pop culture

Posts tagged
with pop culture



Design

The Sm;)e Book Celebrates the Decades-Long, Eclectic History of the Smiley Face

October 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of DB Burkeman and Rich Browd, shared with permission

From plastic grocery bags to original emojis to household goods and paraphernalia, the yellow smiley face is an iconic mark of modern culture. A new book funding on Kickstarter celebrates the symbol’s decades-long history as it dives into the eclectic uses that range from fine art to graffiti to Hollywood. In 60 pages, The Sm;)e Book compiles work from 70 artists, including Banksy, the Chapman Brothers,  Alicia McCarthy, and James Joyce.

Despite the smiley’s well-known status throughout the mainstream culture, the book is particularly personal to co-creators DB Burkeman and Rich Browd. Burkeman shares with Colossal that his mother was fascinated by the hippie movement and plastered surfaces with smiley face stickers and adorned her clothing with grinning patches and pins. As he grew up and later became a DJ, he noticed the symbol flourishing in the punk and rave scenes as a new kind of countercultural mark. Browd had a similar childhood experience, growing fascinated by the icon in “graffiti, skate graphics, and the Pop Art collection of a wealthy friend’s parents.”

Today, the duo remains enamored with the evolution of the smiley face and its prevalence in seemingly contradictory spaces. “In the history of graphic design, I can think of no other symbol that has ever held such a duality—used simultaneously as both a positive mainstream driver and a counterculture subverter of that very mainstream,” Burkeman writes. He explains further:

Now retired from nightlife and mostly confused by a lot of today’s popular culture, I’ve watched the smiley return with a vengeance. Partly fueled by the prolific use of emojis, but also by the insatiable consumption and recycling of pop culture’s logos and tropes. Today’s youth love and reuse them, regardless of whether the new users know the logos’ origins or not: little girls and celebrities wearing the Thrasher logo who have never read the magazine or skated in their lives, hip-hop kids wearing hair-metal or post-punk band shirts. Does it even matter that they have no idea what these bands sounded like or represented? It’s all part of this strange cultural cannibalism.

Browd and Burkeman are sharing glimpses intoThe Sm;)e Book on Instagram, where you also can follow the collection’s funding progress during the next month. (via It’s Nice That)

 

 

 



Animation Design

The World's Largest Robot Walks, Kneels, and Points Toward the Sky Above Japan

October 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Shutterstock

An iconic sci-fi character comes to life in the form of an enormous droid that looms 60-feet above Japan. A project of Gundam Factory Yokohama, it’s the tallest robot in the world, and after months of engineering, this life-sized bot now can swivel its head, kneel, point upward, and even walk, despite weighing an incredible 55,500 pounds.

RX-78-2 Gundam robot is straight from Mobile Suit Gundam, the 1979 animated television series that originally was directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino and animated by Sunrise, before turning into a massive franchise with more than 50 films, television spin-offs, manga, and video games. It was slated for unveiling at a new amusement park dedicated to the bot this October, but the opening has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If you have the chance to visit the Tokyo area in the next year, however, Gundam will be stationed in the Port of Yokohama, which is just south of the city. (via My Modern Met)

 

 

 



Design Illustration

Contemporary Films Are Reimagined as Vintage Book Covers by Illustrator Matt Stevens

June 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Matt Stevens, shared with permission

Generally, the adaptation pipeline begins with books and ends in film, but Charlotte-based designer and illustrator Matt Stevens has turned that process around. For an ongoing project that’s simply titled Good Movies as Old Books, Stevens reimagines contemporary movies as vintage paperbacks and cloth-bound texts, covering Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, Jordan Peele’s Us, and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, one of the illustrator’s favorite editions. “A movie I love, the idea came quickly and easily, and it really captures something about the film and the jazz-era style,” he says.

