Category art

Tribal realism-ish

I love these modern, realistic acrylic and watercolor paintings of tribal people by Colombian artist Felipe Bedoya. They are from his collection called O-M-O.

They push toward photographic representations while simultaneously clawing back from that with flat fade surfaces in the background. All this helps the heads seem to… float.













California inspires me

I grew up in the midwest and have lived all over but nothing quite compares to California. I’m in love with it’s sense of optimism and insatiable desire to recreate itself. Oh… the sunshine and wave consistency are also pretty darn awesome.

For these reasons and many more I also love these beautifully illustrated stories that seek to capture why California inspires us.

California inspires Jack Black

California inspires Mark Mothersbaugh

California inspires Brian Wilson

California inspires Mike Mills

California inspires Thao Nguyen

California inspires Kim Gordon

Endless skin tones

I love this site.

It beautifully delivers an illustration that captures global races, ethnicities and color. The range of people and gorgeous skin tones offer a simple lesson that we are all different and yet also very much the same.



Curiosity and creation

I love the process of discovery. I also love watching that process through someone else’s eyes. I suppose this all comes down to the simple ideas of curiosity and creation.

The following is a killer little video put out by the clever crew at Vans. More than anything I love the sighs of stoke coming from Aaron Draplin’s mouth as he connects with something new.

#LIVINGOFFTHEWALL – Aaron Draplin & The Art of the Side Hustle Pt 1 from Vans OffTheWall.TV on Vimeo.

Norway’s new museum-worthy currency


We’ve all been so heads down, focused on ecommerce for the past decade, that maybe we’ve missed a quite little evolution… revolution in physical currency.

The-Metric-System-Norwegian-Living-Space1Sure, we hear about changes in currency connected to the cat-and-mouse game of counterfeiters and money laundering but when was the last time you looked at, really took some time and looked at, the currency in your pocket.

Many of us don’t even carry physical currency around any longer. We buy off the internet, pay for coffee with our phones and count the days until we don’t have to carry credit cards around any more.

But… look at that 100 Kroner bill from Norway.

It’s… gorgeous.

The top note could be in a museum.

It reminds me of how wonderful it is to be in a foreign location with a pocketful of unfamiliar, beautiful colorful paper. Ah, the joys of foreign currency.

Love this execution.


Italian sculpture on French wheels

citroenSMMy Uncle Frank drove this car.

I remember sitting in the back from time to time as he motored around the New England countryside.

Some cars make you feel different than other cars do; some make you feel special.

Driving my kids around town in our CJ (with no doors or roof) does this same thing. When you’re in the Jeep you’re keenly aware of the weather and time of day. If the sun is rising it’s in your eyes; if it starts to rain you’re wet.

The Citroën DS had a similar effect except the feeling was connected to art and industrial design.

You weren’t just wishing Jetsons-inpired innovation and design would take root at some point in the future because you were running an errand in a car that looked like it actually might fly.

This vehicle was styled by Italian sculptor and industrial designer Flaminio Bertoni and French aeronautical engineer André Lefèbvre. It was Italian sculpture on French wheels. This Citroën was introduced in 1955 yet, looks fresh enough that it could make a successful debut today. 

Capturing a person’s essence

mosman-5I stumbled upon Shelly Mosman‘s photographs and they stopped me in my tracks.

My mind immediately jumped to Cindy Sherman’s work. But Shelly’s work is different as she uses others (not herself) for a muse and mouthpiece.

Shelly tells stories through portraits that capture a person’s essence.

The image to the left has a renaissance feel to it. She is a queen: the stature, the eyes, the regal collar, the hand gesture and even the frail lap. This person has presence.

asdf234She could have been a model for Alessandro Allori’s “Lady with dog” (right) that was painted in the mid 1500s.

Shelly’s stark palette, usually ultra-deep blacks and whites, further amplify the emotions of the subject. Great body of work.

Portfolio details below, site here.


Falling in love with a painting that doesn’t exist


When I saw Naomi Okubo’s paintings I instantly loved them.

