November 24, 2013

Time is Relative... What? And Other Timely Considerations

Learning is one of those passions I have that has never wavered but I've learned that understanding more does not necessarily make the world seem more simple or straightforward, as I once might have supposed as a kid. In fact, my view of the world has become much more complicated. Because the world isn't simple. It is deliciously and mind-bogglingly complex.

September 25, 2013

The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Spatial Relationships

Huge news! A couple of weeks ago I collected four Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars as pets. They have since eaten a ton of parsley and wrapped themselves up in cocoons for the winter. Hopefully I'll have four butterflies to release in March, I'm pretty pumped about it. So this pet caterpillar adventure of mine got me thinking about Eric Carle's popular children's book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, published in 1969. Here is my favorite page from the book:

It is so simple and yet so striking. The bright yellow sun takes up almost half the space. Its imperfect orange and yellow rays help point your eyes straight to that goofy demeanor, which is easy to spot but still a bit subtle. Following the sun's gaze, the little green caterpillar is a clear contrast to the bright yellow next to it and the white sky further emphasizes the bold colors it surrounds. The sun, the tiny green caterpillar, the brown ground, and the white sky filling the rest of the space. Four incredibly simple elements used in a way to create a really great illustration.

August 11, 2013

Self Portraits Tweaked, Relationships with a Loved One

A self portrait is a representation of the artist, by the artist. It is a look at the individual as he sees himself. But the focus is shifted by adding a loved one into the mix. The relationship itself becomes the focus of the portrait as the individual alone takes a backseat. Just as a self portrait is a look at a person from his point of view, the self portrait with a loved one is a look at a relationship from their point of view.

Kate Teale explores the relationship between her and her husband in her series Through the Night. To do so, she suspended a camera over her and her husband's bed that was set to take a picture every half hour for one night. The resulting paintings are personal, intimate, and have a beautiful, quiet comfort to them.

July 24, 2013

5 Music Artists That Used Historical Art for Their Album Covers

Pieter Bruegel the Eldar, Netherlandish Proverbs, 1559
Fleet Foxes, self-title album, 2008

Each of the situations in this painting is a visual and literal interpretation of a popular Netherlandish proverb from Bruegel's time. It was this depiction of many stories in one image that Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes says attracted him to the painting. The dense but unified feel, he tells Mojo magazine in 2009, felt fitting for the record. "It was very easy to get the museum in Berlin who has it to say yes," he says. "They were super excited a band wanted to use it and put it in their newsletter." (source)

July 15, 2013

The 125 Year Cover Evolution of National Geographic Magazine

Browsing through the excellent sight Cover Browser, I came across their collection of National Geographic covers. I thought it was way cool to see how much, and also how little, the design has changed over time. Watch as the printing technologies improve, colors increase in vibrancy, pictures are added and then slowly sharpened, the typeface of the magazine title changes, the 'contents' text takes up less and less space (to be dominated by the gorgeous photography), and an ornate border introduced around 1910 is slowly eliminated over time.

And for further National Geographic design, Alex Charchar of Retinart does an excellent break down from the graphic design viewpoint of not just the cover but also the content and page design within the magazine in The Timeless Beauty of National Geographic. But I'm getting ahead of myself, so, starting with the first ever issue from 1888, check out National Geographic Magazine's 125 year cover evolution as pictorially summarized by Everywhere Art:

1888                                                                                 1896

July 8, 2013

Great Surrealist Imagery: Fantastic Planet and Salvador Dali

Fantastic Planet is a 1973 animated science fiction film set on another planet where alien beings the size of giants keep humans as tiny pets. With a running time of only 72 minutes, it is a beautifully illustrated movie that I could watch again and again for both its excellent story and captivating surrealist imagery. Salvador Dali was an incredibly influential surrealist painter. His most famous work, The Persistence of Memory c. 1931 (pictured below), features the familiar melting clocks that have gained an iconic life of their own.

Watching Fantastic Planet, every scene has some kind of strange and interesting surrealist-style imagery going on. I knew I wanted to take some time to compare this movie with Dali's work, but it wasn't until I began putting these images side by side that I noticed how clearly influential Dali's paintings must have been on Fantastic Planet's illustrators. As Dali himself said, "Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing."

June 18, 2013

Photography Trend: Double Exposure Portraits

Whether they are created within the camera or by using photo editing software such as Photoshop, multiple exposure photography can have some very cool and interesting effects. Double exposure portraiture in particular seems to have been cropping up a lot in the past couple years and with increasing frequency. When I'm browsing various photographers on Flickr, I feel it's no longer unusual to see at least one of these portraits among an artist's work. So, here I've gathered several artists who have created their own versions of this popular portrait style. If you are interested in the technique yourself, check out Aneta Ivanova and Sarah K. Byrne's work below to find their tutorials.

Dan Mountford, early 2010-late 2011, created in camera
Mountford's work is the earliest dated double exposure portrait photography I could find. That doesn't mean of course that he started the trend, but it's worth noting nonetheless. What I love about this set is the subtle transitions between portrait and architecture, creating a seamlessly beautiful image.

June 5, 2013

Artificial and Immersive Atmospheric Installations

It's raining. You hear the steady and relentless dripping and splashing of the falling water, the air is dense with cool moisture, and wouldn't it be great to be able to safely walk through, sans umbrella, without your clothes getting soaked and your shoes filling up with water? Random International's installation at The Museum of Modern Art in New York allows you to do exactly that.

Using a unique system of pressure regulators, 3D tracking cameras, and custom software, Rain Room allows the visitor to navigate through a downpour without getting wet. (And thanks to a metal grating covering the floor, your shoes stay dry as well.) Previously featured in London, The Guardian described it as a "startlingly surreal experience" as you control and dance with the weather in a way otherwise impossible, since wherever you stand, the rain avoids your space. The installation is open now until July 28, 2013 in the lot directly across from the museum.

May 20, 2013

Buildings Shaping the Sky

This world that we have around us is not a world that we perceive, more a world that we create and make. Now this seems a bit of a surprise because we really feel and we are very much attached to the fact that we are receiving these perceptions as opposed to creating them. But we do create the reality in which we live.
-James Turrell, Art 21 Exclusive
Romain Jacquet-Lagreze, a French-born graphic artist and photographer, features Hong Kong's ever growing city of rising buildings in his photo series Vertical Horizon. Inspired by the city's "architectural race to the sky," his photographs highlight the looming height of the buildings as they recede far above the viewer.