27 Sep 2011

PLEASE, drop the "s"!

I'm a part-time graphic designer. I used to be full-time, but times, they are a-changin'. And so when I stumbled on this mousepad by w+k studio, I had a good chuckle.

Mousepad by W+K Studio

Where did the term "graphics design" ever come from? Sorry if I come across as nit-picky, but if I may speak on behalf of graphic designers everywhere: the "s" really bugs us. Grammatically, it also irritates me. It takes a noun (graphics) and uses it as if it were an adjective. I've never heard anyone say, graphics arts, so why do they think it's okay to say graphics design?

Who added the unwarranted "s", I've often wondered? One thing is clear: it's a term coined by people who probably don't understand graphic design.

I envision a conversation that probably went something like this:

Accountant: "So, you're a designer, huh? What exactly do you do?"
Designer: "I'm a graphic designer. You know: websites, logos, illustration, brochures... graphics in general, really."
Accountant: "Oh, so graphics?"
Designer: "Yep."
 Accountant (inside his head): "Uh huh. I get it. A graphics designer."

22 Sep 2011

turn action figures into great decor?

Can someone hand me a can of spray paint? I want to turn my Barbie dolls into a designer bespoke lamp!

But seriously. Have you seen what the guys from Evil Robot Designs are doing? They're creating lamps out of old plastic toys. You can even commission them to take your very own playthings and turn them into a quirky (but somehow strangely serene) lamp that will celebrate your own childhood. So instead of letting those old action figures wither away in a dusty corner, immortalize them forever in a piece of one-of-a-kind home decor!

All photos from www.evilrobotdesigns.com

16 Sep 2011

trompe l'oeil of a trompe l'oeil

Much media fuss has been made about British designer Deborah Bowness and her trompe l'oeil wallpaper. Her unique hand-screened papers have adorned the walls of New York Soho House and Phillip Stark’s Yoo-Aldelgade in Copenhagen. Deborah's collections create a sense of dual reality, where 2-D images of life-sized, everyday objects nestle alongside yours.

After examining the images inside her "picture wall" wallpaper (above, in this page from Elle Decoration, October 2007), I thought it would be fun to create a trompe l'oeil of a trompe l'oeil!  So I searched the internet to find real art pieces to replicate the look. Most of the pieces were found through esty, which offers some very attractive and affordable art.

1. "Runna" by tushtush on etsy.com  2. "Forest Print" by debbie-carlos on etsy.com  3.  Paint by number piece by Morningtide on ebay.com  4. "Alida" -- an original acrylic paint on MDF for only $65! -- by tushtush on etsy.com  5. Keane painting from MeadowViewVintage on etsy  6. mid-century sailboat painting from packratsrus on etsy  7. From a vintage 1943 Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo tour program from EclecticArtifacts on etsy.com  8. "Zelda", a vintage oil painting from dixielarue on etsy.com  9. Paint by number by Morningtide on ebay.com

1. "Antelopes" print by debbiecarlos on etsy.com  2. A piece by famous pin-up artist, Fritz Willis 3. Still life oil painting by Esch, from wyoupcucler on etsy.com  4. 50s ballerina print from apricotvintage on etsy.com  5. oil painting by P. Wong from RareEarthProducts on etsy.com  6. botanical print from NaturalistCollection on etsy.com  7. a botanical print from my own collection  8. original sailboat painting from DermalPro on ebay.com  9. vintage paint-by-number from mightyfinds on etsy.com  10. an original drawing by "Steph" from Herefordshire on BBC's blast.co.uk.

3 Sep 2011

l'art brut

People often ask about the massive poster that hits you upon first entering our house. It’s a gigantic poster that I picked up at a gallery in Lausanne, Switzerland. Even though several people have called it ugly and/or frightening, it’s always found a place in my home (and my heart) since I first dragged the poster back from Switzerland, where I’d been living and working for eight months.

Here it is:
Entrance, featuring a poster by August Walla, a self-taught Austrian artist who painted his environment (walls, furniture, trees + roads) to reflect his own self-invented personal mythology.

Leaving our little village outside of Geneva, my friend and I took a short trip by train to Lausanne, a city noted for its cultural appeal and impressive heritage sites. After stopping in at a typically Swiss museum of contemporary art (tidy, flawless, ahead of the trend) we continued on to another gallery, “La Collection de l’Art Brut”, an experience that still reverberates in my mind.

Literally translated from French, “art brut” means "raw art". The term was coined by Jean Dubuffet in the 1940s to describe art created outside the boundaries of society and official culture.

The gallery offers up a collection of drawing, painting, and sculpture created mostly by people marginalized from society, artists who created their work within the confines of mental institutions or prisons. 

Here are the images that have stuck in my mind from that gallery visit:

  • wild, manic ballpoint pen sketches that stretched across a two-storey wall
  • lurid paintings that buzzed with life and authenticity
  • intricately carved sections of a concrete prison wall
Some pieces were quite technically proficient; some seemed to jab at your eyes, so raw and full of emotion. Others were child-like and fanciful, created by delicate souls in a perpetual state of innocence. Many were indeed the manual ramblings of the possessed. All the works had one thing in common: generated out of the artist’s fierce need to create, they were bold and challenging examples of self-expression without pretense or inhibition. In many cases, the artist him or herself was completely absorbed in the process of creating art, often indifferent to the final result.

Jean Dubuffet was the first person to recognize the significance of such pieces. He praised them as “pure and authentic creative impulses”. In a quote that I’ve since memorized and even used in my own art, Jean Buffet said this:
L’art ne vient pas coucher dans les lits qu’on a faits pour lui; il se sauve aussitôt qu’on pronounce son nom. Ce qu’il aime c’est l’incognito. Ses meillurs moments sont quand il oublie comment il s’appelle.
My [very rough and infinitely less poetic] translation:
Art does not sleep in beds we prepare for him; he disappears as soon as we utter his name. He craves secrecy and anonymity. His best moments happen when he forgets his own name.

Here are some examples of Art Brut (or Outsider Art, as it was later called by art critic Roger Cardinal):

Adolf Wolfli, Swiss artist first associated with Art Brut.
He suffered from psychosis and intense hallucinations.

Judith Scott,  deaf textile artist with Down's Syndrome, mistakenly labeled in childhood as "profoundly retarded" . Judith's twin sister, Joyce, intervened to release her from institutional custody.

Eugene Andolsek created ink drawings on graph paper at his kitchen table. Once completed, the pictures held no interest for him and were put away in a trunk, later found by a caregiver.
Martin Ramirez, self-taught artist and diagnosed catatonic schizophrenic.
Ted Gordon, known for his compulsive doodles of the human face.