For the past two years Colossal has come to you directly from coffee shops, dining room tables, couches, restaurants, hotels, and once from a small fishing craft in the Gulf of Alaska. I’ve written a handful of posts from a moving vehicle, one from a CTA rail car, and a few more from airplanes. Because of my job, work on Colossal often started hours before the sun came up when I poured entire pots of coffee on myself, with barely enough consciousness to muster the thought: LOOK AT THIS THIS AMAZING THNG. For 30 months Colossal has never been edited from a desk, during the day.
As of this post, that changes. I’m stupidly excited to announce that Colossal has grown enough that it’s now able to support my family and that today for the first time I will begin editing full-time. This abundance of time will let me focus on regular daily updates as well as a clogged pipeline of new projects and collaborations that will roll out over the next few months. Thanks to everyone who has clicked, tweeted, bookmarked, emailed or otherwise shared links from this blog, it’s because of you this is all possible.
OF NOTE: One of the main reasons Colossal exists is through limited advertising in partnership with Nectar Ads, an ad network for the visual arts. If you’re at all interested in getting your company, gallery, or event in front of millions of artists, photographers, and designers, please get in touch.
It was a phenomenal year on Colossal and it’s all because of the extraordinary work by the artists, designers, photographers and filmmakers featured here every week. To recap an amazing 12 months, here are some of the most shared/visited/tweeted posts this year. Enjoy!
1. This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids
Yayoi Kusama’s legendary installation, Obliteration Room, where thousands of children were given colorful stickers and unbridled freedom in a stark white room. January 1, 2012
2. Riusuke Fukahori Paints Three-Dimensional Goldfish Embedded in Layers of Resin
Magnificent pools of three-dimensional goldfish painted layer-by-layer in resin by Riusuke Fukahori. January 9, 2012
3. A Cathedral Made from 55,000 LED Lights
Towering 28 meters high, the Luminarie De Cagna was the centerpiece at the 2012 Light Festival in Ghent, Belgium. January 31, 2012
4. Rashad Alakbarov Paints with Shadows and Light
Using strategically suspended translucent materials and other objects, artist Rashad Alakbarov paints using shadows and light. January 20, 2012
5. This is Not a Photograph: Amazing Portrait Drawn with Ballpoint Pens by Samuel Silva
Nope, not a photograph. This amazing portrait was drawn by 29-year-old Portugal-based attorney Samuel Silva based on a photograph by Russian photographer Kristina Tararina. According to the artist he used nothing but colored BIC pens. August 22, 2012
6. A Canopy of Colorful Umbrellas Spotted in Portugal
This beautiful installation of umbrellas was recently spotted in Águeda, Portugal by photographer Patrícia Almeida. Almost nothing is known about the artist behind the project or its significance, but it’s impossible to deny the joy caused by taking a stroll in the shadowy rainbow created by hundreds of parasols suspended over this public walkway. August 21, 2012
7. Hilariously Ferocious Underwater Dogs
These completely absurd photographs of dogs swimming underwater by photographer Seth Casteel took the internet by storm. The collection is now available as a book. February 10, 2012
8. Mysterious Underwater ‘Crop Circles’ Discovered Off the Coast of Japan
There’s nothing that captures the imagination like mysterious underwater lifeforms, and the discovery of these bizarre ‘crop circles’ off the coast of Japan this year was no exception. The artistic culprit turned out to be nothing more than a tiny puffer fish looking for a hot date. September 19, 2012
9. Gale-Force Winds Directly to the Face
Lithuanian photographer and artist Tadao Cern created this series of hilarious portraits entitled, Blow Job, that depicts individuals enduring extremely high speed wind directly to the face. He even followed up with a disturbing video. May 16, 2012
10. Gravity-Defying Land Art by Cornelia Konrads
German artist Cornelia Konrads creates mind-bending site-specific installations in public spaces, sculpture parks and private gardens around the world. Her work is frequently punctuated by the illusion of weightlessness, where stacked objects like logs, fences, and doorways appear to be suspended in mid-air, reinforcing their temporary nature as if the installation is beginning to dissolve before your very eyes. April 24, 2012
11. Remarkable Portraits Made with a Single Sewing Thread Wrapped through Nails by Kumi Yamashita
Constellation is an ongoing series of portraits by New York artist Kumi Yamashita. Each image is constructed from a single unbroken black thread wound through a dense array of galvanized nails mounted on a painted white board, meaning that the darker areas within the portrait are formed solely from the density of the string. June 12, 2012
12. New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée
Artist Guy Laramee completed a number of new sculptural works where he transformed thick tomes into incredible topographical features including mountains, caves, volcanoes, and even water. Many of the works are part of a project titled Guan Yin, a series of work dedicated to the forces that enable individuals to endure grief and pain, or in his words “the mysterious forces thanks to which we can traverse ordeals.” June 12, 2012
