Friday, May 29, 2009

Matchbox scrapbook #2-3

Japan, part deux! These are some of the more 'wilder' designs of the Japanese matchbox collection. This is the sixth matchbox cover post.

My favorite cover is the one with the kangaroo above. When I practiced illustration on a regular basis I had to make studies of a kangaroo for a character assignment. I never drew a kangaroo before and when I started sketching I noticed what a peculiar looking animal it actually is. If you alter the head too much it quickly looks like a dog or a rodent. The latter might just have happened to this matchbox cover with the three little kangaroo's in the mother's pouch; they all have rabbit like faces.
I love this illustration for its appealing colours and the nice 'blobby' shapes. And I think those (barely noticeable) question marks above the baby kanga heads are quite funny. (And their summary facial expressions too!)

The 'barber' covers are also great. Their simple imagery reminds me a little of those African barber signs. The poulterer cover below that looks a bit odd composition and illustration wise but my eyes are always lured to it. Perhaps its weirdness is what makes it interesting to me.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Matchbox scrapbook #2-2

This is the fifth post about my collection of matchbook covers. It's time for a breather. Pour yourself a nice cup of Jasmin tea; we'll go to the Japanese pages.

Normally I'm not a 'less is more' kind of girl. I prefer my design with frills and details. You could say I'm the 'less is a bore' type. Nevertheless I liked the collection that featured the zen styled covers from Japan. They stood out because of their close to boring kind of emptiness. The designers left plenty of room for the typography and calligraphy to be just be text and let it stand undisturbed on an almost empty stage. A flower in the right corner or a silhouette of mount Fuji might decorate the background but that's mostly it.
It's not all whispering in matchbox cover Japan though. I will show some of the more 'louder' designs of the Japanese collection in my next matchbox post.

The Japanese pages hold lot's of these 'wallpaper' covers. One or two Japanese characters on an origami like background.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Recently I hit Google in search of USSR graphics and other propaganda styled design to use as inspiration for a logo I'm creating. I harvested some nice examples online and also stumbled upon an image of a Russian children's book with an illustration of a brown, jolly faced bear with Olympic accessories. I was intrigued and searched the web for more material. The Olympic reference wasn't just for show; this was Misha, the mascot of the Moscow Olympic Summer Games in 1980. I was six at the time and more interested in pony's and Lego and building tree houses than watching sports so I missed out on this particular character.

The character Misha was a creation of the Russian illustrator Victor Chizhikov (1935). Mr. Chizhikov's design was chosen as the winner at a 'Best Illustration of a Bear' contest and it was presented as the official Olympic mascot in 1977. Misha became the first mascot of a sporting event and was a huge commercial success as a merchandise product. The bear had a leading role during the Games, appeared in different shapes and sizes and also had its own cartoon on television. All of which is quite common with (sport) event characters today.
On YouTube there are several clips and compilations of the 1980 Moscow Games. Here's one of the closing ceremony of a giant inflatable Misha floating out of the stadium and this is a clip of the opening ceremony with dancing Misha's and some board flipping routine done by part of the audience (a visual display that was traditional during mass communist rallies).

You might expect Misha to be dynamically shaped or with the looks of an athlete -after all it's a sporting event character- he's none of that: short legged, long upper body, a little junk in the trunk, slightly beer belly-ish.
He's still very much a bear. I think he's a cool looking cub.

Sources: Wikipedia, Vi.Sualize, BBC, Alex Che

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Matchbox scrapbook #2-1

This is the forth matchbox cover post. I'll be showing some magnificent designs from my second book that holds jewels from China, Japan and India and some gems from The Netherlands' neighbours Germany and Belgium.

I'd like to kick off with a serie from Macau and Hong Kong. Behold the covers from scrapbook two, part one:

Lot's of the Chinese designs also have Portuguese texts on them. Macau was the first and last European colony in China. In the early 16th century Portuguese traders settled down the peninsula and subsequently administered the region until the handover in 1999.

I love this cover above for its great perspective effect.

Monday, May 4, 2009

La Pomme De Terre Possédé

This is one of my latest paintings. I recently wrote a post about that great vodou exhibition which inspired me to make this mixed media work about a bewitched potato that takes matters in its own uh... tentacles. I painted it on a (vintage) wooden plateau and embellished it with a gold leaf border. That's how enchanted potatoes roll, you know. It is called 'La Pomme De Terre Possédé' and it's part of the group show 'Lush Life' at Seattle's Roq La Rue gallery.
The show opens Friday May 8 and Roq's first lady Kirsten managed to put together a fabulous lineup with works by Joe Sorren, Chris Conn, Travis Louie, Ryan Heshka, John Brophy, Brian Despain, Glenn Barr and many others. Man, I wish I could be there! Keep an eye on the Roq la Rue website for a preview or go see the show at Seattle's finest in person.

Update: the preview is online. Click click click!