Article Archive

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    There’s something incredibly beautiful and natural about Gráinne Quinlan’s series White Crane Spread Wings where she captures the elderly community of Hong Kong practising Tai Chi throughout the city.

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    A few years back illustrator Rob Hunter produced his debut graphic novel The New Ghost, a story about a novice spirit befriending a troubled astronomer. It was a simple, ethereal tale that left no doubt in our minds that Rob was a burgeoning talent in the comics scene. It obviously made an impact on electronic musician Jon Hopkins too, as he’s just commissioned Rob to lend his illustration skills – and his lonely ghost – to his latest EP Asleep Versions. The two make a fitting pair with Jon’s ambient compositions mixing seamlessly with Rob’s subtle, other-wordly imagery. To top it all off they’ve just released this snappy teaser too, in which animator Sean Weston has brought the ghost to life – a truly breathtaking achievement.

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    It was 17 years ago (!) that the BBC released a star-studded cover of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, and tonight they marked the relaunch of BBC Music in a similar way. Musicians from Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder to Lorde and Chrissie Hynde weigh in on this heavyweight effort that more than anything confirms the strength of the BBC’s pulling power. Sure some people will find it cheesy as hell and on balance it’s probably not as good as Perfect Day but when you can roll out guns as big as these it’s sometimes fun to put them all together and see what happens. Also the song’s writer Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys plays a piano with a tiger on it. Because, well, just because I think…

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    If you asked anyone in the UK to draw a character from the Beano, they’d most probably be able to get on with the task off by heart. The characters in the age-old weekly comic are etched onto our brains from a young age, and every kid’s got their favourite strip. For me, it was The Bash Street Kids, a cartoon created by Leo Baxendale in 1954 about a pesky gang of kids driving their teacher nuts. Lessons, rules, bullies – the Beano knew how to make its readers happy by bringing them seemingly infinite story-lines about something most British children see as the world’s worst chore – school.

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    Yay! Hato Press! We love them. A lot. Neighbours of ours, Hato have spent the last five years collaborating with some of the coolest young creatives and oldest institutions to create impeccably beautiful printed matter and design solutions. A number of the publications these guys have produced are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever had the pleasure of holding/smelling, and it seems that every single thing they do or work on is covered in a glimmering magic dust that is exclusive to only them. Before you go and wet your pants over their multi-disciplinary work on their very nice websites (here and here) check out the books that have inspired them over the years below. Enjoy!

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    I wonder how many projects have been inspired by the treacherous, but often successful world of online dating. Matchmaking is no new thing – for years lonely hearts columns have been providing people with hilarious stories to recount to their pals, and even actual mates who they can breed with. Saying that, I haven’t seen a project that sums up the sheer oddness of the modern world of online dating as fantastic as David Luepschen’s Chit Chat Roulette. His perfect stop-motion animation sees a cast of unsightly but sometimes kinda cute creatures competing to find a lover through a Chat Roulette-esque platform. Funny, engaging, weird and with some very talented voiceovers, this is the only kind of animation I ever really want to watch. You can check out some excellent behind-the-scenes making-of shots over on his site.

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    Before I write anything about illustrator Nicolas Delort I feel like full disclosure is necessary; between the ages of 11 and 14 I spent all of my pocket money collecting and painting Warhammer models and most of my saturdays hanging out in Games Workshop, which means I’m predisposed to LOVE epic fantasy artwork, like Frank Fazetta, Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo.

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    Before stumbling across Burning Questions I have to admit I wasn’t that familiar with New York-based designer James Victore’s impressive repertoire. His talents and projects span the creative disciplines making him part designer, part activist, part curator, part motivational speaker and (in this case) part agony aunt.

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    “To be an artist and for anyone to care vaguely about what you do is a great thing,” says street artist Moose in this fascinating new Nissan campaign, but his work is more important than most. As the inventor of reverse graffiti – whereby he uses a high-powered pressure washer to stencil imagery in the dirt that accumulates in our cities – Moose’s work asks questions about our attitudes to pollution in a very creative way.

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    Anyone who’s into niche magazines of yore will perhaps have heard of Scamp – the racy 1950s gentlemen’s magazine that has since become something of a collectors’ item. Fast forward 64 years and a very different Scamp has been born, and this one is “a brand new magazine full of chit-chat and arty-farty editorial projects.” We were intrigued by this odd-sided, floppy publication, so we decided to speak to the editor Oskar Oprey to find out a little more about it.

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    It wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a Wes Anderson film or in a Roald Dahl story but believe it or not, the Flavour Conductor exists in our very own world. Magicked into being by the Willy Wonkas’ of the design world, Bompas and Parr, in collaboration with Johnnie Walker Blue Label, it is a musical instrument like no other. This is no ordinary church organ; it’s part of a multi-sensory theatrical experience combining music and imagery to transform the audience’s appreciation of whisky and even make its taste change in their mouth.

