Posts Tagged ‘childhood’

Tim Macpherson

Published April 9, 2010 by Graham


Tim Macpherson’s glimmering glossy photos of childhood imagination are a potent reminder that even against the aesthetically oppressive environment of a beige suburban carpet, you can do some serious dreaming.


The Bill Tracy Project

Published April 2, 2010 by Molly

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Apropos of our post on the Theme Park Maps archive, WLYS reader Hugh kindly pointed us in the direction of the Bill Tracy Project. Reader, if you are interested in spelunking down into your most fearful childhood memories, we’d recommend you start paying attention right now.

According to its manifesto, the Bill Tracy Project is a website founded in order to “consolidate all known Bill Tracy information into one dedicated resource, thus, creating the largest official source of information pertaining to this subject in existence.” Um…who is the Bill Tracy to whom we owe such a fervent resource? Good question!

As for an answer, hmm. Where to begin. Tracy was a master of dark rides—theme park rides, that is, designed to convey guests through an indoor space. Early dark ride technology centered around things like ultraviolet lights and fluorescent paint and moved onto mechanically complex systems designed to give the illusion of, say, a female victim being severed in two by a circular saw.

Tracy’s hallmarks included complex facades and detail-oriented creepiness, and some of his most famous rides included the Whacky Shack at Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita, Kansas and The Haunted House at Trimper’s Amusements in Ocean City, Maryland. Check out the site’s insanely comprehensive biography as well as the section full of rad concept drawings and ride layouts. Spectacular!

Treasure Maps

Published March 25, 2010 by Molly



Could this be more straightforward or more amazing? (That’s a rhetorical question.) Theme Park Maps is exactly what it sounds like: an online archive of theme park maps ranging from 1931 to 2009. You’ve got your Busch Gardens, your Disneyland, your Splash Lagoon, your Dollywood, Fantasy Land, Magic Harbor and Shipwreck Island. Also Floridaland, Lakeside, Libertyland and something called Kentucky Kingdom.

If you have any interest in treasure maps or the graphic appeal therein, you’ll want to spend some QT with this archive!

Takashi Homma

Published January 26, 2010 by Graham


Published by art zine empire Nieves in 2006, Takashi Homma’s Tokyo and My Daughter is a brief but beautiful collection of intimate photographs. The slim volume combines Homma’s two favorite subjects, with a selection of gorgeous cityscapes intertwined with comical and honest impressions of the artist’s young daughter.

Homma is renowned for his subdued Tokyo landscapes, but his portraits of Japanese youth are possibly even more affecting. The way he captures contemporary childhood is stunningly candid, instilling in the viewer a strong nostalgia for endless wonder– underlined by a sense of deep disquiet.


Trevor Burks

Published December 2, 2009 by Graham


Perusing the website of designer Rob Matthews (whose zine, If Drawings Were Photographs, we posted about recently), I came across a boss illustrator named Trevor Burks, Matthews’ dear friend and the inspiration for an amusingly creepy art piece/t-shirt entitled I Miss Trevor Burks. Burks’ cleanly geometrical drawings seem to suggest the story of a generation growing up on a trajectory parallel to the increasingly complex polygons of their video game platforms. He also made an awesome mural depicting a dog licking a cat licking a gnome.

Perhaps the most intriguingly nostalgic series in Burks portfolio is Skate Myths, a set of drawings examining “personal mythologies surrounding growing up skateboarding in a small town.” Burks was kind enough to break down some of the influences behind these pieces for We Love You So:

The illustrations were based off of different environments we would skate as kids, and the characters were constructed with forms and colors from their surroundings with the idea that those were an integral part of our personalities. All of the gestures and interactions between the characters were formed from real situations too.


Every now and then when we skated in public, a small audience would gather; generally one or two younger kids who were horribly fascinated by what we were doing (despite how well we were doing it). In one illustration that character is shown as a kid with a grass and dirt colored head holding a football as he watches an older kid with a cement colored head skate in a parking lot.


