Sunday, January 2, 2011

Art of The Impossible Girl

I know a lot of amazing artists. And I love to collaborate. So when I started to think about how I would release my album I came up with the idea of having a unique illustration for each song. Some of the pieces were done with songs in mind, others were just various interpretations of, "The Impossible Girl." This is the story of the art, the artists, how I know them, and what their art means to me. I'll start at the beginning.

"Impossible Girl #1"

Travis Louie painted this gorgeous piece for the cover of my album. I met Travis through Molly Crabapple after he watched a webcast that Molly and I did. Travis is a true master, his rendering is astounding. What he calls a sketch others would call a masterpiece. He's also just a wonderful person to be around, very easy to talk to; intelligent and interesting. I was very lucky to meet Travis when I did, to connect with him about art and music, and mostly to have him contribute such a beautiful piece of art for the cover of my album.


"Rainbows and Unicorns"

Melissa Dowell is a tall, leggy, whip snapping, gal friday. She works as an illustrator, designer, screenprinter, and personal assistant. She loves tentacles, has purple hair, and brings me fancy chocolate. She knocked it out of the park on this one with a ridiculous two day deadline. Sparkles, sea creatures, pink: what's not to love?


"More and More"

Mary Larsen painted me at Dr. Sketchy's the day we met. Her watercolors are deliriously beautiful, haunting, and quite often disturbing. Fantastic stuff! I love her colors and her shapes. This painting was not done with a particular song in mind, but I think it fits well.



Teetering Bulb is the partnership of Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon. I met them at a fancy Easter party in Brooklyn and loved them immediately. And then I saw their art. Every single piece of work I see from Teetering Bulb is mindbendingly gorgeous, from the beautiful line work to the luminescent coloring, the pieces are bursting from the page with a rich and intense life. They chose to illustrate "Open/Avocado" and I'm so glad they did. 



Katelan Foisy has gypsy blood and a gypsy soul. She's an artist, a writer, model, and medium (and more...) She is absolutely stunning inside and out. Such a joy to be around and a Grade A snuggler. We like to make mustaches out of cookies (I'll explain when you're older.) I dedicated this song to her the first time she came to my show and we knew that she would have to paint this piece. 


"Impossible Girl #4"

Karen Schmidt did a painting project called "Send Me Your Head" where she painted 3 inch portraits of people who sent in photos of themselves. I sent her a photo and loved the result. This piece wasn't created specifically for the album. It is based on a self-portrait I took of myself while I lived in New Orleans. 



Tim Smith lives in a small town in Missouri where he creates wonderful art, runs a print shop, and produces fantastic music shows that host international touring artists in a town that might otherwise be skipped over by hardworking musicians trying to get across the middle of America as quickly as possible. Tim's strong graphic style uses photography as its basis and this piece is based on Heike Schneider-Matzigkit's wonderful photo of me. This piece is still available as a limited edition t-shirt in my store - but not for long. 


"Impossible Girl #2"

Kate Rannells has been in my life for at least half of it. She has helped me move about once a year, visited me in countries all over the world, come with me on tour, held me as I cried, laughed until she cried during all night talking sessions, polished of bottles off whiskey by my side, and kissed me under the stars. Kate is intelligent, curious, a fantastic storyteller, and the life of the party (though she considers herself to be shy.) She is an amazing artist, a sculptor and photographer who works with fantastic emotional detail. Sometimes you cannot tell why her work looks and feels so RIGHT, it just does. At art shows I've watched people - good friends - fight over buying her pieces. This song is inspired by her, and the garden she built for the song is a brilliant playground of earthly delights. I wish you could all see it in person.


"He Said"

Justin DeVine was drawing a rhinoceros on a napkin the day I met him. He was probably about 17 at the time and it was best piece of napkin art I've ever seen. Justin draws. Always. His line work is beautiful and effortless, he can draw anything you ask, from memory, in about five minutes. He once painted a 30 foot giant squid on the wall in my house, it took him 13 hours to completely paint in the entire thing and it is stunning. He has the best laugh in the world, snuggles like a world champion snuggler, and is my favorite touring partner. He doesn't have a website at this time (Damnit!)


"Sex, Drugs, & Nuclear Physics"

Jim Avignon is a painter and electronic musician from Berlin who now lives in Brooklyn, NY. His music and his paintings are produced with great speed as lo-fi as possible. He paints on paper and makes music with crappy old keyboards (some of the finest instruments on earth!) and his work in both mediums has a fresh intensity that only the highly prolific can exude. We recorded a song together for his 2009 album "Say Hi to Your Neighborhood" and we sometimes play my song "More and More" together. He made this painting for "More and More" but I thought it fit much better with "Sex, Drugs, & Nuclear Physics." 


