Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In Memoriam: Adam Adamowicz 1968 - 2012


I first met Adam when I started working at a tiny game development studio in Boulder, Colorado back in 1998 called Devil’s Thumb Entertainment. I walked into the studio on my first day of work and I’m pretty sure The Cramps were playing full blast from his general direction. There he was, sun baked and surrounded with what at the time I assumed were rare Jaimie Hewlett sketches pasted up around him, loads of cds and flyers for rockabilly rollerderby raver chicks with squids on their heads. ‘Welcome to the monster factory!’ he said and I thought instantly ‘Oh hell yeah! I came to the right place!’ It didn’t take long to figure out that what I thought were Jaimie Hewlett drawings were actually his and to be quite honest were 10 times more appealing and hilarious. (No offense Jaimie!)

When I finally got the chance to see his apartment in Denver I realized I was stepping into the mind of a creative genius. His entire apartment from floor to ceiling, front to back was covered with his paintings, massive cardboard sculptural cat like gargoyles, christmas lights, intricate costumes (designed with little more than a leather jacket, cheap sombrero, toys from a thrift shop, black and silver spray paint and hot glue) flyers for previous rent parties from his old warehouse, Tank Girl comics, Low Rider and American Artist magazines, Thomas Pynchon novels and a constant stream of music. Every square inch was interesting and VITAL and ALIVE. This was an intellect far beyond anyone else I’d ever met and there was not a single hint of pretentiousness to him. His entire life was a beautifully structured and disciplined chaos. Even then I began to see that not only was I in the presence of greatness, I was in the presence of one of the more important illustrators of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He just didn’t know it yet and neither did anyone else. Quite frankly he wouldn’t give a shit if someone gave him that label. He simply wanted to come up with more ideas and get better at drawing. Period.

Since then we got into many beer soaked adventures that sometimes included late night bike rides through the city streets of Denver with a boom-box strapped to the back blasting Big Audio Dynamite with sparklers hanging off the handlebars(and some stiches on the scalp of yours truly). Dangerously drunken skateboarding with cap guns, ditching psychedelic parties to go laugh our asses off and throw giant rocks in a frozen river, concerts, weekend long patio surfing tours in the Colorado summers, trips to the reservoir to float around wearing finely crafted and thrilling 12pack headgear, lunchtime bike rides up to our favorite outdoor patio Rhumba in Boulder for $2 Red Stripes and then back to work again, and many hours working close to him and learning as much as I could about being an artist and a better human being. He once said to me “I may not be Mozart, but at least I can try to be the Pixies.” He just wanted to entertain people in any way he could.

In his last few days we spent together in the hospital we sat on his hospital bed listening to music for hours, talking, and drawing in our sketchbooks. Our conversations were tinted with what was happening for him in the moment certainly, but mostly we talked about friends, art, music, and life. We spoke without much nostalgia or finality, just very real and present and forward looking despite the circumstances. He kept drawing until he couldn't possibly draw anymore, squeezing every last ounce he could out of life, just as he always had.

Watch papa go to work.

I love you Adam. You continue to be my friend, mentor, and greatest inspiration.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Inspirational. May he always be remembered in love

Ed Perez said...

Adam helped to create the most wonderful worlds from scratch, I still can't believe his departure. I will remember him always, wherever I'm looking for inspiration for my goal of becoming like him. May he be resting in Sovngarde.

Anonymous said...

That last part was both incredibly upsetting and a true inspiration, kicking death in the balls so he could get those last few drawings out. Adam seems like he was easily one of the greatest people on Earth to know and be around and after reading some of these memorials and tributes over the last few days I would have given anything to meet him, even if it was just for a day.

R.I.P Adam, your work and inspiration will live on forever.

Anonymous said...

Wow this piece is so heartfelt and uplifting,
A Bucket'o'Win He will be missed

Nash Muhandes said...

I am almost in tears reading the last few paragraphs. The world has lost a very talented man. :'( RIP Adam... Sovngarde awaits!

Melissa Machowski said...

Thank you for this. He would be touched by the outpouring of love. RIP to the Reverend! Long live Adam!
xo.melissa

Benjamin. said...

I have been following Adam these past couple months, so I was very sad when I found the news of his passing. I found him truly inspiring.

I had meant to some day tell him how much I enjoyed looking at his artwork, but unfortunately he passed away before I could.

I am glad to hear that he continued with his art until he could no more. He was a magnificent artist and will be missed.

Anonymous said...

we'll miss you Adam.

Happy Family said...

I lost it this morning when I read this. In the week that has passed (a week, only? already?) I've floundered from numb to inconsolable to drunk to laughing with good friends together. Sometimes all at the same time. Your eloquence here is only topped by the fart you just released when you realized what I was typing. Love you, man!

Rayford said...

@HappyFamily: Thanks Sugartits. You know I love you too:)

Anonymous said...

I teared up up at the end there. but looking at that picture as well as the paragraphs with it, it shows you guys sure knew how to party. ;) he will continue to inspire us forever.

Rachel Saunders said...

Hi Rayford ~ I am an old friend of Adam's. We lost touch a few years ago and I am absolutely shocked by this news. I searched your website for an e-mail address, but couldn't find one. Is there some way I can contact you? I would love to hear a bit more about him and what happened. He was a huge piece of my history. We knew each other way back in college and met taking life drawing classes together. His talent always inspired me and I can hardly believe he is gone. Thanks so much ~ Rachel

Kehl said...

I've known Adam for 20 years. I've seen his apartments in Boulder, Denver, San Francisco and D.C. -- every one was wallpapered with his amazing art. I can't believe this guy is gone.

Rayford said...

hey rachel, my email address is ray at raylederer dot com.

Anonymous said...

Millions got to play in the monster sandbox but the lucky ones had the adventure of knowing him.

Nathan said...

Man, I wish I got to meet him, he was a huge inspiration and continues to be and always will be. I never had the chance to meet him, but I can say that I truly missed out. I don't see why the good always die young, I don't understand it. He had a unique style about him for sure. I just wish I could have at least emailed him about his process before he passed. I don't know who to talk to about that.... RIP Adam, I'll see you down the road.

cmshanklin said...

I am only hearing of his passin now... and I am completely shocked.

I also met Adam while working at Devils' Thumb. I was the QA guy there. I only knew him for a short time, but the times I spent with him are forever etched into my mind. He was such an outstanding person.

Adam was absolutely my most favorite person at Devil's Thumb. Some of my fondest memories are heading out to the softball field at lunch to play Ultimate Frisbee.. The sh!t the guy would yell to try and block a pass ALWAYS made me crack up!

As an artist, his work was simply incredible. Always so polised, clean, and varied. I've never met anyone who could meld the styles and make everything look just so damn good, as Adam could.

To hear of his loss is a terrible blow to myself personally, I am deeply saddened.

The world as a whole, not just the gaming world, has lost a truly magnificent human being, and an incredibly talented, and gifted, artist.

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