Date Archives November 2011

An interview with Travis Millard, one of L.A.’s best illustrators

An Interview With Travis Millard

Over on Los Angeles, I’m Yours today, we have a really great interview with Echo-Park-by-way-of-Olathe-Kansas artist Travis Millard. Travis is a super relaxed and cool guy who creates these trippy, sometimes grimey characters. It was really cool seeing where these all come from and seeing his space, which he shares with artist/girlfriend Mel Kadel. It includes tons of his work (zines, drawings, paintings, drafts, etc.) scattered about and sheds light into the creation and inspiration for many of his pieces. His story is also this ridiculously “classic American” story of a guy who grew up in the Midwest, wanted to become an artist, and moved to the big city to become an artist while busting his balls to get there. It’s super inspirational.

Travis was really great to speak with so definitely check it out. You can read the full story here.


Re-Covered Books: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Re-Covered Books: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

This month we wanted to do something a little more open, and a little more special. To make things more open we decided that we’d tackle Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s classic tale. I’m fairly certain that most people on the planet are familiar with the story of a pair of star crossed lovers separated by their families disdain for each other. The story has been covered, parodied and rethought countless times, so now it’s your turn to rethink the cover for the book.

As far as I can tell, the cover has never really been done well. Take a look at these results from Amazon and you’ll see what I mean, scary stuff. So here’s your challenge. Create a cover for the book that feels new and exciting, that would grab people’s attention and make them want to buy the book. Here’s the catch though, you only have two weeks to complete the contest.

Here’s where the special part comes in. As per our usual $100 Amazon gift card, you’ll also get the super rad Nooka Zub Zen-V in black. Since the holidays are coming up soon I thought providing a little something extra might be rad, either an early present for yourself or someone you love.

The Nooka Zub Zen-V


• Please save your images as JPGs no larger than 800px wide at 72 DPI/RGB mode, there’s no height restrictions (within reason). Feel free to play with the dimensions and have fun with what you make. Making a front and back cover with certainly help your chances, but is not required.

• Label your files “Firstname-Lastname-Romeo-Juliet-Cover.jpg”

• Send all entries to with the subject “Re-Covered Books: Romeo and Juliet“. Cut and paste what I wrote there, it’s super easy and it helps me keep track of your entry.

• All entries are due Monday, December 12, 2011 by Midnight, PST.

If there are any other questions feel free to leave them in the comments. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with and be sure to tell your friends/classmates/pets to participate. Good luck and have fun!

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The architectural photos of Ian Allen

Ian Allen Photographer

Ian Allen Photography

Ian Allen Photography

While wandering around the internet, searching for information about teepees, I came across the work of Ian Allen. Just to be clear, his work has nothing to do with teepees, other than his taking a photo of a teepee-inspired structure on the side of the road in South Dakota. Instead, his work  is photos of buildings, people and landscapes. Glancing through his portfolio is a little bit of geography quiz, with photos taken from South Dakota to Germany to rural China. Allen is based in Brooklyn, so much of his work happens there, although he is a west coast transplant, having grown up in Portland. His work is great; you should check it out.


‘Too Little, Too Late’ by Fotoshop


Jarno-Erik Faarinen is a musician and producer from Finland who records under the name of Fotoshop. The other day he contacted me to let me know that he’d just released his debut album Lifeforms, and I’ve been listening to it ever-since! Faarinen’s sound sits somewhere between M83 and Washed Out, and although he channels a number of familiar reference points he manages to create something truely unique and exciting along the way.

The album’s opener Too Little, Too Late demonstrates exactly what Fotoshop does so well. His combination of vocals, beats and disoriented synths layer together to construct a slow-building anthem that holds a terrific synth-beat that just rips right through the whole track. Faarinen’s vocals are particularly nice, adding a shoegazer effect to the whole thing. Lifeforms is available for download from Fotoshop’s bandcamp page and it comes highly recommended.


‘Shipwreck’, a new track from MODESELEKTOR feat. Thom Yorke

'Shipwreck', a new track from MODESELEKTOR feat. Thom Yorke

'Shipwreck', a new track from MODESELEKTOR feat. Thom Yorke

I saw over the weekend that there was a new Modeselektor track which featured Thom Yorke so I figured I’d share it. The track is called Shipwreck and feels like a more refined version of what Thom Yorke would have created. It’s a pretty rad song, but not necessarily the best thing I’ve ever heard.

What is cool is the video, directed by Tony “Truand” Datis, who’s done some pretty rad work. The story is centered around a kid who’s scavenging a bunch of batteries in an apocalyptic world. There’s some pretty rad imagery smattered throughout it and the cinematography is really well done. There’s a great sense of mystery to the whole thing, a lot of random but beautiful imagery that interprets the song rather interestingly.


Craig Redman and Ed Nacional spice up your desktop for Thanksgiving

Craig Redman

Ed Nacional

Thanksgiving is tomorrow so it makes sense to change up your desktop to try and impress your relatives. Thankfully we have two rad wallpapers by two very talented guys to aid you in your mission. The first is an old school wallpaper by Craig Redman featuring the always miserable Darcel. It’s funny to think that Craig did this wallpaper 3 years ago, and to see how big Darcel has grown over the years. I still think it’s one of the funniest wallpapers I’ve had on the site, especially because Craig is Australian.

Then we have Ed Nacional’s turkey day inspired doodle which I saw one day and it made me laugh, so he was rad enough to turn it into a wallpaper. This one is the minimalist Thanksgiving celebrators dream, even the text itself has bene simplified down to it’s basics. Throw this onto your desktop when your in-laws pop over and you’ll be seen as festive but with great taste.


