Loud & Close

Got this book today - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - autographed by Jonathan Safran Foer (also the author of Eating Animals). It made me smile the whole train journey home :D Isn't it beautiful?

My apologies for being absent lately, but commuting to London every day is no mean feat. I promise I'll post something awesome soon ;) A great week to all of you!

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Eating Animals*

*title of the latest book by Jonathan Safran Foer 

‘When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own’. 

As I told a friend of mine the other day, I’m considering vegetarianism for the 3rd? 4th? maybe the 5th time? And this time I’m quite determined to stick with it. This is not merely the result of reading Foer’s book, but of recent events and serious considerations.

Facts I learnt from Eating Animals that you all should know:

1. ‘Free-range’, ‘organic’, and the similar words producers throw at you don’t mean squat. It should provide no more peace of mind than ‘all natural’, ‘fresh’, or ‘magical’. They literally mean the animals get ‘access to the outdoors’, which is nothing. ‘Imagine a shed containing thirty thousand chickens, with a small door at one end that opens to a five-by-five dirt patch – and the door is closed all but occasionally’. Yes, that’s ‘free-range’ and ‘organic’ for you.

2. 99% meat we eat comes from caged animals, which come from Frankenstein-like genetic stock, which suffer their whole life, and die a painful inhumane death.

3. They all are fed antibiotics as their daily diet. They have a lot of diseases. Factory-farm-related diseases pose a serious danger to humans. So next time antibiotics don’t work for you, you know why. And swine flu? And bird flu anyone?

4. Vegetarian diets are appropriate for any individuals during all stages of the life cycle, meet and exceed requirements for protein and have a long list of health benefits.

I’m not saying we all have to turn vegetarians, but if we eat meat, we should do so with our eyes open, and not try to ‘forget’ where it came from. ‘Eating Animals’ forms a valid story-based argument toward making informed decisions about what we consume, and taking responsibilities for our choices.

Let me quote Foer because he puts forth the argument so eloquently:

The global implications of the growth of the factory farm, especially given the problems of food-borne illness, antimicrobial resistance, and potential pandemics, are genuinely terrifying. India’s and China’s poultry industries have grown somewhere between 5 and 13 percent annually since the 1980s. If India and China started to eat poultry in the same quantities as Americans (27 to 28 birds annually), they ALONE would consume as many chickens as the entire world does today. If the world followed America’s lead, it would consume over 165 billion chickens annually (even if the world population didn’t increase). And then what? Two hundred billion? Five hundred? Will the cages stack higher or grow smaller or both? On what date will we accept the loss of antibiotics as a tool to prevent human suffering? How many days of the week will our grandchildren be ill? Where does it end? 

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Guilty Pleasures

Comfort food was much needed after a hectic weekend! So I had:

Scampi and Oven-roasted Chunky Chips with Thyme, Chilli Sauce and Steamed Broccoli

and Lemon + Raspberry Sorbet
Bon appetit! 
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Electra: An Eye for Detail

My name is Electra Sinclair. I am a sixteen year old high school student from New Zealand.

My vector artwork is mostly colourful and detailed portraits. I choose to work mostly with images of celebrities or people I like because this helps to keep me interested and motivated in my work. I usually decide to begin a new vector when I feel particularly inspired by a person or thing, or when I see a reference image that appeals to me. Most vectors take me about 6 to 8 hours (on and off) to complete, depending on the level of detail, but if I feel particularly inspired or excited about what I’m working on it can take much less than that. I feel my style is different from other vector artists because of the overlapping shapes and layers I use, as opposed to the more traditional non-overlapping layers. I prefer to work this way because I feel it gives me more freedom in the colours I choose, as well as giving my pieces a distinctive and more painterly look. I enjoy creating art that appears to be realistic, but can also be easily identified as a vector art piece; something that has been created by me.

Adrien Brody
While I don’t intentionally choose specific subjects for my vectors, I am attracted to images that challenge my vectoring skills. This is why I often work with images of eyes; the complexity challenges me to add more detail to my work and have the patience to add this detail, I believe this helps me with every vector I do. I am always learning new things about vector and the way I choose to do things is always expanding.

