Friday, May 29, 2009

Marc Johns, I Love You

How did I not know about Marc Johns until now? Is no one in my life on the ball enough to introduce me to this delightful artist, that I have to read about him on the internet? The hipsters in my life have failed me (I'm looking at you, Sandra).

Anyway, Marc Johns - adorable, irreverent, funny, touching sketches, drawings and paintings. Please go to his website and enjoy. My favorite series so far is Things with Antlers. Here is Marc's explanation:

"I have been drawing things with antlers for a while. It all started years ago when antlers were in style and popping up on illustrations and t-shirts everywhere. So I made a few drawings about it, such as putting antlers on a guy's head and on some bananas. I was poking fun at the way we embrace trends. In the end, I ended up embracing antlers. Oops."

Japan in a Thousand Pictures

When on trips, with family and friends, or during other noteworthy events, I usually either a) don't have my camera with me or b) have my camera and forget to take it out and don't take any pictures. Pulling out the camera always seemed kind of unnatural to me, like it's drawing attention to the good time everyone is having and saying "Hey everyone, let's all take ourselves out of this special moment and pose artificially for the camera!" I feel that it's disruptive.

Which would be fine, except I love having pictures, and feel crushing remorse when a good time has ended and there is nothing to show for it except our stupid memories. Thank goodness Paul is there with his Digital Rebel to exhaustively document everything and put it on Facebook, or I don't know what I would do.

These are the things I considered when watching the beautiful film below. Eric Testroete edited together all of the photos he took on a vacation to Japan with his girlfriend, set them to the persistent beat of an LCD Soundsystem song, and voila. It's totally hypnotic, and you feel that you are right there with them in the park feeding deer and eating potato pancakes at restaurants. I really enjoyed watching it and thought it was lovely, but throughout I just kept thinking about how many pictures they must have taken of every single thing that they did. Can you really be in the moment and experiencing life fully if you are behind a camera and capturing everything at the same time? I know that this is the way we live now, but there is a curmudgeonly side to me that thinks that something important is lost in all that documentation.

This is Japan! from Eric Testroete on Vimeo.

Via Urlesque

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not Just Sushi

Up until 15 minutes ago, if someone said "Wabi-Sabi" to me, I would think "We're going to a sushi restaurant on Abbott Kinney." And I would be excited.

But now, thanks to some furious Wikipeding, I have seen the light. Wabi-Sabi is actually a Japanese philosophical aesthetic centered around the concept of transience and impermanence. According to Wikipedia, the Wabi-Sabi aesthetic is "sometimes described as one of beauty that is 'imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete'" and features of art in this vein include "asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and suggest a natural process."

Cool. I bet our Ikebana sensei Kyoko Kassarjian could explain Wabi-Sabi to me, since Ikebana is apparently one of the art forms in which it figures prominently.

I did this research to help me understand the amazing art of Shinichi Maruyama. Maruyama tosses black ink and water together, both in the air and on paper, and uses photography to capture the moment when the two liquids meet but have not yet combined. This practice is the epitome of Wabi-Sabi, illustrating the beauty of a moment in time that is incomplete and unfinished. There is a longer statement on the website that explains the theory behind the work, but I think the images are powerful even without this reference point. To me they are very evocative of the natural world and its constant cycle of change and renewal.

Shinichi Maruyama via Urlesque

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Card Catalog

Whenever I think of business cards, I think of the scene in American Psycho where Patrick Bateman has a panic attack during a meeting because a hated colleague has a better business card than him, and then you see the business cards they are obsessing about, and they are all exactly the same cream-colored embossed card stock, and it makes you think about the 80s negatively. Also, I think he then kills the guy who had the better cards.

Movie references aside, though, a business card is your chance to be remembered long after a busy networking event has died down, and if you're an artist and designer, you can get pretty creative with your card. Freelanceswitch has a rundown of unique and charming business cards taken from the website Creaticca. Though I think sometimes creative business cards can look a little cutsey, I was won over by these designs.

Hello! You are adorable!

This is not product placement, but the Milk skincare line has beautiful, powerful branding, and I use them because the bottles are so pretty and make me feel like a Swedish princess. Also the moisturizer is pretty good.

Awesome, and I don't even know what this is for. Barbers?

My favorite, of course, because of the pun. I literally exclaimed aloud when I saw this. I think I said "Ah!"

72 Stunning Business Cards via Lifehacker

Thursday, May 21, 2009

When Logos Roam Free

How fun is Photoshop? So fun. Everyone loves Photoshop. You can use it to draw things on people's faces and cut things out and put them in completely other pictures. It's awesome.

Here is a fun set of pictures from the blog English Russia, which I am having a hard time figuring out what the blog is actually about. But the set of pictures uses Photoshop to show what would happen if our favorite logos broke free of their packaging cages and started new lives in the wild.

