Apr
22

Beautiful Things: Chanel Color Palette Dresses

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Remember in high school art class, when, on the first day or the first week, your teacher would have you mix colors to set up a value scale? When I saw this collection from Chanel, I couldn’t help but notice the art-school feeling of the swatches of color.

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These dresses, shirts, and accessories are kind of meta in that way, though most may not see them immediately as palettes. For the entire span of each dress, it looks like a meticulous student was trying to find the perfect color, and, in the midst of it, ended up creating a piece with a mind of it’s own. Palette mixing is a rote exercise, but it looks fun, vibrant, and free as a wearable.

Of course you’ve already seen these dresses everywhere:

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The dreamy dude in the show itself reaches the levels of over-the-top, with the paint brushes he’s toting, but hey, it looks like it could happen in some art world, somewhere. Everyone wants the romantic image of the artist I suppose.

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Apr
21

Atari Manual Art was Aces

 
 
 
Unlike the covers of books or movies, covers of early games had to be super exciting back when all the action involved 8-bit graphics. That said, this illustration below may be the most exciting artwork for backgammon that the world will ever see, 80s or not:

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But I shouldn’t say “80s” – this game’s release date was 1979. So groovy!
 
 
 

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It’s a cross between the Great Gatsby and a Bond movie. Gambling was never so exciting and colorful.
 
 
 
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How could you NOT want to learn to program after looking at this illustration? It’s like living in outer space! The dude has a bionic hand.
 
 
 
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Okay. Totally not an Atari game, but awesome nonetheless. Percy Bysshe Shelley has nothing on this.
 
 
 
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This baseball illustration seems to be painted on glass or mylar, but it’s tough to tell.
 
 
 
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This is my favorite. I have no clue what is happening here, but it’s great.
 
 


Apr
21

Drawings and Noodles: April 2014

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One of my favorite words of the past year? Facepalm. It works for so many situations. And here is a classic facepalm. I tried to keep the right parts of this clean, and the other segments dirty. The feeling that the man has isn’t perfect, so he himself doesn’t look so put together.

 
 
 
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This one was fun. His blazer is made with dry-erase marker, which does some strange stuff on thin paper. There’s no telling what the dry-erase will do, but I like the way it messes up black areas.
 
 
 
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Art school. Hipster. That girl.
 
 
 
 
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Well the blending on this could look better but I liked how her hair turned out.
 
 
 
 
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Though not sourced from it, this one reminds me of a scene from AKIRA the graphic novels, volume 3 I think.
 
 
 
 
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I’ve been looking at a lot of Eric Fischl lately, honing in on the bedroom paintings. The key ace in these pieces are the lines across bodies, created by just-open blinds. Voyeuristic? Yeah. Interesting as art forms? Totally. Though I don’t expect anyone to see the above drawing and say “Those are shadows from barely parted blinds!” I wanted to keep the style and the meaning and keep it weird.
 
 
 
 
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Some people really are modern Midases. Whatever they touch or interact with, it turns into gold. This one ended up looking a bit darker than I wanted it to – originally the idea in mind was drawing the person who jumps from company to company, leaving success and profitability in his/her wake. You don’t really see the person, you see the results and the work.
 
 
 
 
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I didn’t really have a goal with this guy, but his expression ended up being meaningful.
 
 
 
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Marc and I ended up at The Domain mall in Austin while looking for a cable from Apple. Tons of great cars out there, outrageous outfits, and terrible little dogs. We visited Victoria’s Secret in order to laugh at the many provocative phrases you can wear now on your butt. It’s easy to go in but tough to get out of there. When you finally get your underwear, the store makes a ceremony of packing the shopping bag with wads of pink glittering paper. There’s SO much paper in those bags! The bottom of each bag holds a durable cardboard square (great for making art on as well), so, everywhere you go, you’re basically carrying a giant pink box. Forced branding. I couldn’t just throw the bag out, so I made something on it. What’s the opposite of a sexy, frisky Victoria’s Secret girl? A gloomy dude. They go together like a horse and carriage.
 
 
 
 


Apr
11

These Retro Activision Manual Covers (and interiors) are Rad

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While bumming around a Game Over Videogames store in Austin, I came across some of these amazing manuals from early Activision games.

Who made these? I couldn’t find an artist listed anywhere. I dig the late-70s rainbow look, and the animals and trees that try their best to look digital.

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Oh my god, I love the cows. The only thing better than the cows on the cover is the booklet’s interior page where Bob Whitehead gives advice on how to become a Cattle Baron:

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Also, I give you: Pitfall Harry’s Diary.

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Apr
10

Beautiful Things: Rex Ray

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About four years ago I ran into Rex Ray’s work for the first time at the MCA Denver. He had a huge work set up on the second floor of the museum, a technical masterpiece that spanned a full hallway. A few weeks after the opening, the museum hosted a screening of “How To Make a Rex Ray,” where the artist details his process.

The big reveal of the film, if there was one, was that the colors and shapes in his pieces are all paper cutouts, sliced and lacquered to a panel with delicate craft.

An escapee of Colorado Springs, he’s working now in San Francisco. Aside from the pieces you see here, Ray has designed show posters for David Bowie, Radiohead, and The Rolling Stones.

Enjoy.