Another thing we would do was alter our surroundings to make them more skate-friendly. It was so natural back then to put together some janky set-up to skate on. It might have been the juvenile carelessness of looking at the world of objects exclusively for their form and how we could use it to our advantage, but it was creation at its purest and we loved it. As children, our attempt to rationalize only went so far, we had to fill the rest of our time with our emotional response to the environment.


The Bun Field

Published October 23, 2009 by Graham


Picture a dream you’ve had that wasn’t a straight-up nightmare, but was terrifying. Now place that dream in the context of childhood’s special bewilderment– the type of uneasiness that hooks itself into our pre-adolescent lives like a parasite. I’m talking about weird foods and growling dogs, the uncertain authority of family friends and foreign cartoons swirling about in a sinister haze. Couple all that clammy awkwardness with the distinctly creepy fantasies of the Scandinavian sub-conscious, and you’ve got something close to what The Bun Field is.

Following a young girl through an interior world of rumbling chaos, Amanda Vahamaki’s concise comic book depicts the palpitating psyche of a worried child with breathtakingly naturalistic charm. For pondering all the pernicious phantasms that haunt our heroine’s world, we’re rewarded with flashes of tender humor, like a scene in which the young girl argues with a small bear about which of them is better qualified to operate a vehicle.

Check out a PDF preview of the book here. Oh, and Amazon is currently selling it for $1.94, so you would be foolish not to add a copy to your cart!


Wild Things and the Wilderness of Childhood

Published October 23, 2009 by Molly


Awesome essay alert: Newsweek’s Andrew Romano discusses the wilderness of childhood, the importance of facing primal fears, and the need for films that challenge rather than coddle kids.

The greatest children’s stories are about what happens when we become untethered from authority, whether by disobedience, disaster, or disregard, and the twinned feelings of freedom and fear we experience as we grapple with an autonomy we’re not quite ready for. They are, in that sense, rehearsals for adulthood.

Romano’s piece is thoughtful and inspired–– a definite must-read.

Illustration via

Karen O in New York

Published October 15, 2009 by Molly

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Karen O discusses the Wild Things soundtrack and butt-slapping in this Q&A with New York Magazine. Sample exchange:

Were you a wild child?

I guess everyone has their wild side, and mine was halfway between being really shy and kind of a goofy spazoid. I never bit anyone, like Max, but I slapped a lot of butts.


Scholars on Sendak

Published October 15, 2009 by Molly

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Sendak has said that he is obsessed with one and only one question: “How do children survive?”

Richard M. Gottlieb, M.D. tackles the question in his 2008 academic paper, titled Maurice Sendak’s Trilogy: Disappointment, Fury, and Their Transformation through Art.

“An overlooked yet central developmental theme of Maurice Sendak’s major works,” Gottlieb writes, “is that of resilience. Resilience reflects a child’s capacity to transform otherwise crippling traumatic circumstances into his (or her) very means of survival, growth, and positive maturation. An implicit credo of these works is the adage: “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”

Note that Sendak himself spent years in psychoanalysis, so the approach isn’t as obscure as it first appears. Read the article online at this digital archive of classic psychoanalytic texts. Go on, do something good for your brain.

Cool Kid: Arlo Weiner

Published October 14, 2009 by Graham


When I spotted Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, I couldn’t help but notice that one of the four kids with him was randomly dressed in a tuxedo. “Maybe he just came from church,” a friend suggested, but then why would he be the only one dressed so dapper? The only plausible explanation was that this precocious boy was just constantly stylish, channeling the effortless suavity of Don Draper himself. My hopes were confirmed upon the discovery of GQ’s profile of eight-year-old Arlo Weiner, complete with Arlo’s satorial commentary on mixed patterns, ascots, turning bathrobe belts into neckties, and the juxtaposition of red against black. He’s got his old man’s eye for detail!