13. Bloom: 28,000 Potted Flowers Installed at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center
In one of the years most popular articles, artist Anna Schuleit sat down with us for a brief interview regarding her 2003 installation titled Bloom at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center which she filled floor by floor with 28,000 potted plants prior to the buildings demolition. March 12, 2012
14. Giant Fish Sculptures Made from Discarded Plastic Bottles in Rio
As part of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) an enormous outdoor installation of fish was constructed using discarded plastic bottles on Botafogo beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. June 21, 2012
15. Anatomical Cross-Sections Made with Quilled Paper by Lisa Nilsson
For her Tissue Series, artist Lisa Nilsson constructs anatomical cross sections of the human body using rolled pieces of Japanese mulberry paper, a technique known as quilling or paper filigree. Each piece takes several weeks to assemble and begins with an actual photograph of a lateral or mid-sagittal cross section to which she begins pinning small rolls of paper. February 1, 2012
Thank you so much for stopping by Colossal this year, some huge things are coming in 2013 and I can’t wait to share them with you. To make sure you don’t miss anything be sure to follow Colossal on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and our upcoming weekly email digest. And as always you can subscribe via RSS.
Just a quick heads up, the Sketchbook Project Mobile Library has hit the road on its inaugural journey, fully-loaded with over 1,000 sketchbooks selected by yours truly for an amazing show, A Landmark and A Mission. Look at that trailer! The project will be making stops in Pittsburgh (tonight), Ann Arbor on Saturday and Cleveland on Sunday. Check out the official site for more details.
Last month I headed up to Brooklyn to curate the Landmark and A Mission Mobile Library Tour, a collaboration with the Sketchbook Project where I picked out 1,000 sketchbooks from their massive library to go on tour in a specially constructed mobile trailer. It was a ridiculous amount of fun and it was great to spend some time with their amazingly dedicated staff while I pored through a couple thousand sketchbooks from around the world. A huge thanks to Steven, Sara, Chris, Jessica, Naomi and everyone else at the Art House Co-op for their help.
And then there was hurricane. Fortunately the Sketchbook Project’s library and staff are all safe and accounted for after Sandy, however it’s a tall order to get the mobile library on tour by this weekend. So we’ve bumped things up two weeks and the mobile sketchbook library will hit Pittsburgh on November 16, Ann Arbor on November 17, and Cleveland on the 18th. For specific times and places visit the Landmark and A Mission web site. Sorry for any inconvenience but hopefully we’ll see you in two weeks!
I’m thrilled to announce Colossal’s first ever collaborative show with Art House Co-Op’s Sketchbook Project called A Landmark & A Mission. If you’re not familiar, the Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art project where participants from all walks of life are sent sketchbooks to fill with art as they see fit. After completion the books are returned for annual inclusion in a permanent collection at The Brooklyn Art Library which now houses over 22,000 sketchbooks from 130 countries. That alone is pretty fantastic, but wait, there’s more.
With generous support from Ugg Australia’s Creative Council the Sketchbook Project is building a custom-crafted trailer that will contain 1,000 sketchbooks I’ve selected around the theme ‘A Landmark & A Mission’ for inclusion in this first-ever mobile sketchbook library. In early November we’ll drive around the U.S. with stops in Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, and Cleveland to share hundreds of artists work with you. It’s like art meets libraries meets road trip. Stay tuned to Colossal and the Landmark & A Mission page for more details, and hopefully we’ll see you soon.
Excuse me while I step out from behind the curtain for just a moment.
On cold fall day in 2009 I shuffled into an office at the Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago (the dreary building with the giant Picasso sculpture out front), was given a juror number and was told that in exchange for seven hours of my life I would be paid just enough money to buy a really fancy sandwich. I then found a seat in a row of immovable rickety chairs that were probably installed during the Nixon administration and waited for my number to be called. At the time I was doing freelance web design and I pulled out my laptop to do some work on a project when I discovered with horror there was no wireless. A quick survey of the room revealed almost nothing of entertainment value. A few old newspapers, some back issues of terrible magazines, and a crackly old TV (also Nixon era), stuck permanently on local news. Rumor quickly spread that it was going to be a slow day, nobody should expect to be called for actual jury duty. I literally had nothing to do.
