Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Michael Kutsche, Concept Artist For Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland

When I stumbled upon Michael's concept art for the new Burton film, I was floored. His stuff is magnificent, glorious, impeccable in technique but with imagination to boot. Artists like this don't come along that often.He works traditionally and digitally - an obvious master at both.
Found a number of interviews with Michael on the web. (That's what being associated with Disney will do for an artist, overnight.) Here are some good tidbits.
From the LA Times blog- Hero Complex
HC: But you didn’t know you were “auditioning” to work on “Alice in Wonderland’?
MK: They said there were a couple of illustrators -- kinda like a competition -- so would you please draw a caterpillar. Like think of “Pan's Labyrinth,” real actors with animated features. I did that in one day … I tried to do the best that I could. I got the job and finally met the vice president of Sony Imageworks [Debbie Denise]. She said what movie I’d be working on. She said it was Tim Burton and “Alice in Wonderland.” I was totally like fainting.
HC: When did you first get into illustrating?
MK: I was always drawing, from kindergarten age. I didn’t really go to art school, I just self trained. At that time I always felt self-conscious that I don’t know too much, now I kinda find that’s what makes it a little more special. It’s not the taste of the professors or one of my [peers].

From Spinquad-
SQ When you're starting a new character what are you looking for and what methods do you take to create it? 

MK: I try to prevent from doing the same approach over and over again when designing characters, because each design should look unique, I think an artist should be a mix an inventor, a scientist and a craftsman in equal shares. Therefore he should experiment with drawing and ideation techniques, both in traditional media and digitally, and switch between this techniques for each project. I use basically every method and technique that comes to my mind for that process.

From Itsartmag-
IA: How would you describe your universe?
MK: I do my best not to stick to only one universe, cause there are so many more!
I'm somewhere between movies, comics, fine arts, animation, architecture and design. I simply don't want to decide if I am a concept artist, illustrator, fine artist or whatever; I want to do all of that!
I would be bored like hell if I had to be a pure comic artist, painting the same characters over and over again. I need to experiment, transform, invent. Art influences film, film influences fashion and the other way round.
Everything is connected with everything, that's a fact; you just have to open your eyes. It's amazing where each project takes me. Each one is a new experience and all together is a journey.
IA: Do you think you produce art?
MK: There are hundreds of definitions of what art is and what art should be. If we say, art is what you see in a museum then as of now I’m not producing art. I don't really care if a piece of art is displayed in a museum, comic store, movie theater or anywhere, it just has to move me. I know this is not the only truth, but for me it's a good way to navigate in that ocean of visual impressions. There's a lot of crap in comic stores and in museums and at art fairs as well, but there are always a few pieces of art which stand out and which I think of even weeks or years after. If we say: art is a language of creativity, which moves and inspires some people when they look at it, I would say yes, I'm an artist.

Paste screenshots directly to michaelkutsche Use multiple image frames for an entire presentation

Links to full interviews-

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Hi-Fructose 5th Anniversary Show in LA

Ewelina Ferruso, "Peace in the Garden"

The artsy folks at Hi-Fructose, Atta and Annie, are having their anniversary exhibit in Los Angeles right now. They've been producing this great, newbrow art magazine for 5 years now, so check it out if you haven't seen it. A much needed additional alternative to Juxtapoz. The show opened March 13th and will run thru April 3 at Copro Gallery. So if you are in that neck of the woods, get your head in there.
"The works included in this 5th Anniversary show pays an homage to the artists we’ve featured over the past 5 years and who’ve helped to shape and define the future of art in our culture." - Hi-Fructose
A mouth watering line up of artists with lovely, strange and fantastic art. 
Kris Kuksi, Jonathan Viner, Martin Witfooth, Candice Tripp, Jesse Hazelip, Lori Earley, Chris Mars, Jeff Soto, Kevin Cyr, Mark Ryden, Thomas Doyle, Scott Musgrove, Victor Castillo, Amy Sol, Audrey Kawasaki, Brendan Danielsson, Brian Dettmer, Greg "Craola" Simkins, Harma Heikens, Attaboy, Alex Pardee,Scott Hove, Sas Christian, Colin Christian, Yoko D'Holbachie, Travis Lampe, Junko Mizuno, Brandt Peters, Mia, Chet Zar, Kathie Olivas, Johnny “KMNDZ” Rodriguez, Sam Gibbons, Annie Owens, Yosuke Ueno, Skinner, Ewelina Ferruso, Shag, Mike Shine
You might recognize SF local, Scott Hove's "cake" art from the Eclectix "Eat It" exhibit. And Annie Owen's from the "All Gurlz" show has some gurlz there,  "Fishbowl". Both pieces are sold. Taking a peek at the Copro links it looks like Lori Earley's piece (Lee the Pink Sheep) also sold - for an astounding $25,000! You go, gurl! Here are just a few faves...

