Archive for December, 2009

Year-End Love

Published December 31, 2009 by Graham

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It’s that time of year when critics look back and decide which movies were their favorite of 2009– and we’re honored that so many people have included Where the Wild Things Are on their lists! To namecheck a few: Chicago Sun-Times critic and star of At the Movies Michael Phillips, NPR’s David Edelstein, Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday, Movieline’s Kyle Buchanan, and maverick New York Times critic Manohla Dargis all payed tribute to Max and his Maximonsters in their year-end rankings. A.O. Scott of the New York Times even went so far as to name Where the Wild Things Are the #1 movie of the year. Thanks, dude!

It’s awesome and humbling to see this film connect with kids of all ages– even kids who grew up to watch movies for a living. We love you all. Also, a belated congratulations to Karen O and Carter Burwell on their best original score Golden Globe nomination. What a great way to end the year. Thanks to everyone who reads this blog and loves this movie as much as we do. Have fun tonight and we’ll see you in 2010!

Zohar Lazar

Published December 31, 2009 by Molly

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Aside from having a comic-book superhero name and a magical way with the paintbrush, Zohar Lazar has also the following things going for him: a melancholic and deliriously beautiful imagination, an inborn sense of mischief, a glorious color sense and, by appearances, a seriously committed work ethic. In summary, he is unambiguously great.

In his spare time Lazar pumps out breathtaking illustrations for a few lucky big guns (Rolling Stone, GQ, The New Yorker) and and contributes to awesome comics collective Meathaus. Worth mentioning, also, that the artist did a stellar album cover for They Might Be Giants, which itself just sort of seals the deal.

Joshua Ben Longo

Published December 31, 2009 by Graham

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Joshua Ben Longo’s monsters weave together the darling and the disgusting. These hand-crafted creations beckon to you for a hug, in spite of their viciousness. Longo’s Monster Skin Chair looks like something Max might feel rather comfortable lounging about it. Students at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn have the privilege of studying in Longo’s three-dimensional design classes, where they basically learn how to make the raddest halloween costumes ever.

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Monsieur Cabinet

Published December 31, 2009 by Molly

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There’s nothing like the bone-dry humor of a born and bred Englishman to bring a smile to the frowniest face. For an exemplar of such look no further than Monsieur Cabinet, the Leeds-based illustrator, designer, and producer of brilliant little line-drawings that combine a P.G. Wodehouse wit with a spare and expressive hand.

Cabinet’s drawings may remind you of Glen Baxter’s irreverent and gut-busting illustrations, but they’re really a whole other kettle of fish. Explore the variety—along with his zines and design projects—here.

Destined for Dizziness!

Published December 30, 2009 by Molly

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It’s a fact of nature that small children tend to enjoy professional illustrations that look like something they could have done. You know— illustrations that look as though they could have conceivably emerged from the crayon of an exceptionally talented youngster rather than a dude with a Masters in Fine Art. Harold and the Purple Crayon is an example we all know: its clean & simple images couldn’t have been the product of anyone but a genius, but the aesthetic is unmistakably a childlike one.

For a contemporary exemplar of the style, let us look no further than Souther Salazer, whose Destined for Dizziness is a kid’s book of maximum simplicity and maximum visual delight. Drawn up in a palate of black, cream, and mandarin-orange, the book blends a rhythmic story with a fondness for alliteration and a talent for expressive imagery. Topics covered include flying frogs, kangaroos munching on corndogs and a rat having a minor bike accident. We detect a distinct spirit of wildness here, too…

The Tronie Foundation

Published December 30, 2009 by Graham

This holiday season, think about supporting a foundation that can make a positive impact in the world. The Tronie Foundation works hard for “a world free of exploitation with every individual experiencing equality and freedom to pursue one’s full potential.” You can help them achieve that goal by spreading the word, donating, volunteering, or taking the simple step of educating yourself on the horrors of human trafficking and child slavery. If each of us we puts our energy and imagination together in a small way, we can accomplish great things!

Pete Halupka

Published December 29, 2009 by Graham

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Pete Halupka is a 20-year-old photographer from Chicago whose wondrous work is marked by a rapturous reverence for motion. Even in the stillest of his still lifes you get the sense of a world in flux, an impermanent moment fearlessly captured with nary a second to spare. Is it any wonder that Halupka excels at his expeditious day job as a bike messenger? Pete was kind enough to fill us in on his favorite pizzas, his photographic philosophy, and his skateboarding goals for the coming decade.

Have you been on any adventures lately?
I haven’t been on many adventures as of late. My friends and I have been with families out of Chicago because of winter break so the adventuring has been low it seems. I went to St. Louis over the weekend and realized how lucky I am to ride my bike in Chicago where the roads are flat! The Mississippi River is intense. I mostly just sat next to it and drank root beer.

Most of our adventures here in Chicago come from out of town friends visiting from all over, all the time. The next time that happens our friend Erin flies from Atlanta with plenty of Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuits to come play in the snow here. Then we go to NYC. We have a pretty big group of friends in NYC and I anticipate gettin’ down, eating plenty of slices and pop, and illegally purchasing alcohol at corner deli’s.

I feel like I’m trying to live up to what my photos have made my life to look like but really I just do normal stuff with my friends like play Modern Warfare, buy a lot of $5 Hot N’ Ready’s, and have potluck burrito dinners.

