Stefan G. Bucher is a graphic designer, illustrator, author, creator of monsters, and pursuer of obsessions. The (sole) creative force behind 344, his clients have included art galleries, film directors, magazines, record companies, Saks Fifth Avenue and the Blue Man Group. If you’ve seen the Yeti themed Saks Christmas windows, you’ve seen Stefan’s work. The Daily Monster is his, too. The cover of The Matrix soundtrack; typography for Mirror, Mirror; Blue Man Theater. All Stefan G. Bucher.
Aside from his amazing and prodigious creative skills, Stefan is an astute observer of culture and a consistently funny writer. He agreed to be interviewed for Beautiful/Decay.
B/D: Thanks for talking with me, Stefan—I’m just going to jump right in. What’s the most interesting thing you’re working on right now?
Stefan Bucher: It’s my pleasure. The most interesting project I’m working on right now is the pitch for an animated show surrounding the Daily Monsters. It’s a long process of uncertain outcome, but it involves a lot of things I love—illustration, working with a brilliant writer and a genius animation producer, thinking about music and character design. It’s great! I’m also working on a solo gallery show for the spring. That’s just a big beast breathing down my neck. I don’t know how much of it will be retrospective and how much will be new work. I just want it to be a fun trip for the audience.
Graphite artist Frank Magnotta creates absurdist Americana-inspired images that are heavily saturated with symbolic elements and a farcical outlook on the modern world. Magnotta’s work is strongly influenced by pop culture and the attributes of branding; he has referenced magazines such as Time and Self in his work, and phrases such as Take Off Your Mask and Century 21 come from brand identities that he was intrigued by. Magnotta recognizes the significance of pop culture on his drawings:
“I think you can tell by my drawings that it is a big influence. I’d have to say it is an inevitable influence on our daily lives whether we like it or not. I think pop culture is a double edged sword, it gives and it takes too. I’m not interested in pure pop, but dirty pop, pop that has been consumed and processed by the individual. I think that is more intriguing.”
Some of his drawings involve structures made of their elements: the rough shape of the United States comprised of detailed words and media logos. Yet he has a lot of crude portraits that, from afar, are recognizable, and up close gain another layer of meaning:
“I had been working on the mega-structures for a bit and wanted to invert the process. What if the logos and graphics made individuals that would inhabit the structures? For each portrait in the series I collected logos from a different societal institutions. So, the “Bank Dick” is constructed from financial logos, and “The Diagnosis” is comprised of morphed medical logos. “The Bank Dick” is also the great title of a W.C. Fields movie. On a personal note, for some reason I think that drawing is the closest thing to a self portrait I’ve done. Maybe it is the bugged out look in his eyes. I’m keeping that one for my personal collection.”
Magnotta was previously featured in Beautiful/Decay’s Book 1: Supernaturalism.
London-based artist Jessica Dance specializes in creating handcrafted models, props, and sets that have a wide-range of commercial appeal clients include Vogue, Vanity Fair, Google, and more). Her work features a lot of conventional, everyday objects reimagined in a delightful, unconventional way. Dance knits food, toothbrushes, and even calculators on her domestic knitting machine, and it’s a playful twist on the real thing.
The knitted pieces are made from wool, and they look like something you’d want to snuggle up with. It’s an odd feeling to want to hug a giant turkey, but that’s the power of fiber arts (or any art, really). We attach associations to materials and sometimes nostalgia prompts us to touch, pet, or squeeze brussel sprouts and meatballs.
Just in time for the holidays, self-proclaimed “painter, illustrator, writer, jeweler, and up-to-no-gooder,” Hannah Rothstein has cooked up a Turkey-day treat. Straightforwardly titled, “How Famous Artists Would Plate Thanksgiving Meals,” this series of photographs portrays plates of tried-and-true Thanksgiving staples reimagined as if they were created by celebrated figures in modern art history.
Based in San Francisco, Hannah “focuses on finding clever and humorous ways to look at ordinary objects and ideas.” Whether simply rearranging the food or drastically fracturing the plates, the works comprising her “Thanksgiving Special” represent her playful, experimental approach.