Mia, "Medusa"

Chris Mars,“Disappearing Ink”


Attaboy, "Winged Shmee" 

KMNDZ, "Birds Nest" 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eclectix Interviews Artist Gene Guynn

Sin Nomine 15

One of the featured artists in the "Erotix" exhibit is San Francisco based Gene Guynn. His paintings of dark elegance, dripping with movement and tactile substance lend his figurative works an intimate signature. He kindly shared some answers to our questions in the recent Eclectix interview.

Can you tell us where you were born and a little history about your childhood? 

I was born in Fort Worth, Texas in the heat of July in 1985! I grew up with very creative parents and it definitely rubbed off on me. My father is a musician, composer, and speaker engineer, whereas my mother is...

Friday, March 12, 2010

San Francisco Heart Art: A Large Look Back

Many San Francisco locals will recognize the heart art that popped up around the city in 2004. Those of you who didn’t get a chance to visit SF and stumble upon them then, here is a virtual chance for a tour. And for you locals- there may be a few here you missed. The hearts were installed on sidewalks, parks and street corners through out the city by over 130 artists. They were then auctioned off and raised nearly $2,000,000 for the SF General Hospital Foundation! One of the best public art events I have ever witnessed. Such a positive vibe to happen upon just out walking...

We put together a pretty large collection of the many hearts - here:
Don't miss the Eclectix "Erotix" exhibit here:
And the "HeartBeats" exhibit here:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Alexander McQueen: Fashion That Is Art and Art That is Fashion

Just had to post some of the fashion king McQueen's images in memory of his stunning, avant garde works. Altho one may not want to wear some of them for more than an hour, they are true masterpieces. When you're done suffering for beauty, they can be framed, stuck up on the wall and compete easily with masterworks of the flatter variety. Ziggy Stardust, Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga could certainly carry it off for a few hours on stage, if they didn't, they've lost their chance. It is always so sad to see someone so talented leave before their time. Maybe it's a selfish thought, thinking of all the good stuff that might have come. Maybe it just was his time and that's all there was meant to be. Whatever, I am so grateful for what he gave our eyes, while he was here.
His last Twitter comments:
Some excerpts from the New York Times: 
Mr. McQueen often showed a dark streak in his collections, commenting on brutality toward women and what he saw as the inanity of the fashion world, and it carried over into his personal life. At the beginning of his career, Mr. McQueen became a sensation for showing his clothes on ravaged-looking models who appeared to have been physically abused, institutionalized or cosmetically altered, all while peppering his audience with rude comments. “I’m not interested in being liked,” he said. He once mooned the audience of his show.
But he was enormously creative and intelligent, and he seemed to sense that the fashion industry needed to have its buttons pushed. His fall 2009 collection was the talk of Paris when, reacting to the recession, Mr. McQueen showed exaggerated versions of all of his past work on a runway strewn with a garbage heap of props from his former stage sets. He was suggesting that fashion was in ruins.“The turnover of fashion is just so quick and so throwaway, and I think that is a big part of the problem,” he said. “There is no longevity.”
Aware of his homosexuality at an early age (he said he knew at age 8), he was taunted by other children, who called him “McQueer.” He left school at 16 and found an apprenticeship on Savile Row working for the tailors Anderson & Sheppard and then Gieves & Hawkes. In a story he repeated on some occasions but at other times denied, he was bored one day and wrote a derogatory slur in the lining of a jacket destined for the Prince of Wales.

Monday, March 8, 2010

For International Women's Day, Down-the-Rabbit-Hole With Camille Rose Garcia

One of my favorite artists in the newbrow genre today is Camille Rose Garcia. It warms my heart to see an current day artist actually receiving the cudos and success they deserve, now, - rather than after they are dead. And this artist is a woman, a Hispanic and a rebel to boot! Who better to celebrate International Women's Day with? As well as the timely release of her new book "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" with wonderfully warped, fresh, new watercolors based on the Lewis Carroll original. These pieces are much more colorful than Camille's previous works and a bit on the brighter side, due in part to her study of the earlier Disney films.
Camille's modern gothic, dark and beautiful style has brought tears to my eyes. Lucky enough to see her solo exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Art, "Tragic Kingdom" in 2007, I lingered in it for hours, captivated by her artistry. The vibrant colors in some, the vintage browned patina of others. Her black inks were fluid, yet scratchy, often left with free form drips ala graffiti style. The skies dripped with what could be smog, blood, ice or tears. Yet happily- creatures, dark-eyed girls, flora and fauna coexist. Her punk fairy story princesses; the textures of the wood washed backgrounds, all complemented and married seamlessly into the overall image. These were huge masterpieces, filling room after room and wall after wall, with majestic worlds and outspoken social commentary. Not afraid to throw a well-deserved punch at the injustices of our world, she does it with originality and expert artistry.
 A fellow escapee from Orange County, Camille was heavily influenced by the Disney environ and her works twist the sugar coating in a truly unique vision, embracing the beauty but rejecting the hypocrisy within. OC outcasts often referred to the Magic Kingdom as the Tragic Kingdom, finding ways to make light of that confining, oppressive environment. All kinds of pet names for areas abounded, relishing in the fact that they were not always PC. For instance Garden Grove was Garbage Grove, La Habra was Guadalahabra, Fullerton became Fullertone, Anaheim was Anaslime... The repression, bigotry and plasticity of the OC mindset spawned great art and music, it was either rebel or lose your soul. Garcia's style has been called "Disney-gone-wrong" and for many of us it is oh-so-right!
An excerpt by Liesl Bradner from the LA Times blog, "Hero Complex"-
LB: Describe your vision of Alice.
Camille Rose Garcia: The original John Tenniel illustrations were always some of my favorites and those were definitely lodged in my head. I wanted to stay true to his vision but I’m so influenced by Disney. I loved the backgrounds in their early movies, ("Snow White," "Pinocchio") so I watched  a lot of those films to try to get more of a color feel. They were all done in the '30s with watercolor which has that very classic touch. It did occur to me to give Alice black hair, make it more edgy and unique but I wanted to stay true to the classic feel of the book. Using watercolors referred back to the Tenniel work but I added a little bit of a modern gothic touch as well. That was my vision for the work. ...

