Archive for January, 2010

Aurelie Guillerey

Published January 25, 2010 by Molly



Holy cute! Aurelie Guillerey’s work invokes everything we remember fondly about children’s book illustrations: the costumes, the animals, the fanciful anthropomorphizing, the mischievous cats and eye-popping flowers and colorful balloons.

Aside from being a master (mistress?) of color, Guillerey is adept at capturing the energy and enthusiasm of young kids. She’s also skilled at summoning particular objects sure to stick firmly in the imagination: a plump yellow umbrella, a conical party hat, a straw boater and a blue thermos are a few examples that come to mind. Check out the latest on her Flickr page.

Paul Wackers

Published January 25, 2010 by Molly



Visually speaking, the categories of “beautiful” and “challenging” overlap far less frequently than they should. This applies to any creative pursuit: architectural, musical, sartorial, and most definitely when it comes to painting.

Paul Wackers’ work exists in that tiny shared zone between the two categories. His paintings of abstracted machinery, natural growth and mountainous landscapes are as thought-provoking as they are stimulating, mixing recognizable geometric elements with head-scratching piles of…well, interesting-looking stuff.

Wackers’ paintings remind us a little of the psychedelic dreamscapes (nightmarescapes?) of Kirsten Deirup, but there’s no doubt he’s doing something all his own.

The Company of People

Published January 23, 2010 by Dallas

Landon Metz one of the designers over here at WLYS is having a group show for his artist collective The Company of People. It’s happening tonight at space 1520 in beautiful (rainy) Los Angeles. If you are in the area you should brave the weather and stop by!

The many worlds of Mr. Ed

Published January 22, 2010 by Molly


Barcelona-based artist Mr. Ed shares his moniker with a talking television horse and maintains a handful of Spanish-language blogs to account for his prodigious (and varied) artistic output. Even if your command of Spanish is shaky, it’s worth taking a tour of the artist’s visual universe. Shall we?

We’ll start with the home page, Mi Bulin, which collects Mr. Ed’s selected drawings in one place.

Next, there’s Celedbrity, Mr. Ed’s blog of celebrity portraits. Highlights include Isabella Rosellini, Marcel Marceau, BB King and Nancy Sinatra.

Mamut assembles Mr. Ed’s childrens’ comics, which are vast and adorable.

Ed Press is Mr. Ed’s collection of commercial illustrations published in newspapers and magazines in Spain, Mexico and Argentina.

We could go on (there are more!), but that would leave nothing for you to explore independently. Given how natural it seems to devote a separate blog to every facet of artistic identity, we’re surprised more artists don’t follow suit. Future trend? Hmmm!

Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia

Published January 22, 2010 by Molly

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Four of the most alluring words in the English language combine to make up the title of this volume: Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia. If that isn’t a recipe for a vast treasury of arcana, we don’t know what is.

The book is made up of photographs, drawings and text compiled over the course of 33 years in an infamous St. Petersberg prison by one of the prison guards, Danzig Baldayev. As the publisher puts it, “The tattoos were his passport into a secret world where he became something of an ethnographer, recording the secrets of a closed society. The tattoos are artful, distasteful, sexually explicit and sometimes simply strange, reflecting the lives and mores of the convicts.”

You can say that again. Skulls, daggers, medieval knights, babies, a horned Lenin and a grinning Al Capone are some of the images that populate the world of Kresty prisoners. Nihilistic and weird and occasionally beautiful, the tattoos form a private language that Baldayev, by virtue of his collection, has given us a glimpse of.

I’m Here Debuts Today!

Published January 21, 2010 by Graham


Spike’s epic short film, I’m Here, makes its grand entrance tonight at Sundance. It’s a robot romance and a futuristic fable rooted in the universal emotions of first love, ruminating on youth, identity, autonomy and loss. What began as a small project in the wake of Where the Wild Things Are quickly blossomed into a 35-minute tale that provided Spike ample room to fully flesh out his melancholy heroes, a pair of robot lovers.

These clunky, sensitive machines feel as familiar as old friends by the end of the film, thanks in no small part to the same subtle special effects wizardry that brought the Wild Things’ facial features to life. Spike snapped the image above in the final screening to approve special effects shots before I’m Here’s worldwide premiere. If you’re in Utah today, don’t miss it!

Alexander Calder’s “Animal Sketching”

Published January 21, 2010 by Molly

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Aside from its articles on outdoor gear, pinewood derbies and wilderness preparation, Boy’s Life magazine had a section devoted to the art of drawing stuff. Through a series of simple steps (”Begin with a circle”), the section demonstrated to readers how they could learn to sketch a dog or a sailboat with only a pencil and a sheet of scratch paper at hand. It was aspirational and instructional and consistently the best part of the magazine, except for maybe the mail-order hovercraft ads in the back.

For those without a Boy’s Life subscription, there’s an elegant alternative in Alexander Calder’s Animal Sketching, a manual published in 1926 and containing instructions on how to draw elephants, seals, horses, monkeys, birds, lions and more. Calder (yup, the sculptor/mobile inventor) guides readers in the art of portraying spirit and attitude in a few simple lines, dropping crucial bits of wisdom along the way (”There is always a feeling of perpetual motion about animals and to draw them successfully this must be borne in mind”).

Nab this classic while it’s still in print!

James Pyman x Bram Stoker

Published January 20, 2010 by Molly

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Just because Twilight isn’t your cup of hot chocolate doesn’t mean the vampire genre should be overlooked during these chilly winter months. To scratch that specific vampire itch, check out this edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, clothbound in bright yellow and illustrated by the talented James Pyman.

Produced by Four Corners Books, the edition features all 27 chapters of the original text illustrated with finely-wrought pencil drawings as part of a series pairing classic books with our favorite contemporary artists. Gareth Jones’s reimagination of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is another entry in the series worth a close read.

Books You Might Not Have Read Yet: Incidences

Published January 20, 2010 by Molly


File this under “books that make your palms sweaty”. Daniil Kharms is a semi-forgotten writer born in St. Petersburg in 1905 who published vignettes, mini-plays, poems, stories, philosophy and fragments notable for their absurdist streak and black-as-coal humor. Kharms was arrested a bunch of times and generally suffered under Soviet censorship, but his sister and a friend named Yakov Druskin managed to drag the writer’s works from a bombed-out apartment in a suitcase during the blockade of Leningrad, thereby preserving them for future readers.

Their foresight is our gain, as writers like George Saunders have pointed out: “Kharms belongs on your bookshelf with Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Babel…In that company his stories will be the briefest, the funniest, and in some ways, the truest….they are near-formless, violent, sad, hilarious and frightening all at once.”

It’s hard to describe the appeal of the stories, but let’s just say that Kharms consistently manages to turn the boring details of everyday life into exploding pockets of visionary wisdom. That enough to turn your wheels? His classic collection, Incidences, is available used for about three bucks if you know where to hunt online, and we say its well worth the price of an ice cream cone.

Kate Clark

Published January 19, 2010 by Graham


Kate Clark’s mutant taxidermies are galloping into your nightmares from the comfortable nook they call home, nestled within that creepy crevice of dissonance– the uncanny valley. Clark contends that we’ve forgotten our animal natures. Hence: a deliberate confrontation. What witchcraft has allowed her to conjure the wilderness from which humanity foolishly fancies itself a castaway? What acrimonious Animorph technology galvanized these therianthropic transformations, and will it come for us next? Mystery hangs heavy in the air around Clark’s bewitching sculptures. Heed these words of advice: If a wild primordial memory embedded in an ancient strand of your genetic code beckons you to approach these gorgeous frozen freakshows, proceed with caution.