The LaCoste alligator fiercely protects his territory. He learned to fight on the harsh streets of pastel polo shirts.

Look how happy the Linux penguin is! He is just having a dopey good time. Just don't think about global warming and everything will be fine.

The Puma moves through the forest like a black shadow in the night. Wait, do pumas even live in forests? I thought they lived in mountains and grasslands. Maybe I'm thinking of mountain lions?

This little girl looks extremely nonplussed. Maybe she knows about the video referencing?

Logos Gone Wild via Urlesque.

Tiny Art Director and Her Reign of Terror

Tiny Art Director is a blog where artist Bill Zeman creates paintings based on his four year old daughters' suggestions, and she then renders her harsh critique. She is pretty judgemental for a four year old, but I kind of tend to agree with a lot of her feedback.

Here are some examples from Tiny Art Director:

The Brief: I want you to draw me a crocodile!
The Critique: No! Don't eat me!
Job Status: Rejected

The Brief: A dinosaur, not too scary
The Critique: He's a ugly one! I hate those kind of dinosaurs! Where's your eraser?
Job Status: Rejected
Additional Comments: [hits page] He has ugly eyeballs.

The Brief: A Dragon
The Critique: It's dumb Daddy. You should erase it. Grow up Daddy.
Job Status: Rejected

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Under the Milky Way Tonight

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Thank you, astrophotographer William Castleman, for shooting this amazing time-lapse video of the Milky Way. If you're interested in the technical wizardry behind this, Castleman says:

"I put the Canon EOS-5D (AA screen modified to record hydrogen alpha at 656 nm) with an EF 15mm f/2.8 lens on a weighted tripod. Exposures were 20 seconds at f/2.8 ISO 1600 followed by 40 second interval. Exposures were controlled by an interval timer shutter release (Canon TC80N3). Power was provided by a Hutech EOS203 12v power adapter run off a 12v deep cycle battery. Large jpg files shot in custom white balance were batch processed in Photoshop (levels, curves, contrast, Noise Ninja noise reduction, resize) and assembled in Quicktime Pro."


Via Laughingsquid

Fun with Colors Palette Generator

Today I had so much fun playing with CCS Drive's Colors Palette Generator. If you're working on a design project based on a particular subject or image (or if you just like pretty colors), you can upload any image and generate a custom palette based on its colors.

Of course the first thing I thought was "I want a color palette of ME!" so I made Karen take a picture of me standing in front of a cubicle. I was all excited to see custom palette Cristina, but upon viewing realized that a peach-colored person standing in front of a beige wall does not a very interesting palette make.

They give you a light, medium and dark color palette, and my dark one is basically varying shades of black. Then I realized that I should probably pick a picture with a few more colors in it. So, in honor of Paul who helped me out by explaining how to save screenshots as TIFs in Photo Editor, here is the color palette of the original Star Wars poster:

Much better!

Via Lifehacker

Monday, May 18, 2009

Karen Interviews Elusive Jewelry Genius Ralph Goldstein

Ralph Goldstein, who teaches Handmade Jewelry with us twice a year (during the winter and spring quarters) has a cult following of students who sign up for his class on the day that registration opens. Karen, my compatriot and counterpart in the DCA program, interviewed Ralph at his studio in Century City.

I think this video captures a bit of how awesome Ralph is, and also what a kind, warm and wise teacher he is. We all love him and are so happy to have him with us.

Interactive Panoramic (with Fossils!)

Maybe I am easily impressed, but I enjoyed exploring this panorama of staff working on the upcoming Extreme Mammals exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History. Apparently, the panorama by Raymond McCrea Jones "consists of many individual photographs taken over a short period of time and stitched together into a single image."

I like the inside glimpse that the panorama provides of the process of getting an exhibition ready, and the feeling that you're right in the thick of the fossil fun. Hit "Full Screen" and drag this craziness around!

Bringing Mammals to Life - NY Times

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Etsy: For All Your Artsy Needs

If you're looking for a unique gift, a special piece of jewelry, or a crochet giraffe, Etsy is the place for you. An "online marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade," it's a smorgasbord of one-of-a-kind pieces. The prices range from mid-level to "wow, I can get six pairs of these earrings for $10." The website is fun and easy to explore (it's kind of like being at the world's biggest crafts fair), and I know several independent artist who consider it a valuabe resource for e-commerce and getting their work out there. I find the quality and level of craftsmanship to be surprisingly high (for a site that has thousands of artists' work represented), and there are pieces to fit every taste and style.

For example, I was reminded of Etsy today by a post about these notebooks made from vintage computer punch cards.

So cute! Of course, they are available in the seller's Etsy shop.

