“I keep getting this thing about painting your own work. You don’t paint the spots and all that shit. I’m doing this other stuff where I’ve got two guys in Italy carving a sculpture out of granite. So I’ve made a plaster, working in the foundry, of two figures. One of them is based on Michelangelo’s “Slaves,” the other on the sculpture of a female slave by Hiram Powers. These two guys are amazing granite carvers and they are working day in, day out. And it’s like two and a half years to make one. And it’s an edition of three. So that’s 10 years, with an AP [Artist’s Proof]. If wanted to do it I would have to go and study for 10 years, five years. To learn how to carve granite. Fucking hell! If these guys live to be 70 they are going to be able to make 12 of these. And that’s their whole careers. And that’s your whole life gone. So you have to get people.”
“My interest was to show Richter at work. How he moves, how he applies paint to canvas, his compelling squeegee technique. The purpose of the film was not to reflect the art historical discourse. It’s not that I didn’t have such concerns in mind, but I didn’t want to use the film to interpret the paintings. Books are a better medium for articulating theoretical positions. And the actual act of painting is hard to describe in words—especially the way Richter mixes primary colors on the canvas, generating such a complex system. The way layers are built up and submerged, and how sculptural they appear on canvas. The most important thing for me in this film was to show something uniquely visual.”
Finally—a music video starring pencils! Motion graphics wizard Dropbear (also known as Jonathan Chong, whose pseudonym is that of a vicious yet imaginary marsupial) has outdone himself with a colorful feat of stop-motion animation for Hudson. This video for the Melbourne-based indie-folk band’s “Against the Grain” will delight viewers of all ages, falling somewhere between Surrealist film festival fare (we’d put it right after Hans Richter‘s Dreams That Money Can Buy) and Sesame Street interstitia:
Wondering how he did that? Here’s a quick behind-the-scenes look at the 920 pencils and 5,125 images required:
“Every artist gets asked the question, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’” says Austin Kleon. “The honest artist answers, ‘I steal them.’” This is the first of 10 pieces of advice that the Austin, Texas-based writer and artist offered to an assembly of college students earlier this year. Last week, Kleon inked a deal to develop his life lessons into a book, Steal Like an Artist: a “guide to the creative life for makers in the digital age” that is slated for publication by Workman Press in March, just in time for his SXSW panel with Kirby Ferguson. Until then, you can find the annotated lecture slides on his website. They offer valuable tips on everything from achieving professional success (“The Secret: Do good work, then put it where people can see it.”) to staying inspired (“Side projects and hobbies are important.”). “More very soon,” promised Kleon in a blog post announcing the book deal. “In the meantime, there’s a new book page with pictures of the work-in-progress, and I’m posting deleted scenes and research on my Tumblr.”
“I’m always looking for an unconventional way to do holiday,” Simon Doonan told us the other day. The famed window dresser and style authority, who holds the plum title of creative ambassador-at-large for Barneys New York, prides himself on “crafty ingenuity”—think Rudolph made from old Coke cans—and his latest project came with a high-tech twist. PayPal hired Doonan to whip up festive window displays for its pop-up “Shopping Showcase,” a ground-level space in New York where the online payments giant will show off its latest offerings to retailers beginning tonight. So how did he conquer the challenge of selling, well, selling? “After they called me, I was walking past an art supply store, and I saw these,” he said, holding up a posable wooden manikin. “I thought they would be a great way to represent the 100 million people that use PayPal. They’re zillions of these in different sizes in the windows. They’re chic, they’re connected, they’re flexible.”
After Doonan submitted his initial sketches (one is pictured above), the displays were fabricated on site. “That’s a tremendous advantage, because it allows you to keep running outside and seeing what everything’s actually going to look like,” explained Doonan, dressed in a snappy Thom Browne jacket in a shade that he described as “PayPal blue.” The company’s signature color is a key theme of the windows, which feature an industrious bunch of wooden people going about their seasonal preparations amidst a flurry of wintry tissue and tulle. “It’s a fantasy holiday vignette,” he said, standing in front of the largest window. “Buy your gifts, throw them all in a sleigh, and then haul them off through the snow.” For those eager to bring a bit of Doonan’s kooky approach to their own December decor, he recommends a trip to Home Depot for some chicken wire, which he used to make the PayPal wreath. “Chicken wire is such a versatile, incredible material,” he said. “Make yourself a chicken wire Christmas tree and then just start shoving things into it.”
