I’m pretty excited that I came across the work of Jesse Tise, a Los Angeles based illustrator who’s work seems to be inspired Japanese kaiju. With a BFA in illustration from Art Center, Jesse creates these alien beings and worlds, set to a retro color palette and style that really give them such a unique character. I really appreciate that he’s taken the idea of kaiju and crafted his own world out of it, continually exploring and expanding his ideas. He’s seems like a busy guy, making sculptures of his creatures and also starting a book called Xenology, which from the work in his Flickr, it should be pretty rad.
Some architects build their offices as showpieces while others build their offices more like factories. Without making any judgements, I’ve always liked seeing the spaces where architects work: spaces dedicated to making spaces. This particular, pristine workspace belongs to Nicolas Tye Architects. Built next to a barn in Bedfordshire, England, the office is clean and elegant in a way that shows off the firm’s sophistication. That said, I have to wonder where they are hiding all of the unsophisticated mess: the material samples, the model-making scraps or even the trash cans. You could argue that this says something about the firm: “their own workspace suppresses the reality of its operation!” Or you could simply say “Clients come here. It’s pretty. Shut your keister.”
There are decisions to be made in spaces dedicated to making spaces. Whether in a barely bearable warehouse or a sterile showroom for architecture, someone has already decided what that space will be before anyone starts to imagines spaces there. Maybe architecture is getting less messy as more of the work happens in virtual space, so pristine offices are increasingly the norm. Even if you tend to think that offices should look more like messy architecture factories, would you honestly turn down the chance for your workspace to look this sweet?
Several weeks ago, Mattel announced Architect Barbie. For whatever reason, this plastic lady’s new career garnered a lot of attention for her, but mostly the attention focused on what she was wearing. I guess style always subsumes substance when it comes to Barbie. Sure, her getup looks a little 1997, but why was it generating all of this racket? To make things… well… happen more, the American Institute of Architects teamed up with Mattel to host a competition to design Architect Barbie’s Dream house. The five finalists are up for voting and I feel the same way about her potential houses that most folks felt about her dress, which is to say “huh? really?” One of the houses is clearly better than the others, but I’m surprised there weren’t more entries.
I’m not saying you should vote for any particular house, or even that you should vote. This week, instead of featuring built projects, I thought we would look more generally at the life of an architect. We’ll start with something simple: how to dress like an architect. In the case of Architect Barbie, I think we can agree this is not how you should dress. She did get one thing right: the glasses. The easiest way to look like an architect, or any creative professional, is to wear some sassy specks. Next, wear all black, even though it’s dumb, cliche, and unfortunate for people with dandruff. Other things: asymmetrical haircuts, bow ties, colorful socks, and dark circles under your eyes. Bonus points if you can incorporate aluminum accessories.
It’s been a while, but I think it’s been worth the wait. Alaska in Winter, otherwise known as Brandon Bethancourt, has finally released a new EP titled Suicide Prevention Hotline, which sadly, is a fitting title. It seems that Brandon has been having some personal trouble for the last three years, but he seems to be doing a lot better. His music is also sounding really great, it’s exciting to hear something new. My favorite of the bunch is a song called Demons, which is part electronic jam and part baroque lullaby. The style reminds me a bit of older Her Space Holiday, but with a more serious side. The production on these are absolutely beautiful, I highly suggest strapping on your headphones and giving these songs a listen. If you enjoy what you hear I absolutely suggest you support him and buy an album.
Erik Nitsche is one of the world’s great 20th century modern graphic designers. Yet despite Nitsche’s considerable contributions to the field of graphic design, the volume and influence of his output is unfortunately too often overlooked. Luckily, this has not prevented the elegant simplicity of his page composition, clean type presentation, and distinct use of color to permeate the work of later generations of designers in America, such as Walter Bernard, well-known for designing and art directing many of the country’s best-known magazines and newspapers, who was kind enough to share with us his first encounter with Nitsche’s work.