A Fake Building from 1895

Grant Hamilton 1895 "What We Are Coming to"

The more I look at this illustration, a work of satire from 1895, the more I like it.
The illustration was recently exhibited at Brown as part of Building Expectation: Past and Present Visions of the Architectural Future although the only information I can find about this specific illustration is scant. The illustrator is Grant E. Hamilton and the title printed at the bottom reads “What We are Coming to.” According to a snippet of curatorial text:

“In this satirical take on the trajectory of urban evolution, Hamilton pokes some rather pointed fun at the tendency of capitalist industry to relentlessly intensify the scale of real-estate development, in this nominally residential building are found not only shops, living space, and a steam-powered mass transport system, but also religious institutions and the houses of government —the public realm has been totally absorbed by the monolithic power of the private.”

But I like it for different reasons. It seems more relevant than most 19th century political satire, to me, because it resembles a kind of hodgepodge that has persistently interested illustrators and architects alike. For instance: Catrina Stewart’s London City Farmhouse project has a similar aggregation of unlikely programs and mechanical structures; the same assemblage is apparent in REX’s Yongsan Experiment. But there’s another, more immediate problem for architects in 1895: how to design tall buildings.

The steel frame evolved faster than the faculty of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, putting American architects in an odd position of having the ability to build taller and taller, but not the skill to refine the building’s expression. Because architects at the time predominately drew inspiration from classical structures, and because the Greeks did not build skyscrapers, architects struggled to play with the proportions and orders of classical architecture as buildings stretched higher and higher. Why this obsession with classic structures? The Chicago World’s Fair, which just two years before this illustration was printed impressed millions of visitors and sparked it’s own Architecture and Urban Planning movement: the City Beautiful Movement. Louis Sullivan (who famously said “form follows function”) disliked most things, but especially backward-looking architecture, saying that the World’s Fair set american architecture back “half a century” which is strange since he participated in the fair, having the largest building that wasn’t painted completely white.

So even though the illustration above is older than most everything living today except for turtles and trees, it’s foreshadows a modern critique of its time. It’s still funny a century later, and surprisingly informative.


‘Westside Story’ by Dela

As the snow settles in across most of the known world and we steep ourselves in some holiday flavor, I want to share a track that sounds like the sunshine most of us will see at 35,000 feet. Dela, a Montreal based producer and instrumentalist, put out his proto-hip-hop record Translation Lost this year. The record is exemplary of the sound of hip hop in 2011 (a snappy MPC, a laptop, and a bunch of hot samples) and has frequent cameos from the great Los Angeles MC Blu. Dela has called Translation Lost a record of love stories gone wrong, of transition and change.

But this track is the happy, upbeat, blissful part of the story. Westside Story seems to draw from the current resurgence in the electro funk of the 1980s. The original sample, Zapp’s Heartbreaker, is a bonafide boogie-funk classic. This gem from 1983 has been sampled endlessly (you’ll hear snippets of it on tracks by anyone from Dr. Dre to J. Dilla) and Dela does a great twist dropping bombastic drum beat under the key-tar flavored synths.

While I was crossing over the heartland this track got skipped on and I had no choice but to open the shade on the window, smile, stare at the clouds below. It’s great to enjoy the tranquility that can only be found in transition. That being said, this track is just one part of a great record, which you can find here.


The Luminous Landscapes of Graham Crowley

Graham Crowley Painting

Graham Crowley Painting "Road Kill"

Graham Crowley 'Rose Cloud Shadow'

For a number of years the English painter Graham Crowley has been creating these striking paintings inspired by the landscape of Rineen on the west coast of Ireland. Often described as “one of the most distinguished living painters in the UK today”; Crowley is a painter’s painter – an artist completely caught up in the world of paint. He is an artist whose work can be read as reflections on what it means to be a painter, and particularly to be a painter who is living and working at the start of the 21st century.

One part of Crowley’s practice that I find particularly interesting is how, over the last 20 years, he has completely changed his style. His landscapes of Rineen look almost unrecognizable when compared with the work he had been producing during the 70s and 80s. This idea of an artist changing their style is something which has been discussed on this site before, and it is something which I find really interesting.

In an interview with a-n Magazine in 2010, I was delighted to read Crowley’s response when asked about this change in style. “It’s only right that [these paintings] should be different to those that I made when I was 26” he says, “I’m a different person.” Crowley also talks about how his work isn’t wrapped up or guided by what he describes as ‘product identity’, he just creates what he feels he should be creating. If people feel that this might betray his market identity, then so what “..if that’s all they’re worried about then tough”.

It’s refreshing to read of an artist of Crowley’s calibre who still just cares about staying true to their own creative voice and who are willing to change creatively as they change as a person. You can view more of Crowley’s work (including images of earlier work) online here.


Bloom by Radiohead – The Jamie xx Rework Part 3

Jamie xx

It seems like it’s been a while since I’ve heard a remix I like. I guess I don’t listen to much new electronic music these days, so perhaps that’s a part of it. When I listened to this Jamie xx remix of Radiohead’s Bloom though, I was totally entranced by it.

I really shouldn’t call it a remix, in fact it’s a rework, as state in the title. Jamie xx took some pieces and parts of the track and has made a distinctly different track from that essence. The track is like a 8 minute journey, it kind of goes all over the place but continues as a steady, enthralling rhythm. I love how he layers Thom Yorke’s vocals over the top of the whole thing, giving it that modern day Pure Moods vibe.

I’ve also posted his initial rework which was much shorter. I’m really glad he decided to expand upon it and make it something so much more rich.