Xu Zhen

 

Oh man, the work of Shangai-based Xu Zhen makes me want to grab the paint supply in my office and the decorating tips in my kitchen and get to work! Doesn’t each painting look like you just dig in with a spoon? The installation, performance, and video artist combines humor and irony in his work, offering critiques of political and art-world human exploitation – so be sure and check out the rest of Zhen’s portfolio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Greg Hart / Historical Portraits

 

Greg Hart‘s Historical Portraits combine unexpected colors, negative space, and some unexpected subject matter. Ladies and gentleman from the past are captured in portrait form, in an almost topographic-like style, while giving us a look into their haunted pasts.

 

 

 

 

 

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Nadine Geopfert / Permanent Compression

 

Nadine Geopfert is a Berlin-based textile designer whose work focuses on the materiality and structure of textiles. Her Permanent Compression series of vacuum-packed garments more closely resemble abstract paintings than the pieces of clothing in your own closet. Knowing what each fabric feels like from memory and not being able to reach out and touch them makes for a strange visceral feeling indeed.

 

 

 

 

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Spring ’17 Book Recommendations

A favorite part of my job, that you may only know about if you follow @designcrush on Instagram, is reviewing books. I had zero chance of not being a bibliophile, my Mom and Grandma read to me daily and my aunt was an elementary school librarian. Put that together with my two passions of art and design and, well, it’s basically the definition of a match made in heaven. I’ll now be sharing the art and design books that I usually keep to Instagram here as well, as a sort of quarterly book recommendation list.

 

 

The Golden Secrets of Lettering: Letter Design from First Sketch to Final Artwork by Martina Flor  A a comprehensive, beautifully illustrated guide to hand lettering with easy-to-understand instructions and guidelines, plenty of inspirational examples, and hundreds of hand-sketches and illustrations. Martina Flor shows readers how to transform their initial lettering concepts and handdrawn sketches into a well-shaped piece of digital lettering that can be sold and published. Learn how to train your typographic eye by studying lettering samples and the anatomy of letters, explore concepts of hierarchy, composition, and flourishes, and discover the different ways of creating letter shapes. Flor also explains the process of creating a lettering project step by step and gives valuable tips about how to make a career as a lettering artist.

Paul Rand: A Designer’s Art by Paul Rand  A comprehensive collection of Paul Rand’s most important and best-known designs, this book gives unique insight into Rand’s design process and theory. This new edition of Rand’s classic monograph, long unavailable, meticulously re-creates the graphic quality of the original. It includes more than 200 illustrations and 27 essays, and a new afterword by Steven Heller. Required reading for anybody interested in modern design.

Encyclopedia of Rainbows: Our World Organized by Color by Julie Seabrook Ream  This playful collection of rainbows is a bright and beautiful appreciation of all the color that surrounds us. Artist Julie Seabrook Ream invites us to see the extraordinary beauty of ordinary objects as she gathers colorful iterations of a single type of thing, from feathers to fishing gear, matchbooks to macarons, and neatly arranges them in rainbow order. This index details all the objects in each rainbow, bringing the magnetic appeal of meticulous organization to this burst of color in book form. A striking package with a rainbow-colored spine makes this book a treasure for those who love art, design, and a fresh perspective.

Creative Pep Talk: Inspiration from 50 Artists by Andy J. Miller  Every artist needs a little pep talk now and then. An inspiring tool and beautiful art book in one, Creative Pep Talk offers illustrated words of wisdom from 50 of today’s leading creative professionals. With full-color, typographic prints and explanatory statements from a host of creative luminaries — including Aaron Draplin, Oliver Jeffers, Lisa Congdon, Mike Perry, and many others — this book encourages artists to stay excited, experiment boldly, and conquer fear. Create curiosity, Learn to say no, and If you can’t be good, be different are just a few of the motivational mentions in this visual collection that’s perfect for students, designers, artists, and creatives at any stage in their careers.

Go Forth! by Chronicle Books  A perfect dose of positivity and kick-in-the-pants motivation to get out and get living, making, and doing. Chock-full of uplifting text-based art with an emphasis on being brave, courageous, and authentic, it’s the perfect gift for grads, travelers, or anyone else in need of inspiration as they embark on a new adventure.

Print & Pattern: Nature by Bowie Style  The latest book based on the popular site, Print & Pattern, celebrates surface designs, patterns, motifs of leaves, insects, grasses, butterflies, and trees. Product areas covered include stationery, cards, giftwrap, fabrics, wallpaper, rugs, ceramics, homewares, gadget skins, and more. Documenting the work of the best designers in the field, it’s an invaluable reference and inspiration source for surface designers, designer-makers, craftspeople, graphic designers, illustrators, and textile designers.

How Art Can Make You Happy by Bridget Watson Payne  This little book offers the keys to unlocking a rich and rewarding source of joy. A handbook full of insight that will help regular people begin a more inspiring and less stressful relationship with art with tips on how to visit museums, how to talk about art at cocktail parties, and how to let art wake you up to the world around you. This guide makes it possible for anyone to fall in love with art, whether for the first time or all over again.