If I were to choose my favourite aspect of my own artwork I would have to say that I enjoy the most colourful pieces best (not to say I don’t like the black and white ones also). I dislike the mistakes in my artwork, because they seem incredibly obvious to me, however I try to use these to improve my new art, rather than going back to rework old vectors.

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Typographic Portraits

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Steve K.: To the Future!!!*

*by Steve K. 

This has, so far, brought at least two massive smiles to my face: once when I first received Steve's email a couple of weeks ago, and today posting it :) Thanks Steve, you are an amazing illustrator and I adore every single artwork you've done - they are all freaking STUNNING. I'm sure our readers will share my sentiment. Keep up the great work!

Please visit Steve's gallery and/or drop him a line to show your support!!! 

Hai guys, I'm Steve K ~ sometimes known informally around the internet as "Stevepants".

I live in Victoria, Australia and am hoping to be an illustrator/animator. My artist statement is: "Hoping to present bright colours and use either line-less or burly lines; I wish to compliment quickly-generated, expressive and video-game inspired characters; with a strong will to try anything adorable to fill the world with 'awesome'".

I've studied Illustration for 2 years and am now hoping to get into the world of animation to boost my confidence and skills as an artist.

I love flat colour, and I love using bold outlines (if I'm using outlines at all!) and I've made best friends with Adobe Photoshop and his younger sister, Adobe Illustrator :) which are the programs I go to, to create my artwork. However sometimes I call their distant cousin, Paint, if I want to add some nostalgic touches from an old friend.

I've found it takes me a rough 15-minute sketch to plan my pieces, and on average 1-3 hours depending on how extensive the piece is. However, the larger pieces like my Pokémon fan-art with all 151 characters on them, can take a few days, on and off, depending on how badly I want it done.

The reason I do so much fan-art is because it's what I know. I have a bunch of ideas of my own, but as people aren't as interested in them right away, I'll stray until people can stand original pieces from me.

My Kanto'uch This piece, featuring all the original Pokémon - as well as the glitch Pokémon, known as "Missingno" - was purely because I love drawing creatures ~ and I wanted to produce something a little more extensive than my usual single character images. I hope it brings happy to your life. <3

I dream for these pictures to help me get into a career where I can be an animator/illustrator/video-game designer or all of the above.


-Steve K (Stevepants)

I should be ashamed of myself really... but I love Pokémon. Yup, still do! 

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Introducing Pervasion*

*by Pui-Ching Ho

Pui-Ching Ho is in my top 5 favourite friends (if not top 3!) ;), plus I adore him as a composer and a musician; believe me that says a lot. We’ve been friends a long way back, when we both were undergrads – naïve, full of hopes and oh so optimistic. We often hung out, went to gigs, meals, talked about anything and nothing, and listened to music together. Until this day I can’t listen to Damien Rice or Mew or Porcupine Tree and the likes without thinking of him. And missing him, as of the year before last Pui-Ching moved back to Hong Kong to develop his music career. Have I not mentioned? Pui-Ching is brrrrrrrrrrrrrrilliant! I could sit in the dark for hours just listen to his voice and his guitar and he would sing to me his pieces and they were stunningly beautiful. So of course, he’s been thriving in Hong Kong – his popularity is unbelievable. He’s been performing, appeared on TV, interviewed by radio stations, the whole lot! I’m so proud of you, Pui-Ching. Please find below his latest MV called Pervasion. I vividly remember the first time I heard this song and how it struck me as a triumph of both melody and lyric. I hope you all will enjoy it too, and SPREAD THE WORD!!! 

Pervasion is a song I wrote when I was in London and Cambridge. It is now released through my own label White Dimension. As Wong Kar Wai said in In The Mood for Love, feelings come when we are unawared of it. They pervade. But in this modern world we all have been so busy with work and are afraid to disturb each other. Chances slip through our fingers being unnoticed. It is not until we freeze our space and time that we realize we have missed out way too much.

This is one of the 12 songs from my to-be-released concept album Shimmer of Dawn. If you like this song, please do spread the words for me and share it with friends! And please visit our Facebook and Myspace too!
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Perfect Presents

Today I’m happy. I have been happy, of course, but not THIS happy in a while :) The reason is not only that I received the most unexpected and beautiful and thoughtful presents today, as photographed; but also – more importantly - the love I felt from the people around me, that they truly care, and genuinely love me for who I am.

