Designer and illustrator Allen Crawford has just released a beautifully illustrated and hand-lettered book version of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” an iconic poem included in the collection, Leaves of Grass. Inspired by his friend Matt Kish who illustrated each page of Moby Dick, Crawford completed this project over the course of 1 year in his basement. Crawford didn’t plan his illustrations for the poem he calls “an expression of primal joy”; he improvised each one by letting Whitman’s own words speak through him to create a tangible, visceral, and immediate visual interpretation of Whitman’s classic poem in keeping with the author’s sensibility. From Philadelphia, where Whitman spent his last decades, Crawford is intimately familiar with the settings and places Whitman describes in his work – this connection partly fuels Crawford’s affinity for the author’s writing. Because of Leaves of Grass’ status as a sacred American text that is inspired by Biblical verse, Crawford feels that a transcription of “Song of Myself” through illustrations and hand-lettering is fitting.
In his book’s introduction, Crawford writes, “I try to treat the poem as almost a landscape, in the sense that I’m exploring this unknown territory and I’m taking field notes from the mind of Whitman. He treats ‘Song of Myself’ as this broad, epic sweeping poem where he’s trying to include everything about American life he’s experienced. So it is a kind of landscape, a kind of world. It is a kind of continent in itself. And as you’re travelling through it, you have different impressions, your style will change, the type will change, sometimes the type will take the fore and you’ll get a very pictorial sort of a interpretation, or a symbolic one. Sometimes the image doesn’t necessarily jive, and isn’t depicting something that’s actually in the poem. I’m trying to provide a parallel narrative to Whitman’s in visual form.”
Max Siedentopf is a car transformer. He pimps cars which, in his opinion need an upgrade. He sneaks up at dawn in the streets of Amsterdam and with a couple of euros tapes cardboards onto the cars. The add-ons recreate the design of race cars, low budget style.
It’s all thought through. All the major components, rear wings, side pods and front wings, help imitate a fancy expensive supercar. Max Siedentopf cannot get his head around the fact that in a world where personalization and self-expression is craved and sought after, cars are still so poor looking.
Car owners are usually like pet owners, proud and close to the subject they affectionate and take care of daily. They usually end up looking alike. Would this mean ugly looking cars have ugly looking owners? Thanks to Max Siedentopf, and if the owners keep their upgrade on, this will never be brought up anymore.
I’ve known El Kamino for more than 15 years having shared many memories of painting graffiti during our youth. He’s a hard character to pin down as he rarely makes public appearances and prefers lurking in the shadows than using technology to promote his work. That’s why I was blown away when he made this very rare appearance on camera to discuss his work and his process. Enjoy!
As part of our ongoing partnership with Feature Shoot, Beautiful/Decay is sharing Amanda Gorence’s article on Christine Chin.
New York-based artist Christine Chin often explores contemporary issues of technology and the environment. She received an MA in Visual Art from Purdue University and an MFA in Photography from the University of New Mexico.
“Sentient Kitchen examines the convergence between technology and biology. As the machines that assist our lives become smarter and more architecturally complex, they borrow increasingly from the biological realm. Sentient Kitchen takes inspiration from some of nature’s most ingenious engineering. What better way to dispense salt than through an organ that is highly developed to taste, and why not take advantage of the mammary gland’s unique relationship to milk? While it is the nature of the human ego to cast suspicion on a challenge to human intellect,Sentient Kitchen products offer a non-threatening environment to explore the benefits of smarter, more sensitive solutions to our daily dining needs.”
Here at Beautiful/Decay, we receive lots of fun stuff in the mail. Yesterday we got a package of Hello Kitty Jelly Beans made by Jelly Belly! For some time, Hello Kitty as been the subject to much speculation. I mean Hello Kitty stands for nothing, but people adore it because it’s cute (and thanks to hundreds of famous icons and the media for embracing it). Hello Kitty is a full phenomenon that starts with it’s simplicity of design. Yuko Shimizu’s design has a mouth-less face that people can use to project their feelings to define Hello Kitty’s character. This depicts entirely different feelings for each consumer. It’s a win, win. So who wouldn’t want to collaborate with that cute little kitty?
Athens, Greece-based artist HOPE is well-known for his use of large-format collaged pieces, both in the streets and in the gallery. Taking the ruins of the classical sculptures of his homeland, HOPE returns these images to decaying buildings, using large stickers applied outdoors. Though he found his fame in the streets of Athens, the mixed-media artist has been transitioning towards exhibiting his works more indoors, both in decrepit public spaces and in white-walled galleries. Describing his style of using and remixing classical and recognizable sculpture, HOPE says, “My works are marked by mythology. They are sculptural images inspired from the past with a new aesthetic rule.”
HOPE continues, “What interests me about street art and public art, in general, is that it can exist as a forum/platform for dialogue. We live and think within the public space. When you place an artwork in the public domain, you’re interacting with the public. This makes you think about the public order. You’re given the opportunity to express your opinion politically and sociologically through a work, the longevity of which is determined according to the public opinion… But the main reason I got involved in street art was the feeling that I was creating an anti-monument, a new kind of creative model which escapes private places. Sometimes, when public art is effective, it can even change the world.” (via artnau and yatzer)
Dan Attoe makes paintings that slip right pass the guard at our front door and walk into the whirling, clicking abacus of our deep thoughts, that engine room that is us but is also a kind of insect intelligence that lives at top of our spine. Attoe’s world reminds me of old Raymond Carver writing about blind drunks, or the uneasy charisma of David Lynch’s lady in the radiator and her seductive song. These art works feel real and unreal, drawn from experience in part, but reconstituted by an artist who understands how to tap into something psychological that us makes reflect on our own experience.
"MSCE 1/07/09: i printed out a screen grab of the tool bar and asked my wife to hold it against the screen. "
…is the name of illustrator/design (and creative director at Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis) Brock Davis’ project where he makes something every day. The way he approaches the daunting task of having to physically create a new object every day amazes me- his ideas are so fresh! I really feel like I will never look at the objects in the same way again! Smart design that’s hard to come by these days…