"The Organ Donor's March"

Molly Crabapple and I just sort of fell into each other in 2010. I'm not sure how it happened, but it did, and now we are inseparable (even if I am 17,000 miles away.) Molly is absolutely fearless in her art, she attacks the page at once. Without hesitation her lines build upon themselves into piles of curled hair, luscious lips, wide hips, rococo detailing, and dancing legs. Her art is alive, bouncing and spilling out from the page, it is addictive and easy to understand. We are making an animated music video for this song! It is going to be the best animation on the planet. I will tell you more about this soon. 


"Slip Away"

Jim Batt is more to me than I can say here. We met because Molly tweeted for an animator for our video together and Jim Batt answered the call. We met on Skype to talk about the animation and then we kept talking for six months. Then I flew to Australia where we shot five music videos, fell in love, and did many photo shoots. Jim is a fantastic film maker, as well as a game designer, writer, and visual artist. This piece is based on a photo of me taken on my last day in Melbourne in July. Jim asked to illustrate this song because it is one of his favorites on the album. I told him I wrote the song for him, before I met him. And we both know it's true.


"Song For My Father"

Chris Worfold created a character called, The Impossible Girl. I discovered this fact while I was staying in an artists' residency in Brooklyn. Chris and his partner, Nikki Curtis, had just released Chapter One of their graphic novel and I had just released Chapter One of my album - The Impossible Girl. Chris is from Australia, I am from everywhere, and we just both happened to be staying in the same house, in the same city, at the same time, while releasing things with the same title. My brain did kind of explode that day. And I had to use his art. The song was written in the aftermath of my father's massive heart attack (he survived and is doing well after several surgeries and the installation of a pacemaker.) I felt that the skull mask on Chris's Impossible Girl was fitting. I do not perform this song very often because it makes me cry.


"Impossible Girl #3"

Rita Burkholder (a.k.a. Helen Keller's Ukulele) lives in Huntsville, Alabama which is full of rocket scientists and artists. Rita is the single mother of two wonderful teenage daughters, and supports her family working as an artist. She sings in a heartbreakingly beautiful voice, plays ukulele, makes glass sculptures, puts on lovely house concerts, and paints surreal self-portraits while traveling the world. Basically: she is awesome. You should know her music and her heart. She helps me believe that art is possible anywhere, at any time. 


"Big Easy"

Dax Tran Caffee is one of my favorite living artists. He can draw and paint with breathtaking skill, he sculpts kinetic, storytelling devices, makes his own musical instruments, and does giant puppet street theatre. He is in one of my favorite bands, Corpus Callosum, and he sings and plays accordion. AND he has a very fancy moustache.  I didn't tell Dax which song I would be using his piece for, I just asked him for art. To me this piece is a wonderful allegory for the song and the city of New Orleans; a beautiful, impossible creature: a tragedy that cannot be understood: and a light that draws me in again and again.


"Lick My Love Pump"

I met Ryan St. Germain (18+ NSFW) in New Orleans in June. He plays bass in my upcoming music video for "Big Easy" and we got along really well.  I had a crush on him almost immediately. He looks really good in a suit and is very open and engaging. Turns out he's a professional photographer, of the pornographic kind, so when I needed art for this song I turned to him. The delicious, Bella Blue, models. 



"Anyone at All"

The illustrious, Fred Harper, drew this for me. He lives in a great big loft in Manhattan with Molly Crabapple, he has long hair and an octopus tattoo, he's one of the nicest people I've ever met, and he's fun to be around. I asked him for a black and white piece after seeing beautiful work he did for Herm├Ęs. Fred said he would like to draw me floating or flying. It seems to be a theme among the illustrators. And, I must admit, I like to fly. 



Tinkberbell is actually the bonus track. I vacillated back and forth about whether I should include this piece in the blog post, thinking that maybe I should keep the song as secret as it can be. In the end I decided to include it because I like this art a lot and want to tell the story.

Adrien van Viersen is a storyboard artist, illustrator, and film maker living in Vancouver, British Columbia (that's in Canadia.) He works on big budget Hollywood films and dresses very well. He always has fancy shoes and nice hair. Once, while illustrating, he stabbed himself in the hand with a pencil - don't let anyone tell you art is safe. We dated briefly and intensely years ago and have just reconnected. I've always loved his work and am so happy to have his art in my album. I think it goes with the song perfectly, something about the look on my face just evokes how the song makes me feel.

You can only hear this song by purchasing the entire album.


And there you have it. The story of the art of The Impossible Girl. I am so grateful and happy to know all these people and to have their art as part of mine. Thank you. embeds the track art with the song, so when you play the song on your ipod you see the art. If you already bought the CD and need a download code please contact: impossiblemerch (at)


  1. I am so full of love for you, Rita, and all of the artists mentioned here that I've never met. I feel your love for them all in reading this. Again, I'll tell you how amazed I am at this project, and how you managed to bring people together - wonderful, talented people. Kudos to all of you. I'm honored to have been a part of it, in however small a way.

    p.s. I've had the album on repeat since I got it. <3

  2. What an amazing collection of art!! I'm really proud to be a part of it. Thanks so much for sending me a copy of the album. It sounds amazing on my stereo.