I’m really enjoying the work of tattoo artist and illustrator Jan Mráz who is a new regular artist working at Bobek Tattoo in Prague. You can see more of his recent work on Facebook and in his sketchbook.
Japan is a country full of amazing art. Some of it is housed within museums and galleries while others are right underneath our feet. I’m talking, of course, about Japan’s peculiar obsession with manhole covers. Just about anywhere in the country you can find stylized manhole covers, each more beautiful and intricate than the next. For the past several years photographer S. Morita has traveled around Japan photographing artistic manhole covers.
As to why this phenomenon developed, signs point to a high-ranking bureaucrat in the construction ministry who, in 1985, came up with the idea of allowing municipalities to design their own manhole covers. His objective was to raise awareness for costly sewage projects and make them more palatable for taxpayers.
Thanks to a few design contests and subsequent publications, the manhole craze took off and municipalities were soon competing with each other to see who could come up with the best designs. According to the Japan Society of Manhole Covers (yes, that’s a thing) today there are almost 6000 artistic manhole covers throughout Japan. And according to their latest findings, the largest single category are trees, followed by landscapes, floral designs and birds – all symbols that could, and surely did, boost local appeal.
Update: Remo Camerota has an entire book on the design of Japanese manhole covers, aptly titled Drainspotting.
Deepti Nair and Harikrishnan Panicker (known collectively as Hari & Deepti) are an artist couple who create paper cut light boxes. Each diorama is made from layers of cut watercolor paper placed inside a shadow box and is lit from behind with flexible LED light strips. The small visual narratives depicted in each work often play off aspects of light including stars, flames, fireflies, and planets. The couple shares about their work:
Paper is brutal in its simplicity as a medium. It demands the attention of the artist while it provides the softness they need to mold it in to something beautiful. It is playful, light, colorless and colorful. It is minimal and intricate. It reflects light, creates depth and illusions in a way that it takes the artist through a journey with limitless possibilities.
What amazes us about the paper cut light boxes is the dichotomy of the piece in its lit and unlit state, the contrast is so stark that it has this mystical effect on the viewers.
Using a black Isograph 0.10mm pen, French illustrator Xavier Casalta draws a cluster of dots the size of a speck of dust and follows with a few hundred thousand more to create swooping letterforms, shadows, and gradients. Only 21 years of age the artist already possesses a commendable sense of typography and composition as is exemplified in his ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’ project that involves a visual interpretation of the phrase in 10 different designs. You can see more of Casalta’s work on his website and pickup limited edition prints in his shop. (via Fubiz)
It’s been over two years since we last featured the work of French duo Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann of Zim&Zou (previously here and here). The pair of graphic designers create paper sculpture, installations, and illustrations for leading luxury brands, books, magazines as well as their own edification. Collected here are a number of works from the last few years and you can explore much more over on their website and on Behance.
Texas-based graffiti artist Redosking draws fantastically detailed eyes using colored pencils. It seems like eyes are a common muse for illustrators working in the realm of hyperrealism but these particular pieces seem above and beyond the average attempt. You can also follow him on Instagram. (via Illusion 360)
Painter, muralist, ceramicist, lithographer, designer and kite maker Tyrus Wong was born in China in 1910 and emigrated to the United States with his father at the age of 9. As a child his teachers noticed he possessed exceptional artistic skills which would land him a scholarship at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. By 1930 he was working in Hollywood for Warner Bros. and from 1938 to 1941 he became a “Disney inspirational sketch artist” where his lush pastel drawings of forests and deer would serve as inspiration for the movie Bambi where he served as lead artist on the film. Wong retired in 1968 and began a second career of making kites which he would fly on the Santa Monica Pier. He is now 103 years old.
Wong’s work was most recently featured in “Round the Clock: Chinese American Artists Working in Los Angeles” at the Vincent Price Art Museum in 2012. You can see more of his pastel illustrations over on Magic Forces. (via Magic Forces)
Update: It’s also been brought to my attention that the Walt Disney Family Foundation in San Francisco actually just held a retrospective exhibition for Wong called Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong. If you’re interested, the catalog for that exhibition is available here. (thnx, Kelly!)