How to Make It: 25 Makers Share the Secrets to Building a Creative Business by Erin Austen Abbott  The ultimate tell-all, show-all guide to making a living by making things. Featuring 25 profiles of illustrators, jewelry designers, ceramicists, painters, clothing designers, and printmakers, this book provides a behind-the-scenes look at the daily rituals and best practices that keep these creative entrepreneurs on track. With Q & As, insider tips, and DIYs from each maker, each page offers guidance and encouragement to artists just starting their careers and to professionals looking to take their creative business to the next level. Brimming with practical advice and inspiration, a recommended read for anyone interested in making it as a maker.

Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order) by Bridget Quinn  Historically, major women artists have been excluded from the mainstream art. Aligned with the resurgence of feminism in pop culture, this book offers an entertaining corrective to that omission. Art historian Bridget Quinn delves into the lives and careers of 15 female artists in text that’s smart, feisty, educational, and an enjoyable read. Full of beautiful reproductions of the artists’ works and contemporary portraits of each artist by renowned illustrator Lisa Congdon, this is art history from 1600 to the present day for the modern art lover, reader, and feminist.

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Gordon Harper / Backlit Memories

 

Even though parts of Gordon Harper‘s Backlit Memories series takes place in winter, most pieces feel like a washed out summer day. No air conditioning, sweaty glasses of iced tea, as little clothing as possible and a fan whirring in the background. Harper’s quiet streets filled with vacant houses just about fade away with every stroke of his brush.

 

 

 

 

 

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Louise McRae

 

New Zealand’s Louise McRae‘s sculptural wall art uses discarded building materials that she paints and splits into smaller shards. Each piece ends up feeling as though it’s organically found its place among the hundreds of others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mya Kerner

 

The world around us is forever changing, sometimes on its own and more often than not by human hands. Mya Kerner creates to capture these fleeting moments of vulnerability and balance.

My studies in permaculture revealed a new way of perception. I notice geological disruptions, moments and parts within the landscape; together, these notes present a segmented image of the whole. When I look out to the mountains, I see scratched lines breaking through the slopes, while flecks of white dapple on eroded surfaces, recalling cooler seasons. Light moves across planes, marking time with stretched and shortened shadows and form denotes the flow of water through rocky slopes. I record by drawing and writing in attempt to capture these moments of vulnerability, leaving the rest in the haze of lost memories. My concern for humanity’s precarious relationship with nature drives my exploration of the intricacies of terrain and the potential for balance through my material studies. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aki Inomata

 

Aki Inomata‘s girl, girl, girl… seems especially fitting as I found a rogue caterpillar sitting outside my bedroom door when I woke up one day last week. Inomata spent two years raising bagworms in order to give them pieces of material to use as their protective cases. It ended up being a kind of commentary on women’s fashion as well as womanhood in general.

Male bagworms leave their protective cases when they become adults, and become moths. However female bagworms remain in their protective cases for their whole lives and wait for the male bagworms. This reminded me of my own experience of being approached by hundreds of men, whilst the few men that I was interested in often didn’t even glance at me. Though the gender issue is meant to have changed in our generation, why is it that women still make much more effort than men concerning their appearances?

 

 

 

 

 

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Jen Mann

 

In today’s age of selfies galore, Jen Mann’s paintings step back and explore human identities a bit deeper.

In the society of “me”, where we document ourselves like celebrities and share our lives online for everyone, the self is a prevalent, and important topic to our generation. Our identities are curated like our online profiles to reflect only the parts of ourselves we choose to keep alive. Who am I? Who are you? What does my life mean? Why am I alive? Mann’s work aims to address these very illusive questions, and explore, but not necessarily answer all of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DIY Geometric Sunhat

 

It’s already May, and I’ve been a planting fool! But unfortunately, I’ve also already been sunburned once. Despite my daily layer of sunscreen, I’m realizing I need something more – like an gigantic hat to protect my face, neck, and scalp. (Having super dark hair and a flaky scalp do not mix.) I picked up a wide-brimmed straw hat for the job, but decided it needed a bit more personality. A few geometric shapes and three primary colors later and now I’ll be wearing it all summer long! Bonus: this one is foldable, so it’ll be easy to tuck into my bag on the go – no excuses.

 

 

Supplies:
• wide-brimmed straw hat
• craft paint
• cardstock
• scissors
• pen
• flat-tipped paintbrush
• palette or paper plate
• paper towels

 

 

Start out by making some simple cutout templates using the cardstock, pen, and scissors. I used objects from around the house – a salt cellar for the circle, a sticker for the square, and the corner of the cardstock for the triangle. (Of course you can opt to use any shapes you want, I think black and white squiggles would look great!) I recommend using a pen to trace each shape because a pencil didn’t seem to be dark enough.

 

 

Lay out your shapes and trace as you go, making sure to avoid placing circle next to circle, etc. Now get to painting. I chose a primary color palette because it’s bright and fun for summer, but I think a black and white scheme would be just as striking. Layer of paper towels or newsprint on your painting surface before getting started because it will come through a bit. After putting some paint on my palette, I went around and made a small daub of color on each shape as a guide.

 

 

Carefully line the edges of each shape using your flat-tipped brush before filling in the centers, using the brush in an up and down motion to get all the nooks and crannies where necessary. Allow your new hat to dry thoroughly (of course) before strutting your stuff and protecting your mug!

 

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