Napkins Used as a Scrapbook

By Carla Pineda

A student sat in front of artist Mike Puckett as he stared at
her for close to five minutes with pen in hand. He was drawing her
portrait with a style of art called blind contours with which the
artist cannot look at the drawing until it is completed. The “Rene
Ureno Mike Puckett” art exhibit opened on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at the
Bronco Student Center featuring art by student Rene Ureno and
recent graduate Puckett. “I think they’re both very talented,” said
Maria Lisa Flemington, head of the Bronco Exhibit Gallery. “Seeing
how they develop as artists is why I wanted to show them.” “I think
it’s encouraging to have a current student and a graduate student
having the opportunity to show their work in school so everyone can
see (it),” said You-Chen Tsai, a third-year graphic design student.
All of Puckett’s pieces in this exhibit are based on his napkin
art, which is also on display. In 2003 he developed this concept of
drawing on napkins after almost every meal. “I do the napkins right
on the spot and it’s about who I’m with, where I’m at and the whole
situation surrounding me (such as) the conversation that’s going
on,” said Puckett. Tsai, thought the idea of drawing after a meal
is very creative. “It is very original (…) I think that you can
express your thoughts (and) put down your emotions – what you feel,
what you think – and that’s kind of like a journal.” In fact,
Puckett refers to these napkins as the story of his life. “It’s
kind of a documentation of my life. When I look back at the napkins
I’ve done over the years, they’re kind of like photographs. I look
at them and I say, ‘Oh yeah, I remember this,'” said Puckett. A
diverse assortment of the artwork at the exhibit was transferred
from the napkins such as paintings, sculptural pieces and
portraits. “The Great Mountain Montana (…) is a blind contour
which I totally remember from Intro to Drawing (class). Basically,
you’re not allowed to see what you’re drawing. You just look at it
and draw blindly. They’re pretty fun,” said fourth-year graphic
design student, Jonny Tai. Tai was referring to one of two
portraits of Puckett’s friends from New York. “The portraits are
more personal to me because they’re artists and they’re friends of
mine,” said Puckett. Puckett was a photographer for Associated
Students, Incorporated and he also interned for the Bronco Exhibit
Gallery before he graduated. Through this internship, he developed
a friendship with Flemington. As an alumnus, he plans to return to
Cal Poly to visit the professors he befriended in the art
department. About eight years ago Puckett began designing t-shirts
but abandoned the idea. Now, he restarted his clothing line under
the new name “Napkin,” because the designs are also based on his
napkin project. Most of Puckett’s art can be purchased with prices
starting at $30 to $400. “It’s a really good investment for the
students. It’s relatively cheap. They’re investing in their student
population,” said Flemington. “I’d be happy to sell anybody, any of
my works whether it’s t-shirts or paintings,” said Puckett. “I
think he’s got something working for him. I don’t know what, I
can’t really pinpoint it but he has something going,” said Tai.

Carla Pineda can be reached by e-mail at or
by phone at (909) 869-3744.

Napkins Used as a Scrapbook

Napkins Used as a Scrapbook

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