Dan Hillier

I’ve included both full images and close-up details, without discretion, so that you can all understand in one sitting why Dan Hillier is a wonderful artist. Without seeing these works in context of their full detail, it can be disappointing to view his full pieces with no real ‘pay-off’, though I am sure this is just a effect from small internet images and a risk associated with an online presence. 

But these are amazing. (I know I’ve said this before.) I could sit here and talk about his line work and masterful use of old ink techniques (though he primarily works in print) all day, though I’ll limit it to just a few paragraphs here. I studied old ink masters for a few years, ones that relied on stark black and white images to tell whole stories. But there weren’t really ink washes that could reproduce well on a printer, so you had to work all the value differences out with line only – with values changing depending on how thick, close, or both lines were compared to one another. Check out your dollar bills – they were done in the same way.

Most of the time these were done larger than necessary and scaled down, as its pretty obvious how hard this can be when you are working with complicated images, especially with faces, hands or details in them. That’s my first reaction to Hillier’s pieces is the wonderful patience in his works, with rewards as awe inspiring as the detailed close ups below. 

A lot of people may find his subjects to be something close to a ‘Master Wizard Hipster’, and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. I personally love them, but taking away the negative connotation of the words and you are left with someone who relished in antiquity, respects old techniques and imagery and adds their own personal flare, and I don’t see many things wrong with that. His pieces are a wonderful juxtaposition of eras so that they appear mystical, fantastical, dreadful and dark. 

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Der Orchideengarten

Otherwise known to us non-German speaking visitors as “The World’s First Fantasy Magazine” which began publication in 1919 and ran for only 2 years, but still published 4 years before Weird Tales was ever created. It was largely, as you can tell by its covers below, a supernatural horror publication with tendencies of fantasy, I can guarantee it was still good. They rotated between re-publishing old stories and illustrations as well as then contemporary authors and artists so it was a refreshing collection work. There is a surprisingly limited about of information on the magazine itself, despite its cult status with certain audiences (you can actually buy T-Shirts imprinted with some of these covers, if you REALLY wanted to impress your Underground-German-Fantasy-Dark Horror-1910-Vintage-borderline Depression friends), so I will just let the art speak for itself.

I’m really digging the limited print style they have going here, with no more than 2-3 colors for any of the covers (normally) and the woodblock style printing is very German, with its harsh angles and angry, creepy subtleties. I really love the designs on most of these, and being a huge fan of such graphic work and things that go bump in the night, these appeal to me nicely. Some get a little hard to read as the drawings or compositions just don’t mesh with the contrasting colors, but for the most part they are really cool snippets of something I definitely would have read if I was alive then. Its nice to see such evolution and transference from older ideas to today.
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DINER DANGER – by Thomas Hunter

A great, silly animation that appeals to my old childhood cartoon sentimentalities. Reminiscent of old Ren and Stimpy and modern day Adventure Times, Diner Danger is just a great, simple animation to enjoy for a few minutes of your day. Lizard biker gangs, a dog with an penchant for tomatoes, and desert hillbillies, it has something for everyone.

Find more of Thomas Hunter’s work here:

http://mrbuffalo.tumblr.com/

Deep Dark Fears -Fran Krause

So, I love comics. And I love goofy comics. And I love this clever, simple, charming style that has gotten popular in the last 5 years. And,I love the oddities of people. And I love the way we can all kind of relate on really ridiculous levels.

For example:

I’ve always had a fear of getting my teeth knocked out when I drink at drinking fountains. This is the first time I’ve ever said it out loud, or heard anyone else really talk about it. But suddenly I was reading (all of) these comics and BOOM – there was an anonymous story about getting their face plunged into a faucet while drinking. Its so strange that we can all come to these common conclusions no matter where you are from. Is there a subconscious, collective fear of faucets that still hasn’t evolved out yet? I doubt it. But its still fun.

For awhile I was really into the blog Post Secret. Though I’ve outgrown my teenage angst years and, therefore, this site, I still find solace in the idea of sharing innermost ideas, stories, and fears with a large number of people.  PS seems to revolve solely around eating disorders, parental issues, and suicide and though this is a very important outlet for people suffering from these problems, it makes it a bit insufferable to browse through for those of us feeling nominally OK with our lives.

So, that is one reason I really enjoy the foundational idea of this project. People submit ghost stories, secret fears or other dreary topics anonymously (or knowingly) and artist Fran Krause illustrates them in this super charming fashion. And it works really, really well. The at-time terrifying (like the story of growing itchy, bug infested holes in your hands) story ideas and the cartoonish, innocent style really brings these child-like fears back to reality for our grown selves.  So, I think I’ll add this to my list of blogs to check out on Mondays.

