first idea for the cover of Flawed by Design was for me to be
holding a coffee mug with a hole in the bottom, with coffee spurting out. I’d
be looking at the coffee sideways, like, "Oh, look at this flawed
vessel." I went to work the next day, set up my camera by the window sill
as always (I open the louvered shutters to get good natural lighting), and tried
a couple self-timed photos. After looking at two or three shots, I thought to
myself, this is a really bad idea. Not only did the posing look corny,
but I knew I’d have some tricky work to do in PhotoShop to get the coffee to
"spurt" out the bottom. (I wouldn’t want to ruin a good coffee mug,
would I?) So right then I abandoned my cover idea and started from scratch.
I decided to throw on a jacket and go outside with my digital camera. I would
walk around town and see if anything struck me. I was open to anything. It was
still very early in the morning, about 7 a.m. This was on a dreary and drizzly
Monday late last April.
I live in an old town—it’s a village, actually—and most people would
probably consider the downtown area to be run-down. I see it as a source of art.
I like the dilapidated, urban look. I see it as a parable of God breaking
things, setting the backdrop for a future demonstration of glory. The wall
behind me on the Martin Zender Goes To Hell cover, for instance, is part
of the back end of the post office. I just went out shooting old walls one day
and I liked how the sun hit this one, and how the bricks came through the
plaster, and the weeds came up from beneath. On this rainy day in April, I was
looking for the same type of dilapidation, but of the "flawed"
variety. Looking back, I believe I was searching for sadness.
For some reason, I wandered behind the beauty shop first, which is across the
road from me, beside the bank. I looked down and saw a flowerpot. It had a
rotten plant drooping up and out over it, so droopy that the plant practically
touched the ground. It looked like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. I wasn’t
overly struck by it, but I took a couple of pictures of it anyway.
Next, I looked ahead and to my left and saw a rusty blue bicycle turned
upside down. It looked like a kid had been working on it maybe back in 1972, got
discouraged, and left it. I liked the rust on the chrome, and the particular
shade of blue. I walked over and took two or three shots of it. I wasn’t
thrilled, so I turned around to walk out of the alley and go behind the bar.
That’s when I saw it.
I know it sounds like a cliché to say that I stopped in my tracks, but this
is exactly what I did when I saw the statue, about two and a half feet tall,
standing next to an old cement birdbath. I knew instantly that this was my
Grail, though I didn’t know yet just how perfect it was. I walked quickly to
it, sure that I was looking at art. What in the world was this doing behind a
bar? It looked like something dug up in ancient Greece, or Rome.