While studying design as a young man, Bernard frequently saw the work of prominent graphic designers of the time, such as Henry Wolf and Milton Glaser. But it was not until Bernard saw General Dynamics’s 1958 publication Dynamic America that he was introduced to Nitsche’s pioneering Modern style. The strong visual impact of Dynamic America is best described by Steven Heller in his article Erik Nitsche: The Reluctant Modernist, excerpted here:
Making use of tip-ins and foldouts (a precursor to today’s interactive media), Dynamic America’s remarkable pictorial narrative told a story of the nation’s military and industrial development seen through the lens of General Dynamics as it traced itself back to when it began in 1880 as Electro Dynamic. The book took almost four years until it was completed. Nitsche originally designed each spread in miniature at a 35mm size in order to approximate the movement of film itself. The book is, therefore, akin to a storyboard. In fact, the story told by the first color proofs without any text, which Nitsche has saved in pristine condition, are just as readable as if they had a verbal narrative. The pictures are laid out in such a way as to be the equivalent of complete sentences, phrases, and paragraphs.
Bernard was so taken with Nitsche’s design that he immediately set out to obtain a copy of Dynamic America for himself only to discover that it was not available for sale to the public. Undaunted, Bernard looked up the nearest location of the General Dynamics offices, walked right in and bought the book then and there. From that point forward, Nitsche’s design played a deeply influential role in Bernard’s work. For instance, the layout and design of History of World War I, one of the first books Bernard did for American Heritage in 1962, was prominently inspired by Nitsche’s use of layout, white space and color. Over the years, Bernard has been responsible for numerous redesigns of several major newspaper and magazine clients. For all of these, Nitsche’s work has remained extremely influential for him.
Images of General Dynamic’s Dynamic America courtesy of Robin Benson
I did not have an answer then, nor did anyone else who commented. We got a lot of snide comments about hipsters and hipsterdom, and about being hipsters and about the article’s topic being a giant has-been. Well, duh.
But, that wasn’t the point. The point was to figure out what is next–who is the new group? Some said the Meta-Hipster or the Gangster Hipster or even the guys behind Odd Future. However, I think the notion a few people were getting at about the DIY movement being more than just Etsy crappers and hippies being hippies is that the DIY crowd is becoming the in-crowd, somehow shifting their ideals into what is becoming a new norm.
This “do it yourself” attitude is not about creating your own crafts, but rather creating new histories and resurrecting histories to create new ways of living. The idea ties taste to wealth and shifts lifestyles away from acting a part to living a part. The hipster that was DIY has morphed into this person who is not only vegan, but raises their own crops and produces their own clothes and only walks to markets, even when living in Los Angeles. They’ve gone from hipster to helpster, to a weird, self-sustaining group that understands what technology is doing to the world and how they can use this to create a new world.
Who are you, where are you and what do you do?
I’m Micah Lidberg, and I’m an illustrator living in Kansas City, Missouri.
What are you currently working on?
Well, I just moved my studio so I’ve been working on getting it set up. As for projects, I’m working on a pack for Granimator™, an app that lets you create custom wallpapers for you iPad, and I’m also working on a book cover, a logo, and a few personal projects as well.
When did you come out and what was the story?
The whole process took a few years but I was out around twenty-two. I had to reconcile my sexuality and christianity, so for a long time I was just trickling ‘confessions’ to my family and close friends. As expected, there was a lot tension between my beliefs and orientation. It got to a point where I realized the only solution was to be honest. I had to let go of things I didn’t really believe and acknowledge an aspect of myself that had long been suppressed. That was a rough bit. Unlearning a twenty-year-old worldview of fear and judgement is a difficult pill. Fortunately, the difficulties didn’t last and I was incredibly lucky to be surrounded by a lot of love and acceptance. I’ve been out for about four years now.
How does being queer effect your work, if at all?
I don’t think it has a direct role in my work. However, it’s freed me up to explore things I may have otherwise avoided. I think men and women still have very restrictive gender roles and that can limit the ideas an individual interacts with. Though, if you’re gay, those limits seem to be less rigid. As a creative person, that’s a flexibility I cherish very much. Also, there’s valuable insight to be gained in being excluded from a group. You’re shown the importance of connection through it’s absence. I think this is a large source of my love for ‘excluded’ things and I find it’s something that filters into my work.
