Category Art

Artists Explore the Theme of Silence for Nobrow

Kali Ciessmier for Nobrow 9

“What does silence look like? How is it expressed? Can it be visual?” These are the questions Nobrow posed to over 40 international artists and illustrators for the ninth edition of their magazine. It’s a fascinating theme and one which has produced a wide-range of outcomes. Amongst its 128 pages you’ll find scenes of contentment, intimacy and the surreal as well as stories of the mundane, the morose and the amorous.

Owen Davey for Nobrow 9

As with previous editions, this version offers artists a limited 4 way color palette to bring their imagination to the page, and this restriction brings a wonderful unity to the magazine. The pink, orange and blue tones are a beautiful combination and it’s a joy to see how each artist plays with this restraint through their work.

Merijn Hos for Nobrow 9

One of the nicest things about Nobrow’s magazine is that it works as two magazines. On one side it contains large illustration work (as shown in the post), while the reverse is filled with stories by comic artists and visual storytellers.

Jun Cen for Noborw 9

If you’re in any way interested in contemporary illustration I can’t recommend this publication enough! With over 40 artists involved, it’s hard to imagine a more comprehensive magazine. For those interested in the work featured here, it includes (from the top) images by Kali Ciesemier, Owen Davey, Merijn Hos, Jun Cen and Ella Bailey.

Ella Bailey for Nobrow 9

Nobrow 9 is currently available to purchase from the Nobrow website.

Haruki Murakami’s New Novel and its Delightfully Designed Cover


Talking cats? Strange moons? Brooding teenagers? Yep, it’s time for a new Haruki Murakami novel. Next week the English-speaking world will be treated to the Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, the long-awaited novel of Japan’s critically acclaimed author. Published by Knopf and Harvill Secker of the Penguin Random House Company, it’s been eagerly anticipated since the release of Murakami’s best selling epic, 1Q84, in 2011. In preparation of the launch, we’re treated to an excerpt of the new book, as well as a look at the cover’s design—in which there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye.

Murakami is a contemporary Japanese writer—born in Kyoto in 1949, he currently resides in Tokyo. His works have been translated into 50 languages and his best-selling books have been published in millions of copies. His most notable works include Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Kafka on the Shore. The Guardian praises Murakami as “among the world’s greatest living novelists.” He’s kind of a big deal and happens to be one of my favorite authors.


Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. Newly released in Germany, Spain, and Holland, it has already topped the bestsellers in all three countries, and it sold over one million copies within its first week when originally released in Japan of April last year. You can read Slate’s excerpt from the new book, “Haida’s Story,” which is a story within a story that touches upon the nature of narration and how stories change the more we retell them.

“A return to the mood and subject matter of the acclaimed writer’s earlier work… A vintage Murakami struggle of coming to terms with buried emotions and missed opportunities, in which intentions and pent up desires can seemingly transcend time and space to bring both solace and desolation.” —Publishers Weekly

As with every Murakami release, I’m quite excited about the book cover’s design. If you’re also a fan of Murakami’s work then you’re familiar with the designs of either John Gall or Chip Kidd—who’ve been primarily responsible for the classic covers of previous Murakami western releases. Always beautiful and ever evoking the abstract, these works never fail to catch my eye, draw me into the novel, or give new meaning to the words on page.


Unfortunately, neither designer was involved with Murakami’s newest release. But fret not; handling the new cover was Random House’s creative director, Suzanne Dean. She’s responsible for the fantastic work coming out of the publishing house’s Vintage Classics line, who previously commissioned the talented Noma Bar to redesign Murakami’s backlist. They’re some of the best-looking book covers in recent years. Under Dean’s guidance, the designs featured a circle motif, accompanied by a three-colored palette—in order to reflect the “seen and unseen” often portrayed in Murakami’s work. These covers were screen printed by hand to give a personal, softer edge, demonstrating the care that Dean puts into every piece under her guidance.


A circular motif reappears for Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Dean states that the new cover is “an elegant abstract design, representing the five main characters.” The process began with her, as she recounts, “I cut out five circles and played with the position of each of them as physical elements away from the confines of a computer. I experimented with overlapping the circles to represent the interactions within the close friendship of the main characters. Gradually the design came together in a congruent and meaningful form.” Following the physical preliminaries, Dean transferred the design to Photoshop, where she could refine the color interactions and land on a look that quickly fell into place.