LB: Of the more than 50 illustrations, do you have a favorite?
CRG:  The Lobster-Quadrille. 
It was new and totally original. Tenniel has never illustrated that scene -- a dance where Alice and friends fling lobsters into the sea. It was a totally virgin experience for me where I had all the other scenes registered in my head. And I managed to sneak a narwhal in the background. 

An excerpt From "I Heart Daily" blog- 
IHD: Has this always been one of your favorite books? 
Camille Rose Garcia: It has definitely been a favorite since childhood. I collect children's books and I have four copies of Alice in Wonderland. This story just lends itself to such rich visual interpretation, the landscapes and situations are so surreal.
 IHD: Did you feel pressure to do the story justice since it's such a treasured piece of literature?
CRG: Yes, I think that was the hardest part -- how to honor the original Tenniel illustrations and trying not to veer too far from the familiar. It's hard to even come close to the original Tenniel illustrations, because they are so iconic. My strategy was to make the illustrations familiar enough to the originals, but to really go wild with the color.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Alice In Art! A Wonderland of Images

"Advice From A Caterpillar" by Krista Huot

To celebrate today's release of Tim Burton's film - "Alice in Wonderland", I thought a look at some related art would be timely and fun.
There have been many "Alice" theme art exhibits over the years which yielded magical and fantastic art. Something about this book inspires many artists to outdo themselves in creating beautiful imagery. Is it the imaginative plot we all remember from our childhoods? The drug references? Or the wonderful, pen and ink illustrations by John Tenniel? I think it may be a combination of the three, regardless - "Alice" continues to tweak and peak our interests.

Illustration by John Tenniel

Much adapted and re-illustrated over the years, the original book has never even been out of print. The author - Lewis Carroll,  is actually a pseudonym for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. This pseudonym was a play on his real name; Lewis was the anglicised form of Ludovicus, which was the Latin for Lutwidge, and Carroll an Irish surname similar to the Latin name Carolus, from which the name Charles comes. A king of the genre of literary nonsense, Charles was also a mathematician, logician, deacon and a very accomplished photographer. It is believed that "Alice" is based on a friend's daughter. "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" was published in 1865 to overwhelming commercial success.
Hand picked for you- the best of what I found- in a few too many hours.

Concept art for The Red Queen, (Tim Burton film) by Michael Kutche

"Steam Punk Alice in Wonderland" by Sandra Chang-Adair

"Alice in Wonderland" by Kyoung Hwan Kim

"It's Always Tea Time" by Maggie Taylor

"Mary Ann" by Fernando Falcon

"Alice in Clockwork" by Jasmine Becket-Griffith

"Mad Hatter" by Kirk Quilaquil

"Alice in Wonderland" by Richard Biffle

"Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" by Nate Perry

"Alice" by Luke Mancini

"Mr. White Rabbit" by Emerson Tung

"Chesire Cat" by Collette Xavier

"Eat Me, Drink Me" by Alessandra Fusi

"Eat Me, Drink Me" by Benjamin Lacombe

"Alice and the Chesire Cat" by Natalie Shau

"Fetal Trapping in Northern California" by Mark Ryden

"Almost Alice" by Maggie Taylor

"House of Cards" by Arthur Rackham

Concept art from "American McGee's Alice" video game

"Wonderland" by Ralph Horsley

Whew! Had to cut myself off there... way too much good stuff! Think maybe this warrants more than one blog. Will follow up tomorrow featuring one of my favorite artists of all time. For now tho, that's all folks...

But wait, there's more! While trolling the web I came across some great sites that followed the same wonderland vein. Have listed a few for you, go ahead, lose a few more hours....