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    To stare into a Danny Fox painting is like waking up in a world written by Charles Bukowski on a particularly heavy bender. There’s sex and drinking and guns, plus boxers and strippers and cowboys; here a horse, there a tiger. It’s intense and unnerving and exciting, but although there’s something very contemporary about Danny’s paintings, his rise to prominence owes a great deal to the support of a more well-established artist (an age-old route for up-and-coming artistic stars).

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    When there’s a design-themed film festival, you have a certain expectation for the branding of said festival to be executed perfectly. I imagine it’s similar to a gymnastics coach nervously watching their child protégé at their first big comp. We can all breathe a sigh of relief though as Singapore-based studio Anonymous have stuck the landing with this effortlessly cool and slick identity.

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    Boarding schools – the smell of school dinners wafting up through prep rooms, the stolen biscuits hidden beneath starchy bedsheets, muddy sports kits spinning in industrial washing machines, long-nosed teachers in hard-heeled shoes strolling through dim, flagstoned corridors. It’s fair to say the idea of these archaic institutions stir up a bit of romance in all of us, be it because of novels we read as children or experiences we have had first-hand.

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    To mark the beginning of our month of Back To School features, it seemed best to start by addressing the most obvious question – why go to art school? The hike in tuition fees has led to many questioning whether university is still the best path for young people and the rise of specialist vocational courses (such as those provided by Shillington College) have challenged the traditional art school model. Here we asked a selection of creatives why they feel that going to art school is still the right decision (we’ll be exploring the counter arguments later in the month). So over to them, but you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

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    Mark Prenderghast’s new video for Bambooman’s track Clasp is an absolute winner as the bouncy ball, everyone’s favourite childhood play thing, has a starring role. Using 43 of the most garishly coloured bouncy balls and 76 sheets of sandpaper, Mark has created a series of brilliant rhythmic sequences with the balls bouncing in unison to the beat.

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    It’s comforting to see the resurgence in the physical aspects of music. There was a moment a few years back when gig posters and witty, well-crafted promotional material seemed to be confined solely to the world wide web, which made every poster that was actually printed on paper something of a novelty. Not any more though: we’re receiving and finding so many illustrators now whose portfolios are chock full of variations on the humble gig poster and they are brilliant. Today we thought we’d champion this theme with Dutch illustration student Douwe Dijkstra. His visual interpretations of bands such as The Growlers and Losers are taking the stylistic qualities of early 1990s gig posters and infusing them with a modern style to make some seriously nick-able printed matter. Keep up the great work, Douwe!

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    It seems to us that French designer Côme de Bouchony always has his hands full. If he’s not directing achingly cool music videos he’s busy launching new magazines with close friends and collaborators; adding a touch of class to the visitors’ guides at Parisian museums or, in this case, rebranding Paris’ foremost contemporary art fair. Choices Collectors Weekend is a three-day exposition that brings together 35 galleries in the French capital, each of whom choose an artist whom they represent and showcase their work in a large-scale exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Art.

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    Innovative eyewear brand Etnia Barcelona has carved out a niche for itself through collaborations with artists like Araki, Yves Klein and McCurry, and its new collection riffs off the mainstream fashion trend for floral prints. Art Flowers takes inspiration from various flora and abstracts colours, shapes and patterns to create a striking new range with an expressionist aesthetic well in line with Etnia’s cultural cache.

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    The changing role of album artwork in a digitally-defined music culture has been much discussed; meanwhile the art of the gig poster seems to be in fairly rude health. But there’s another story to be told; a lesser-examined but tremendously significant area of visual music-related collateral – the flyer.

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    Series exploring unusual lives are actually not that unusual; however Robert Ellis’ poetic photographs of the New Line community in Ireland stands out with its quiet beauty. This is part of a project about people but – as the scored-out title We are replaced with Where we are suggests – we can learn so much through seeing the place they live in, that we need not even see them.

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    Designer Shaz Madani has had an extraordinary year. As if it wasn’t enough to take on the art direction and design of Riposte Magazine, now in its second issue, she’s also been involved with a whole host of other projects. From the stunning exhibition catalogue to accompany Lalla Essaydi’s exhibition at Baku MoMA, to the identity for the 2014 summer shows at London College of Communications, and a documentary photography publication with Giles Duley, the diversity of her work is fascinating. Moreover it never dips below excellent. Each project is created with her clean, pared back aesthetic, unobtrusive and yet bold in its approach. We’re in awe. Can you tell?

