Black and white line illustrations, no written instructions, umlauts scattered like rose petals, that smiley cartoon guy—this certainly looks familiar. Illustrator Ed Harrington has subverted the ubiquitous directions sheet for his “Ikea Instruction” series. In Harrington’s world, it’s not streamlined Swedish furniture that’s being assembled, but monsters, killers, and Edward Scissorhands.
The clever illustrations make use of all of Ikea’s standard elements: the illustrated pieces, the bold sans-serif font, the crossed-out warning images. The Vörhees requires a simple assembly of one very large knife, one hockey mask, and one Allen wrench, whereas the Edvard needs 14 units of two different types of scissors, a heart, and hand removal. So far the DIY instruction sheets include Brundlefly from The Fly, a Human Centipede, Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th, Edward Scissorhands and Pinhead, the Cenobite leader from Hellraiser.
Merging two incredibly popular, and incredibly different, pop culture genres makes this series work. Who could be next in the flat pack? Perhaps a small striped shirt, overalls, and an axe. Who wants to build Chücky?
Roland Topor (1938–1997) was a French illustrator, painter, writer, filmmaker, actor and whatnot mostly known for his macabre and surreal cartoons. His illustrated book “Les Masochistes” was first published in 1960 and features a number of absurdly humorous masochistic actions that people perform on themselves.
The grotesque situations depicted in “Les Masochistes” perfectly convey Topor’s artistic style and approach towards the world. He infuses the grim reality of Nazi dictatorship (Topor and his family were Polish refugees of Jewish origin) with humor which was probably the best coping mechanism at that time. As described by Bernard Vehmeyer, a quote from Topor’s novel “The Tenant” perfectly sums up his world view:
He was perfectly conscious of the absurdity of his behavior, but he was incapable of changing it. This absurdity was an essential part of him. It was probably the most basic element of his personality.
Most often, Topor’s illustrations were based on surreal scenarios with deeper allusions to sex, erotica, rotting mankind and such. According to closer friends, artist had repetitive periods of extreme depression where he would balance on the verge of death and it reflects in his work.
Nate Turbow‘s drawings are released every few days via his blog and Tumblr. Each “cartoon joke” feels raw, off-the-cuff and honest. The blog format works well for the quick, one-off style of each cartoon as the post titles often act as captions.
The resulting collection is an acute sense of bumming through life — being both painfully aware one’s mediocrity and simultaneously not giving a shit.
NSFW if cartoon boobs are forbidden in your place of work.
Eric Sall‘s paintings wild little worlds. Their use of graphic lines and bold colors invites you in with the fleeting impression of cartoon familiarity, but the second you come get into them you’re taken on a whirlwind tour of psychedelic movement and color. Sall’s paintings are a perfect mix of unreal, drug-induced, semi-spiritual visions with just enough familiar shapes and lines to keep you looking for something you know is there, like an epiphanic episode where you can’t quite put your finger on exactly what this life changing realization is that just came to you. As you’ll see after the jump, his installation style reminds me a lot of how Ed Templeton hangs his photography, but more so. If you have time, you should take the next fifteen minutes to really get lost in these.
Stephen Mattheu Booth knows how to make a character worth remembering. I can’t say exactly what it is I enjoy about his characters, but they all just seem like they would be awesome to hang around with, and even his abstractions retain this figurative charm. I’ve always had an appreciation for this manner of art in which one can imagine the artist making these awesome drawings on a couch, or in bed, or at a bar, all without having to go to a studio and worshiping an easel, or using some computer tool to clean up his lines. It just feels right. And fortunately, he doesn’t draw fan artish mutated forms of Spongebob or Mickey Mouse, but instead, his work seems to sprout (growth being important here) from characters like Slimer, Donald Duck, Pluto, and other childhood favorites. How could you look at that #$!@*☁ duck and not smile?
Iron Grey Mammoth AKA Jairus Tonel presents some great mixed media work that combines cartoon icons from way back with current events. In the work above, Tonel is transforming the traditional republican elephant into “dumbo” a timeless disney character. This collision of conceptual and physical materials works together with current events to create something very relevant, thought-provoking, and comical.