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Apr
04

Becky’s Beautiful Things: Boucheron Inspiria Collection

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One of these necklaces first caught my eye in a jewelry addendum for the January issue of Vogue Japan. I’d never seen such well-crafted asymmetrical jewelry.

Usually asymmetries in jewelry are fashioned to look cutting edge or defiant, but these pieces from Boucheron glitter with equal parts verve and rococo. They’re built from lively source material, with shapes, colors, and titles drawn from specific Cirque du Soleil shows.The assembly, seen in this youtube video, looks painstaking.

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I adored these off the bat since its such an unusual fusion of art worlds. Could you capture the spirit of an entire acrobatics show in a necklace? Quite the mission, and well-performed.

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This last piece may be my favorite – inspired by the Cirque du Soleil with all Beatles-based costumes and songs.

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Apr
01

Becky’s Beautiful Things: Makeup Sponge Paintings by Margery Amdur

 
 

In the latest issue of New American Paintings, one artist in particular caught my eye: Margery Amdur.

Amongst other styles, Amdur arranges makeup sponges to create tapestries. I see hints of El Anatsui scale and pattern, and something in the work reminds me of Lynda Benglis, but I can’t put my finger on it.

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They’re also just fun. Holy cow, we probably all know at least one diva who has used this many sponges in a lifetime. Or if you’ve ever been backstage for a musical, you’ve probably seen a pile of these triangular sponges heaped in a trash bin. But have you ever thought that a used-up beauty supply could be so beautiful?

Enjoy.

 

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Mar
01

Bird Collage Process Photos

 

Last weekend I put together a few collages from strips of paper. It was fun to channel my inner Eric Carle; after years of studying high-minded art and subjecting myself to visiting painfully bad conceptual art shows, I just wanted to do the simplest project imaginable: Making birds.

 

 

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To get started, I painted several large pieces of bristol paper with abstract patterns.

 

 
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The patterns were cut into narrow strips. This was physically the easiest part of the process, but emotionally, the hardest. It’s tough to make cuts since there’s no going back.

 

 
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Tada! The first bird that resulted from re-assembled collage strips. I glued the bird to another bristol board with Golden gel. The opposite colors, mostly blues and oranges, give the piece a rich feeling. I made sure to make the eye of the bird an unusual, poppish color.

 

 
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I had enough paper left over to make a second bird from the same color palette. This one has a bit more complex layerings that I picked up from the first time around.

 

 

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The final product! An animal dyptich. Thanks for reading!

 

 


Jan
03

Wal-Mart Cosmetics Aisle Art

 

While traveling from Colorado to Texas in the past few months, I’ve found myself at more than a few Wal-Marts across the states. Each visit to Wal-Mart is a little bit unbelievable. The modern-enough electronics section quickly gives way to book crannies that host manuals on how to avoid the devil. Yes, the literal devil.
 
All Wal-Marts look the same, their floorplans identically laid out beneath exhausting fluorescent lights. In the beauty sections, a strange phenomenon riddles the images of the cosmetics models. On every aisle, someone has ripped lipstick from the shelves and slathered it all over every plastic-covered photograph of a model for Loreal or Cover Girl.
 
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I have no clue why anyone does this. Is it to test the makeup shade? Maybe not – most of the revisions aren’t exactly built to indicate shade or color. Some of the marks are seeking to create beauty, others are looking to destroy it. Are children doing this? I have to hope so.
 
Either way, the smears and daubs make for interesting photographs. The scribbles make it clear just how much retailers like Wal-Mart lose when pitted against their own consumers.
 
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Dec
27

The Case for Naming Your Characters

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One of my favorite things to do while shopping is exploring the toy sections at Target, HEB and Wal-Mart to see how toys are marketed. The toyscape can always tell me two things about marketing:
 
 
1. How we think we are creating desire and fun (because we don’t really know. Most toy product designers and marketers are not 7 year-olds)

2. How we create stories behind characters/products.
 
 
Lately, I came across two examples of blind-box toys from two separate identities under one company, Hasbro. One type was always sold out, the other was still full to the brim with unsold toys.
 
The top seller? My Little Pony. The unlucky brand? Littlest Pet Shop. Here’s one reason why I think the Littlest Pet Shop toys sold less:
 
The MLP blind bags feature every possible character on the package, along with that pony’s name. Most of the pony figurines available are ‘repaints’ of other characters. So, you may open a package and pull out a pony shaped like Rainbow Dash, but painted in different colors, therefore creating an entirely new pony. (See the pony named Sunny Rays below? It’s just a Rainbow Dash with different colored fur/hair).
 
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Yet, the characters in The Littlest Pet Shop blind bags had no names, just numbers.
 
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If you have a unique product lineup, why not name your characters? If your designers go so far as to create a unique cat character, don’t you owe it to the designs to come up with a name for the critter?

 

Names may be what make toy collections like My Little Pony and Pokemon such successful, outstanding franchises. You can’t create a good story with just a serial number. Without a name, there can be no relationship. Without a relationship, there can be no story.
 
From a non-story, non-sales point of view, maybe naming toys is totally unnecessary, since children will name toys on their own when they begin to play with them. Yet, I think the naming act is the critical operation for companies that want to develop toys that matter. If you want to create a collection of cute things that will last a lifetime, make sure the cute things have names. The more unforgettable (Bulbasaur, anyone?) the better. Kids and parents might get obsessed. They might create a whole wiki for them.