Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hellzapoppin'

I listen to all kinds of music ranging from alternative, indie, rock, British (post punk) bands, (freak) folk, singer/songwriter and film music and I also like jazz, big band jazz mostly. The up tempo kind, the show tune kind, the 'shabam!' kind. There was a time I also took Lindy Hop lessons (Savoy style) because I wanted to learn to dance to Big Band music, to learn swing dancing. I gave it up after two seasons but I still very much like Lindy Hop. Today I watched this great scene again from Hellzapoppin', a 1941 film adaptation from a 1938 musical that is well known to Lindy hoppers because of the film's magnificent energetic dance scenes. (And here's another clip on The Whitey Lindy Hopper's, the same performance group from Hellzapoppin', with Frankie Manning, the Lindy Hop legend). Put on your dancin' shoes paps!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Matchbox scrapbook #1-1

Years ago, when I was a student, I found seven scrapbooks with matchbox covers on a flea market. Page after page was filled with jaw dropping designs on all kinds of themes from all over the world. I felt like I found gold! I had little money in me student wallet and was able to afford one book. I was trying to make up my mind which book to pick until I noticed that the matchbox collector made a precise (handwritten) list of the content of each page, in each book -as can be seen on the photo above. I realized that if I bought just one book I would rip his project apart and that would be matchbox collection sacrilege. Also, buying a book about matchbox cover designs in a shop would probably cost more than these seven books together. So I jumped on my bike, took cash from my saving account and bought the whole set.

The size of canvas the matchbox designers and illustrators had to work with is tiny (1.3 x 1.9" / 3,5 x 5 cm) but still most of the art have a great visual impact and therefore almost have a poster quality. The books are high on my list of 'most inspirational books on my bookshelves'. These following weeks I'll post the best of the best/weirdest/prettiest/etc. on the blog.
Below; some covers from scrapbook one, part one.

Is it just me or is her arm out of proportion, i.e. too long? But other than that I very much like the round shapes in the typography and the girl's hair and face of this Belgian cigarette brand Belga. (Link to a nice website -in Dutch only- on 50's (cigarette) design here).

Characters galore! You'll be seeing a lot of those in these matchbox art posts. This guy's from the Belgian cigarette brand Laurens. I wonder if this is a photo of a 3D character. The head and hat looks drawn but the package and his shoes and feet look real...

'Three Mills, self-raising flour'. Dutch design with lovely graphic '3D' effect.

Belgian(?) underwear ad for Avion (which means 'aeroplane' in french). 'Steeds jong met ondergoed' can be translated into something like 'Again and again young with underwear'.

Every scrapbook has at least three pages with celeb matchbox images, like these examples below. They are not very design-ish but the zeitgeist is wonderful and I love the bluntly coloured photo's and the cheap print effect.


Elke Sommer (born Elke Schletz), is a German-born actress, entertainer and artist.

This Dutch musical duo, brothers from Indian descent, covered mostly songs from The Everly Brothers and had a top hit with their 1927's cover Ramona in 1960. Ramona sold more than 7 million copies and was the Blue Diamonds biggest success. Ruud en Riem de Wolff kept preforming until Ruud's death in 2000.
They were quite popular as a match box image. I can easily make a Blue Diamond Matchbox Cover Top Ten.
But I won't.


Tiger Tom!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Blackbirds

I like Blackbirds. Though they are loud and hotheaded, I'm always happy to hear them sing because to me that's the call of spring. It's been a couple of weeks now since they started singing their recognizable song in my neighbourhood. Warmer days are approaching!

When I lived in another part of Amsterdam I woke up one morning to find feathers lying in the hallway. I braced myself, thinking my cat Noodles had caught a bird again and took it home as a 'gift' for me, and the thought of having to discover yet another dead bird in my house made me slightly sick. I walked into the living room that was decorated with more feathers (and bird poo) and on top of my bookshelves sat a young female Blackbird, alive and well. With uneven wing feathers and half a tail but rather calm under the circumstances. My cat walked around with a 'me know nothing' face, completely ignoring the bird. My pal Eip helped to catch the Blackbird and without too much trouble we could set it free.
I wondered how Noodles, being a small cat, was able to catch such a relatively large bird. And how she managed to squeeze herself and the bird simultaneously through that small cat door.