So I sat. And waited. For some reason I launched a text editor on my laptop and started making a list of things I had been thinking about doing lately (read: procrastinating for months). At first it was just ten simple things that we all put on our lists “get in shape” and “read more books”. But as I sat there, with this day of civic boredom stretching into infinity before me I became ambitious. I made spaces instead for 100 things and decided to get specific. “Learn to kayak. Run a 5k. Take a course in ceramics.” Because why not? All that pot throwing has to be pretty calming and therapeutic or meditative right? The list went on and on. There were plenty of easy things and lots of hard ones. I put “Finish a book” on there about a dozen times because I’m terrible about finishing anything I begin to read. Then, way down toward the bottom, at number 83: “Start a blog.”
The entirety of 2010 was spent Doing the List. It was tacked up on my closet door, three pages taped together, and to keep up the pace I did one thing every 4 days. For 365 days. I ended up the year in great shape having run my first race (and subsequently haven’t run again, but hey, I finished 163rd out of 600). I made some wobbly ceramic cereal bowls or also flower pots. There was kayaking, traveling, I spent time with my dad in his wood shop making a wooden acrobat toy for my son… it’s so completely fragile you can’t actually play with it, but it looks great! And, as part of it all, just to cross off a line-item on this boredom-induced bucket list, I started a little blog I decided to call ‘Colossal’ where I posted cool art and design things that I found online each day starting with the photograph above by Kevin Meredith.
As of last week Colossal is now two years old. Nearly 30 million people have stopped by for a visit. It was nominated for a 2012 Webby Award in Art and a number of influential people have said extremely kind and humbling things about it. But what’s more interesting to me than its size or relative influence is this: I never set out to make the blog you see here today. None of it was planned or envisioned. I’d like to think that Colossal was destined to exist regardless of my temporary stay in jury purgatory but who knows. I started posting things, followed my happiness in whatever I blogged about, ditched what wasn’t working, and it soon lead to this glorious world of visual artists, filmmakers, designers, musicians and performers I never knew existed, some of whom I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting and seeing their work first-hand. In the end, I made a daunting list of 100 things to do, stuck with it, and a random item suddenly became this huge life-changing thing. Go make a list. I recommend it.
Colossal has taken an enormous amount of time to build and upkeep, requiring tons of help and patience from so many people. I want to thank my wife Megan and son Caleb who are now (mostly) accepting of me jumping up in the middle of everything screaming THIS MUST BE BLOGGED IMMEDIATELY. Thanks to Paul Overton at DudeCraft for being the first blogger to ever link back to Colossal with kind words. Thanks to Veken Gueyikian, Alice Yoo, Shelby White, Johnny Strategy, Chase McClure, Scott Beale, and Paul Strauss for tons of invaluable advice and help the past two years. Also thanks to Media Temple and CloudFlare for keeping things firing on all cylinders. And most of all thank you—specifically you—for visiting.
OK, back behind the curtain. Let’s look at more art! Have you seen Tim Tadder’s water wigs and I have no idea what’s happening in this claymation by Emanuel Strixner but I love it.
As Colossal speeds toward its second birthday later this month I thought it was time to give the site a little visual TLC. Though I’ve changed small things over the last few months, the overall design has remained pretty much untouched since the site launched in 2010. The most significant change is that Colossal now has an actual logo that was designed by my friend Chase McClure who runs a design shop here in Chicago called Studio of the Month. I’m thrilled with the new look and have gotten great feedback, so thanks Chase! If you have a website or logo in need of awesomification, he’s your guy.
The second change is that I’ve resumed rotating photographs in the header each month, something I used to do frequently back in the day. This month’s photo was taken by Hitoshi Ozaki and I want to thank him for letting us enjoy it for the next few weeks.
The site has also been reorganized into four main categories on top including art, design, photography, and video (there’s also a secret fifth: music). The process is still ongoing as we’re retagging some 2,000 posts. Pardon the dust.
Lastly, Colossal now has a bonafide intern! Join me in welcoming the talented Tanner Young who is already plugging away on several projects large and small. I received a text message from him a few days ago reporting that he was finishing up some work while getting a new tattoo. YES. Can’t wait to see how productive he is while kayaking.
I’m heading out for a week or so on vacation and may or may not have access to the internets where I’m going. I actually intend on posting daily but anything could happen once I’m kicking back on a beach for the first time in a couple years. So, in case I become incapacitated with relaxation, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite art, design and culture blogs as of late. You’ll find tons of inspiration on these sites if posting here slows down a bit.