Accompanying Dean’s cover is a set of stickers. Dean explains, “Tsukuru’s name means to make or build and this was a gift, a completely perfect match for an idea to include adult stickers for the book buyer to decorate the novel.” As a result, Dean commissioned five Japanese illustrators, who brought a uniquely Japanese style and knowledge of Japanese detail to the project. Each illustrator was given a character, and therefore a color, and asked to read the novel with that character in mind. They were then asked to create images reflecting their character, using their specific color.


Mio Matsumoto: Colorless
“My drawing style here is very sharp and clean…Tsukuru is colour-less. But I thought he is influenced by the others so, based on the strong drawing line, I wanted to add all the other colours in his related objects.” Matsumoto graduated from the Royal College of Art and is currently living and working in Tokyo.

Fumio Obata: Blue
“I chose certain objects to illustrate from the text because of their noise, for instance Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas” was an inspiration for the first image I did.” Obata studied at the Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London, where he worked in animation for some years before deciding to concentrate on comic books and illustration.

Ryu Itadani: Red
“In all my images I carefully chose other colors to highlight red, so (hopefully) viewers can imagine that the images have something to do with red.” Itadani currently lives and works in Berlin.

Natsko Seki: White
“All the items had to be beautiful as she was, and show fragility and sensitivity.” Seki lives and works in London.

Shinko Okuhara: Black
“I worked with the colour by considering how to express the difference between the image of her full name “Eri Kurono” and her nickname “black” and her character.” Okuhara lives and works in Tokyo.


As you can see, what at first looks like a very simple and basic book cover turns out to be a well-thought and involved process between many artists. The result is an exceptionally designed cover that readers can customize, turning the book into an interactive experience. Its design harkens day’s past and evokes nostalgia, something that I hope will only further my attachment to Murakami’s newest work. You start putting stickers on your own copy next week, August 12th, which you can purchase here (or here if you want the stickers and Dean’s design). Check out Murakami’s Facebook for release events near you.

Intricate Oil Paintings of Gem Stones by Carly Waito

Carly Waito

Toronto based artist Carly Waito is well-known for her oil paintings of gemstones, having an uncanny knack for capturing the light and contrast with perfection. Her work immediately grasps your attention as you find yourself scouring the piece for clues to tell you whether or not these are painted or photos. She works at such a fine level of detail that it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between the real and the imagined. In an interview with Carly from the Toronto Standard she nicely sums up the intentions of her work.

I don’t think anything man-made can ever really achieve the perfection of what exists in the natural world. I’ve always felt compelled to strive for that, even to the point of attempting to replicate natural objects in as much detail as I can manage, whether by sculpting pine cones in porcelain or painting images of mineral specimens. Nature has always inspired such awe and curiosity for me. Part of my motivation is that I want to capture a bit of that effect in the work I make.

We can’t do better than nature but we can certainly try.

Carly Waito

Carly Waito

Carly Waito

Life in Space as Azuma Makoto Captures Flowers in the Cosmos


Japanese artist Azuma Makoto is taking his work to new heights, literally. His art project, titled Exobiotanica, pits plants high above their home, bursting in color and beauty against the backdrop of a glistening planet Earth and the infinities of space that surrounds it. The project is simple in concept, visually beautiful in execution, and says volumes about the planet we’ve come to inherit.


Working out of Black Rock Desert, Nevada and alongside JP Aerospace, Makoto sent organic life to the borders of space, suspended by balloon. Bonsai trees, orchids, lilies, and other fauna or flora were subject to altitudes exceeding 30,000 meters and minus 50 degrees celsius. To the artist, exposing organic land-locked material beyond the confines of their earthly home transformed them into “exobiotanica,” or rather, extraterrestrial plant life.



While Makoto’s intent is neat and its results hold true, I believe that there’s more being said here than simply sending life where there isn’t any. Jonathan Jones wrote on the Guardian, “these images dramatize the startling nature of planet Earth itself.” Makoto’s photographs beautifully put forth the mystery of life on Earth—something to be treasured, once realized.