In true Piet Mondrian fashion, Hannah has divided her rations into a geometric grid. To evoke the work of Pablo Picasso, her meal is fragmented and rearranged into an unrecognizable form. In homage to Georges Seurat, she has turned her peas and potatoes into a pointillist picture, while plopped morsels and splattered cranberry sauce mimic Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings.
With aesthetic allusions to myriad other artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, René Magritte, Mark Rothko, Julian Schnabel, Andy Warhol, and Cindy Sherman, there will certainly be no scarcity of art at the table this year.
Designer Mandy Roos injects psychedelic playfulness into her series, “Invasion of the Foot Carrier.” Calling upon the specters of miniature foam spaceships, Shatneresque choreography, and gold lamé, Roos’s conceptual line of footwear is a Technicolor tumble into the days of past future.
In some of her designs, Roos plays with gelatinous gloop and gel; in others, she draws inspiration of extraterrestrial explorers and their iconic caterpillar treads. Though the whole collection could be described as whimsical, there’s also a sense of optimism: Roos describes the project as “an inspirational vision meant for the footwear industry.” Her designs are imbued the kind of lighthearted curiosity that defined the years when people still thought the World of Tomorrow was a light on the horizon.
With names like “Aurora Glow,” “Stargazer,” and “Moon Crawler,” Roos embraces the neon cheesiness of retro sci-fi glory. Her designs might not be realistic, but they’re not meant to be. And after so many dystopian futures, both imagined and predicted, it’s refreshing to see such bold cheerfulness. (via Flavorwire)
Max Gärtner is a man with seriously good cutting skills. And an amazing talent for line work. He draws the heads of bears, tigers, birds, wolves and humans with an incredible intricacy. The Berlin based illustrator transforms hundreds of pencil-drawn lines into interwoven, floating stencils and then pins the result onto backing boards. Drawing inspiration from the original masters of line work – Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, Gärtner is concentrated on rendering elegant forms from flat lines.
Currently showing an exhibition at BC Gallery in Berlin titled “No Lie In Fire“, Gärtner pays tribute to animals that have either metaphorical or subliminal importance to him. Trying to close the gap between the ‘supernatural’ and ‘natural’ world, the artist embarks on journeys through the woods and takes note of different animal forms that influence him while there. He says:
There are encounters in life, which are accompanied by an incredible force and which, once experienced, leave you convinced of their significance as messages from a higher universal power. [No Lie In Fire] is an exhibition of portraits of some of the creatures I have encountered and who have influenced the course of my life on a fundamental level. I do not know how else to describe it, other than encounters with extremely old souls, which I would like to identity here, free from any religious connotations, as gods. (Source)
Because of his obsession with, and respect for the natural world, Gärtner has garnered himself a reputation as ‘an explorer among artists’. He is continually interested in the role that the creatures around us play, and how they influence us. To him, reality and dreams are one and the same. His exhibition runs from Nov 14 – Dec 27. Watch the trailer for the show after the jump.
Photographer Todd Davis doesn’t just take snapshots of gas and fluids, he creates beautiful, ever-interesting abstract images that are impressive and captivating. In his Viscosity Series, he presents different forms of smoke in hundreds of variations – as a colored lump, twisting and turning in on itself, or as a light and airy wisp, silently falling down and fading into the background. Reminiscent of lava lamps, or science experiments when you test different chemicals out against one another, Davis’ work is a gorgeous juxtaposition between weightlessness and form. The smoke exists on the boundary of disappearing or falling apart. Here’s an excerpt from his representative gallery:
The Viscosity Series is a photographic study of the fleeting, random shapes created when two or more dissimilar fluids are introduced. The series is called Viscosity because fluids of different densities permit a moment of suspension before they disseminate in the other giving one the appearance of being more viscous. (Source)
In true abstract fashion, his photos take on many different ideas and images. They can look like paint thrown at a wall and left to coagulate into gooey lumps, or some strange marshmallow cake that’s spilled over the edges of it’s dish, or like a blob of inks and dyes dumped into a glass of water.
Davis not only is able to flatter inanimate subjects (including beverages and tabletop set ups), he also takes beautiful portraiture photography, showing off his skill with intricate lighting configurations.