Date Archives November 2010

The Safe or the Untravelled

While I was in Atlanta I had the opportunity to meet up with Mark Weaver, an artist I’ve been fortunate enough to work with on a couple of occasions and an all around rad guy. We sat at a coffee shop chatting about our dreams and goals when an interesting topic came up, that of change. Mark was telling me that he was interested in changing his style because there were a lot of people emulating what he does, and well, he wanted something new. The problem was that clients wanted the “Mark Weaver” treatment, not the “new-and-improved Mark Weaver ” treatment. This was an interesting conundrum in my mind, but one that makes sense. People want a style that will be popular, not what could potentially be popular. The safe road that leads to a predictable location not the untravelled road that could potentially lead to greater success or flat out failure.

I was also thinking about the creative group of people I associate with, a group that could vaguely be clumped into “the people I associate with on Twitter.” This group of people are blossoming at an enormous rate, their work gracing the covers of magazines, being featured in the magazines themselves, finding their way in TV shows and generally influencing pop culture. That said it’s still a very young group of people with no defined name, only a sense that we’re united by our tastes and interests. It’ll be interesting when this group of people begins to change, when more of them get tired of their old style and begin to experiment and create work that’s unfamiliar to those who know it.

The only people I can think of who’s changed their focus over the last 10 years or so is Tim Biskup and Shepard Fairey. Both have had quite a deal of success early on in their career for one particular style but have then grown and had their work shift it’s focus and become even more successful because of it. I can’t think of many other people who’ve been able to do the same thing.

These are just some random thoughts I had. Any contributions or similar ideas left in the comments are warmly welcomed.


Where Anonymity Breeds Contempt

The New York Times has a great article by Julie Zhou called Where Anonymity Breeds Contempt about how people behave when given the ability to act anonymously, specifically when leaving comments.

There you are, peacefully reading an article or watching a video on the Internet. You finish, find it thought-provoking, and scroll down to the comments section to see what other people thought. And there, lurking among dozens of well-intentioned opinions, is a troll.

I always equated commenting to what a person would do in real life. Would you really walk up to someone and tell them their art sucked or that their opinion was stupid? My guess would be no, you’d leave your opinion to yourself. I’d say about 5% of comments on The Fox Is Black get deleted for a number of reasons, but just like the content on the site, the comments should be curated as well. The article brings up a lot of good points, many of which I’ve been frustrated by before. It’s nice to see I’m not alone.


Farm Burger

While I was visiting Atlanta we stopped by a little place called Farm Burger in Decatur. I’m a huge fan of burgers, that and sushi are probably my two favorite meals, so I was excited to try a new place in a new town. As soon as I walked in I had a good feeling about the place. The decor was simple and slightly rustic, lots of natural woods, benches for people to share large tables and big chalkboards with menu options. As it turns out they’re also really conscious of where they get their food:

From our beef to our tomatoes to our compostable containers to our owners, Farm Burger is sustainable, local, humane, and helping to reroute our food system to function more like an ecosystem than a corporation. Our goal is to connect soil, animal, plant, rancher, butcher, chef & you…all in a simple wire basket.

This was true as you could see a list of their ingredients on the wall and where they got it. Thankfully their passion for local and organic didn’t impede the taste of their burger in any way. I had The Farm Burger and it was absolutely delicious (seen in the second photo), one of the best standard burgers I’ve had in a long time. It features grafton smoked white cheddar, caramelized onions and Farm Burger sauce. Sadly I didn’t have the house cured bacon on it. They also had some really great sweet potato fries and the spicy garlic fries with herbs and parmesan were a treat as well.

They also had an extremely friendly wait staff that got me not only one but two sauces to dip my fries in but were just friendly in general. Perfect service, in my opinion. If you happen to find yourself in the Decatur/Atlanta area be sure to stop by.


Vacant NL by Rietveld Landscape

Yesterday, we saw a blue foam architecture model at an uncommonly large scale; today is only slightly different. The blue foam models above reach an uncommon scale not by reaching up, but by reaching out in an expanse of blue. Created for the closed-as-of-last-week Venice Biennale, the project is called Vacant NL, and was commissioned by the Netherlands Architecture Institute and curated by Reitveld Landscape (a whole slew of folks worked on the project, including Jergen Bey.) The idea was to model every vacant building that the government owns in the Netherlands, as a way to draw attention to the ridiculous amount of vacant space. One vantage point doesn’t convey this message, so the designers built a thin grid of wires to support the models, allowing folks to walk below the models as well as seeing the tops of the models from a mezzanine. You can read/see more about it here here or here.


I really like the picture of the very clever exterior banner. I’m not exactly sure who designed it; but my best guess is Joost Grootens. Joost was the official graphic designer for the pavilion but his website doesn’t mention anything about it.

Blake Fili Suárez

Graphic designer and illustrator Blake Fili Suárez pretty much had me from the moment I cast my eyes on his yeti design for British band Fanfarlo. The icey colours and the incorporation of the mountains into the typography for the band name literally made me squeal with delight. And then there are his cosmically-detailed silver animal screen-prints – featuring a sloth, bear, hare and wolf – that are as beautiful as they are visually striking. His imagination designs, which appear in work for a number of commercial clients as well as in solo projects, possess graphic sophistication and just a hint of cuteness (without going into saccharine territory).

Suárez has recently launched the Left Over Shop – “a site for clients looking to buy quality and finished designs for shirts, posters, or other forms of product” – and has a self-published children’s book in the works. Do keep up to date with new developments via his site. Whatever Suárez has planned for the future I know it will be good.


‘The Ghost of Stephen Foster’ by Squirrel Nut Zippers

A lot of times I get some rather random songs stuck in my head. I’ll hear a word or phrase and BAM!, I’m suddenly humming a song I haven’t heard in 5 or 10 years. Such is the case when I got the Squirrel Nut Zipper song The Ghost of Stephen Foster stuck in my head a couple of nights ago. I used to listen to this album about 8 or 9 years ago in my best friends car and we totally loved it. Squirrel Nut Zippers back then became popular from their song Hell from their album Hot but the song/video above is from the album after it called Perennial Favorites.

The video is a throwback to the animated cartoons of the 30’s and 40’s, directed in partnership between Raymond Persi and Matthew Nastuk. Both of these guys are animation directors for The Simpsons, directing dozens of episodes between the two of them. It’s a super fun video and a really great song as well. My favorite part is the line, “Ships are made for sinking, whiskey made for drinking / If we were made of cellophane we’d all get stinking drunk quite faster ha, ha, ha”.


The Rapture of Death

In the sharp transition from high school to university, you are generally bombarded with a vast array of strange, exciting and bewildering new ideas and concepts. I knew that the conservative hand-holding of high school was well and truly behind in me in one of my freshman English classes in which my tutor introduced us to “la petite mort” or “the little death”, a metaphor for orgasm. This moment came back to me while looking at Prue Gibson’s The Rapture of Death. Only recently published, Gibson’s book explores the complexities of morbid imagery in contemporary art; those that position the viewer in an emotional space between fear and frisson.

Covering a broad section of disciplines – including art, film, history and literature – Gibson’s small tome deals specifically with “the experience of delight upon escaping grave danger” and  “offers the sweet knowledge that you are safe, at least for the moment, from the clutches of darkness.” Its thanatology through a lens of visual representation and provides an enlightening view into the myths, symbols, fetishes and narratives bound up with eternal rest.

The Rapture of Death can be purchased through independent publishing house Boccalatte Make Books.