I read about Blackbirds in last Saturday's paper. Dutch linguistic Jelle Zuidema does research on the evolution of language. He compared the human language to the songs of birds and discovered that the Blackbird's 'language' is the closest to ours. 'The Nightingale knows more complex songs and improvises notes but the rhythm stays the same. The way a Blackbird finishes a song depends on the notes at the beginning of the song. It's like the use of verbs, which in our language determines how a sentence ends'.

Here some photo's of that Blackbird on the bookshelves:

...Flash! Sorry bird.
Source: Het Parool newspaper, March 14, 2009. Pic: The MacGillivray Art Collection, Natural History Museum

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Up

Disney/Pixar's 'Up' will be in theatres soon. I can't wait! Click click click for the trailer if you haven't seen it already. I love that dog: '...SQUIRREL!!' (Here and here you can find two great shorts).
Pic: ©Disney

(UPdate: for some reason I wasn't that impressed by Up.
Yes, I did like the character design and the animation. And I really loved the flash back of Carl Fredricksen in happier times, but after that the story didn't quite took me with it, so to say. WALL-E moved me to tears but even though it hit a nerve I had some remarks about the story. To me Ratatouille's still king. Great characters, great animation and the way all story lines come together in that last big 'kitchen scene'... brilliant!).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oh What A Beautiful Day!



...Halleluja! NEW Karsima's! (As in 'never been out of box' new. Not in 'Karisma started making pencils again' new).
Thanks José 'Der Googlemeister' Luis!

Monday, March 16, 2009

More Krampus

I told about that small Krampus statue I bought on a collectors fair, right? The (German) owner of the booth said that the Krampus tradition's still alive today. I got curious, hit You Tube and found lot's of clips about the horned demon. In the first two weeks of December, young men from Austria or the Southern areas of Germany dress up as the Krampus and roam the streets to scare women and children with their chains and bells. 'Der Krampuslauf' (The Krampus Walk') in Grossarl (Austria) is one of the most popular walks in the region where up to seven regional Krampus groups render the area around the market uncertain.

Here's a clip from a Krampus walk in Graz (Austria). In some areas the Krampus does not shy away from a little birching like here in South Tyrol (Italy). Oof!
And while you're at it, watch this clip on the preparation of a walk of the nephew of the Krampus: Perchten. (I don't envy the guys in those suits!).

And this is cute.
(...Because it looks like that Krampus is a kid too).

Pic: oldpostcards.com

The Last Package

The last package with destination Copro Nason Gallery, Santa Monica just left my house. Now I can focus on the upcoming projects: prints for Pressure Printing, a piece for the group show at Roq's, my contribution for BLAB and, last but not least, my book Rock Candy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What A Catch

Look at these cool items I scored on a collectors fair today: a beautiful wooden Krampus statue and a papier-mâché Easter decoration! The latter is topped with a thin layer of plaster which gives the typography and the chicken more depth. Both items are from Germany.
Ps- I know that a Krampus goes with a birch, chain, basket and/or trident (I got me the great 'The Devil In Design' by Monte Beauchamp) but I never saw one with a spear before. Perhaps this is a sporty version?