So go and explore Etsy - I swear it will come in handy for that friend who collects candlesticks in the shape of US states.
Notebooks Made from Punchcards via Boingboing

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Good Design Begins at the Office

Like a fashion designer wearing sweatpants or a chef eating at McDonalds, I sometimes worry that in my personal life I fall short of professional expectations. I work with artists and photographers all day, yet come home to walls covered with tacked on band posters and cartoons. I have chairs from Ikea, a candelabra from Linens N' Things (RIP) and a desk that's been with me since I was 10 (it still bears the marks of the glitter stickers I applied).

Luckily, our office is a little more representative of the kind of art and design work we want to inspire our students to create. Great posters, postcards, fliers and books come through all the time, so it's easy to surround ourselves with good work. What do we currently have decorating our cubicle walls? Follow me on a tour through the UCLA Extension Visual Arts workspace.

This poster sits directly behind be, watching me write e-mails. Scott worked a bit on in, and said that it was an interesting experience from a design perspective, since the poster essentially breaks through the fourth wall and draws the viewer's attention to the details of the process as opposed to just the finished product (by leaving in the yellow notes, which were originally intended for internal editing purposes only).

Here's another awesome poster, this one for the Illustration Conference ICON 5. The art is by Edel Rodriquez, and incorporates caricatures of several well knows artist and illustrators (who I assume were represented at that year's conference).

Our calligraphy instructor Carrie Imai is a superhero who wields a mighty pen, and is responsible for me one day opening my mailbox to find the Coolest Envelope Ever waiting for me. This is just a regular letter for her. The combination of a) beautiful calligraphy and b) myself make it one of my favorite things.

Karen keeps this sweet color chart above the bookshelf. It's like the periodic table of art. Also, it will come in handy if we ever decide to sneak in under cover of darkness and paint all the walls.

The other day my office-mate Steve came up to me and asked me why I never wear the "blue sweater with the polka dots" anymore. I told him that I didn't have a blue sweater with polka dots. He went on to describe it at length, saying that it had 3/4 length sleeves and a cowl neck, etc. I repeated that I do not own any article of clothing even remotely like that. Then I went to the bathroom and when I came back, this was waiting for me. A picture being worth a thousand words does not make me own this imaginary sweater, and does not make Steve any less crazy.

And finally, when I'm having a tough day or need some practical advice, I know that I can always turn to Cornelius, Zira and Dr. Zaius. They've seen it all.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

MOMA Made Easy

I never been to the New York Museum of Modern Art, and that is sad. But now I can be less sad, because of Jason Polan's book The Every Piece of Art in the Museum of Modern Art Book. As you might guess from the title, Polan made quick sketches of every piece of art on display at MOMA from January 19 to January 31, 2005. It looks like this:

Sweet! It's just like being in front of Claude Monet's Reflections of Clouds on the Water Lily Pad. I like the way these fun, easy sketches take some of the stuffiness and gravity away from a modern art institution and make the art viewing experience seem lighter and more accessible.

Also I then clicked around on his website and loved his drawings. Here are some of the ones I loved the most.

Jason Polan's website

Via Gawker

Monday, May 11, 2009

Loaded Logos

As I've mentioned before, we love us some graphic design over here in the Visual Arts program. Because I have juvenile sensibilities, my favorite designs are ones that have visual tricks or puns in them. So I had fun reading Graphic Design Blog's list of 25 Logos with Hidden Messages. I also want to give big ups to the author of Graphic Design Blog for calling it "Graphic Design Blog." I've gotten some flack for calling this "Arts Blog" because it's not catchy and it should have a real name, not just a description, etc. But I like "Arts Blog," and I'm going to forge ahead, buoyed by the knowledge that there are others out there who share my vision of simple, no frills blog names (plus it's too late to change it).

Here are some of the most interesting "trick" logos.

I don't know if this should be considered a "trick," but according to Graphic Design Blog, the familiar yellow arrow "says that has everything from A to Z and it also represents the smile brought to the customer’s face." I never thought of the A to Z thing before - I kind of thought the arrow represented, like, things being mailed to your house. Shows what I know.

First of all, what is this a logo for? The concept of marriage has a logo? Anyway, I am not ashamed to admit that this makes me go "Awww" in my heart a little bit. The "R"s are in love! And it looks like they're holding hands. Perfect. When I see this, "So Happy Together" plays in my mind.

I am such a dork, but this is one of my favorites. The "E" and the "X" are touching to form a perfect arrow made of white space. If you've never seen this before, you're welcome.

Toblerone = deliciousness. Have you seen the huge novelty ones you can get at duty free in European airports? Insanity. Anyway, the graphic of the Swiss Alps has a dancing bear in it.

This design by Josiah Jost made me laugh. Graphic Design Blog was like "They made the film reel look like a ghost," but to me this looks like my face when I watch horror movies. They don't show the part where I shriek and batter myself with my own arms in panic, but it's there in spirit.