The books on the right are from
Hung Tran, the guy with the most remarkable taste in arts. Thank you; you know how much I love books and reading. 

The loveliest-looking book on your left is from my dearest April. I can’t even begin to express my love for her. She went through all the troubles to collect my art/architecture works (which were scattered literally EVERYWHERE!), and made them into the most beautiful volume. Keep in mind, this girl is so busy with work she can’t even afford time to sleep and eat and rest properly :( And she spent her precious spare minutes to do this for me. Seriously, it moves me deeply. Darling, I love you.

The message printed on the back cover was even more beautiful than the book itself, if that’s even possible. April wrote:

This past year has come with great challenges for both of us. Just like your artworks, some aspects of our lives have been perfect, while others are unfinished. […] Our unfinished works are the next chapters of our lives – they represent potentials and possibilities. 

- which is so true. The rest of the message is too personal to post here, but needless to say, I got very teary ;)

Life offers us so many potentials and possibilities, for instance, my next journey/chapter will be working in London, for a few months at least. Our office in Cambridge has recently been relocated to London, and although it’s going to be so much hassle to commute back and forth every day, it’s a too good opportunity to miss. I love the team I’m working with, the project I’m designing, that I decided to follow it through. Mind you, I shan’t have much time left to sleep, eat, and rest ;) let alone blog or anything else. So forgive me if I can’t write every day, I’ll try my best and keep you all posted as often as the time allows.

Again, I love you all. And I’m most thankful for your love.

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The End..

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Simone Held's take on Surrealism

One thing not a lot of people know about me is that my favourite painters are Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and Salvador Dali, who are – respectively – often associated with: bold, austere, graphic and emotionally raw portraits; surrealism and depiction of people, plants and animals in unusual juxtapositions; striking and bizarre images in surrealist work. To sum up all those descriptions in one word? Weird! In a very very creative way.

My liking of surrealism was probably the reason why I had some immediate emotional responses to Simone Held’s works. They are simple, yet stunning, atmospheric, and suggestive. The lighting, in particular, is so well done it gives Simone’s pieces a sense of drama. Add
Simone's website to your favourites!  

My name is Simone Held and I'm from Germany. Originally, I haven't been professionally involved with art at all: I'm a teacher. I teach English and German to students aged 10-19 and I still like it although it can be a hell of a job sometimes. Art is a good possibility to get rid of all the negative thoughts and vibes... Sadly I can only spend time on my art during the holidays or at the weekends because there's not much time left.

My focus is on photo-manipulation with surreal themes. I sometimes do landscape manipulations too but no matter how "realistic" my works may seem, there's always some surrealism in them as well. 

A Boy and His Best Friend


I often start with a photograph (manipulators call them "stock images") that somehow "affected" me and with a finished concept in mind. I prefer this method as you always know what you're going to do with them. To work the other way round, i.e. starting with a concept, its problem is that you never find stock images that match the concept you've got in mind. You, for most of the times, end up being unsatisfied with the final artwork.

There are no real "themes" that I pursue. I always do what comes to me... I am often asked if there are deeper meanings behind any of my artworks. Sometimes there are, sometimes there are not. Sometimes I just want to convey a certain feeling or mood rather than concept or a message. My dream project would be to do some cover work for a CD or a book that is very successful so that I can say that I was in charge of the artwork ;). 

By the Ceiling

God's Residence
Elton Fernandes is a big inspiration. He's brilliant in concept and skills. Michael Vincent Manolo, my dear friend, is a big source of inspiration too, and I get plenty of inspiration from photographers too.

My best piece of advice...? Perhaps "never give up". For a beginner it's really frustrating because there are so many things that you have to improve, you really don't know where to start and sometimes you just like to throw the towel in and start, "this is it! I'll never get past the beginner's stage anyway!" But it's worth it to go on and improve. 

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Paper-rigging Tutorial

This tutorial is really useful and easy to follow if you want to have some fun making paper children. Grown out of anime/manga culture, paper children first became popular in Japan and Korea. It involves humans interacting with smaller, childlike paper cut-outs to create interesting photo opportunities. Have a look below and you'll understand what I mean :) (or go back to the JYJ cut-outs I did a while ago, it's a type of paper children).