In your mind, what should gay pride be and how would you celebrate it?
I actually hope for the day when gay pride isn’t necessary. Pride events are born out of inequality. When the time comes, and we are accepted as a part of the whole, having an event that distinguishes us ceases to make much sense. However, we’re not there yet. Until then, I think Pride is an excellent chance for the community to come together to be an example of love and acceptance. While I don’t personally relate to all the current forms of gay pride, I think showing my support for the community is what’s important for me. I try to attend whatever event is around. Here in the States, where we enjoy a greater degree of freedom, I think it’s a time to have fun and to be happy with who we are.
You might remember this guest mixtape from my friends over at Pollyn from last year, 20 tracks of musical goodness. Well they’re back with a dose of their own music, a new single and video for their song How Small We Are, and I can’t say enough about.
The track is catchy and infectious, with a vibe that reminds me of Talking Heads but with a touch of jazz. I’ve had this song in my head all weekend, Genevieve Artadi’s vocals are so smooth and her dance moves are pretty unbeatable. The bassline is pretty great as well, I usually never hear bass in songs, but it’s perfect in this track. The video was directed by Adam Jay Weissman, who’s the guy in the background making the beats. At heart it’s a performance video, but there’s so many great touches like the fonts created by Gabrielle Rivera-Weissman and the projections by Jorge Oswaldo that really give it such a unique look.
I don’t think I ever say this, but I would say that everyone will love this song, it’s really that good. This could possibly even by my favorite track of the year so far. Great job gang!
With only a handful of recordings to their name, New York’s Slowdance have recently caught my attention and I can’t stop listening. This Brooklyn-based five piece play tasty little gems of indie-pop all wrapped around beautiful vocals from the the band’s front-woman Quay Quinn-Settel. Their stand-out track for me has to be Spell; a song that could easily soundtrack a New Wave influenced Spaghetti Western (if Coppola can make the French Revolution New Wave, why not the Wild West). More tracks can be found on their site here, and I’m pretty sure a proper album is on it’s way. Enjoy!
Around a month ago I was invited to Nudie’s showroom in NYC to view the Swedish brand’s fall/winter collection. I happily accepted and sauntered down to their Chelsea office along with Marisa Zupan of The Significant Other, both of us keen to see what the brand had to offer for the upcoming colder seasons.
Even prior to this visit I had such fondness for Nudie, particularly their denim. I first came across the brand in my late teens not long after their 2001 launch – a time when I’d begun to challenge my stale buying habits; waking to the prospect of life after High School’s insular pack mentality. Discovering Nudie’s denim provided a much needed stepping stone to defining my own style. They were one of the first brands (outside of the realms of Levi’s et al) that I understood to offer a truly expansive range of fits and washes, expressing a rare enthusiasm for individuality within an over-saturated market.
In stark contrast to my appreciation of the denim line, Nudie’s other attempts at clothing failed to have such an impact on me. Though there was never anything ‘wrong’ with their efforts beyond denim, the clothing consistently felt like a detached, an underwhelming addition to their indigo interests. Upon walking into their showroom, I was immediately met by a collection of attire that no longer felt forced, but rather united by simplicity and a previously unseen sense of confidence.
The denim was great as always, offering an interesting range of washes that seem very believable. Often brands over-distress their washed denim, leaving it with a cheap, artificial feel, yet Nudie have always had a solid sense of awareness when it came to manipulating their denim, with F/W demonstrating their continued investment in creating an authentic wash that appears true to the trials of daily wear.
The clothing benefits from a palette made up of various charcoals and indigos with several sparks of vibrant pastel colour, the later breaking up the darkness without marring the slumber of the calmer shades. The collection also includes quality shirting that lends itself perfectly to layering; items such as a light cotton henley sat alongside more a dense wool overshirts, with their signature denim jackets making an appearance in new washes with beautiful textured knitwear.
Overall the collection provides insight into a maturing brand, showing a drive to evolve that can only be realised with time. They look to have grown up from an early grunge aesthetic into a brand that can provide clothing for a wider more discerning audience.