Dave Russo Art

ScribblesOfDave@gmail.com • 413-320-6250 • ETSYFACEBOOKINSTA








Human Portraits
Pet Portraits

Bugs / Microbes

Covered Bridges
Dominican Ruins
Northampton MA
Ashfield MA
Brattleboro VT

Mayan Ruins
Niagara Falls
Music Venues











After Primate Fiasco stopped touring, The banjo pickin' singer was shipwrecked on a desert island somewhere in the South Pacific with only a backpack full of chocolate chips and a suitcase full of markers and paper. He spent his time drawing pictures of places he remembered fondly. The style is a result of the cactus he started eating when the chocolate chips ran out. His artwork was not rescued with him. Instead, some pirates dug it up and opened an Etsy store. This all happened in like three weeks.

- pirates. arrrr


"I feel like I've spent the first half of my career helping people create memories and the second half helping people recall them." 

- Dave Russo




Dave's cartooning career started as a teenager in concert lots and festival campgrounds ("lot" for short) in the mid-late 1990's. Rolling through on his skateboard with paper and markers, he'd draw fans, often in groups, in exchange for burritos, tickets, party favors, or cash. Hundreds of these caricatures are still framed on the walls of seasoned concert goers, largely Phish fans who named him "Scribble". 

Throughout art school and then into his career, he preserved the marker style developed on lot with its explosive center, undefined boarders, and kinetic energy.


In 2006, he founded The Primate Fiasco, a band that would soon go on to perform at many of the same festivals that he'd attended as a fan. The band toured for over ten years, achieving five albums with radio spins, a Grammy nomination, and somewhat of an odd-ball cult following. Often topping the bill, Dave no longer needed to hustle for burritos or cash. These things were already supplied for him. The drawing markers collected dust while his electric banjo became the weapon of choice. His new campground hustle was trading memorable moments through surprise parading sets in exchange for an empathic rush from the surrounding dance party.


In late 2017, Dave's will to be a performer was struck by a perfect storm. What started as an inspiring dance party had become a sea of cell phone videographers. A very close loved one and muse had died. And a mysterious psychological phenomenon caused music to sound like nails on a chalkboard to his ears. It would take at least a year before he was able to listen to music again. The Primate Fiasco quietly switched off and went their separate ways.

In order to stay creative, and perhaps alive, Dave returned to the markers that were waiting patiently. He drew fond memories from his past life.


His fans watched as the art rolled out. Finally, people started asking "do I recognize this style? Is the singer from Primate also that Scribble guy from Phish lot?".

Dave was unaware that the print market within the concert scene was exploding. This vacuumed him back into the music scene, only without the cell phone firing squads and the breakneck schedules.




As described by the artist..

I try to leave as much as I can to chance, mainly because I don't believe in chance.

Let's say the subject is a restaurant. I would spend the first few minutes staring at the empty paper while thinking about my experience there. Perhaps my band performed there in our early days. And maybe I met dear friends or lovers there. I would try to let myself feel those feelings again. These feelings will manifest down my shoulder and build up in my elbow and wrist. I'm clutching the marker with the nervousness, love, laughter, and confusion of the feelings I've dug up.

When the marker starts to move across the paper, it's fast and loose. Some of it is coming from my brain. Like, I chose the color to match the bricks and I at least attempt to mimic the shape of the building in 2D. That's the deliberate part.

But it's also coming from my body, where I let those memories manifest. Missing that old friend. The thrill of having an audience jump to the rhythm of my fingers. That perfect combination of people at the same table. It's my body that determines how fast the marker is moving, how hard I'm bearing down, whether it moves in a gradual arc or zigzags in an unpredictable way. This part is less deliberate. I'm just the messenger to some degree.

All of that happens in the first 3 or 4 seconds. The page has an explosion of spirals and scribbles on it, to you anyway. To me I see the conversation I had at the back table, or the person I saw for the last time on the stairs. Then I might switch colors and try to wrestle it into form. Each layer of color has to conform to those seismic readouts as if the concrete was poured that way or the carpenter was from another dimension. Eventually the windows and lights tighten it together into something recognizable. 

After all of that uncontrolled madness, I pick up a black fine tipped pen. Now is the time to slow down and deal with every accidental drop of ink. The edge of the color where the ink meets bare paper is not a strait line but a jagged coastline. I'll outline it meticulously, choosing what becomes foreground or background. This is where spirals become 3d. If I choose not to outline something in the background, it mimics a camera's depth of field. If it's the very distant background it might look like atmospheric perspective. Bla bla nerd stuff.

The blackoutline freezes it into place like hardened cement. I can no longer add to it. I can no longer change it, just like the memories themselves. When I look at the finished piece, even if it's a year later, I still see how my hand was releasing that joke I heard in the parking lot, or the exhaustion I felt during the encore. It's written right there in plain english, like a tiny needle drawing an earthquake."

- Dave Russo