Oregon-based artist Howard Fonda is an artist whose work leans heavily towards mysticism and symbolism “as a means of expressing the fragility, folly and joys of life.” His paintings often contains elements that allude to deeper narratives for the viewer to untangle. As part of our collaboration with Amsterdam-based eyewear brand Ace & Tate, we commissioned Howard, and illustrator Louisa Gagliardi, to create original artwork that has been printed as two separate lens cloths and limited edition Litho print posters.
To celebrate the fact that people wear sunglasses year-round, Howard’s print relates to spring and summer and Louisa’s emulates the darker months of autumn and winter. Howard’s colourful print is of happy flowers dancing in the breeze: “Believe it or not, it’s a still life. I was looking at a beautiful bouquet!” Says Howard. “It’s a pretty straightforward theme – bright, happy, silly, sun and fun. Think of the sounds of Dennis Brown with the sun warming your thighs as an ocean breeze kisses your cheeks, the smell of Hawaiian Tropic SPF30, your fingers moist from the sweaty glass of your Negroni.”
The vibrant hues of pink, orange, blue and green with the added pop of his white markings is eye-catching yet elegant and colour choice is an important aspect of the artist’s work. “I often appropriate colour from disparate sources to realign or redirect the content of my work. The formal decisions I make, whether highly research or nonchalant, are very important to me,” he says.
Throughout the process, Howard was careful not to overthink the commission. “I don’t really alter or compromise my studio practice. I make what I like with intention and this interpretation is no different,’” says the artist. “I tried not to think too much about all the associations at play – they’re endless, right? This could have been really overwhelming, but I was very comfortable following my own instincts and interests in relation to the theme.”
The dimensions of the artwork presented a unique challenge, which the artist relished: “I had to think about the artwork in terms of it being screen printed, which was interesting for me,” says Howard. “Squares are tough! I rarely work in this format because the symmetry makes for a difficult compositional approach for someone with my sensibilities. But I really like the idea of multiples and the hierarchical flattening of art through design. I’d really like to work like this again on fabric, scarves, wallpaper, even socks?” With these restrictions Howard manages to convey an energy and movement within his artwork, evoking the carefree breeziness of spring and summer.
To find out more about our exclusive collection with Ace & Tate and to order a pair of our sunglasses, each of which comes with two cleaning cloths featuring the artists’ designs and two Litho printed posters for £135/€148, click here.