“[Kevin] O’Callaghan began what he calls the ‘monster’ object phase of his career back in the early 1980s when he was an advertising major at the School of Visual Arts. Upon graduating he showed his work to Milton Glaser. Rather than carry a standard portfolio up the two flights to Glaser’s 32nd Street Manhattan studio, O’C (as I call him) decided to build a two-story portfolio case. ‘I was a little late,’ O’C recalled, ‘because my portfolio got stuck in the Midtown Tunnel.’ In fact, it was wedged against the roof, and O’C had to let some air out of the tires of his trailer to free it. Showing up tardy, O’C met the slightly annoyed Glaser, who stated he didn’t have much time, and asked ‘Where is the portfolio, anyway?’ O’C answered, ‘Look out the window.’ The portfolio was level with the second floor. O’C continues, ‘So he got on his intercom to tell everyone “go to the windows,” and just as he did that a reporter from People magazine, who heard about the Midtown Tunnel incident, came to write a story that appeared on two pages in the magazine.’ After this, O’C started getting an enormous amount of work.”
-Steven Heller in his foreword to Monumental: The Reimagined World of Kevin O’Callaghan (Abrams)
“There is this print, which is the central theme of the collection, that I spent more than six months working on. It took lot of research and trial and error. The end result is something I am very proud of. There is this jacket in this print, and from afar it looks like any other blazer. But if you look at it closely every seam, every print matches to a T. I never thought it was humanly possible for me to achieve this—and call me dramatic if you will—but when I saw it finished I was in tears.”
One of Theo Jansen’s self-propelling Strandbeests (beach animals) beside a drawing by the artist depicting the creature’s “stomach” of recycled plastic bottles containing air that can be pumped up to a high pressure by the wind and “muscles” of plastic tubing.
“Theo showed me around his small on-site workshop [near Delft, The Netherlands]. It was filled with tools like vises, saws, clamps, and heat guns for softening the plastic tubes. On perforated wallboards, tools hung neatly inside their black magic-marker outlines. From a workbench Theo picked up a piece of three-quarter-inch PVC tube about two feet long. He said this was the basic element in the Strandbeests’ construction, like protein in living things. ‘I have known about these tubes all my life,’ he told me. (He speaks good English.) ‘Building codes in Holland require that electrical wiring in buildings go through conduit tubes like these. There are millions of miles of these tubes in Holland. You see they are a cheese yellow when they are new—a good color for Holland. The tubes’ brand name used to be Polyvolt, now it is Pipelife. When we were little, we used to do this with them.’
He took a student notebook, tore out a sheet of graph paper, rolled it into a tight cone, wet the point of the cone with his tongue, tore off the base of the cone so it fit snugly into the tube, raised the tube to his lips, blew, and sent the paper dart smack into the wall, fifteen feet away. He is the unusual kind of adult who can do something he used to do when he was nine and not have it seem at all out of place. ‘I believe it is now illegal for children in Dutch schools to have these tubes,’ he said.”
-Ian Frazier in his article on Dutch artist and kinetic sculptor Theo Jansen that appears in the September 5 issue of The New Yorker
“Photomontage has always existed. It was more painstaking to do, but it always existed. Changing a little gesture in a photograph or changing the order of how people are standing. Avedon did that. He did a lot of doctoring of photographs, but he never told anybody. He didn’t have to. I tell everybody because I want to be noticed. I’m like a magician showing how I do the tricks.
Artifice is artifice. If you are photographing a group and someone is in the back and you put them on a little platform, that artifice doesn’t show. It’s the same thing. Whether it’s done before the shot or after, who cares? It’s all about the emotion you have when you see the picture. I love the picture of Naomi in Africa fighting with the crocodile. We found an unbelievably beautiful rubber crocodile, and we put it in the middle of a swamp, and hundreds of people gathered around, and the police arrived. They thought a crocodile had escaped from the zoo. It was a big deal in the papers. But it was a way of doing an interesting anecdotal image.”
Although we don’t knit, we onced harbored an obsession with embroidery floss that still makes us go all tingly when in proximity to a Jo-Ann Fabrics, so when the knit-tastic Mary Beth Klatt told us that she had created an app about yarn, we said “Tell us more!” Designed for both the iPhone and the iPad, Yarn U is “an on-the-go reference guide to more than 170 yarns,” says Klatt, who has taught sewing at Chicago’s famed Vogue Fabrics and rarely leaves the house without knitting needles or crochet hooks. “It tells you on-the-spot, essential information about the yarn—such as yardage, fiber content, and stitch gauge—as well as pros and cons for the yarn.” Amateur knitters and seasoned experts alike can use the app to select the perfect yarn for a project and avoid all manner of yarn-related disappointments. The $2.99 iTunes download also includes plenty of examples to admire. Adds Klatt, “There are tons of pictures of completed projects that could be inspiring for future hats, sweaters, blankets, and more.” Put on your future hat and enroll in Yarn U today.
Got an app we should know about? Spin us a yarn at firstname.lastname@example.org