One day recently, I opened up my Twitter feed and realized it was punctuated by images of packing tape duck sculptures. They could only be the work of writer and street artist Theodore Carter. Below, he’s been kind enough to answer my probing questions about what exactly is going on.
Andrea: Were any rooms cleaned as a result of “78. Clean Your Room Duck”?
Theodore Carter: I made my daughter clean her room, and she collected the cornucopia of colorful refuse that make up duck #78.
Andrea: If they were suddenly brought to life, would your 100 Ducks be higher or lower life forms than your Chilean Sea Blobs?
Theodore Carter: The sea blobs are sinister and mischievous creatures capable of inciting chaos and mayhem. The ducks are innocuous bird brains. In seriousness, I’ve tried to keep from putting facial features on the ducks. I want them to be sculptures more than creatures. There are some exceptions, but mostly the duck shape is a canvas.
Andrea: Why 100 Ducks, Theodore Carter? Why?
Theodore Carter: Writing books is a solitary experience and requires deep focus. I can make tape sculptures with my family or while supervising my kids in the yard. It’s a way for me to be busy when I can’t be at my desk.
I have a duck decoy that was once my grandfather’s. It’s a meaningful keepsake, and the shape is easy to repeat. One thing I’ve learned from street artists is that repetition adds meaning. One duck is slightly interesting. 100 ducks become eye-catching, in part because the creator must be a bit off.
Andrea: Was it a struggle to come up with ideas for 100 Ducks?
Theodore Carter: No. There’s always stuff in the recycling bin. If I wanted to assign high meaning to this ridiculous project, one thing I could say is that the work says something about consumerism and excess. Also, I’ve had several guest artists contribute, most notably my family, and this has lightened my workload.
Andrea: Have any 100 Ducks ideas been rejected? I ask this knowing that instead of a Duck in one picture, you put up an image of your cat Fluffy.
Theodore Carter: I try to steer away from designs that promote brands. I’ve made some exceptions. My son made an ESPN Magazine duck, but he was excited about it and it helped him dispose of his magazines. I made a Drake drake (a drake is male duck). This could be construed as needless promotion of a mediocre musical talent, but I think of it more as a parody. In general, I think we promote brands more often than we realize, and I tried to be mindful of that.
Fluffy jumped in front of the camera while my wife Elizabeth was conducting a duck photo shoot. The camera could not deny Fluffy’s natural allure.
Andrea: The very stylish “74. Krampus Duck” is one of my favorites. It’s not so much a question as an opportunity to post a picture of that amazing duck, but feel free to comment.
Theodore Carter: Thanks, Andrea. I’m glad you like it, because if you didn’t, Krampus would find you, hit you with a stick, and lock you in a cage. This is a good time to mention Krampusnacht, DC, a wonderfully odd holiday parade/fundraiser that takes place each December.
Andrea: What do you have planned for your 100 Ducks, and how can people show their love for street art?
Theodore Carter: I’m going to put the ducks out in a public location on the evening of Friday, February 17 and keep them out until February 19 or until someone tells me to take them away. I’ll reveal the location on the day of the event through Facebook and Twitter.
If your readers are interested in this kind of craziness, I’d like to connect on social media. I plan to do more public art projects and would love to have a cadre of willing co-conspirators.
I want to make DC weird and I love others who are seeking to do the same. I do my best to pay attention to the people who make my city great. Street artists I love with local connections include Mark Jenkins, Kelly Towles, Stikman, and Steven Cummings. Look for their work and tell others.
Theodore Carter blogs at http://theodorecarter.com He’s the author of The Life Story of a Chilean Sea Blob and Other Matters of Importance (Queens Ferry Press, 2012) and a writer for Dirge Magazine. His street art projects, which began as book promotion stunts, have garnered attention from several local news outlets including NBC4 Washington, Fox5 DC, and the Washington City Paper.