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http://deep-dark-fears.tumblr.com/

Sergey Yuhimov – LOTR

Found these images from Tumblr, post below, from someone who had the original works as a child. They write of never appreciating them when young, but now that they’re older they have found their beauty to be worth sharing – and I am happy they did!

These works are over-saturated, strangely proportioned, oddly designed and magical.

SO MAGICAL. 

I talk a lot on this blog about technical skills and the importance of draftsmanship, color theory, anatomy, and other traditional tools for art. But, to completely confuse matters (as art is, after all, a complicated world) I am showing you work now that so heavily relies on style that you get transported to their world by sheer necessity. It helps that we are all used to seeing this iconography from old Christian paintings from the Byzantine and Medieval eras, so our eyes are a bit more trained to relate to this style. But Yuhimov utilizes that expertly to his advantage, which gives these pieces a glowing, mystical feel to them. However, some of the pieces become quite dark and scary, which is something you don’t see as often (unless you begin counting works by later artists such as Bosch or Bruegel, which focus on Hell. But then I digress) and these pieces bring such narrative to their representation that you can truly say that they can get creepy.

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http://egelantier.tumblr.com/post/85739410808/my-childhood-russian-edition-of-lord-of-the-rings

Erik Jones

Erik Jones is on of my favorite recent, live, painters to come into my radar these last few months – especially following his successful solo show at Spoke Art. Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about graphic shape design and beautiful ladies, so needless to say I am a big fan of his seamless overlapping of the two. And the number of dualities at play in each piece is proof of his skill; They’re messy and they’re organized, they’re flat and full of depth, they’re composed simply but with great care. You know you’ve spotted a master when someone makes something that is complicated, as these pieces are, look easy. His knowledge of color clearly is off the charts; Only someone who understands theory could get away with tossing this many colors onto one piece and have it look so symbiotic. And don’t even get me started on his hands….they are gorgeous.

Pieces like these have a level of confidence to them that is appealing as well. Granted, with such chaotic pieces a mistake is less easily noticed, but I know I could never paint such a delicate face and then top it off with a perfectly transparent block of red straight across the perfectly rendered lips, as seen below. All I can think is what would happen if it didn’t work? It would be like another few hours of fixing that mistake – and then you’re out of energy and possibly a bit scared off from making more outlandish and impulsive decisions. But Jones, I feel, uses this chaos to his advantage. His work is proof that you can’t be scared off by possible mistakes, but maybe, instead, treat them as ‘happy accidents’ that further the greater flow of the piece. So I trust these pieces, because he trusts his ability. And that makes good art.

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http://www.theirison.com/

Sean Sevestre

 

As I’ve stated before, I am not always such a big fan of digital art. You’d think with my incredible nerdiness, including my affinity for sci-fi / fantasy art and collaboration between technology and art, that I’d be an easy sell. Nope. I think it is that there are way too many short cuts present in the digital world that work becomes stale. I hate noticing the stamp tool, a repetition of shapes over and over and the idea that having the right brush sets is the only thing keeping you away from a good piece. (In honesty, I hate this idea in traditional art as well, as if buying the right tools will suddenly make you a good artist!) Digital art has so many good points, its ease and accessibility some of the biggest advantages. I guess I just get bummed when I see artists taking shortcuts and losing the soul of the piece through their quest for better and quicker textures.

But, then there is Sean Sevestre.

This man is the Sergent of digital painting. I cannot make any of the claims that normally make me dislike digital art towards him – in fact, one of my favorite things in his pieces are his brush strokes and textures. But, they come together with all the other elements to create an entirely stimulating piece, instead of just focusing so much on shape design, masks, and brush work. He has compositions, perspective, drama, color theory, hard and soft edges, thickness, ugh – just everything about these are perfect. It is clear there are no shortcuts here – sure, tips or tricks, but this skill is the result of long hours spent practicing basics and moving forward step by step.  You don’t get this good overnight, or by downloading a new brush pack!

Seriously, its incredible. I am so happy to see art of this caliber being made anyways, anywhere in any medium, but I feel like Sean is really pushing the boundaries of the digital medium to a bigger and better place than I’ve seen done before.

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http://seansevestre.tumblr.com/

Lissy Marlin

I’ve recently gotten very enthusiastic about Twitter. I don’t know why – I abstained for so long on good intentions and for good reasons, but now that I am a little more forced to “be out there”, I have found Twitter to be a fun way to get connected. I also like the no hassle, stress free approach to getting live feed updates for hundreds of artists at once, so it makes signing online a little bit more interesting.

Lissy Marlin is one such artist who came across my feed a few times, (@LazyFish11) and a most recent sketch made me stop being such a passive participant in the creative circulation and actually post about her work.  (The sketch, unfortunately, is not here – follow her to find it!)