  23. Weekenderlist

    Back in the glory days (i.e. when we were at uni) each triumphant essay hand-in or project completion was followed by a quick dance around our bedrooms, a trip to Tesco’s to stock up on cheap booze and, if we were really lucky, an evening spent in fancy dress in a sweaty club stuffed fuller than a new beanbag. Now we’re working 9 till 5, that jubilant sensation is saved up for just one day of the week and, you guessed it, it’s Friday! So do a swift wiggle in your deskchair, because it’s time for the Weekender!

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    A VERY special and timely mix from the guys over at Wonderland magazine this week. I am very pleased to tell you that today is 3 October 2014 – EXACTLY a decade since heartthrob Aaron Samuels asks Cady what day it is in 2004’s cinematic highlight, Mean Girls. Spooky huh? To celebrate this fact, and their utterly spectacular new Mean Girls-themed issue, the guys over at Wonderland have put together a mix of their “current favourite female musicians and female-led tracks.”

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    The friendship between prolific Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and Pharrell Williams might be one of my absolute favourites; the pair have worked together a number of times over the years, culminating in this super-special new music video. Animated by Takashi and subsequently remixed by Pharrell to create the visual accompaniment to It Girl, it’s a gloriously maximalist affair with influences in manga, video game graphics, watercolour animation and (obviously) Pharrell’s hat. It’s an explosion of colour, bubble writing, tiny bikinis and glittering stars, because why not? This is Pharrell, after all, and if anybody has the power to recreate his celebrity prowess in animated form, it’s Takashi Murakami.

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    Mon dieu! ‘Tis Friday once again and time to collect up all the treats scattered about the studio to show off to you good folks. It’s like the conveyor belt in The Generation Game, except there’s not actually that much to remember and you don’t get to win anything and there are no toasters, hairdryers or shiny saloon cars. Instead, of infinitely more interest, we have a zine, a collection of 100 word stories, a compendium of Andy Rementer’s work, a new Eyeball Comix comic and some delightfully designed city maps. Catch all that? Good, because I’ll be testing you later…

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    Just as Jamie Oliver is the go-to man for piling shredded food on to rustic chopping boards, Anushka Blommers and Niels Schumm are the go-to guys for photographing girls in their trademark pubescent wallflower aesthetic. Dazed, AnOther and Vogue have all had the special treatment, partly due to the infamous Class of 1998 Self Service shoot that rocketed the pair to stardom. The in-demand duo have been allocated a spot in the glossy, heavy new issue of POP, in which they take extraordinary beauties and style and shoot them to look as if they are waiting for their date to arrive to take them to a 1970s Texas prom. Part Napoleon Dynamite, part Virgin Suicides, this is Blommers & Schumm joyously doing what they do best.

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    These have been doing the rounds a bit this week but it’s not hard to see why – Israeli designer Lee Ben David’s Very Specific Cutlery range is a middle-class gourmand’s perfectionist dream. A graduate of the BEZALEL Academy of Art And Design, Lee believes “that the products that surround us should make us smile, laugh and think beyond,” and this project does just that.

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    The simplest ideas can often be the most powerful, and that’s certainly the case with Eight Inc.’s new work for Cancer Research UK. Tomorrowww is a browser plug-in that removes the word cancer from your online experience, a practical yet potent way of visualising a future when the battle against the disease has been won.

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    This week’s Studio Audience is packed with more goodies than a Christmas Quality Street tin; we review Alex Chinneck’s ingenious and poetically named floating house installation Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder and Mike Mellie’s similarly tremendously titled selfie portraits. Maisie tells us what delights she saw at the London Art Book Fair at the weekend and we place bets on the Turner Prize. You can listen using the SoundCloud embed below or you can subscribe via iTunes here.

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    Londoners! This weekend sees the launch of arty book fair k-i-o-s-k and to celebrate this, creative south London wunderkinder/collective King Zog have made a quintessentially King Zog publication entitled Tracing Emin. This textbook-style pamphlet that sees photographs of Tracey Emin overlaid with tracing paper for, you guessed it, you to draw on. They recruited another south London artist, much lauded skater boy artist Kyle Platts to go to town on Tracey and surround her gritty photographs with his trademark creatures, animals, shapes and graffiti-like doodles. The combination of Kyle’s comic book style and Tracey’s emotional fine art photography is a little bit like eating peanut butter and marmite simultaneously – oddly fantastic, and a bit naughty.

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    On the morning that David Cameron is giving a press conference on the UK’s future role in Afghanistan, Scott King’s latest book seems even more significant. Anish & Antony Take Afghanistan is a graphic novel that Scott sees as “a critique of the deployment of public art,” which satirises how far we’re prepared to enforce our cultural values on others. Through Scott’s writing and Will Henry’s illustrations, we follow as Anish (Kapoor) and Antony (Gormley) try and bring cultural regeneration to the war-torn country.