Easter feast!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Disney, Mr. P & The Creature

I was leafing through an old sketchbook and came across the sketches I made for a Disney short. About four years ago I was contacted by a spokesperson from Disney with the request to make a proposal for a t.v. animation short. No briefing, total creative freedom. I was thrilled! Of course I said yes and started right away. I came up with a story about a polite, dog-like character called 'Mr P' and a brainless parasitic being with no name that goes by the description 'The Creature'. I send it to Disney, along with some sketches, and awaited their reply. They answered a few days later: 'We love it'! the spokesperson told me, 'but...'
And with that 'but' the nightmare started. From that point on they replied with that same sentence to every new proposal I send. Getting comments on a proposal isn't a problem per se. But their list of remarks kept on growing and made me drifting further away from my (creative) self and the assignment. Total freedom? Nuh-uh! Two months later I still had no approved proposal and felt creatively sucked dry; what seemed like an once in a lifetime opportunity became one of the biggest brain drains ever. So I quit. I was getting nowhere and had enough of the sleepless nights and the waste of energy.
I still like Mr. P and the creature. Above some of the character sketches, below the story. And below that two small sketches of other proposals.

'Mr P & The Creature'


'It's a beautiful, sunny day and Mr P's driving his car. Suddenly a creature falls on the road from behind a tree. Mr P slams on the breaks but can't prevent grazing the creature a bit. The creature starts to cry heartrendingly and Mr P feels bad. He awkwardly comforts it and tries to run off. Because of Mr P's attention the creature immediately forgets the accident. It wants to come along with Mr P, but he points out that the creature has to stay put. Mr P hastily makes himself scarce, leaving the creature behind.

When Mr P arrives home he discovers that the creature has followed him. In the next scenes the creature pops up at every occasion Mr P goes to. This drives Mr P mad and his actions to get rid of the uninvited guest are getting more and more extreme. But all in vain; the creature happily follows him around and finally finds its way into the house of Mr P and starts eating all the food he can find.


The next morning. Mr P's a complete wreck. The creature has been eating all night, gorging itself with almost all the furniture. Mr P has had enough; he throws
a big sack over the creature, hauls it into his car and drives back to the road where he first bumped into the little monster. He takes out the sack and hides behind a tree. When a car approaches he takes the creature out of the sack and throws upon the road. Without looking back Mr P returns to his car while in the background you hear the sound of a car braking, a dull thud and the heartrendingly cry of the creature'.

Another proposal: Hyper bulb, a little light bulb with insomnia.

Or sweaty cone, an (adopted) ice cream who lives in the Bahama's. Nobody wants to be his friend because he's too sweaty. He goes on a road trip to the North Pole in search of his roots.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Frame On Fire

When I frame my work I always go for the Baroque-curled or classical styled frames. Ivo Jansen showed me another option; he emailed me photo's of the frames he specially made for the giclée prints he bought on my website. He used rough edged wood which compliments the concept of the image, like the Cheery Cooky print above. 'Cooky's fire spitting also affected the left corner of the frame' he told me. Conceptual framing!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Herring's Hairdo

On April 4 my next (shared) show will open. It will be called 'The Herring's Hairdo' and will feature various paintings and graphite drawings. The title is a personal interpretation of the expression 'the bee's knees'. This phrase was coined in 1920 by cartoonist Tad Dorgan and it's used to describe someone or something remarkable. Tad Dorgan's also the creator of similar expressions such as 'the flea's eyebrows' or 'the canary's tusks'.
(Similar phrases of the times included: the duck's quack, the clam's garter, the elephant's wrist, the eel's ankle, the gnat's elbow, the elephant's arches, the sardine's whiskers, the bullfrog's beard, the cuckoo's chin, the leopard's stripes, the pig's wings, the snake's hips, and the tiger's spots).
I could have used one of the existing phrases but I wanted the title to have a personal (and Dutch) touch so I thought of the Herring (the fish us cheese heads eat raw). Hairdo alliterates nicely with Herring and together those words have the right Dorgan-ish 'hep'ness. (Plus, by creating my own, I take off the 'cocky' edges of the expression's meaning a bit).

I'll share the walls with Keith Weesner at the Copro Nason Gallery in Santa Monica. Right now I'm working on the last pieces. Above a detail from one of the painted book covers that will be in the show. All the works will be online on the Copro website before the opening. I'll keep you posted.
Detail: 'Un Amigo Mio', mixed media on book cover, 2009