The fact of the matter is that our home, planet Earth, is the only known place in the entire universe to harbor life. We don’t know of any other planet that is alive as ours is. The richness of Earth’s organic matter is gorgeously apparent in Makoto’s arrangements, the brightly-colored flowers serve in stark contrast against the darkness of space that surrounds them.


In talking about the importance of Makoto’s project, Jones references William Anders’ iconic photograph, Earthrise. Shot aboard Apollo 8 in 1968, the photograph was the first color image to look back upon ourselves from the outside. It has been declared “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken,” and helped spark the environmental movement. To me, this reference couldn’t be any more apt, as Makoto’s project entertains the same sentiment in aiding our appreciation for existing in a lifeless universe.



While Makoto’s work might not be as historic as Earthrise, it’s certainly no less thought evoking. Projects such as these remind us that life on our planet is intertwined—Earth acting no more than a spaceship, nurturing its lively passengers. This concept has inherently been apart of our understanding for years, as demonstrated in the great landscapes of art’s past, such as Hokusai’s 35 views of Mount Fuji, which portrays the interlinking of sky and Earth.


If you’re having a bad day or just want to feel enlightened, then look to pieces like Makoto’s Exobiotanica, Earthrise, or even Hokusai. You’ll quickly cherish the importance of this very special planet we’ve come to inhabit—it’s the only one orbiting amongst a vast sea of stars that’s bearing life and all its beautiful intricacies. Revel in the fact that you live here and are a part of it.


Absolutely Stunning Poster for ‘The Last of Us’, Designed by Olly Moss & Jay Shaw

Designer/artist/illustrator/nerd Olly Moss is an unstoppable creative force. Earlier this morning he shared an image he created for the video game The Last of Us, an incredible collage of a woman’s profile, flowers, and what I think are barnacles. The only way to get your hands on one of these is to visit the Mondo booth at SDCC. Good luck snagging one.

Editor’s Note: This was designed in partnership with Jay Shaw. My bad!

Stunning 'The Last Of Us' Poster Designed by Olly Moss

Designer Stephen Kelleher Meditates on Self-Realization and Self-Preservation

Mind Yourself by Stephen Kelleher

Stephen Kelleher is an Irish-born designer based in Brooklyn. For more than ten years he’s been honing his craft; building a portfolio that is packed full of exciting projects and great ideas. Chiefly working in illustration and motion, he has collaborated with clients such as Coca-Cola, Cartoon Network, Google and The New York Times. For me, he demonstrates a real gift for simplicity and I love his approach to both color and shape.

Mind Yourself by Stephen Kelleher

Recently he worked on a wonderful self-directed project called ‘Mind Yourself’. Made from wood and painted with acrylics, the series consists of three separate pieces. Stephen describes them as “meditations on self-realization and self-preservation”; each one acting as a reminder to take a moment to remember to take care of yourself. The work demonstrates a wonderful talent for simplicity and I love to see a designer step away from their computer and actually make something with their hands. The results are terrific.

Mind Yourself by Stephen Kelleher

More work from Stephen Kelleher can be viewed on his website.

Degas-Inspired Portraits of Sleeping Women by Andie Dinkin

'Sleeping Series'  by Andie Dinkin

It’s impossible to sleep beautifully, unless perhaps you’re in a film from the early 20th century. These paintings by Andie Dinkin remind me of that truth. There’s a soft, somber beauty to her work that draws you in, making you wonder what these slumbering women may be dreaming of.

The lighting and color palette seem to be influenced by Degas, with lots of under lighting as well as a wide range of neutrals punctuated by pops of color. Or at least that’s my interpretation.

'Sleeping Series'  by Andie Dinkin

'Sleeping Series'  by Andie Dinkin

'Sleeping Series'  by Andie Dinkin

'Sleeping Series'  by Andie Dinkin

You can see further work by clicking here.

