Pennsylvania-based Charles Huettner is a 2D animator who crafts symbiotic relationships between doughy eyed pudges, shapely humanoids, and anything with a blank stare and bulbous limbs. His animations employ seamless transformations and an athletic flow that quickly cuts and softly glides at all the right moments. The blankness and mushiness of the figures make them capable of anything, making them perfect vessels for experimentation with form and motion.
His 2013 short entitled The Jump, is a beautiful glimpse at a spirit world where two teenagers dabble in visionary experimentation with suddenly tragic results. With a sophisticated Akira-esque score, we watch as these teens’ innocent curiosity leads to a dark tragedy, all the while a red ghost stares empty and indifferent. The Jump was a standout in “Ghost Stories”, a recent release from Late Night Work Club. Along with many other animators he contributes to the Late Night Work Club, “a loose, rotating collective of indie animators”, which has been shown to put out some of the most impressive shorts in the online animation community.
David Skazaly is a Hungarian/German graphic designer who has been creating hypnotic, mind-warping GIFs since 2008. Working under the name Davidope, Skazaly’s psychedelic GIFs and warped images have set the standard for animated GIFs across the internet. Even if you haven’t heard his name before (or his online pseudonym, Davidope), you probably recognize some of Skazaly’s technicolor, organic forms, pulsing in infinite loops, whether on art blogs or the annals of Tumblr. Skazaly’s animations are strangely hypnotic and entrancing, pushing a format that is now primarily used for cat memes and celebrity reactions into successful, technically adept artistic territory.
Skazaly got his start experimenting with animation program Macromedia Flash in the 90s before focusing on his own motion graphics. Looking at his Tumblr now, it’s clear Skazaly has mastered the art form of creating technically perfect GIFs, from trippy, twisting shapes to black and white worms perpetually moving forward. Skazaly’s mind-bending GIFs are dizzying, satisfying works of art, elevating a now common internet trend to a mesmerizing new level.
World-renowned art superstar Takashi Murakami (and his production company Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd.) has always dabbled in fine art mediums with a large splash of commercial elements, but his latest venture is taking on the largest popular medium of them all. Jellyfish Eyes is the artist’s first foray into live-action, full-length films, and from the looks of the incredible trailer, it will have all of the elements of Murakami’s “superflat” mix of high and low culture.
“Jellyfish Eyes tells the story of Masashi, a young boy who moves to a sleepy town in the Japanese countryside with his mother in the wake of a natural disaster. After returning home from his new elementary school one day, Masashi discovers a flying jellyfish-like creature whom he befriends and names Kurage-bo. Masashi soon discovers that all his classmates have similarly magical pets, known as F.R.I.E.N.D.s, which are controlled by electronic devices that the children use to battle one another. Despite their playful appearances, however, these F.R.I.E.N.D.s turn out to be part of a sinister plot that will threaten the entire town.”
Eiko Ojala(whose cut-paper illustrations were previously featured here) crafts quietly-detailed work which straddles the lines of art, design and commercial illustration. Beginning with hand-made illustrations, Ojala then combines physically cut, layered paper and occasionally digital to continue reducing the images until they are clear, concise and minimally fantastic. Subtlety seems to be the strongest method of delivery for the Tallin, Estonia-based illustrator and graphic designer, who describes himself as one who ” likes to study the forms of shapes, and to work closely with light and shadow. He likes to keep his illustrations minimal and well-advised.”
This most recent blue series was created for Intel as an effort to show the insides of anything, and seems a perfect match for the illustrator’s deceptively simple trademark style. Ojala has been increasingly recognized for his commercial efforts, having been been nominated in 2013 for a Young IIllustrators Award at www.illustrative.de, a YCN professional Award and ADC Young Gun. (via hi-fructose)
Artist Saint Hoax’s series War Drags You Out imagines prominent world leaders dressed as drag queens. The digital illustrations depict the likes of Obama, George W. Bush, Vladamir Putin, and even Osama Bin Laden getting dolled up. Animated GIFs show the primping process, which includes drawing on eyebrows, contouring the face, and adding fabulous accessories. And of course, like any good drag queen, they have stage names, too, like Putin’s “Vladdy Pushin,” and Bin Laden’s sassy moniker, “Ossie B.” The idea for this work came from Saint Hoax’s first visit to a drag show. They explain:
…I was struck by the richness of this glamour oriented culture.
I took a minute to actually look at the faux queens and deconstruct their main components.
The recipe for an iconic queen:
1- Flamboyant name
2- Fierce persona
3- Defining outfits
4- Personalized hairdo
5- A trademark feature
6- One hell of a PR team
I then realized that it takes that same exact effort to make a leader.
