The United States Postal Service has issued a set of colorful postage stamps that celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), an annual holiday celebrated in Mexico and beyond on the first two days of November. The vibrant stamps depict a family of four calaveras (sugar skulls) designed by Minneapolis-based Chicano artist and designer Luis Fitch who has been obsessed with postage stamps since a young age.
Every year, the day before his birthday, [Fitch] writes a list of things he wants to achieve, asking the universe. In October 2018, he remembered his old dream, designing a stamp, and made it number one, the slot for his most difficult and unrealistic goal.
The next day, the director of the stamp design program called.
He had seen the single poster Fitch wheat-pasted—on a whim, while waiting for his son—near the train exit for the National Mexican Art Museum in Chicago. And then he had gone to the museum, where twelve of Fitch’s posters were included in an exhibition on the Day of the Dead. This was just the style he was looking for, he said.
Fitch’s stamp designs incorporate multiple visual motifs traditionally used during the holiday including lit candles meant to guide deceased loved ones on their annual return journey, and cempazuchitles (marigolds), the most popular Día de los Muertos flower. Each of the four stamps depicts a different family member in the form of a sugar skull: a father with a hat and mustache, a child donning a hair bow, a curly-haired mother, and another child.
Share this story
Vibrant Skeletal Interpretations of Celebrities and Fashion Icons Define Bradley Theodore's Paintings
Energetic brushstrokes, chromatic colors, and the skeletons of pop culture icons make up the prolific work of Miami-based artist Bradley Theodore. His bold use of color is inspired by his roots in Turks and Caicos and the fashionable subjects he’s met in New York and Miami.
The skeletal theme represents something far from morbid. Theodore explained to Omeleto in his documentary Becoming: Bradley Theodore, “a skull for me represents a symbol of a person’s spirit. It’s like I’m wrapping someone’s soul around their skeletal system.” Theodore finds a middle layer of vibrancy that serves as a source of unity.
Theodore is a self-taught painter learning primarily from YouTube and by analyzing the techniques of famous artists, like Salvador Dalí. The artistic practice came from a particularly dark period in his life where he decided that rather than be consumed by darkness, he would metamorphose through art. Theodore spent a year in near-total isolation obsessively painting—so much so that he injured his shoulder from repetitive motion.
Theodore emerged from isolation and painted an outdoor mural of fashion icons Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld together to honor their long-term friendship. The debut went viral and remains one of the artist’s most iconic pieces.
Since then, Theodore has depicted some of the most recognizable icons from fashion, music, celebrity, and history, including Tom Ford, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Kate Moss, Prince, Cara Delevingne, and Queen Elizabeth. His murals can be spotted on the streets of major cities, like Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Oslo, and Paris.
Share this story
In an effort to make his otherworldy works more accessible, San Antonio-based artist Jason Limon began creating a substantial collection of small paintings in 2008. Today, Limon continues to add to his Fragments series, which centers on skeletal figures and anatomical forms that often feature stripes, polka dots, and other intricate patterns. His anthropomorphic works indicate movement, like a tube of bone cream that oozes out a skeleton or another character who drives a metal spear through a cracked heart.
With a focused color palette of muted jewel tones and neutrals, Limon’s uncanny projects largely consider how history pervades daily life. “Within the elements that surround us every day are bits of someone else—a record of thoughts made up of color, typography and symbols marked onto paper and metal to represent products throughout time,” he said in a statement.
The artist tells Colossal that Fragments feels especially personal and serves as an exploration of ideas that often turn into larger projects. “I will sometimes have some of these smaller pieces in gallery shows, but for the most part they are a direct connection between me and the collectors,” he says. “I often hear them tell me that the piece struck a chord on how they are feeling or how it relates to their past.”
Share this story
A Prague-based artist is memorializing some of his favorite cartoons with a series of convincing fossils that provide an unconventional look at the skeletons of animated characters. Filip Hodas’s Cartoon Fossils series features preserved skulls of Spongebob, Tweety Bird, and other familiar characters, accompanied by the years they first were spotted on television and their zoological names like Anas Scroogius, Homo Popoculis, and Mus Minnius.
The artist’s surreal compositions mimic the fossils and assemblages displayed in history museums, although Hodas said in a statement he wanted to add to their playfulness with bright, solid backgrounds. He also embellishes his characters with hats, glasses, and even stacks of coins to amplify their fictional roles.
Initially, I wanted to make them stylized as dinosaur fossils set up in a museum environment, but later decided against it, as the skulls didn’t look very recognizable on their own—especially with parts broken or missing. That’s why I opted for (a) less damaged look and also added some assets to each of the characters.
To create each piece, Hodas used a combination of programs including Cinema 4D, Zbrush, 3D Coat, Substance Painter, and Substance Designer. Find more of the artist’s work that intertwines history, science, and pop culture on Instagram and Behance.
Share this story
Feathered Skulls by Laurence Le Constant Serve as Objects of Memory Dedicated to Departed Loved Ones
Laurence Le Constant started working with feathers in the early 2000’s while employed as a sequins designer in haute couture workshops throughout Paris. Inquisitive about the meticulous art, she would ask embroiderers and feather workers to teach her the trade during breaks or her lunch hour. After her grandmother passed in 2010 she created her first skull as a memorial, spending hundreds of hours of works selecting and gluing feathers to a resin base. Since this first skull, her other pieces have also served as tools for memory, honoring prominent women in her family and beyond.
“With the series ‘My Lovely Bones,’ I became the Huesera, or the ‘bone lady,'” Le Constant told Colossal. “Like this mythical creature from the Mexican folk tales, which roams the desert to collect bones and bring back life through its singing, I bring the magnified skulls of women back from the afterlife, giving them a new life and a new voice.”
The artist sources feathers from animals farmed for the food industry in Europe and never uses feathers from protected or endangered birds. You can see more of her feather sculptures on her website and Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)
Share this story
Jim F. Faure, who goes by Jim Skull, introduces his decades-long practice with his pseudonym. The Paris-based sculptor focuses exclusively on human skulls. Using innumerable strands of colorful thread, Murano glass beads, rope, and even porcupine quills, Faure creates an entirely new “skin” for the skeletal forms. Each skull’s covering also trails off into dramatic cascades that shape-shift depending on how the skull is displayed.
Faure transforms the surface of an object that often strikes fear into a visually enticing decorative object, inviting the viewer to study the divots and contours of our shared anatomical structure. In an artist statement, the sculptor cites his upbringing in New Caledonia in the South Pacific, followed by wide-ranging international travels in New Zealand, India, and Hong Kong as informing his fascination with the ritual and cultural aspects of the human experience. You can see more of Faure’s work on his website.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Science
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.