Frenetic, Abstract Artworks by Chyrum Lambert

Chyrum Lambert

Los Angeles based artist Chyrum Lambert turns art into art. What I mean is Chyrum uses ink, dye, stain, acrylic, wax, epoxy, and oil to create the pieces of his artwork, which he cuts up and layers into these fantastic pieces. Some of the artwork is more abstract while others have a semblance of figures or plant-life, familiar shapes slowly appearing.

Take a look at more of Chyrum’s work by clicking here.

Chyrum Lambert

Chyrum Lambert

Chyrum Lambert

Chyrum Lambert

Chyrum Lambert

A Food Art Project That Transforms Dough Into Colorful Bread Balloons

'Blow Dough' Transforms Bread Into Colorful Balloons

'Blow Dough' Transforms Bread Into Colorful Balloons

If I asked you to recreate the idea of bread, would you have any idea of what you’d try to create? If you asked Omer Polak, Michal Evyatar, and Erez Komorovsky, they’d tell you that they’d blow it up. Or at least that’s what they’ve done with their project Blow Dough which utilizes an industrial blower that bakes dough into bread balloons.

Each of the doughs is made with herbs as well juices like beet, carrot, and spinach, which gives each balloon a distinct color. What you can’t sense is that it also makes each room smell incredible, fully activating your sense of smell as well.

'Blow Dough' Transforms Dough Into Colorful Bread Balloons

Their process in making the dough is rather interesting as well.

The process included many experiments in the workshops kitchen. It was a great challenge to succeed in creating dough that is very flexible and can also come thin for baking and the eating experience. We worked almost like scientists, we wrote time, quantities, and temperature that we could produce the exact dough.

I find this whole project to be so entertaining. It’s such a great intersection between art, food, and science. Projects like this make the old adage “Don’t play with your food” completely obsolete.

Read and see more about this project on designboom.

Interview with Los Angeles Ceramacist and Designer Eric Roinestad

Eric Roinestad Ceramics

You know Eric Roinestad’s work but you might not know he was the man behind it. He’s worked at Capitol Records creating album covers and packaging for bands like The Beatles and Fiona Apple. Still, he had an itch to create things by hand again, eventually getting into ceramics. I came across his work at an exhibit he had at Mohawk General Store in Los Angeles. The show featured a number of beautiful desert inspired pieces that are some of the best I’ve seen in a long while. Thus I thought it would be interesting to ask Eric about his thoughts on his inspirations and future.

What spurred this collection? It makes me think of Palm Springs and the desert, which I love.
The desert and California landscape was the big inspiration on this collection of pieces; I’m glad that came across.

What’s your process for making the pieces? Do you sculpt all the pieces or are they cast?
Everything is either hand built, or thrown on the wheel with hand applied elements. The cans, however, are press molded. Most of what I do is pretty labor intensive, casting is very tempting but I would hate to lose the one of a kind quality my pieces have. I like seeing a creator’s hand in their work.

Eric Roinestad Ceramics

I’m a huge fan of ceramics and one day I’d love to start my own line. What started you down this path?
When I started out as a graphic designer computers were still new and I was doing most of my work by hand, pasting up layouts and hand drawing logos, I loved it. Then computers took over and I would sit in front of my screen all day, really missing working with my hands. Ceramics started out as an after work activity when I was at Capitol Records. A friend of mine and I would drive out to Monrovia Community Adult School for ceramics class one night a week, and it never stopped. About a year and a half ago I converted my studio space and devoted most of my time to ceramics; in November, Lawson Fenning asked to sell my stuff in their store.

Eric Roinestad Ceramics

Where are you drawing your inspirations from lately?
I’m always looking at nature for a lot of my inspiration. We have a large California native garden, so most of my inspiration is right outside my studio door. I’ve also been inspired by the shapes in Jean-Michel Frank’s work, as well as the bronze and plaster work that Diego and Alberto Giacometti did for him in the 1930’s. I’d love to interpret that 30’s French modernism in a California sort of way.

Eric Roinestad Ceramics

Anything coming up you’d like to talk about?
Since my show opened at Mohawk General Store some interesting new opportunities have appeared. I am excited about collaborations with other companies and designers. One project that I am eager to show are mirrors with ceramic tiles and tile tables I have been working on with a good friend, Christos Prevezanos, at Studio Preveza.

Eric Roinestad Ceramics