(save to view at full size)

Anyway, thanks to pettyartist, paper-rigging should be much easier from now on! "I made this tutorial after getting a lot of questions about how I make paperchildren. I had already done a how-to-make video tutorial, so I thought a tutorial about rigging would be a good compliment to it. I'm glad to see that it's been very useful to a lot of people", the artist commented. An animation major and senior in college, pettyartist has a gallery worth checking out. 

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Simanion: Let the Work Sing to You!

Sugar High
Back to the artist series, I seriously think that there are so many talented yet understated artists out there who deserve a lot more recognition. That’s one of the reasons why our blog started featuring their works and statements – our way to show some support and spread the words, hopefully a little bit wider and further. One of these days we can proudly say ‘hey, you know that really famous photographer/3D artist/pixel artist/graphic designer/doll-maker/watercolour-painter? We discovered them first, here, at our blog! (well, sort of)’.

Simon, a 22-year-old student from Sydney is definitely one of them. When I first wrote him, guess what he replied me? These lovely words: ‘Thank you very much. I'd love to be on your blog! I checked it out and it's evident that you put a lot of effort and love into your posts, and treat the content with respect - it would be an honour’ – they made me smile for days. Needless to say again Simon, the honour and pleasure are all ours! Now enjoy his awesome artwork:

The Windmilllion Time Bubble
Hey, my name is Simon - artist alias: Simanion - and I'm a 22 year old student from Sydney. I guess I'm a blend of artist, illustrator and designer, depending on how I feel on the day. I'm currently midway through a Masters in Graphic Design, where I've held a particular interest in illustrative typography. Most of my artworks have been created as personal projects and not related to my studies with Graphic Design, but now through typography I've managed to find a way to combine my personal work with my degree.

My illustration work is usually quite stylized, and yeah I guess you could say there's a cartoon-like element in there. You could describe many as psychedelic, surreal, whimsical, organic and expressive, but always with a prominent element of control. They're often detailed and precise, or a combination of those qualities with shades of chaos. I like to use humour and absurdity as well. Pieces range between full blown colour works, black and white and selective colour schemes. Having said all that, they're pretty eclectic. I try to create completely different works each time and really challenge my imagination, but there'll always be a personal style that emerges through.

I almost always work by hand. I'm not good starting out drawing in Photoshop or Illustrator, it's not intuitive for me. Artworks are started without a real plan, and are pretty much just flukes! Experiments that somehow went right. That said, most of my illustrations are drawings - even when they're watercolour paintings, I feel like I'm drawing with paint or exploring textures within a drawing.

Sometimes I'll lightly outline something in pencil, which I will then detail with watercolour or trace more accurately with pen. That's the most planning I do, when I have a specific image I want to get down - or if there are certain stylistic restrictions for example with typography works. But other than that, all my black and white pen works were drawn straight on blank paper without any planning, and often I'll look at a drawing from different angles, turning the paper around and deciding I like the shape better upsidedown. So something that starts as a whale could evolve into a funky bottle and then into an abstract mountain and then a bizarre bird creature (I'm always turning things into birds..), and so what you end up with is a conglomeration of ideas that if done carefully can be completely unique and unexpected but also organic and informed by the process itself. 

Moon - Process
It Was The Moon That Stole My Slumber (finished)
I've grown to love typography in all its forms, and it's definitely gained a lot of mainstream attention in recent years. I still need to do a lot more typography work; I've got heaps to learn. But as for what I've done so far, I generally start by hand, on paper, whether it ends up digital or not. To get a completely hand drawn type piece perfect, it takes a lot more time than if it's done digitally. Once you make a mark, that's it - there's no Ctrl Z, and spacing has to be perfect. Most of my type stuff is a blend of traditional and digital procedures, and it moves from being a drawing/construction to an arrangement or composition. 

B-Sides type doodles
B-Sides & Rarities (finished)
There are some recurring implicit themes: escapism, imagination, the surreal, the absurd, sleep/insomnia. It seems a lot of my work can be seen as being related to sleep, either through depicting dreamlike images or the feelings associated with insomnia. This is probably because I often start a work late at night, and will go for hours and hours. I don't have any great desire to depict the real world. Even if I was painting an ordinary bowl of fruit, it would end up with some sort of twist - like I'd switch the colours around, or put eyes in the fruit. Themes or concepts often come to me while I'm creating the piece. It sounds silly, but often I'll have no idea what it is I'm drawing and there'll be a point where I'll need to stop and look at what I've done to try to figure out what it means/wants to say/wants to be. There's a lot of staring in silence involved. Once that's figured out, I'll spend the time necessary to illustrate it. So the execution is quite controlled and meticulous, but the themes and ideas themselves are pretty fluid and spontaneous.

