Mark Hunter Brown is a truly dynamic individual. I have known Brown for the better part of a decade, and I am relatively positive that I will never meet another person quite like him. With each day functioning more like the next chapter in a bizarre novel, his zest for life is infectious. Luckily, Brown is also an amazing artist, and has managed to document his interests and experiences through countless drawings and paintings. Though he gains inspiration from his travels, the work is not limited to the places and people he has actually interacted with. Brown is also heavily influenced by the written historical accounts of different cultures and people, but the work is not about visually representing his source material. Instead, he chooses to focus on the importance of the moments recorded history has chosen to ignore. There is this dead zone in between the great scenes of history that also warrants consideration, and Brown is keenly aware of this. When asked why he is drawn to this type of situation Brown replied, “because life doesn’t look like a Delacroix painting – it’s just people walking around and eating sandwiches. These moments seem more real to me…they’re equally compelling.”
While these scenes are not infrequent in his work, Brown’s practice is not limited to this type of subject matter. There is far less literal material in Brown’s oeuvre, and his vivid imagination becomes readily apparent when looking at paintings of huge figurative fortresses or anthropomorphized coo-coo clocks snorting bones off of a table. When viewed in context these paintings start to function as some sort of bizarre allegory, but their meaning is never explicitly stated. There is such a rich diversity in the distinctive worlds that Brown creates, and no piece is less detailed than the last. Whether he is teaching at Columbia, backpacking through Morocco, or boar hunting with monks in the Italian countryside – the need to process the world into visually compelling images has remained consistent within Brown’s life. Lucky for us, his mind seems to function like an endless supply of Google image search results that I have no desire to stop looking at any time soon.
Chad Kouri always dreamed of being a designer, and he took the first major step towards making that dream a reality with a freelance gig at the age of sixteen. Ten years later, he has become what some refer to as a cultural engineer. A founding member of the Chicago-based art and design incubator, The Post Family, previous Art Director of Proximity Magazine and recognition as one of Chicago’s Newcity Breakout Artists of 2010 are only a few of his numerous accomplishments. Kouri has been involved with more than thirty different projects over the last two years, and shows no signs of slowing down. For many, there is still a huge chasm between the worlds of design and fine arts, but this distinction is of no interest to Chad Kouri. Un-phased, he continues to breakdown the walls attempting to separate the two industries. A recent collaboration with artists Stephen Eichhorn and Cody Hudson at the Patty and Rusty Rueff Gallery marks his first foray into exhibiting at an institutional level, but with an upcoming solo show at the Rochester Museum of Fine Art slated for the winter of 2012 it will obviously not be his last. Kouri describes his practice as having, “equal interests in conceptual art, consumer culture, typography, design, jazz and the gray areas between these fields, my body of work is more a collection of various ongoing projects, thoughts and experiments tied together by a strong sense of composition, concise documentation and an overall vibe of optimism than a seamless display of a style or genre.” I am excited to watch this process evolve, and I wish him good luck for the future – but somehow I don’t think he’ll need it.
What sets Adam Roth apart from other illustrators is that you can actually go beyond the initial surface-level awesomeness of his pieces. For example, the burger warrior above is rad as hell, right? However, it’s not just that. It’s also got Adam’s pain, joy, and personal nature infused into it, making it more of a fine artwork then just a cartoon rendering of a cheeseburger gladiator. To most of us, action figures were toys we played with as children just for fun. Yet, to Adam Roth, they mean so much more, as you’ll find out in the interview below. They’re his muses. They’re his models. And they’re part of the reason Adam is one of the most unique artists I’ve come across in Los Angeles. So, in order to give you a full spectrum of his world, I’ve carefully curated the following images so you’re not just seeing Adam’s paintings, but you’re also getting a glimpse at the toys in his collection that inspire many of his works. Adam will be featured in the upcoming exhibit VOID: In the Nether Regions, which opens on April 12th  at Homeroom Gallery in Los Angeles.
Aidan Koch, a comics writer and illustrator who’s previously been featured on Beautiful/Decay, has started a new blog entitled Field Studies to help fund an extended period of traveling. Koch, who hails from Portland, Oregon, is drawing intriguing sights she encounters during her travels – often depicting local flora, or a recurring pup named Edie – and selling each original piece for $20 through PayPal. The payments go back into Koch’s travels, thus generating even more field studies.
The studies themselves manage to come off as both timeless observations and, with the focus on plants, for instance, articulations of the zeitgeist. They are austere without being restrained and composed without being constrained. Most usefully, they serve as visual inlets to her larger body of artwork. For those not already familiar with Koch’s comics and styles of drawing, a good place to start is her comic book The Whale published by Gaze Books.
As part of her season of traveling, Koch will be the artist-in-residence at Skylab Gallery in Columbus, Ohio, during the month of June. As there is a lot of America in-between Portland and Columbus, I suggest checking out Koch’s drawings that are after the jump, then finding one that suits your daily décor needs on her site.
Evan Meister‘s drawings have a certain Old New Yorkfeel to them- a dark past (or future) referenced through shrewd hieroglyphs. I always find myself trying to read his work like a comic strip in an unknown language- where the punchline is Evan’s perfect balance of technical skill and engaging originality.
Manchester illustrator Kris Tate’s work is bold, vibrant and full of life. Her work mixes digital and hand drawn elements in neon colors that pop. Her influences range from 60′ and 80’s vintage culture and music to Scandinavian knitwear. Her work is fresh, edgy and very relevant for today’s hipster cultures. I for one am loving the sweater dressed animals and their bright pop environments.
Aldis Ozolins is a maker of zines, posters, and experimental illustrations that represent memories from the place he was born: Riga, Latvia. While Aldis’ current professional direction and focus is on graphic design and interactive experiences (both of which he is damn good at), we chose to feature his illustrative work and side-projects due to the strong emotional qualities embedded so clearly within each of the pieces. It’s easy to get lost in the figures and environments his images bring to life… enjoy a selection after the jump.
Emma Löfström is a Swedish illustrator and artist whose work is eerie, narrative and has an otherworldly depth. Each of her pieces has this air of mystery behind it with subjects ranging from nature to magic to surrealistic creatures. Some of her works seem like a storybook which I for one would be enamored to get my hands on.