Today marks the 5 year anniversary of the May 2010 Flood in Nashville, TN. I remember that weekend quite vividly. Not only did it rain, rain, and rain some more, for two days straight but what compounded the problem was the opening of a dam at a highly inopportune time, raising water levels downtown 40 feet. I decided to head over the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge (pictured below) from my apartment, and survey the damage to downtown. It was absolutely surreal. This was the kind of thing you see on the news, not right in front of you. Not in your hometown, but there it was and it was devastating.
The entire area surrounding Nashville was affected, thousands and thousands of homes were flooded. I personally was able to help a few friends and people I didn't even know clean out their basements, throw out items that were ruined, and even do a little clean up and repainting work too. I was glad I got to help, even if it was just a few people, it felt really good. And the appreciation they showed made it even better.
The day after the flood my friend and colleague Phil Thornton called me up and asked me if I wanted to help make a poster to sell to raise money for families affected. He had a great tagline, and asked if I would illustrate something. I said of course, and got to work immediately. A day or two later the design below is what I created. Midtown Printing donated all the printing, and Phil sold around 100 copies and raised over $2000, all of which we donated to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to help families affected by the Flood.
Creating this poster and the positive response it received was also a turning point for me personally. I had never made anything that people seemed to care about so much, let alone buy. Making this print and seeing the response it got gave me the courage to later make, promote, and sell my first self-produced print series, Monster Friends. I had already started working on the illustrations at the time with my fellow artists, but this experience made me realize that I might actually be to able sell them... and I did, and then reprinted them, and sold even more. Since then I've made numerous other prints, and supported myself doing it. The Nashville Flood was a great tragedy, so many people lost so much. But I got to help with my own hands, and also by making this print. In a way it was the first domino in a series of many that changed my life, and put me on a whole new course. One which I am very thankful for.