A rush of images containing Hitler’s mustache, Bin laden’s headgear, Obama’s campaigns, Saddam’s narcism crossed through my mind. It got me thinking that behind every “great” man, there’s a queen.
While Saint Hoax’s unique project is over the top, it’s had some serious consequences for the anonymous artist. Before the Osama Bin Laden painting (first in the series), was to be shown, they released a Youtube video announcing where the work would be displayed. Because of the video, Saint Hoax received over 70 death threats, and the painting was destroyed at the airport while in transit to its location. (Via Huffington Post)
Georgia Theologou (or Georgia Th as she is also known) is a self-taught Greek artist who paints hauntingly beautiful portraiture. Created by combining traditional and digital media, Theologou’s intentionally limited palate and trademark visual rendering gives both a soft lushness and a harsh reality to her subjects, like mascara tear trails being transformed into softly dabbed paint glitter. In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay (and with the help of Google Translate), Theologou explains what inspires her symbolic subjects,
“Creating something is a way to express the feelings that are inside me that I maybe didn’t even know about before. It’s a way to explore myself and what I have on my mind, so when I am making my work I feel like I find something new about me and about how I see things that I did not even realize was present.”
Theologou’s internalized subjects are taken from many sources of art research and random bits of internet ephemera, and blended with other imagery that gives each portrait an allegorical depth and visual tension. Noting themes of nature ranging from human and animal, the stars and the cosmos in many of her colorful works, Georgia explains these combinations, saying
“I don’t paint people but the existence of a person. The subject of my paintings is the feelings of this existence or the situation they experience that moment. All of the objects I use in my paintings are random, but this helps me to create the right place and mood, so I choose objects that are common on fairy-tales and dreams. Nature and space are also places with the same strong sense of vitality, so the person can feel closer to his/her inner world. My paintings are not about a story or a specific idea or symbol, I think about painting “that” moment.”
Move Mountain is the latest stop-motion animation by Kirsten Lepore, a Los Angeles based director and animator. We’ve featured films by her before, and Lepore’s newest work does not disappoint. She describes the short film as “A girl journeys through a vibrant, pulsing, macrocosmic landscape, but a precipitous incident compels her to venture up a mountain in an attempt to save herself.” The story itself is a surreal tale, and at one point oscillates between dreams and reality. It also shows us that at any given time, we are at the mercy of our environment.
The film is Lepore’s Master’s thesis from California Institute of the Arts and took her two and half years to produce. The use of handcrafted characters and fully modeled sets is really impressive. With the current trend being slick-looking techniques, it’s nice to see evidence of the hand in this film. (Watch the behind the scenes video after the jump.)
In addition to Lepore’s own character designs, she’s enlisted the help of animator friends, including the likes of Julia Pott, Lizzy Klein, Ethan Clarke, and more. They make one of my favorite scenes in the film, which is an unexpected but welcome surprise.
The work of Dillon Boy (né James Dillon Wright) emerged from a street art and graffiti background, combining pop culture, branding, advertising, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to take these sources further than they were intended. This evolution (or devolution) is evident in his series DIRTYLAND, where the artist takes the ever-popular childhood icons of Disney’s princesses and removes their context, and clothes.
In works which collage smut magazine backgrounds with spraypaint stencils, drips and graffiti scrawls, these princesses become transformed representations of our combined high and lowbrow society, and take aim at the falsely marketed ideas of perfection and innocence. In an exclusive talk with Beautiful/Decay, Dillon talks about the series. “Most of my audience were kids when these princesses ruled their world, so now that they are all adults (and sexually active) they are all ready to hang paintings of naked Disney chicks all over the house. [laughs]. No for real though, I believe it’s my job as an artist to question the very things around me and to continuously break down the traditional and more conventional ways of making art. It is my intention to raise or lower your eyebrows in one way or another.”
This reappropriation of pop culture icons is nothing new, but seems to be happening at a rapidly increasing pace (Beautiful/Decay has recently featured several such reimaginings of pop culture symbols), indicating that artists are remaining relevant to many audiences by constantly questioning what we collectively see daily. Dillon Boy (surprisingly?) notes that he has not seen much in the way of criticism of his DIRTYLAND series, and that is his job as an artist to take things one step further. “Well, one thing is for sure, we live in a sexually charged culture. Walk outside and you will quickly find a billboard or an ad in a publication showcasing a woman as a sex object. Sex sells remember. I simply used the pure, untainted characters of Walt Disney to convey that message. But that’s obvious, I’m not doing anything that hasn’t been done before… but I’m ready to do it again!”