I think we all came from small towns so we are really easily entertained. But we do get outside our living room. It’s true. Maybe this winter is just making me pessimistic.

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What are you looking to capture when you’ve got your camera in hand?
I just like taking pictures. I think I take pictures for the same reasons every else does. But I do like knots, morning light, Pilsen alleyways, color, lack of color, powerlines, snow, prairie grass, vast landscapes, tall skyscrapers, several of the same item stacked on top of each other or connected, and old food.

Which photograph that you took in 2009 are you most fond of?
Oh, man. Probably this wilted slice of watermelon hanging in a noose on my back porch. I was super into that idea for a long time and finally photographed it. It just all came together and I even was able to hang it in this really amazing group show for Harold Arts Residency. I also shot this box of Neapolitan ice cream melting that I enjoy. And in April I shot this banana on a windowsill with this picture of my brother’s roommate dressed up as a vampire at a young age propped up next to it. I guess I really like food. But I think I’ll settle on the watermelon.

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What’s the best pizza in Chicago?
Oh dude. I watched Anthony Bourdain’s show and I believe he said some place in the suburbs had the best deep dish.

I don’t spend a lot of money on dining out but I have had the chance to have Gino’s and Giordano’s. Both were fantastic and I would say go to the one with the shorter line! Bacci’s pizza is ok but the slices are as large as your upper body. I’m sure a bunch of Chicago locals will read this and be mad that I don’t know more about the pizza scene. Sorry, dudes.

Got any plans for the coming decade?
Finish school, buy a farm, get as many plaid wool jackets as possible, buy more boots, keep my leatherman on my belt at all times, continue making work, start a skateboard co-op for kids who can’t afford boards, learn French after I learn Spanish, get a dog, become less extroverted, learn to fly fish, open up my Boy Scout handbook again, become closer to my family because they’ve been amazing to me, have a rabbit, fall in love permanently and make work with that person, get a brand new road bike from that year custom fitted for myself, make mistakes and learn, learn to play harmonica, get bit by a snake, continue to be a bike messenger here, own a print of that photograph Sally Mann did in Deep South of that scarred tree… and probably meet Sally Mann, photograph a priest, go take communion and slip it into my pocket, take an agricultural science class, downhill mountain bike a lot, skateboard forever, see Spike Jonze nollie heelflip with or without loafers, see the Gonz hippie jump something, bomb a hill with Dennis Buzenitz and follow his line, and last but not least, continue to move forward in life in a positive manner.

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Boy’s Club 3

Published December 29, 2009 by Molly

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We introduced you all to Matt Furie a couple of months ago with a micro-questionnaire that covered the basics of his creative psyche: the childhood urge to retreat into imaginary worlds, the taxonomy (or lack thereof) of his creatures, favorite kid’s books, and so forth. When we got hold of Boys Club 3, the newest installment in his comic series published by Buenaventura Press, we thought an update on the Furie situation would be a prudent undertaking.

So what does numero 3 bring us? Teenage monsters, naturally. This time the cast is engaged in a tale of friendship and scatology that reaches viewers via forty pages of clean comic beauty. Title notwithstanding, Boys Club isn’t strictly for dudes, although it probably helps to have a refined yet gutter-level sense of humor for the purest enjoyment of the comics. In short, Boys Club is for everyone. Except, maybe, for parents. We hear that space between the mattress and the box spring makes an exceptionally good hiding place.

Atherton Lin

Published December 28, 2009 by Graham

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Succumb to the sweetness of Atherton Lin! Come on, I dare you– ditch your cynicism at the door and embrace the carefree twee fantasies of this British stationery design duo. It’s pointless to resist their majestic, melancholy colored pencil vistas, their scarf-adorned shy boys and lovesick girls. Now that 2010 is nearly upon us, why not pick up a copy of the beautifully designed Atherton Lin wall calendar? Following the six characters who pop up throughout the products in Atherton Lin’s arsenal, the year unfolds like a story:

Starting with a New Year’s resolution — to stand up straight — we follow these six friends through 12 months of letter writing, music mixes, childhood fears, old stereo equipment and perhaps a parallel universe.

The days of the year are told through the characters’ new experiences, fantastical childhood memories, correspondences and personal record collections. Certain months are set up with an inventive format: For instance, August is a printer’s tray displaying souvenirs, and the days of December read like the squares of a comic strip. The annual wall calendar root the Atherton Lin stories — an open-ended, elliptical narrative that weaves through all our designs.

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Jeff Caramagna

Published December 28, 2009 by Molly

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Jeff Caramagna’s work “endeavors to inspire the dwarfing of the individual witness both visually and metaphysically”, and if that’s not a damn good way to begin an artist’s statement, we don’t know what is.

Caramagna combines classic figure painting techniques with an intricate visual mapping system to produce the final works, which are so vivid they almost appear to generate their own light. The paintings will remind the average viewer of sunbursts and orange groves and beach bunnies—nothing dark in evidence here, though the paintings are far from simplistic or uninteresting.

Don’t miss the “PROCESS” section of Caramagna’s site, which includes images culled mid-painting of half-finished works and jars of shining pigment. How often, after all, do we get a privileged glimpse into the working style of an imposingly talented artist? It’s like a studio visit condensed for the purposes of the internets.