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Illustration

Animals of the Lunar New Year Beautifully Illustrated by Felicia Chiao in an Ongoing Series

February 10, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Year of the Ox” (2021). All images © Felicia Chiao, shared with permission

We’re ushering in the Year of the Ox later this week, an occasion Felicia Chiao (previously) kicks off with an illustrated homage to the horned bovine. Rendered with gilded details and Chiao’s signature aesthetic, the drawing is the latest in the California-based illustrator’s collection of works marking the Lunar New Year. Each of the five pieces, which she creates with Copic marker and gel pens, relies heavily on red, a traditional sign of luck and prosperity for the upcoming year, along with layers of flowers, tassels, and a fantastic depiction of the animal.

Chiao tells Colossal that she’s celebrated the Lunar New Year with her family since childhood, which informed her first drawing, “Year of the Rooster,” back in 2017.

My family is Taiwanese, and so the Lunar/Chinese New Year is a big deal. I am very Asian American so I can’t say I’m the most traditional, but I grew up hearing all the zodiac animal stories and superstitions, and I wanted to make a drawing of my animal year back in 2017. It was a fun way to nod to my cultural background.

Prints from each year are available on Society6, along with a massive collection of Chiao’s fantastic illustrations. Head to Instagram to see more of her drawings featuring imagined worlds and emotional characters.

 

“Year of the Rooster” (2017)

“Year of the Pig” (2019)

“Year of the Rat” (2020)

“Year of the Dog” (2018)

 

 



Illustration

Quirky Illustrations by Christoph Niemann Reinterpret Household Objects in Clever Contexts

February 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Christoph Niemann, shared with permission

For Christoph Niemann (previously), all it takes is a halved apple or pliers lying around his studio to spur a quirky drawing featuring the random object. The illustrator is known for his Sunday Sketches, a weekly drawing series, that play with scale and position. Imbued with humor, the cleverly arranged compositions turn a red pencil into a megaphone or a splayed book into a cat’s whiskers.

Although Niemann usually lives in New York for part of the year, he’s been working from his studio in Berlin since the onset of the pandemic. “I’m spending a lot of time just drawing—cityscapes, animals I saw at the zoo (one of the few places that are still open to visit), and turning these drawings into silkscreens and linocuts,” he tells Colossal.

Prior to lockdown, he was visiting cities like London and Tallin creating visual essays, and although he misses travel, he’s enjoyed the increased focus and routine of recent months. “Since March last year, I’ve been at my drawing desk almost every single day. The things I do depend on input and inspiration. But craft, attention to detail, and routine are hugely important, as well. These latter aspects benefit a lot from having such a plain and steady schedule,” he says.

Niemann’s recent projects include a vibrant cover for The New Yorker and his newly released book, Pianoforte, which speaks to his experience learning to play the piano as an adult. You can pick up a copy, which is an extension of this interactive feature that ran in The New York Times Magazine a few months ago, in Niemann’s shop, where he also sells originals, prints, and some of his other books. Follow his Sunday Sketches and other illustrations on Instagram,

 

 

 



Animation Music

A Jazz Band Improvises an Entire Track in One Take for an Animated Music Video Honoring the Brushstroke

February 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

The process behind most music videos begins with an audio track that an artist reacts to and pairs with a corresponding visual, an undertaking Vincent de Boer knows well. The Netherlands-based artist has been working with the jazz quartet Ill Considered since 2017, listening to the band’s largely improvised melodies and creating abstract animations, alongside stills for its 11 album covers, to match.

But for their most recent collaboration, “The Stroke,” the group flipped the traditional workflow.  With the help of his creative partner Hans Schuttenbeld, de Boer hand-drew 4,056 frames that range from dark, geometric shapes to gangly creatures to scenes that morph from one trippy composition to the next. Honoring the simple, unpretentious lines of each sweeping mark, the artist bills the completed animation as “the story of a brushstroke: a trace of a movement performed by the artist with his instrument, the paintbrush,” he said in a statement.

Once complete, de Boer shared the project with Ill Considered, who recorded an entirely improvised track on its first viewing. The resulting music video matches the jazzy riffs with de Boer’s shapeshifting sequences in a cohesive conversation between the two artforms.

You can purchase an LP of “The Stroke,” which is packaged with 12 of de Boer’s original artworks on the cover and inside, on Bandcamp, and see the full process behind the animation, including the painstaking drawing process and actual recording session, in the video below. Keep up with de Boer’s latest projects on Instagram and Vimeo.

 

 

 



Illustration

Loneliness Shrouds the Peculiar Scenes in Carlos Fdez's Graphite Drawings

January 28, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Enlarged.” All images © Carlos Fdez, shared with permission

Through rich, brooding illustrations, Carlos Fernández, who works under the moniker Carlos Fdez, encapsulates lingering feelings of loneliness that cloud modern life. The blurred graphite veils each work with a surreal aura, layering the peculiar scenarios of sheep feasting on a wolf and distressed figures with mystery. “More than just being alone, the greatest loneliness for me is that feeling that nobody understands you, that you are only there, sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrifying,” Fdez writes.

The Madrid-based artist is included in an online show at Wow x Wow, which is up until January 29. He sells prints of his introspective drawings in his shop, and you can explore a larger collection of his work on Instagram.

 

“Herd Immunity”

“The Loop Man”

“Plague”

“Black Bile”

 

 



Illustration

The Blue Hour: Lyrical Illustrations Catalog a Menagerie of Specimens in Earth's Rarest Pigment

January 21, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Isabelle Simler, shared with permission

French illustrator and author Isabelle Simler deftly renders the liminal time surrounding dusk through a poetic exploration of Earth’s rarest color. The Blue Hour winds through the natural world on a journey to spot the pigment, from a bluejay resting on ice-coated branches to robin’s eggs to midnight skies and ocean depths. Simler focuses on “this time of day, when daytime animals enjoy the last moments before nighttime animals wake up. This in-between where the sounds and smells are denser and where the bluish light gives depth to the landscapes.”

Arranged like a color chart, Simler’s richly cross-hatched drawings display myriad nuances in time, species, and scenery of our ocean-blanketed planet. Because the pigment isn’t naturally occurring—plants, insects, and animals that appear blue are simply reflecting that portion of the spectrum rather than emitting it—the illustrations spotlight the uncommon specimens that populate the world with indigo, turquoise, and azure.

The Blue Hour is available on Bookshop along with a few of Simler’s other illustrated titles. Currently, she’s working on Topsy Turvy, a book that focuses on mimetic insects, which you can follow on her site and Instagram. (via Brain Pickings)

 

 

 



Animation Art Illustration

Around the Block: David Zinn's Quirky Chalk Cartoons Spring to Life in a New Short Film

January 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

If you’ve walked the streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the last few decades, you’ve probably spotted the wide-eyed monsters and mischievous dragons of David Zinn (previously). Since 1987, the artist has been drawing chalk-and-charcoal creatures in site-specific works that wash away with the rain. Drain pipes become robotic dogs, a pillar morphs into a giant pencil, and a green monster pops out of a brick walkway.

A new short film directed by Jonnie Lewis dives into Zinn’s practice by animating his signature cartoon cast that greets the artist as he walks around the city. Watch “Around the Block” on Lewis’s Vimeo, and check out more of Zinn’s eccentric creatures on Instagram.  (via Laughing Squid)