"The Stair Cleaners"

by Tom Dearie

My favorite part of the creative process is when I just sit and draw on a large pad without overthinking anything. I draw lots of little characters or scenarios; whatever comes out of the pencil. What comes out is definitely informed by my love of weird literature, but I rarely draw something with a preconceived image in my head, I’m just letting things happen. The process is about finding something that surprises me.

That initial moment will then be the spark for something like ‘The Stair Cleaners’. I had doodled the character with the bag and hat and liked what he was about and began to flesh out his character on the iPad. I thought what is in his bag? What does he need kneepads for? I started to get this idea of a humble cleaner who lives in a fantasy world. I then created a companion for him so that there was the possibility of a story starting to build between these two characters. The final step (no pun intended) is putting them on a stage. Often the landscape my characters dwell in can be passive, but I think the stairs are what really drive the narrative potential in this image. How high are these stairs? Where do they lead? Are they infinite? Why do these guys need to clean them?

I’m really interested in making images that raise questions and that encourage the viewer to construct their own story, and expand that narrative as far as they want. If it encourages people to do that then I’m delighted.

Tom Dearie

Illustrator & cartoonist

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