Tattoo artist Makkala Rose creates dramatic botanical designs on her clients’ skin, incorporating richly toned flower blossoms, unctuous fruits, and life-like animal portraits. One recent commission involved completely covering a client’s back with a chiaroscuro “painting” featuring three burning candles, reflective glass and crystals, piles of ripe fruit, and a hanging bat on an inky black background.
Rose’s first love was painting, the artist tells Colossal. “One of my first memories was smearing bright purple paint from the pot onto a fresh sheet of paper stuck to an easel, and my love and fascination with art and creating has never ended.” Now that Rose spends most of her time tattooing, her background as a painter has come into dialogue with her ink work. “The feel and the mood brought through by my color palette and my style of tattooing is influenced by the way I like to paint and now vice versa as I spend a lot more time tattooing, they lend interestingly to each other,” says Rose.
The artist also has a strong personal connection to flowers and gardens (Rose tells Colossal that floristry would be her backup career), and she seeks to imbue her tattoo work with the joy that blossoms bring her. She spends time perusing different bouquet designs, photographing flowers in public gardens, and researching new plants and flowers to expand her repertoire, though peonies and blackberries are perennial favorites.
To create her most recent backpiece, shown above, Rose explains that she personally collected all the materials for the composition, from individual flowers to pitchers and crystals. She then arranged everything in a composition (minus the bat) and worked with a friend to take documentation photos in preparation for the tattoo design.
Rose hails from New Zealand, and travels frequently for her tattoo work, most often across the U.S., U.K., and New Zealand. See more of her designs on Instagram. Rose is usually booked several months out, but you can find out where she’ll be next on her website. If you enjoy Rose’s designs, also check out Esther Garcia’s inkwork.
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Illustrator Felicia Chiao balances out her work as an industrial designer at IDEO with imaginative drawings rendered in copic marker and gel ink pens. Chiao’s fanciful worlds are populated with a repeating humanoid protagonist, as well as spirit-like black figures reminiscent of the symbolic creatures in Hayao Miyazaki films. The artist balances her charming aesthetic—cheerful details like daisies and friendly worms—with more evocative emotional themes. “Illustration has always been a way for me to destress and work through whatever emotions I’m feeling,” says Chiao.
However, despite the visual representation of complex narratives, “I cannot stress how little I think about what goes into my drawings. I draw because I love doing it and most of the themes people have seen emerge have largely been subconscious,” Chiao tells Colossal. She explains that “there was never really an intention for my drawings to get this much attention. It’s flattering and alarming at the same time, but I’m glad that so many people can relate to work that I have made so selfishly for myself.”
Illustration remains a side project for Chiao, a counterpoint to her professional life that she began in earnest while in college for industrial design. “It’s great having both because I find that design work is about solving problems for others while illustration can be completely selfish and about me. It creates a good balance.”
Chiao makes her illustrations available as prints on Society6, and recently released a limited edition of “Rooms” (shown above) with Static Medium. You can follow along with her illustrated adventures on Instagram.
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With little more than a text editor—and years of experience as a web developer—UI engineer Diana Adrianne Smith creates Flemish and baroque inspired portraits using HTML and CSS, the two primary presentation markup languages designed to display web pages. The portraits fill thousands of lines of code, and Smith has a stringent rule that leaves this former web developer a little flabbergasted: all elements must be typed out by hand. Meaning that she doesn’t rely on libraries, shortcuts, or some kind of visual editor. These images are instead written in part like an essay, with what I can only image is an unreasonable amount of trial and error.
Troubleshooting the complexities of CSS or HTML problems can stymie even a good developer for hours, let alone forming pearl necklaces, hairdos, facial expressions, and lace collars. Via Twitter Smith says she finished her most recent piece over a period of two weekends. The designs are created for viewing in Google’s Chrome browser, but Firefox seems to do a great job too. Your mileage may vary using anything else. Here’s another work from last year titled Pure CSS Francine.
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The surrealist master Salvador Dalí often dabbled in modes of mainstream culture, whether designing wine guides, appearing on game shows, or—in this instance—designing a deck of tarot cards for a James Bond film. Dalí undertook the project in the early 1970’s for Live and Let Die, starring Roger Moore and Jane Seymour. The deck didn’t end up appearing in the film, apparently due to Dalí’s high fees, but the artist continued to work on the cards for a decade and completed them in 1984. Art book publisher Taschen is releasing the deck, along with an instructional book that Dalí made to accompany it. Dalí.Tarot will be published on November 15, 2019, and is available for preorder on the Taschen website. (via Hyperallergic)
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Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne, who work together as the Adrien M / Claire B Company (previously), explore the intersection of tangible and augmented reality in their multi-media projects. They recently launched a Kickstarter to support their latest project, Acqua Alta – Crossing the mirror. Acqua Alta turns a seemingly simple pop-up book into an animated black-and-white world. Two figures move through the pages, battling rainstorms and walking through doorways, all seen through the portal of a tablet or smartphone.
