deeply regret any episodes of stress incontinence that I may have caused him.

I never harbored malicious intent toward anyone. Nor did my caricatures reflect a personal dislike for any faculty member. Frequently, quite the opposite was true.

Some teachers had a completely positive response. Nelson Ernest (NPHS music teacher) expressed his delight with a band concert poster featuring him riding that monster concert base drum on wheels. He really enjoyed the artwork and made a point of telling me so.

Why did you choose those teachers?
Having interesting facial features that are easy to draw make you a target of course. Teachers with unique physical attributes always made my short list of unauthorized “poster children” for school events.

I primarily chose teachers who were popular, or regarded as “intriguing” characters. Teachers have celebrity status whether they like it or not. I didn’t even know some of them. It wasn’t personal.

Didn’t you have some sort of run-in during Harry Hazeltine’s class?
No! I did not have a run-in with Mr. Azeltine. Harry never made a fuss or took issue with me personally. However, Bob Phelan once distributed a stack of my Azeltine flyers at the beginning of Harry’s class. They were promptly confiscated. A pity - I even used one of Harry’s own folksy expressions on these babies. Harry Azeltine sez: “This Dance Is Gonna Be A Real Barn Burner.”
Your talent was so obvious back more than 40 years. How have you used your skills professionally?
Yeah, sure: Ya want fries wit dat?
I’ve done some freelance illustration, animation and photography throughout the years. As my “day job,” I spent 25 years in the telecom industry developing content and software for marketing and interactive training projects. A misspent youth perhaps, when I should have been spewing visual venom on some Op-Ed page somewhere.

Decades of my visual art shenanigans are on display at my web site if you are curious.


Emily said...

John Cregar was always a bright, creative, and talented guy as demonstrated by the stuff he did 40years ago, and his responses on the blog. He always made me laugh, and always went for the "off-beat." Whenever you saw him, you could see the creativity brewing inside of him, as if some prank were suddenly going to be set in motion, causing everyone to go "berserk." (One of his favorite words in those days!) His old dog, Hot-Shot,with the post-nasal drip, was quite the car-chaser, and his mother's pumpkin pies were the best! "I simply remember my favorite things."

Gary said...

Am I dreaming or what? Did John, Howard, Paul Auerbach, myself and others I can't remember all go to see the "Tingler" at the Liberty Theater for John's Birthday party. I seem to remember that we all ran out screaming before the movie was half over because we were told the "Tingler" was crawling in the aisle and we were scared to death it would get us.

Howard said... are not dreaming. We did see "The Tingler" at the Liberty Theater. It might have been for John's birthday. I know John and I saw it but I don't remember others being there. John and I went every Saturday because they had a double feature horror show.