I guess I like that there's always the attempt to be original, and I try not to ever repeat myself or get creatively complacent. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I don't rush my work or put something out there if I'm not entirely satisfied with it. I like that my work seems to be imbued with a sense of personality through style, even when it's abstract. 

Let There Be Jellyfish
The Food Chain
I often wish I could let go a bit and not be so obsessive about every line being exactly as I want it to be. I'd definitely get more art done. My artwork can look contrived and feel claustrophobic and too contained sometimes. There's little room for human error, which can be beautiful and warm - I can't draw in a naive style well. At the same time I'm not good with realism, and humans are the worst! So my actual skills are very mediocre. I'd like to be able to do non-stylised portraits or landscapes well. I also work almost exclusively on a small scale which I have to break out of - I'd love to be able to do giant paintings the size of a walls, or paint the side of a building.

Honestly, my dream project would be to publish a book of illustrations, possibly in a narrative style like Shaun Tan's "The Arrival" (which is incredible inspiration). Or something large scale like I mentioned - painting a building, or making a huge surreal sculpture and plonking it in the middle of the city.

An art teacher told me I had to let my work sing to me, meaning not to force something in a particular direction but let it inform its own creation. I thought that was great, and now that's what I do every time :)

The artists who inspire me are: Yoko D'holbachie - Japanese pop surrealist who creates wonderful monsters. Her colours are fantastic. Shaun Tan - Chinese/Australian illustrator who blends nostalgic real world imagery with magical and surreal creatures. Really beautiful. And last but not least, Studio Ghibli - not an artist, strictly speaking, but I'm heavily influenced by the attention to detail and imagination in films such as "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Spirited Away".

Thank you Simon.

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A Slice of..

..Architecture of Masking Tape, White Cardboard, and Leaning Walls ;) Don't say I don't work hard! 

If you think the model looks awful, it's the execution - my fault and mine only! Not the idea nor the concept of the building! 

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Late Night Stories*

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Oso Polar: The Story of an Art-Maker


I’ve been making lots of conceptual and sketchy design models for this new project and believe me, making models is REALLY difficult, a lot more than it looks! Struggling for one whole day and I may just get a 5-storey building at a scale of 1:200 done if I’m lucky enough. So imagine my jaw-drops when I saw Oso’s dolls and toys and tiny adorable things ;) While mine are pathetically stuck together with pieces of masking tapes, Oso’s are magically...errr...DONE! I don’t know how they were made, but they were made beautifully, without UHU glue dripped all over. Ugh! Jealous! ;) Anyway, enjoy and see if they’re going to bring back some of your childhood memories.. 

Hello, I’m
Oso Polar, I make dolls and creatures and other stuff. Currently I’m studying Economics at university and this distracts me from the arts very much, so I hope one day doll-making will be my main job.

I started making dolls about 3 years ago and since then I’ve been trying to define my own techniques and using them to define myself. My greatest inspiration is the wild life, I tried to make some girl and boy dolls but soon I realised that animals played a more important role in my works. Animals are cute and I like the way they don’t need to speak to express their emotions. 

Clover Love
Giraffe Double II

I haven’t yet decided what kind of toys I should make for life… I wish I could create something that allow children to play with them, I don’t like static sculptures, because the fun is in playing with the toy, moving its parts, making stories and taking pictures. But on the other hand I wish my works could become real art objects one day. 

My favourite artist is Red Nose Studio, I also like works done by some other contemporary doll-makers, but it’s more like I love two toys produced by this artist and one toy produced by that, and Red Nose is magnificent in everything he does!

I’m still trying to improve my skills and when I gain more experience I hope I’ll be able to make more and better toys! Anyway, in the mean time, anyone interested in adopting a toy please e-mail me at maya.kirill@mail.ru ;) I’d love to hear from you!

Sheepy Sheep

White Deer White Winter

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