Tuesday, April 28, 2009

'Happy Laugh'

I used to collect firework wrappers. On January first you could find me roaming the streets, picking piles of used firework (and ignoring the curious glances of the neighbours). I especially favored the wrappers of cheap make, the ones with the cute but awkward drawings and the (often) remarkable English titles: 'Big Thousands Of Golden Flowers', 'Spring Peach', 'Colourstars Around The Moon', 'Big Snow', 'Joyful By Chance', 'Rapid Fiying' or 'Tomahank', and one of personal favorites: '5 Shot Star Light Candle Star'.

I wasn't able to do this hobby for very long. The firework wrapper designers started to embrace a more modern approach and the drawings and hand drawn letters were replaced by loud, computer made typography, photo's of spectacular exploding fireworks or images with a 'heavy metal' feel to accentuate the power of the explosion rather than the 'happy cheerfulness' of the moment. I must admit that dancing panda bears are not the first association that comes to mind when I watch exploding fireworks, but still I prefer my firework wrapper old fashion styled. With bubble blowing bunny's in a swirl of butterflies. Or with a picture of a train. Or in the shape of a little Kalashnikov. Here are a few of my fave's from the wrapper roaming days.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Last Rounds

Just a short note to keep you up to date about my book Rock Candy. Right now Jacob Covey and me are in the last stage of the process and the book is shaping up nicely. Very, very nicely indeed, I can't wait to show you all! Jacob made a design in which he mixes small vignettes with modern type and Victorian details and borders. I love the style he used and I think it fits my work like a glove. More soon!
Jacob Covey is a designer at the Seattle based Fantagraphics Books.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Vodou call


The ethnographic museum 'Tropenmuseum' with its colourful collection on non-western cultures, is one of my favorite places in Amsterdam. It's also the temporary home of an exhibition about Vodou on Haiti, a show that kicked off last year October and runs to May 10, 2009. I got stuck in only talking about going even though the subject very much appealed to me. Last Sunday Floor lured me away from my work with her 'It's now or never, vodou doll!' call and I'm very glad she did. The show was goose bumps generating wonderful: we saw a compilation of frightening life size 'skull' dolls, beautifully adorned flags, chained mirrors and mixed media statues and objects, eclectically embellished with vintage and modern (religious) details all displayed in a way which appropriately emphasized their mysterious feel and secret character. The photo's I'd seen so far don't really do justice to the show's objects, this show you have to see in person. If you're in the neighbourhood, local or tourist, go see it!

Do: the rest of the museum and the Vodou show's catalogue. Don't: the poffertjes in the museum's restaurant. Ugh.

Thanks for the snapshot's luv!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Matchbox scrapbook #1-3

At first I didn't know whether to like or dislike the Heineken character. I found the bulky shape of the legs a nice contrast to the fluent round forms of the foam and the coaster. But the thin outlines of the foam drops bugged me visually, it's an unnecessary extra. And is the eye an eye or is it a drop of beer which can also be seen as an eye? Why did the designer use more than one perspective angle? And that 'realistic' drop on the glass bites the other graphic shapes. The mix of drawing styles almost turned me into a design purist but... I find the awkwardness of the character too appealing for that to happen. In the end I like this Heineken man for all its 'character flaws'.

I hereby present the rest of the last serie of the first scrapbook. Coming up soon: covers from my second scrapbook with beaut's from Japan, India, Belgium and other exotic places. But first Easter. Enjoy your weekend, people!

(Oy, what's all this about? Read the introduction of the matchbox serie here and the second post of covers here).


Above two examples of race cycling covers. Clean designs with a newspaper feel and a great spirit of the time, just like the celebrity matchbox covers. Rick van Looy (1933) was a popular Belgian cyclist and won 493 races, including the world championships in 1960 an 1961. Benoni Beheyt (1940), also from Belgian descent, was a talented racer but only competed for six years. He's famous for winning the world championships in 1963 from Rick van Looy. Van Looy and Beheyt were not exactly friends. Word goes Van Looy even thwarted Beheyt's cycling career.

This scrapbook contained a whole set of these Primus household appliances ads. That Primus type is wonderful, I love those 'straight' handwritten fonts.

This Edelweiss cover is a special post for my pal ('Mose') Peter, an edelweiss admirer. (Peter, I've posted it, now stop sending me letters and emails!)

Just like the Edelweiss cover this 'Orange on top' matchbox design is made out of just two contrast colours. But the designs are also each other's opposites; the Edelweiss cover whispers with a soft voice, Oranje Boven is bold and calls its message out loud. The only thing is, I can't tell what the message exactly is. Edelweiss could be an old advertisement for this Swiss airline but I'm still in the dark about the blue and orange tree. A long forgotten fan club of the Dutch royal house?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cozy critter

Recently this undomesticated mouse was rescued from a busy Amsterdam bike lane by my pal Angelique. She put it in the pocket of her coat and wanted to bring it to a quiet spot to set it free. But the mouse had no intention to leave her cozy pocket so she had to take it with her while running some errands. She went to the bike shop. And the supermarket. And finally she decided to bring the mouse home for some milk and cookies. (Well, the latter's a lie, but it did have a piece of cat kibble). And right after that it made a run for it and was never seen again. The mouse was caught on camera though.
The end.

Photo: Angelique fantastique

Matchbox scrapbook #1-2

Ready for the second serie of Matchbox covers from the first scrapbook? I'd like to start with this lovely Dutch milk maid made from round and half cheeses. A simple, strong design. The black background and fact that she has no arms gives the image a slightly dark twist. The Dutch phrase encourages the reader not to be frugal with cheese.
More designs shown below. Proceed!
(And click here to read the introduction and first post of the matchbox scrapbook series).

Matchbox covers are not necessarily brand advertisements, they can also be used to promote a product. This Dutch cover is obviously about eggs but the phrase is a bit more cryptic. It translates into something like 'Good morning, but with an egg'.

I've posted this Belgian cigarette cover Tigra for my art pal Erik Kriek. The tiger lady plays a leading role as the female counterpart of Gutsman 'the masked defender of male inadequacy', in Erik's wonderful (wordless) comic series. You can buy those comics right here.



These designs are just three of the many covers Dutch distillery brand Bols had made to promote Bols' alcoholic beverages such as genevers, brandy's and liqueurs. The last design, with the blue background and the green 'Oude Hartevelt' bottle, reminds me of Cassandre's famous Nicolas poster.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Copro Nason preview online

When you find yourself in the Santa Monica area this weekend, do drop by the Copro Nason Gallery at Michigan Ave to see 'The Herring's Hairdo', my first (shared) show in California. I will share the gallery with Keith Weesner's wonderful custom car and vampy pin-up pieces. Copro Nason Gallery will also be hosting the Hi Fructose 'Overdose' group show of 60 artists, all in the same place.
Unfortunately I won't be able to be at the opening night myself so from here in Amsterdam, I wish you a great, art packed Saturday night!

Copro Nason opens doors Saturday April 4, 8:00-11:30 pm, for more info check the website.

When you're everywhere else but the Santa Monica area check the online preview of the work here.

Pic: 'The Fortune Teller' ©2009