I came upon them via this design blog and instantly felt they were both old world and modern at the same time. The subject matter could be changed out with an old Italian master and yet the color pallet was fresh and current.

They I looked for more of Naomi’s work and quickly found out that the piece I loved didn’t actually exist.

The blogger was exploring the CMYK pallet Naomi is using and matched it with squares along the bottom. As a separate note, the tool she’s using Colourlovers is pretty interesting on it’s own.

Odd to think that I fell in love with the image here… and it doesn’t even exist. It’s part of a designers color exploration exercise. I don’t care… I dig it as is.

Wes Anderson right down the center

I wrote a post a few months back about Stanley Kubrick’s obsession with geometry, it’s pretty wild if you haven’t seen it.

It looks as if he’s not the only one directing with a driving force to divide the screen. Check out this quick vignette of Wes Anderson’s evenness.

The Specials, art school and the role of tight branding


It’s hard to put the rise of The Specials into a context that makes sense today.

They (and a few other ska-revival bands like them) formed at, literally, the same time the UK punk scene was coalescing.

It was 1977. The Clash and The Sex Pistols were coming together. In the ‘States bands like The Ramones had been around for 2 – 3 years.

All of these bands were reacting to a 70s Summer-of-love soundtrack gone adrift. The disco era had been birthed and co-opted into something smarmy. The music scene had become full of predictable, ballad/anthem-rock. Milktoast bands like Styx lacked energy and pushed out one derivative song after another.

Punk and ska revival were born from a music scene grossly lacking innovation.

There are a million tomes written on punk and ska so I won’t offer another here, instead I’ll point to the role of art schools and tight branding.

What I see so clearly now is how tightly controlled the band’s brands were.

The Ramones had Arturo Vega, an art designer, who not only came up with The Ramones logo but also helped shape the look and feel of the band. Arturo created a what is today called “a strong UX” (user experience). The Ramones… the entire band… were always, always the same. They illustrated stunning brand consistency. The Ramones all wore slim, shredded jeans, moto jackets and simple graphic Ts and all their songs were simple, fast and funny. In a music world made of bands like REO Speedwagon… The Ramones stood out. The Ramones brand, to this day, is one of the tightest in the history of music.

Talking Heads were all RISD, art school, alums. A quick scan of their covers shows how art-savvy this group was. Has there been a band since with a more-evolved, contemporary art infused visual sense? I don’t know of one.

The Pistols’ image was masterminded by visual artist and clothing designer Malcom McLaren. He was helped by Vivienne Westwood, an art school pal. Malcom sought out a gang of dead-end kids to be his brand puppets. He cheered (and cashed in) as the uber-promoted chaos took over. The Sex Pistols were sculpted by Malcom more than they were formed by band members. Again, the Pistols brand is super tight… ransom notes, torn edges, collage and safety pins. The modern surf brand Volcom owes near 100% of it’s visual brand identity to Malcom and Vivienne.

The list goes on and on. The emphasis of a tight visual brand was so intense during this era that it went too far. Perhaps it was the largest factor which birthed the silly, follow-on “New Wave” era. With new wave, the visuals became more important than the music. Case in point: Flock of Seagulls.

And yet for some reason I keep coming back to The Specials. Take a quick look at the imagery over their career.


One theme comes to mind, black and white.

The tightness of The Specials brand rivals Apple.

Keep in mind that Apple will spend $1,000,000,000 (a billion dollars) on ads this year to make you think of their products are cool. The Specials spent next to nothing.

Black and white brand characteristics permeated every element of The Specials. They were taking a musical form from black Jamaica (ska, blue-beat revival) and bringing it to a racially-tense black and white England. The band had ample representation of both races. Their songs dealt with issues that divided black and white people. They dressed in black and white. They shot their photos and videos in black and white. All their graphics emphasised black and white (including massive use of a checkerboard theme)… and the name of the record label was 2 Tone.

These bands not only understood the importance of the visual branding they also instinctively understood what many modern corportations have learned in the last decade or so… the importance of a consistent user experience across all platforms.

Enough jabbering about the visuals… The Specials were also a great band. Check ’em out.