I think Lissy’s work is refreshing – not because it offers anything particularly new, but simply because it is so confidently and well done.  I don’t doubt, if given this level of finish and thought behind future pieces, that she will be a key player in many animated stories in the future. Her development for a 2013 project of The Girl and The Buffalo already looks like a movie I want to see – combining many industry standard techniques,  atmosphere and moods, interesting and authentic research and character gesture are super strong in her work. Some things are a bit lacking, like interesting character placement in her compositions, but all in all her work appropriately captures the essence and mood of a story and transports the character into that world, which is of course the most important.  It is really cool to see a production artist also use interesting research techniques – such as viewing Native American pottery for color swatches. You cannot fake authenticity!

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http://www.lissymarlin.com/

Song of the Sea – by Cartoon Saloon

From the same studio who brought us The Secret of Kells, you know, that enormously beautiful Irish tale filled with breathtaking colors, rhythmic lines and incredible design shapes, we now have the pleasure of seeing a second feature film – Song of the Sea. The story seems ‘similar’ enough, in the sense that it is also derived from an Irish folktale and is primarily surrounding children and mythology – but that is good news for me! So far it appears fan of The Secret of Kells will not be disappointed by Song of the Sea.

They also have an incredible, and I mean superb, blog detailing every process of the film production – from rendering to sound capturing to concept design. A MUST see for anyone who is interested in learning about how these films are actually made – yes, they really DO send someone out with a mic and record sounds of the oceans,  seagulls, trees blowing, etc.

http://songoftheseamovie.blogspot.ie/

 

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Want more? Click here for their youtube channel, with an obligatory link to more conceptual teasers.

 

Arnaldo Putzu

 

 

This guy was pretty hard to find much information on, despite his passing a little over a year ago (normally the internet implodes with information whenever anyone dies who was even mildly famous – but rarely anything besides a better worded Wikipedia article). I’ll give it my best shot here.

This seems to be an age where vintage and cult artists are finally getting their respect, and God am I happier for it. So many more publications and blogs and images and posters being circulated for inspiration and revitalization in the artistic market.  Its great! I love it! These perfect blends of graphic designs and spot-on rendering and draftsmanship makes me shiver with giddiness. They don’t call it “The Golden Age of Illustration” for nothing, you know. For me, it really was the first point that led the way, palpably, for most artists today – where you were expected to not only be the best, but perform professionally. This isn’t meant to insinuate that all artists have lost their professional practices, indeed the best ones have the ability to represent both their creative and business minded sides at the same time.

But Arnaldo Putzu was a pretty sought after Italian artist who was most famous for his work on the 007 films and on series which have been forgotten in time, such as “Get Carter” or “Carry On” films, along side other works like “Creatures the World Forgot” or “The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires” which both sound absolutely wonderfully dreadful.  But, at least his images live on – though this is about as close to a comprehensive, or at least visible, collection you can find online. There are many, many others but due to poor scans, poor resolutions, or much too small images (only for thumbnail purchases for online poster stores) it was next to possible to find any. But, for you all, I put the time into it. You’re welcome.

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THE COMPOSITES – By Brian Joseph Davis

So, the whole point of this series by Brian Joseph Davis is to use police sketch ‘technology’ and put them into use to recreate classic literary characters over the  years – giving a common face to an otherwise completely imaginary character. The results are very, very, cool and this whole concept just gives me goosebumps with how it tickles both my drawing and literary nerdiness….

It is very challenging to do these types of images, as we all come to different conclusions and images when it comes to interpreting fiction into our own reality. Hell, we even disagree on the pronunciations of a character’s name – even after we were told by the author how it was supposed to sound. So, a project of this type is tricky already without even beginning to think of fan’s reactions to some of their beloved characters. Think of the outrage when the ‘wrong’ actor/actress is cast for a part!

This doesn’t even begin to cover the inadequacies with police sketch technology.  I think it was found to be one of the most inaccurate forms of identification (the  accuracy of a police sketch are so low that they are  below statistical significance).  This might be because people tend to not get a good look at the perpetrator, and when someone is of even a slightly different race our ability to identify and see details just plummets. I personally believe that because we don’t get a good enough look at someone, and because there are just so many people in the world, that perhaps these drawings are left a bit ambiguous on purpose – author’s do this same trick so that you, as an audience, can fill in the gaps in your own mind instead of relying on every detail.

So, this is a very ambitious project, and one that I take with a very light heart and a heavy respect.  Its a lot of fun, though, to see some of your favorite characters being brought to life. You can watch a fun little blurb here where he talks more about his process.