Via LaughtingSquid

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fore-edge Painting

Today I learned about fore-edge painting, which combines two of my favorite things: books, and disappearing. Fore-edge paintings are intricate, detail-heavy paintings done on the fanned inner edges of the pages of a book. When the book is fanned correctly, the entire painting is visible, but when the book is closed the painting disappears entirely.

One of the main practictioners of this art form is Martin Frost, whose website has some great examples of this style. Also check out this movie that shows the painting slowly appearing as the pages move:

This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder how it got started and who came up with the idea, and what the first fore-edge painting was. Wikipedia was not very helpful on this topic. Step it up, Wikipedia. Also, I think it would be cool if spies used fore-edge paintings to transmit secret codes and charts and stuff. But I guess it would be kind of cumbersome to lug around big gilt hardcover books. But they could figure it out - they're spies.

(image from Martin Frost's website)
Via LaughingSquid

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Threadless Camera Print is usually my go-to place for T-shirts that are irreverent and/or feature anthropomorphized foodstuffs, but I saw this print today that I also really liked.

It's called "I Can't Draw," but I think the loopy style and non-precise vibe suit the subject matter. 15 bucks, and it won't shrink in the dryer.

I Can't Draw print by Roberto Galvez

This Map Give Me Vertigo

This "horizonless projection" of Manhattan is the coolest map ever but, as I mentioned, also makes my tummy feel a little funny (click to enlarge and get full, queasy effect). By way of explanation on the website Here and There, the creators (London design firm Schultz and Webb) say:

"Imagine a person standing at a street corner. The projection begins with a three-dimensional representation of the immediate environment. Close buildings are represented normally, and the viewer himself is shown in the third person, exactly where she stands.

As the model bends from sideways to top-down in a smooth join, more distant parts of the city are revealed in plan view. The projection connects the viewer's local environment to remote destinations normally out of sight."

I think we can all agree that this map is pretty nuts. Also I love their explanation of why they did this project in the first place, which is:

"Because the ability to be in a city and to see through it is a superpower, and it's how maps should work."


Via Gawker

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Drive-By Art in LA

I always geek out when the New York Times does something LA-related. I often will point at the paper and say "I've been there!" out loud.

I did that a couple times with the beautiful slideshow Drive-By Art. It includes examples of "a type of public art growing more prominent in Los Angeles: art that you don’t have to leave the comfort of your convertible to experience."

First of all, really? I don't know if I buy the idea that artists are riding the wave of this movement where people coast by in their BMWs and ooh and ah. But I do think it's cool when you see art out your car window, because it makes the city more vibrant and enjoyable on a daily basis. Also, I don't know anyone who has a convertible. It would probably be more accurate to say "Art you can see out your moon roof."

The New York Times - Drive-By Art

Hospital Food: Reliably Gross

I love pictures of food, but even I will admit that most unprofessional pictures of unprofessional food look pretty gross. Food photographers and stylists all have their stories about using lard to stand in for ice-cream, glue for milk, blow-drying rice, etc.

But there is something endearing about seeing regular food sitting there being mediocre and familiar, which is why I was excited to see the blog Hospital Food. As the name suggests, it posts pictures of hospital food submitted from all over the world. I especially liked the plates from foreign hospitals, with their own cultural equivalents of good old turkey and mashed potatoes.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Ok, this one is confusing, because the label says it's from Hospital Aleman de Buenos Aires, which means "The German Hospital in Buenos Aires." So, right off the bat there's some cultural weirdness. Also, what is that? It looks like an egg baked into a meatloaf. I would eat it.

This is from a Japanese hospital, at which they are clearly not messing around, because they give you a whole fish. Also some nice looking pink rice and a bevy of colorful sides. I like how it's clean and interesting, and they give you six cool dishes to choose from.

This is supposedly a "diet" plate, but to me it looks like the Midwest from an airplane. Also, what is that red stuff? That red stuff better be the jazziest condiment ever, because this is a really boring lunch.

Awww! This one just says "Meal served at patients in a Polish hospital."

Hospital Food Photo Blog (via Boingboing).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Anna Skladmann's Little Adults

Photographer Anna Skladmann has a very disturbing series called "Little Adults," which shows the children of Russian's rich upper class decked out in fancy clothes and lounging disaffectedly around their parents' estates.

According to her website, "The series 'Little Adults' explores what it feels like to be a privileged child living in Russia, a country where its radical history and social hierarchy still rules their daily lives. It is the exploration of the recently growing society of the 'Nouveau-Riche' in which children have been raised to be the 'Elite' and behave like little adults. These portraits express the tension between the natural character and stereotype of appearance co-existing in the world of children."

While I think it's always disturbing to see children playing adult roles, this series is particularly affecting because of how vacant, bored and disillusioned the kids look. I'm sure the subjects were dressed and posed to highlight the effect, but it's a depressing statement on the effects of materialism and social pressure.

Anna Skladmann - Little Adults