american hell

American Hell - Drawing Conclusions in Black and White

 —  Random  — 

I love line.

Even when I’m not drawing, I’m drawing. My head is full of lines rushing around looking for somewhere to end.

Since before I grew up I have collected the words I’ve heard people speak. And of course I collected even more words that they never spoke.

For the odd project I would raid my notes, and use them for a painting, or a letter, but mostly I just kept accumulating images and words, and hoarding them.

In 1999 I moved from Ireland to the US. That move also meant I moved from the world of a full-time artist back into the world of computers.

Previously I had a career in mainframe computing, the best thing about it being allowed to draw large freeform diagrams on the wide green-lined computing paper, and on special occasions to draw whatever I wanted on the whiteboard.

But in America it was the tail-end of the dot com boom, so my new employer let me leave the world of the mainframe and enter the world of the PC and by extension, the web. So in 1999 I discovered blogging.

Back then the blogs I read were mostly logged accounts and links of people’s travels through the new and crazy web. Being a technical person I was much more interested in how these logging sites were functioning rather than the weird sites they were linking to. And being a not very technical person I noticed some very talented writers who I presumed would go unnoticed if it wasn’t for blogging.

So my creative head went into overdrive. Noah Grey’s Greymatter was my preferred tool, but rather than blog about anything I knew about I toyed with ridiculous concepts and ambitions of merging this new facility with the creative world.

I played with writing books of words and images by using just blogging tools. And I played with ideas that were so much more stupid that I’m not telling you.

Even though I used tech sites, the idea of blogging about such matters bored the pants off me. And I had little interest then, as now, in the world of the weird and wonderful that Boing Boing has risen to be the top documentarian of.

None of these projects of mine went anywhere, but they taught me a lot about all the various blogging tools out there. And all the time I kept drawing pictures and collecting words.

With an appetite for the tedious fostered in a world where I happily watch paint dry, I developed an interest and knowledge in the workings of Search Engines and the optimizing of websites for them.

And trying to make a living I became an evangelist for blogging from a marketing viewpoint, trying to convince anybody who would listen of the power of these tools. Very few listened. Fewer understood. I wasn’t a very good evangelist.

If I had just blogged continuously myself about anything I knew, most especially my paintings, I probably would have been fine. But instead I was trying to teach others of the potential, sometimes blogging for them to show them what was possible regardless of their field.

And still in the background I drew pictures of faces and laughed at the words people said and didn’t say.

The dot com bust cost me my job, albeit belatedly, in 2002. With the exception of one brief part-time job I’ve been wholly self-employed since. By then I knew I wanted to create the site that is American Hell, but I wanted to do it for me and me alone and now having lost my regular income that was an indulgence I couldn’t afford.

So since then I’ve tried to apply what I learned from the world of online marketing to clients, and to my own work as I’ve tried to sell paintings and sell myself. It’s been a scramble with mixed success – what most Americans call failure.

To cheer myself up then, two years after buying the domain name, seven years after first blogging, and over twenty-five years after first conceiving of doing something with these images and words, I finally launched American Hell in March 2007.

Somewhere in those recent years I was lucky enough to meet a couple of women who I thought were amazing. And unlucky enough to meet more than my fair share who were crazy. And I met men who were as horrible and inept as the men I’d known in Ireland. In fact some of them had come from Ireland. I may even have been one of them.

Mix it all up and you have American Hell. It’s mine. If you like it I am pleasantly pleased to not be alone in what tickles me. But if you don’t, I’m still happy, or at least I’m laughing, because after all I’m being tickled.

Thanks for stopping by,


p.s. If this wasn’t what you were looking for, I have also posted more specific information about the site in a Question & Answer format.

Or if you’re interested in more specific personal information for some reason, you can read 101 Random Things About Me

For ongoing personal stuff, (my paintings, my cycling, my dog), see my blog called Bicyclistic. And then there’s always Twitter for more details of the same. And for good measure there’s also just American Hell related stuff on Twitter


  1. Comment by kav — May 2, 2007 @ 5:19 am

    At last, some clarity on what was heretofore put together piecemeal by the cryptic clues you scatter through your posts and comments. I like you even more now.

  2. Comment by Kim Ayres — May 2, 2007 @ 10:46 am

    I just bounced in from Kav’s site after reading your response to my comment. This looks like a fantastic site you have here and I’m going to really enjoy looking through it!

  3. Comment by Seosamh O' — June 14, 2007 @ 7:51 am

    Everytime i look around, I see titanium laced clouds, crimsonified hills and medditerrazurian seas … nice website Eolaí

  4. Comment by Eolaí — June 19, 2007 @ 7:02 am

    Kav – you’re a good man, unnecessarily kind. You probably have all the pieces now; they’re all out there.

    Kim – you’re very generous. Thank you, and I need to interact more.

    Seosamh O – what a delight for me to see you find your way here. And I’m pleased to have permenently messed with your natural colour perception. I’ll come to Galway this year and apologise in person.

  5. Comment by Xavier Onassis — July 26, 2007 @ 10:47 pm

    See how I have Gaping Void featured on my site?

    How can I replace it with you?

    I would also like to add Red Meat and Tom Tomorrow.

    I don’t just want an RSS feed, I want actual toons/illustrations that link back to you when clicked.

  6. Comment by Eolaí — July 27, 2007 @ 1:08 am

    Japers – I go out for dinner and I come back with homework! Luckily it’s something I was already working on – more or less – but now I’ll accelerate the pace. I think I know what to do.

  7. Pingback by American Hell on FaceBook [ Irish KC ] — August 6, 2009 @ 4:29 am

    […] And it’s relevance to Kansas City? And being Irish? Well I’m Irish, so even if I pass gas it’s an Irish wind that blows. And as for KC, well read the background and the Q & A, and you work it out. […]

  8. Comment by Con — September 15, 2009 @ 9:49 am

    good day sir. very much enjoying your site. what part of ireland are you from? cork is my shtompin’ ground.

  9. Comment by Eolaí — September 15, 2009 @ 5:07 pm

    Con – Howaya. And thanks. I be a Dub. You can see photos of my corner of Dublin West over on the personal blog Bicyclistic.

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