Capt. Ahab, Moby Dick

Capt. Ahab, Moby Dick

Clarice, The Silence of the Lambs

Clarice, The Silence of the Lambs

Count Dracula

Count Dracula

The Frankenstein Monster

The Frankenstein Monster

Hannibal Lector

Hannibal Lector

Jack, The Shining

Jack, The Shining

Julia, 1984

Julia, 1984

Norman Bates

Norman Bates

Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talented Mr. Ripley

http://thecomposites.tumblr.com/

Boris Pelcer

I can’t remember how I found this artist, but alas, there he was – sitting in my folder just waiting patiently to be featured one day. Not sure what took me so long either, as his work is incredible. I have a feeling my first impression was from his Environmental Awareness series, which is surprising considering it takes quite a lot for me to get into these kinds of ‘political’ art. (Maybe that’s a lie – I’m a softhearted person to the point of being naive, sometimes…) But this kind of art falls in-between traditional, personal pieces and editorial work, I believe. But they are super strong. Maybe a little too textural sometimes (this is the point where I get picky), but his composition and design of each piece are very solid. In addition, the colors are sickening in more than one way – the putrid neutral purple, green, and yellows really give these a diseased feel. (And his skill at using such complicated color palettes is a surprise from his usual monochromatic pieces)

His other works are just solid. Super, super solid. I’ve taken just a few samplings here to whet your appetite to see more at his website, listed below the images (like normal). In all the pieces my favorite component is the drawing – he is clearly an incredible draftsman with an impeccable eye for design and solidity. With this very popular style of a combination of graphic shapes and highly-rendered details (such as faces), it is great to see an artist who just brings it all home – there is no mediocrity here at all, just pure talent and work.

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http://www.borispelcer.com/

Robert Kondo

Robert Kondo works as a set / background designer for Disney / Pixar (meaning he was kind of the ‘mood setter’ for some of my favorite animations) , and was one of the forces behind my favorite project “Sketch Travel” as well. So, I’m pretty amazed I haven’t really heard about him except for recently – how silly I am. But, in the wide world filled with incredible artists, its better late than never.

His work is stylistically similar to Dice Tsutsumi, which means its amazing. Everything you see in his images are simplified down to only the necessities – but what is defined as a necessity is what is interesting here.  The ideas are simple, the moments splendid and the characters placed in an environment which surpluses the kookiness of the entire scene. Its brilliantly done. Can’t say  always like the ‘fuzzy brush’ thing he uses often, but that is simply aesthetic differences – I definitely like the child like “coloring book” effect it has, but for me its just a bit too much! I myself am a  huge fan of pen and ink (as we all know), so his almost 101 Dalmations-esque pen and ink background sketches below are just heavenly for me.  I always revel in the energy and instant gratification a pen and ink drawing delivers – and mixed with his vibrant palette it makes the pieces all the more exciting. His use of shadows (light vs. dark) brings an element of fantasy and drama to each piece, and it is wonderful to see such craftsmanship in action.
His work includes the short ‘La Luna’, Ratatouille, and Monsters University (and hopefully many, many more to come!)

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Always been a big fan of Dice Tsutsumi, and so I am super excited to see his collaboration with Robert Kondo on The Dam Keeper. Check out some behind the scenes stuff below.

Box + The Dam Keeper from Spencer Sass on Vimeo.

Man Arenas

Man Arenas is a Belgian artist who works as a environment designer, storyboard artist, concept artist, art director, production designer, and comic book producer – so, pretty much anything that involves art production. He is incredibly talented, where his drawings (even scribbles) are as solid as most artist’s masterpieces. This is an artist who knows how to design, how to be patient, and how to see a project through to the best of his ability. You can tell by the way he draws that he loves what he does, and I would take a guess that he gets as lost in his worlds as we do. You couldn’t create a world as majestic as these are without believing in it yourself.

Each piece is so narrative that you don’t need to read the entire story to understand the depth of each frame. The mood hits you instantly – you know the mood of the characters (often somber, noble, or playful), the mood of the environment (often airy or peaceful), and the idea of what is happening (often a snapshot of the character’s simple, yet stunning, life).

His characters are wonderful, of course, with spot on anatomy and flowing gestures that sweep you into the moment. But, for me, the best point about these images are his wonderful backgrounds. This man knows his color theory! Take a moment, a real moment, and try and understand the amount of detail he puts into his flora. A brief look at his tumblr reveals study after study after study of a variety of tree stumps, branches, leaf patterns, moss growth, and temperature shifts. That is how you get this good! He knows he will have to draw a lot of nature in his work, so he takes the time out to study and research his subject matter. And now just how it looks – but he gives his environments a character of their own that adds so much feeling to his people (or fauns, or unicorns…).

So, I highly recommend getting lost in his tumblr. Take the time to really analyze his method, hell, do a few master copies of his work. But better yet, go take a walk in the woods one day and try to appreciate the world as much as Man Arenas clearly does.

 

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http://man-arenas.tumblr.com/