The project has culminated in a series of prints and a forthcoming book, which Stevens recently launched as part of a Kickstarter campaign. “From my ever-growing and changing master list, once I hit 100 entries, I will have a list of about 40 that I wasn’t able to include,” he says. “Maybe a volume 2?” Keep up with all of Stevens’s new releases on Instagram. (via Plain Magazine)

 

 

 

 



Illustration

Pop Culture Icons Undergo Taxonomic Studies in These Vintage-Style Illustrations

May 29, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Audrey II Study.” All images © Chet Phillips

How would you biologically classify a hippogriff? Austin-based illustrator Chet Phillips is offering his own taxonomic studies for some of pop culture’s most iconic characters as part of his Unnatural History series. Through vintage-style illustrations, the artist renders a flying monkey from The Wizard of Oz, Krampus, and The Lion King‘s animated duo Timon and Pumba complete with their identifying information.

You can browse the entire Unnatural History collection and pick up your own print on Etsy. Phillips also shares much of his work that’s based in contemporary culture on Behance and Instagram.  (via Laughing Squid)

 

Left: “Hippogriff Study.” Right: “Alien Study”

“Flying Monkey Study”

Left: “Skull Island King Study.” Right: “Krampus Study”

“Killer Rabit Study”

“Warthog and Meerkat Study”

 

 



Animation

Animated Characters Perform Mundane Tasks in Stop-Motion Shorts by Stefano Colferai

March 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

Stefano Colferai’s animated characters may be made of plasticine, but they certainly understand the very human struggles that come along with sending a text while walking, stepping outside on a hot day, and managing a freelance life. The Milan-based animator sculpts miniature scenes for his figures—who sometimes bear a likeness to Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction or performance artist Marina Abramović—in his wildly relatable stop-motion shorts that expertly reveal his characters’ personalities. For more of Colferai’s humorous, and even life-affirming, projects, follow him on Instagram and Behance. (via Tina Roth Eisenberg)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Stefano Colferai (@stefanocolferai) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Stefano Colferai (@stefanocolferai) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Stefano Colferai (@stefanocolferai) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Stefano Colferai (@stefanocolferai) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Stefano Colferai (@stefanocolferai) on

 

 



Art

Nevermore Park Manifests the Fictional Universe of Hebru Brantley's Flyboy and Lil Mama

March 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Amy Lombard, shared with permission

Packed within a 6,000-square-foot space on Chicago’s south side is a fictional universe teeming with pinned up newspaper clippings, towers of retro electronics, and tons of vintage advertising from McDonald’s to Vienna Hot Dogs. It’s the world of Hebru Brantley’s iconic characters, Lil Mama and Flyboy, whose enlarged head rests on the floor in one room of the immersive installation, titled Nevermore Park. Moving through the pathways lined with plastic toys and paint-spattered pallets, visitors pass a downed spaceship and a brick wall of street art, elements that structure Brantley’s narrative for the surreal environment.

The Los Angeles-based artist cites the tales of the superheroes and comic books he engaged with during his childhood living in Chicago as directly impacting his current projects. “I’m in love with creating and I have so many stories I want to tell,” he tells Colossal. “I want my work to create a narrative that hasn’t been told before, in ways others haven’t seen expressed. I’m working to create the things I wished existed.”

Although Brantley created many of the objects specifically for Nevermore Park, he also amassed thousands of pieces of real ephemera that create a strong undercurrent of Chicago’s history as expressed through pop culture, toys, magazines, and found objects. The periodicals lining the newsstand, for example, belonged to his grandmother. “She had saved a number of them and it created a unique opportunity for me to incorporate these real historical artifacts into my body of work for visitors to experience. Everything weaves together with the goal of staying authentic to the stories I wanted to tell,” he says.

Nevermore Park, though, is intended “to be a total sensory experience,” inspiring Brantley to collaborate with WILLS on the audio component, offering a soundtrack that he says visitors always ask about. “Bringing people into a space they wouldn’t normally occupy with sounds that are familiar, amplify the story and culture even more,” he writes. “Sight is an important aspect of the experience but so is the sound piped into each section.”

If you’re in Chicago, there are tickets available to visit Nevermore Park through May 3. Otherwise, head to Instagram to keep up with Brantley and see what’s next for Flyboy, Lil Mama, and Nevermore Park.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Christopher Jobson 🦦 (@christopherjobs) on