The duo tells Colossal that after their 2017 exhibition Mirages & miracles, they wanted to focus their efforts on an affordable medium at an intimate scale that still allowed for constructing volume. “After considering the AR algorithm, it was important to find a solution for the book to be a plane for each of the 10 double pages,” Mondot and Bardainne explain. “The magic happens only when the real space and the AR space are completely synced together.”
The duo was also working with a limited budget and limited professional experience with motion capture. In contrast to more specialized production companies with greater resources and established, Mondot and Bardainne were challenged by looking for smart and creative solutions to achieve the same results.
“It was very exciting to be at the border between many disciplines—theater, dance, but also comic books and animation,” Mondot and Bardainne share. “We are questioning the language: what does this medium allow us to express? Can we use part of the cinematographic language? Can we use some of the symbolic tools of the theater?”
You can support Acqua Alta on Kickstarter, where the book is available for preorder (it also comes with a free app for experiencing the AR). Explore more of Mondot and Bardainne’s interdisciplinary work on their website.
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Over 100 Stitchers are Collaborating Across the U.S. to Complete an Unfinished Embroidered Quilt by Late Crafter Rita Smith
Chicago-based fiber artist and activist Shannon Downey has a particular affinity for unfinished projects. She seeks them out at estate sales, helping women who’ve passed complete their work. Although this has long been an area of interest for Downey, one recent discovery has catapulted to the front page of news sites around the world.
On a visit this September to a Chicagoland estate sale sale, Downey happened upon a framed embroidery (pictured above) that maps out the United States and illustrates all fifty state flowers. A casual conversation with the cashier at the sale led to Downey finding a large-scale project related to the framed work. An unfinished queen-sized quilt was meant to incorporate another U.S. map along with hexagons featuring each state’s bird and flower along with the year they entered the union.
Rita Smith of Mount Prospect, Illinois, had begun the project a few decades ago, according to her son, whom Downey subsequently connected with. Smith, who was a nurse, passed away recently at the age of 99. “I have an annoying habit of having to purchase and finish unfinished projects if I think that the person has passed on … but usually I’m just buying a half-done pillow that needs half an hour’s worth of stitching and then it’s done,” Downey told Block Club Chicago. “But this one was massive and it just felt really significant for some reason. And so I bought it.”
Downey has a substantial following thanks to her work as a community organizer and resource for people looking for an alternative to digital distractions. The self-described ‘craftivist’ tells Colossal that after running a digital marketing company for a decade, she was burned out and needed a break from technology.
I started stitching to find some digital/analog balance. I was hooked. I am an activist and I quickly fused the two. At first, it was about creating space for myself to think substantively and reflect on various issues and topics. As I started to share my work and thoughts, I found a community of folks on Instagram who were engaged and engaging. I have found ways to move those communities offline and into real life communities through my stitch-ups. Those communities are what inspire me to keep going, level up, find new ways of building and connecting, having hard conversations and tackling challenging topics.
Once Downey shared her unexpected find on Twitter, inquiries from potential collaborators began flooding in. Now she is coordinating between dozens of stitchers across the country who are volunteering their time to complete Rita’s masterpiece. Downey describes the effort as a strongly feminist project. “It is an opportunity for folks to consider how we define and assign value and meaning to craft,” she tells Colossal. “So many of the stories that people are sharing with me on twitter after reading about #RitasQuilt are about memories and connections that they have to the women in their lives who are/were makers and the significance that their art has come to have for them.”
The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky will be displaying the completed quilt, and Downey hopes that it will be able to come with her for a planned 2020 craftivist tour around the U.S. Keep up with Downey on Twitter and Instagram to see how you can get involved in craftivism in your community, and follow along with the #RitasQuilt hashtag.
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Multi-Part Graphics Reveal the Inner Workings of Systems in Vintage-Inspired Designs by Raymond Biesinger
Raymond Biesinger takes complex systems—economics, feline anatomy, computer programming—and breaks them down into visually captivating designs. Using design elements and color palettes inspired by mid-century aesthetics, Biesinger’s finished works combine the arts of illustration and infographics. Many of his designs were original editorial commissions for articles in publications including The New Yorker, GQ, and Fast Company, but the Canadian illustrator now makes these pieces available as archival prints on Etsy. Keep up with Biesinger’s latest projects on Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
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